- Name: Richard Raymond WILLIS
- D.O.B: 13th Oct, 1876
- D.O.A: 25th Oct, 1915
- D.O.D: 9th Oct, 1966
- Award: Victoria Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Captain, 1st Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers, 86th Brigade, 29th Division
- Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
W Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey 25 April 1915
25 April 1915
The Gallipoli Campaign 25 April 1915–9 January 1916
On 25 April 1915, while two companies of 2nd Battalion The Royal Fusiliers landed at X Beach just north of Cape Tekke at the tip of Gallipoli, four companies of 1st Battalion The Lancashire Fusiliers were ordered to land at W Beach, just south of Cape Tekke, where the shore ran south-east towards Cape Helles. The beach was only 350 yards wide and hemmed in by 100 foot high cliffs. The Turks, who had set up three rows of wire across it, lay hidden at the top of the cliffs. As the British boats reached the shore, the enemy opened a murderous fire. Sergeant A J Richards had his leg almost severed by gunfire but encouraged his men to press on. Somehow the British managed to get through the wire, and two companies under Captain R Willis and Major G S Adams attacked and captured the Turkish positions on Hill 114 behind Cape Tekke, which commanded W Beach from the north. It was in this assault that Lance Sergeant F E Stubbs, who was killed shortly afterwards, and Corporal J E Grimshaw distinguished themselves. Meanwhile, the survivors from the two other companies attempted to push towards Hill 138. The first attack failed and it was then that Private W Keneally took the almost suicidal decision to try and cut through the wire in front of it. He failed but remarkably he survived. Temporary Major C Bromley, the adjutant to Major H O Bishop, commanding the Battalion, also distinguished himself by his gallantry throughout the landing. Of the 1,000- strong force, only 400 came through the day. Major Bishop recommended six men for the VC but the War Office would only accept four nominations for a collective act of gallantry. The battalion was directed to recommend one officer, one NCO and two privates and the names of Willis, Richards, Keneally and Grimshaw were submitted. The first three were gazetted on 24 August 1915 but Grimshaw’s recommendation was rejected (he was awarded the DCM instead) on the grounds that, as a Lance Corporal, he was an NCO, not a private. Brigadier O C Wolley-Dod subsequently raised the issue with the Military Secretary to the Secretary of State for War, Lieutenant General Sir F J Davies, himself a Gallipoli veteran. Eventually Grimshaw, Stubbs and Bromley, were awarded the VC on 15 March 1917.
On the 25th April, 1915, three Companies and the Headquarters of the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, in effecting a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula to the West of Cape Helles, were met by a very deadly fire from hidden machine guns which caused a great number of casualties. The survivors, however, rushed up to and cut the wire entanglements, notwithstanding the terrific fire from the enemy, and, after overcoming supreme difficulties, the cliffs were gained and the position maintained. Amongst the many very gallant Officers and men engaged in this most hazardous undertaking, Captain Willis, Serjeant Richards and Private Keneally have been selected by their comrades as having performed the most signal acts of bravery and devotion to duty.