Reader’s dad was Gallipoli veteran

"First of the Volunteers", dated August 1914. Jack Santer is on the far right.

"First of the Volunteers", dated August 1914. Jack Santer is on the far right. - Credit: Archant

One-hundred years on from the outbreak of World War One, Nostalgia has been looking back at the men from Sidmouth who served on the battlefields of Europe.

Following the Nostalgia article in the May 16 edition, which carried a picture apparently showing the first men in the town to volunteer for military service, the Herald received a call from a Sidmouth woman who recognised one of the faces.

Joan Posta picked out her father on the far right of the photograph, and said he was the only man in the group who wasn’t from Devon.

Ernest John Santer – known as Jack – moved to Sidmouth from his home in Kent after responding to an advert for a grocer’s apprentice at Trump Stores in the town.

Mrs Posta said her father would have been in his late 20s when he signed up for military service.

Unlike the rest of the group, who became part of the Devonshire Regiment, he trained with the Royal Engineers.

And instead of being shipped over to France with the bulk of the regular army units, Jack took part in the Gallipoli Campaign, in what is now Turkey.

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Mrs Posta said that her father had talked very little about his experiences in the war, and only spoke openly about it when she was caring for him before his death.

“Just before he died he told me about how terrible it was,” said Mrs Posta. “He talked about how they had to load and unload these ships with horses in the heat.

“He said how the whole battalion went down with cholera, and they were all put in tents.

“A lot of them died, and the ones that survived moved on. They left my father behind for dead, and he said if it hadn’t have been for a little Arab boy bringing him water to drink, he would have died.”

Jack was listed as missing for six months, but eventually re-joined Allied forces before being sent to India.

“He never did say how he got back from Gallipoli,” added Mrs Posta.

He finished his military service as a quarter-master sergeant, and returned to Sidmouth where he opened his own greengrocers in the High Street - E.J. Santer and Sons.

He was father to seven children, and died aged 93 in Sidmouth Victoria Hospital.

Do you recognise any of the other faces in the picture? Please call Harvey on 01392 888503 or email

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