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EXITAusten Campbell DENT
Austen Campbell Dent
Born 19th July 1892 - Killed in Action 20th July 1915

    Austen was the son of Joseph Malaby and Alexandra Campbell Dent. His father Joseph had been born in the Britannia public house in Darlington and was very much a dynamic selfmade man in the world of publishing. All his life he was a driving force in the family firm that went on to establish an international business from its Covent Garden headquarters.
The family was a large one with expectations of the boys carrying on a family firm that went from strength to strength. While in Woodford the family lived at Salway Lodge, Salway Hill, Woodford, both Austen and his older brother Paxton Malaby Dent attended Bancrofts as day boys.Austen was at school between 1903 and 1905. In time the family moved on and with the drive and ambition of an industrious powerhouse of publishing the firm branched out internationally. Austen moved on to Bootham School, York and thence to Jesus College, Cambridge. Father Joseph wrote of the outbreak of war in 1914:

Austen, like so many of his generation in the universities, joined the Officer Training Corps and in 1913 he left Cambridge to join the family business - a gifted prospect for the future of publishing.
By the September of 1914 both Austen and Paxton Malaby Dent had enlisted leaving the relative comforts of academia and the busy publishing world orchestrated from 10-13 Bedford St, Covent Garden, London.

Austen enlisted at Ipswich into the Royal Army Medical Corps joining the 88th (1st/1st East Anglian) Field Ambulance. Field Ambulances numbered around 10 officers and more than 200 others in their ranks. They were responsible for providing medical aid to front line units from stretcher bearing casualties away from the lines to field surgery. Theoretically they were reckoned to be able to manage a maximum of 150 casualties at any time. In reality with the scale of wounds and slaughter on Great War battlefields there efforts to preserve life were frequently overwhelmed. Nevertheless history has bestowed upon them universal praise for their heroic efforts to preserve life that was otherwise so cheap.

The 88th drew its men from the East Anglian towns and was attached to the 29th Division. The 29th Division in turn was training for deployment in France when the orders arrived for the invasion of Gallipoli. In March 1915, Austen who had been promoted early to Sergeant rank, sailed with his unit via Malta to Alexandria and then on to Mudros an island of the Turkish coast which became insanitary and overwhelmed by the effort involved in marshalling the invasion force.
On 25th April 1915 the 29th Division landed at Cape Helles.
The landings at Gallipoli met varying degrees of opposition, but nowhere was this more violent than at Cape Helles. In effect it was the front door to the peninsula and ringed by high cliffs which made it ideal for defence. Nevertheless the strategists determined this point as being the main point of attack. Accordingly casualties were high on the landings and it was only through stubborn persistence that the allied troops pushed inland to establish a precarious foothold.

Here it was that Austen did his best to tend to the needs of the hundreds of casualties from gunshot, shrapnel and the all prevailing dysentery. The months that followed were desperate, insanitary, and disease ridden, the landings achieving little more than a number of cramped and overcrowded bridgeheads - none successfully linked with another. The Field Ambulance officers weaved there way through the trenches and across open ground to recover the wounded. Making their way back through the twisted network of allied defences they hurried them to makeshift field hospitals or the beachhead to be ferried out to hospital ships at sea.
No part of the bridgehead was free from enemy sniper or artillery fire and on Austenís 23rd Birthday 19th July 1915 he was shot and felled. He survived his wounds for a day and following his death was buried in the LANCASHIRE LANDING CEMETERY on the Gallipoli beachhead. Allied forces were to abandon Gallipoli by January 1916.


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