Allies prepared to attack the
Dardanelles - The Dardanelles, through to the Sea of
Marmara was a narrow, winding passage flanked on the north
by the Gallipoli peninsula. Cape Helles and Sedd-el-Bahr
lay at the northern entrance in European Turkey and
Orkanieh and Kum Kale to the south on the Asiatic side.
Ten miles in was Kephez Bay, a further five found Chanak
where the Narrows, just one mile wide at this point start.
Five more miles leads to Nagara - all these named places
being on the Asiatic side. The straits were heavily
defended by 100 guns up to 14in calibre although many of
these and the fortifications themselves were obsolescent.
Leading up to the Narrows were minefields protected by
covering guns and searchlights, torpedo tubes and
anti-submarine nets. The Turks under Gen von Sanders had
been strengthening the defences since the first Allied
bombardment in November.
Adm Carden's view was that
given enough battleships, a month would probably suffice
to knock out the entrance and then the inner forts up to
Kephez Point, destroy the guns around the Narrows and
then clear the minefields through to the Narrows. Late
in the month, the British War Council agreed to an
attack going ahead in February with the aim of taking
the Gallipoli peninsula and capturing Constantinople.
Adm Fisher allocated the brand-new, 15in-gunned "Queen
Elizabeth" to the enterprise, but his support wavered.
Churchill's views prevailed because success would have
such a major impact on the course of the war, but an
operation that needed careful planning, just grew.
15th January -
390/425t, 6-45cm tt). The first Allied, and French attempt
to break through the Dardanelles to the Sea of Marmara
failed when "Saphir" was sunk off Nagara in the Narrows.
Some sources report she ran aground, others that she was
mined. She was the first of four French boats lost in the
Dardanelles in 1915.
NEAR EAST - continued
Caucasus - The Russians
badly defeated the Turks, who lost most of their Third
Army, including an entire corps. Operations continued in
the area for the rest of the year.
Mediterranean War at Sea
24th February -
800t, 2-10cm, 4-45cm tt). Allied supplies for Montenegro
passed through the port of Antivari in the southern
Adriatic. "Dague" was sunk by a drifting mine in the
Antivari Roads, the first French warship lost in the
Start of Naval Attack on the
Dardanelles - Adm Carden's fleet now included
super-dreadnought "Queen Elizabeth", battlecruiser
"Inflexible", 12 pre-dreadnoughts (including
"Irresistible" and "Vengeance") and four French
pre-dreadnoughts (Vice-Adm Guéprette), together with other
ships based at Mudros on the island of Lemnos which was
occupied by the Royal Marines. The opening bombardment
started around 10.00 on the 19th with "Inflexible",
"Albion", "Cornwallis", "Triumph" and the French "Bouvet"
and "Suffren" firing on the entrance forts, but to little
effect. Bad weather prevented operations until the 25th,
when shell hits were made on the forts around Cape Helles
and Orkanieh. By the end of the month, the outer defences
had been virtually destroyed with the aid of demolition
parties landed from the ships.
Amongst these was a party of
marines and sailors led by Lt-Cdr Eric Robinson, ship's
officer, HMS "Vengeance", which went ashore at Kum Kale in
the afternoon of the 26th under the cover of
"Irresistible" and "Vengeance" and supporting cruisers.
Under heavy fire, Robinson held back his own men, and went
on to destroy two guns in the vicinity and another one at
Orkanieh. With this exploit and later sorties into the
Dardanelles, including the one which successfully
torpedoed stranded submarine "E-15" in April, he was
gazetted for the Victoria Cross in August 1915.
Following the loss of the
first British seaplane carrier, the converted old
cruiser "Hermes" in the North Sea, HMS "Ark Royal" built
on a mercantile hull, was commissioned and now arrived
off the Dardanelles with six seaplanes to spot for the
bombarding battleships. Being slow and vulnerable to the
U-boats that later arrived off the Dardanelles, she was
withdrawn to Mudros in May.
NEAR EAST - continued
Egypt - In the First
Turkish Attack on the Suez Canal, 15,000 Turks under
Djemal Pasha, the Turkish commander in Syria, crossed the
120 miles of the waterless Sinai Desert and reached the
east bank of the Suez Canal with artillery. Attacking on
the 3rd, some managed to cross into Egypt, but were
repulsed and retreated. For the rest of 1915, thousands of
Allied troops arrived in Egypt to protect this vital
waterway, and the British made preparations to advance
across the Sinai Peninsular.
* Royal Navy BATTLE HONOUR was
awarded to the British warships present at the defence of
the Canal, including pre-dreadnoughts "Swiftsure"
(flagship, Adm Peirse) and "Ocean", and protected cruisers
"Minerva" and "Proserpine" - Suez Canal, 2nd-4th February
1915. French warships also in action included old
battleship "Requin" and protected cruiser
2nd-18th - Main Naval Attacks
on the Dardanelles -
Bombardments on the 2nd and 3rd were
indecisive with the battleships being hindered by mobile
gun batteries. Another start was made on knocking out the
Narrow's defences on the 5th. But even the
big-gunned "Queen Elizabeth" was not up to this task,
hampered as she was by ineffective spotting aircraft. Even
more importantly, the minesweeping trawlers with their
untrained fisherman crews were unable to clear the
minefields, even at night because of the enemy
By the 10th, Adm Carden
was reporting failure, but was ordered by Churchill and
Fisher to press ahead with the attacks on the Narrows. He
did so, but the minesweeping failed to make any progress
and he resigned, to be succeeded on the 15th by
Rear-Adm John de Robeck, his second-in-command. The 18th
was now set for the major attack and by 11.30 on
that date, "Queen Elizabeth", "Inflexible", "Agamemnon"
and "Lord Nelson" were six miles inside the Dardanelles
bombarding the forts at the Narrows, with "Majestic" and
"Prince George" to the north and "Swiftsure" and "Triumph"
to the south taking on the mobile guns. By noon the latter
appeared to have been silenced, although "Inflexible"
and "Agamemnon" were lightly damaged in the
process. Now the four French battleships closed the
Narrows to nearly do the same for the guns there, but at a
cost of damage to battleship "Gaulois", beached on
It was now the turn of six
British battleships to move further in, when the first
major disaster occurs. Around 14.00, as she
(1898, 12,200t, 2-30.5cm) was either mined or hit by a
heavy shell in a magazine and sank with most of her crew.
The British trawlers were ordered to clear the minefields,
but even worse was to come in the area around Eren Keui
Bay on the Asiatic side, where "Bouvet" sunk. Here, some
20 mines were laid by the 365t minelayer "Nusret" in a
position believed by the Allies to have been cleared. Just
after 16.00, battlecruiser "Inflexible"
(Capt Phillimore) hit a mine, was badly flooded with 29
men killed, but reached Tenedos before going on to Malta
for repairs. Four minutes later, the battleship
"IRRESISTIBLE" (1902, 14,500t, 4-12in) commanded by
Capt Dent had to be abandoned for the same reason and sank
three hours later. Adm de Robeck now ordered the ships to
withdraw, but too late to save the already
shellfire-damaged battleship "OCEAN" (1900,
13,150t, 4-12in). She struck another mine around 18.00
and foundered during the night.
In a matter of hours, of the 16
Allied capital ships taking part, three had been sunk and
three heavily damaged (including the French battleship "Suffren")
in exchange for a few Turkish guns, although the
minefields still remained the main obstacle to progress.
Now de Robeck organized a more effective minesweeping
force using destroyers. But since the 15th, the War
Council had been considering using troops. Lord Kitchener
agreed to release the Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC)
Corps, and the Naval and 29th Divisions, which together
with French troops, provided a force of 80,000 men which
assembled on Lemnos under Gen Sir Ian Hamilton.
Adm de Robeck accepted that
ships alone could not break through and the Navy ended its
attempts in an endeavour that might have succeeded. By the
18th the Turkish defenders were badly demoralized and
nearly out of ammunition. But now the Allies were
committed to the Gallipoli landings, although the troops
would not be ready until the 25th April. This gave the
Turks time to recover and prepare.
* Royal Navy BATTLE
HONOUR was awarded to all the warships taking part in
the Dardanelles campaign - Dardanelles 1915-1916.
5th-15th - Attack on Smyrna,
Turkey - Other parts of the Turkish Mediterranean
coast were targets for Allied attacks, including the major
port of Smyrna, which was to be blockaded because of its
potential as a U-boat base. On the 5th, Vice-Adm Peirse,
C-in-C Egypt and West Indies station, arrived off Smyrna
with armoured cruiser "Euryalus", pre-dreadnoughts
"Triumph" and "Swiftsure", a seaplane carrier, and
minesweepers. His first tasks were to bombard and destroy
the protecting forts and clear the approach minefields,
neither of which were accomplished. On the 11th, seaplane
carrier "Anne Rickmers", a captured
German merchantman, was torpedoed and damaged by
German-commanded, Turkish torpedo boat "Demir Hissar".
Negotiations for surrender also took place with the
Turkish Governor, but without success, and on the 15th,
the force withdrew.
Mediterranean War at Sea
27th April -
cruiser "LEON GAMBETTA"
(1905, 12,000t, 4-19.4cm & 16-16.47cm). Units of the
French fleet continued to blockade the Austrians in the
Adriatic, but now under threat from Austrian and reported
German U-boats. On the night of the 26th/27th while on
patrol off the Straits of Otranto, unescorted "Leon
Gambetta" was hit by two 18in torpedoes fired by Austrian
"U-5" (Lt Ritter von Trapp of "Sound of Music" fame). She
sank rapidly, taking over 600 men with her.
17th April - Turkish
torpedo boat "DEMIR HISSAR" (1906, 97t, 3tt). The
German-commanded vessel, after her exploits off Smyrna,
headed into the Aegean. On the 17th, after failing to sink
a British transport, she was intercepted south of the
Greek island of Chios by British destroyers "Jed",
"Kennet" and "Wear" and ran herself aground. Some sources
claim protected cruiser "Minerva" forced "Demir
17th-19th April - Destruction
of British submarine "E-15" - A second Allied
submarine attempted to break through the Dardanelles to
the Sea of Marmara. Early in the morning of the 17th,
after leaving Mudros, "E-15" (1914, 670/810t, 5-18in tt,
1-12pdr, Lt Cdr T S Brodie) ran aground some ten miles in,
under Kephaz Point. Fired on and disabled, Cdr Brodie and
members of the crew were killed. Various attempts were now
made to destroy "E-15". Submarine "B-6", with Cdr Brodie's
brother on board, tried to sink her by torpedo, but
missed. Later, during the night, destroyers "Grampus" and
"Scorpion" (commanded by the future Adm A B Cunningham of
World War 2 Mediterranean Fleet fame), attempted to find
her, but failed.
Next morning, on the 18th, it
was the turn of Lt-Cdr Holbrook VC in "B-11", but he too
was unable to locate "E-15". Now battleships "Triumph"
and "Majestic" tried to ensure the submarine's
destruction with heavy guns. Sailing into the Straits in
the afternoon, they came under intense fire, and failed
to secure any hits. In the meantime, seaplanes had
carried out their own attempts. Finally, on the night of
the 18th/19th, one picket boat each from "Triumph" and
"Majestic", both armed with two 14in torpedoes went in.
Lt Cdr Robinson in "Triumph's" boat was in command of
the expedition; Lt Godwin commandsed"Majestic's".
Approaching "E-15", "Majestic's" boat
was sunk by gunfire, but still managed to hit and
destroy the stricken submarine before going down. Lt Cdr
Robinson rescued the crew and headed for safety in the
surviving picket boat. * The Victoria Cross was awarded
to Lt-Cdr Eric Robinson RN for this and other exploits
in the Dardanelles.
25th April - Allied Landings
at Gallipoli - By now, an Allied Fleet including 18
battleships and 12 cruisers was ready to land the first
30,000 troops. They went ashore at V, W, X and Y beaches
around Cape Helles at the southwest tip of Gallipoli and
further north near Gaba Tepe (later known as Anzac Cove)
on the 25th, mainly using ships boats.
But the Turks were in prepared positions, ready with a new
Fifth Army of 80,000 under German Gen von Sanders. The
landings were partly successful, but none of the main
objectives were reached - neither the town of Krithia and
heights of Achi Baba from the Cape Helles area, nor across
the narrow neck of Gallipoli to reach the Dardanelles from
Anzac Cove. Here the ANZAC's were stopped by a Turkish
division commanded by Mustapha Kemal (later Kemal Ataturk,
the father of modern Turkey).
The campaign dragged on for 8
months, with the Allies never gaining more than a
foothold. The beachheads were swept by fire from the
surrounding heights, Allies and Turks attacked frequently,
but in every case with heavy casualties for few gains.
Then in the summer, disease struck to add to those killed
in the fighting. Thus the main outflanking operation of
the war bogged down into trench warfare little different
from that on the Western Front. And in supporting the
Allies, the Royal Navy lost three battleships in May.
On V Beach, still on the
25th, as the battleship "Albion" bombards, the
ex-collier "River Clyde" attempted to land 2,000 men of
the 29th Division across three lighters and a grounded
dredging hopper. The pontoon bridge was put in place, when
the Turks opened heavy fire. After three hours, only 200
men had reached the shore, with many more left dead and
wounded. The main body only succeeded with the coming of
nightfall, but what little success there was in daylight
was mainly due to the "River Clyde's" men. They positioned
the lighters and hopper, securing and holding them as the
troops landed. Cdr Unwin, the commanding officer of the
"River Clyde", who also commissioned her, even stood in
the water holding lines, and although himself wounded,
later rescued other wounded from shore by boat. Midshipman
Drewry, who commanded the hopper was also wounded, but
carried on, later to be taken over by Midshipman Malleson.
Other heroes of the hour included AB Williams who remained
in the water, holding the pontoon fast until killed, and
Seaman Samson, working on the lighters all day before
being badly wounded.
Members of the Royal Naval
Division also distinguished themselves. Sub-Lt Tisdall,
Platoon Commander, Anson Btn, waiting to land from the
"River Clyde" and serve with the army, went ashore to help
Cdr Unwin bring back the wounded. He landed next day, to
be killed himself at Achi Baba on the 6th May. Also ashore
at Anzac Cove on the 28th was L/Cpl
Parker RMLI, Portsmouth Btn to relieve Australian troops
near Gaba Tepe, and close to Turkish positions. On the
night of the
30th, he volunteered to take ammunition
and supplies to isolated trenches. Several men were killed
or wounded in the attempt, and Parker alone succeeded, to
then give first aid. Later he was seriously wounded.
The Victoria Cross was
awarded to Cdr Edward Unwin RN, Midshipman George Drewry
RNR, Midshipman Wilfred Malleson RN, AB William
Williams, Seaman George Samson RNR, Sub-Lt Arthur
Tisdall RNVR, and L/Cpl Walter Parker RMLI.
30th April - Australian
submarine "AE-2" (1914, 655/800t, 4-18in tt,
1-12pdr), Lt Cdr Stoker. Heading into the Dardanelles
early on the 25th, the "E" class "AE-2" was the first boat
to break through into the Sea of Marmora, torpedoing a
Turkish gunboat in the Narrows on the way. Then on the
30th, near Marmora Island, and dived, she lost trim and
surfaced wildly near a torpedo boat. Unable to stay down,
she was holed in the pressure hull by three shells from
the enemy warship - the "Sultan Hissar", and had to be
scuttled. By now, Lt-Cdr Boyle's "E-14" hasd also got
3rd April -
(1904, 3300t, 2-15cm). The Turks lost one of their few
major warships when light (or protected) cruiser
"Medjidiye" in company with the "Hamidieh" and four
torpedo boats sailed to bombard Odessa. She hit a mine and
sank in shallow water just 15 miles short of the target.
"Medjidiye" was soon raised by the Russians,
and back in service by year's end as the "Prut", named
after the minelayer lost to "Goeben" in October 1914.
Italy Declared War on
Austria-Hungary - On the 23rd, Italy turned against
her former allies, but at this time only declared war on
Austria-Hungary, partly to gain territory. (War was not
declared on Germany until August 1916). The Italian Army
of nearly 900,000 men organised into 36 divisions and
under the command of Gen Luigi Cadorna, Chief of the
Italian General Staff, was poorly equipped but outnumbered
the Austrians on this front. The frontier between Austria
and Italy stretched nearly 300 miles from Switzerland to
the Adriatic in the shape of a large "S" on its side, and
consisted of almost impassable mountains, well fortified
by the Austrians. Starting at the Swiss border was the
Austrian enclave of Trentino which pushed right down into
northern Italy with the Austrians on the heights, and the
Italians down below in the Po Valley where their main
railway lines were situated. To the east of the Trentino
were the high Carnic Alps, and then the Isonzo River
running north to south through Gorizia to the Carso
Plateau and the sea at the Gulf of Trieste. Beyond the
Isonzo was the Ljubljana Gap, the only gateway into
Austria-Hungary, and the Italians main objective. Even
this meant battling uphill, with the ever-present threat
of the Austrians in the Trentino behind them, breaking out
and cutting the Italian supply lines.
NAVY - As Italy
entered the war, so the first of the two "Doria" class
battleships (13-30.5cm or 12in), "Duilio", was completed,
with "Andrea Doria" following in 1916. With the recently
commisioned "Conte di Cavour", Italy now had a total of
five dreadnoughts compared to the three in August 1914.
The situation in the Adriatic
led to raids by both sides, the Austrians mounting
theirs from heavily-defended, deep water bases such as
Pola and Cattaro, and shelling the long Italian
coastline. The Italians struck back, and were reinforced
by the French "Armée Navale", based at Brindisi and the
Greek island of Corfu, together with British units.
Neither side managed to control the Adriatic in 1915,
but the Allied blockade kept the Austrians from playing
any part in the Mediterranean, and in turn, allowed them
to evacuate the Serbians.
Mediterranean War at Sea
May/June - German coastal
submarine "UB-3" (commissioned as the Austrian
U-9, 1915, 130/140t, 2-45cm tt). After arriving by rail at
Pola for assembly, coastal submarine "UB-3" sailed for the
Aegean and Dardanelles area and went missing. She
apparently left Pola on the 23rd May, towed by the
Austrians as far as the Straits of Otranto, and was never
24th May - Main Sortie of the
Austrian Fleet - With war declared, the bulk of the
Austrian fleet sailed to bombard the Italian Adriatic
coast, mainly in the northern part. Further south the
Italian destroyer "TURBINE" (1902, 330t, 4-7.6cm,
2-45cm tt) was encountered off the island of Pelagosa and
sunk by Austrian scout cruiser "Helgoland" and destroyers
"Csepel", "Tatra" and "Lika". The Austrian ships,
including the three pre-dreadnought "Radetzky's" and the
three completed "Tegetthoff" dreadnoughts, were back in
Pola that same day. There they spent the rest of the war,
with one exception in 1918, inactive as a "fleet in being"
ready for any large fleet action.
Gallipoli - Heavy and
intermittent fighting, continued in Gallipoli
through to July and then August, when further landings
British submarine successes -
Royal Navy submarines won two more VC's for their
commanders in the Dardanelles campaign, in a month which
also saw the loss of one French submarine and three
British battleships. Starting out on the
27th April, Lt-Cdr Boyle in "E-14"
reached the Sea of Marmara for a successful three weeks
patrol that hindered the reinforcement of Turkish forces
in Gallipoli. Accounts somewhat vary on his successes
which included a claimed torpedo gunboat sunk on the way
in. What was certain was that in the Sea of Marmara, Boyle
sank an escorted transport, small gunboat "Nur ul
Bahir", and an ex-White Star liner carrying
troops for Gallipoli, before he rejoined the fleet on the
18th May. Then after his failure to break
through to the Baltic in 1914, Lt-Cdr Naismith in "E-11"
now reached the Sea of Marmara. Leaving on the 19th
May, his orders were "to run amuck", which he
did, sinking some eight ships including a transport laying
alongside the capital of Constantinople. He safely
returned in early June, and made two
more equally successful patrols beyond the Dardanelles
later in 1915. The Victoria Cross was awarded to
Lt-Cdr Edward Boyle RN and Lt-Cdr Martin Naismith RN.
1st May -
400/550t, 1-45cm tt, 6 torpedo collars/cradles) tried to
break through the Dardanelles defences, but hitsa mine in
the Narrows, and was lost with all her crew.
13th-27th May - Three British
Battleships Lost - On the night of the 12th/13th,
the old British battleship "GOLIATH" (1900,
13,200t, 4-12in) was at anchor off Cape Helles, providing
close gunfire support for the Allied troops deadlocked on
Gallipoli. The German-manned, Turkish torpedo boat
"Muavenet" (or "Muavenet-I-Miliet") torpedoed and sent her
to the bottom with over 500 seamen.
The first German U-boat to sail
into the Mediterranean was now in the Aegean. Lt-Cdr
Hersing in "U-21" left Germany in late April, reaching
Cattaro in mid-May. A week later, he headed on for the
Dardanelles and the Allied ships laying off Gallipoli, the
larger ones protected by net defences against expected
submarine attack. On the 25th, he torpedoed British
"TRIUMPH" (1904, 12,000t, 4-10in) while she was
firing her guns in support off Gabe Tepe, midway between
Suvla Bay and Cape Helles. She capsized in a short time
with the loss of some 70 men.
Two days later, on the 27th,
Hersing caught the old British battleship "MAJESTIC"
(1895, 14,800t, 4-12in) in the same area and role as
"Triumph", and torpedoed her twice. She turned over and
sank within seven minutes, but casualties were not
heavy. "U-21" later passed through the Dardanelles and
reached Constantinople in early June. She was joined in
the Mediterranean by smaller "UB" and "UC" boats which
travelled overland to Pola for erection, while larger
U-boats later sailed directly to the Mediterranean to
add to the few Austrian submarines.
10th May - German
battlecruiser "Goeben" met heavy units of the
Russian Black Sea Fleet, including pre-dreadnought
"Evstafi", on a raid off the Turkish coast. She was
damaged by two 30.5cm (12in) shells to the east of the
Italy - By the time the
Italians were ready for the first of some eleven Battles
of the Isonzo River, the Austrians had 20 divisions ready
on the front under the command of Archduke Eugen. In the
First Battle of the Isonzo which lasted from
approximately 23 June to 7 July, the Italians attacked
towards Gorizia, but made only limited progress. Meanwhile
in the Trentino and the Alps, they launched a number of
minor assaults to improve their positions.
War at Sea
9th June - British light
cruiser "Dublin". Taking part in a sweep off the
Albanian coast, and escorted by French and Italian
destroyers, "Dublin" was hit and damaged by a torpedo from
Austrian submarine "U-4". Soon working up to 17 knots,
"Dublin" got back to Brindisi but was out of action for
10th June - Italian
submarine "MEDUSA" (1912, 250/305t, 2-45cm tt). As
German submarines were transferred to the Austrian Navy,
and also prepared to operate in the Mediterranean under
the Austrian flag, they scored their first successes in
the Adriatic. After completion at Pola and shortly before
being handed over to the Austrians as "U-11", the
German-crewed "UB-15" commanded by Lt Heimburg, sank
"Medusa" in the northern Adriatic off Venice. (Other dates
including the 1st and 9th June may be found in some
3rd June -
(1895, 970t, 100 mines). The Allies now attempted to close
the Gulf of Smyrna with minefields. During the operations,
the old torpedo cruiser "Casabianca", converted to a
minelayer, blew up and sank on one of her own mines.
Mesopotamia - From the
Basra area, a British Army corps (Gen John Nixon)
including the 6th Indian Division (Gen Charles Townshend)
moved northwards up the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers aiming
for Baghdad. Amara on the Tigris (not to be confused with
the more distant Kut-el-Amara) was captured on the 3rd
assisted by a variety of small Royal Navy vessels
including "Comet", "Shaitan", "Shushan" and
Italy - Ten days after
the end of the First Battle, the Second Battle of the
Isonzo started and ran on into August or September,
depending on accounts. Little progress was made by the
Mediterranean War at
7th July - Italian
cruiser "AMALFI" (1909, 9,800t, 4-25.4cm, 8-19cm).
The Italian Navy suffered its first major losses when two
armoured cruisers were sunk in the Adriatic by enemy
submarines. First to go on the 7th was the Venice-based
"Amalfi" supporting a sweep by Italian destroyers down the
Istrian coast. She was torpedoed and sunk in the upper
Adriatic by the recently assembled German "UB-14" (but
designated Austrian "U-26"), commanded by Lt Heimburg, who
a month before in "UB-15", had accounted for Italian
18th July - Italian
cruiser "GIUSEPPE GARIBALDI" (1901, 8,100t,
1-25.4cm & 2-20.3cm). Further south, the "Garibaldi"
and her cruiser division were off the southern Dalmatian
coast, bombarding the railway line between Ragusa and
Cattaro. She was hit by one or two torpedoes and sank off
Gravosa, victim of the Austrian "U-4", which damaged
"Dublin" in June.
27th July -
French submarine "MARIOTTE"
(1913, 530t, 4-45cm tt, 2 drop collars). Yet another
Allied submarine was sunk trying to break through the
Dardanelles to the Sea of Marmara. The "Mariotte" was
trapped in the Turkish net defences off Chanak in the
Narrows, forced to surface and scuttled after being
shelled by shore batteries.
Nasiriya on the Euphrates was captured by
British forces in the move on Baghdad.
Russian Black Sea Fleet -
At Nikolayev in the Ukraine, the first two "Imperatritsa
Mariya" class Dreadnoughts with their 12-30.5cm (12in)
guns were completing for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. When
commissioned later in the year, the "Imperatritsa Mariya"
and "Imperatritsa Ekaterina Velikaya" gave the Russians
superiority over the German-Turkish fleet with its single
dreadnought battlecruiser, the "Goeben". Russian
sister-ship "Imperator Alexander III" (later "Volya") was
not ready until 1917.
Mediterranean War at Sea
5th August - Italian
submarine "NEREIDE" (1913, 220t, 2-45cm tt). The
Italians occupied the Austrian island of Pelagosa in the
central Adriatic in July, and later the same month, the
Austrians made an unsuccessful attempt to recapture it.
Now in August, the Italian "Nereide" was laying offshore
in support of the garrison. Surfaced, she was torpedoed
and sunk by the Austrian Lt von Trapp's "U-5". Following
another Austrian attack later in the month, the island was
12th August -
(1911, 240t, 2-45cm tt). Austrian submarines suffered
their first loss. On or around the 12th,
"U-12" was mined and sunk in the upper
Adriatic, off Venice.
13th August -
(1909, 240t, 2-45cm tt). Far to the south, but still
on the 12th, "U-3" attacked and missed the Italian armed
merchant cruiser "Città di Catania" on patrol in the
Straits of Otranto. The AMC attempted to ram, but
apparently unsuccessfully, and Allied destroyers were sent
out. Next morning on the 13th, "U-3" was
sighted and sunk by the gunfire of the French "Bisson" NE
17th August - Italian
submarine "JALEA" (1913, 250t, 2-45cm tt). Less
than two weeks after the loss of "Nereide", "Jalea" was
lost on an Austrian mine in the upper Adriatic, in the
Gulf of Trieste.
Landings at Suvla Bay,
Gallipoli - Gen Hamilton with three more Allied
Divisions, tried to outflank the Turks on Gallipoli with
further landings on the 6th. These took place just to the
north of Anzac Cove and the ANZAC forces, at Suvla Bay,
with the aim of reaching Sair Bair. In the face of the
Turkish Fifth Army, now 13 divisions strong, the attempt
8th August -
pre-dreadnought "HAYREDDIN BARBAROSSA"
(1893, 10,000t, 6-28cm). Returning to the Sea of
Marmara for the second time, British submarine "E-11"
(Lt-Cdr Naismith VC) accounted for numerous vessels
including a gunboat during the month. Then on the 8th, off
Bulair on the Gallipoli Peninsula, he torpedoed and sank
the ex-German pre-dreadnought "Hayreddin Barbarossa" on
its way to support the Turkish land defences.
RNAS aircraft torpedo attacks
- A new form of warfare appeared on the 12th, when a Short
184 seaplane piloted by Flt Cdr Edmonds and flying from
the converted fast packet "Ben-my-Chree" off the Gallipoli
coast, hit a beached Turkish merchantman (recently
torpedoed by Boyle's "E-14") in the Sea of Marmara with a
14in torpedo. In a similar attack five days later, a
transport may have been sunk. This was the first use of
torpedoes dropped from aircraft.
Bulgaria & Serbia -
With undefeated Serbia sitting across the supply routes
between the main Central Powers and Turkey, with Rumania
looking to go to war, and the Turks in need of support,
the German C-in-C, Gen Falkenhayn decided to finish off
Serbia and bring Bulgaria into the struggle. Persuaded by
the success of the German-Austrian breakthrough against
Russia, the inability of the Italians to make any progress
across the Isonzo, and the British failure to take
Gallipoli, Bulgaria secretly joined the Central Powers on
the 6th. Two weeks later they started to mobilise their
army ready for an attack on Serbia in October, a force
which before the war was over totalled some 1.2 million
Mediterranean War at
27th September - Italian
pre-dreadnought "BENEDETTO BRIN" (1905, 14,700t,
4-30.5cm). The Italian Navy suffered another major loss,
but in mysterious circumstances. The "Benedetto Brin"
exploded in Brindisi harbour and sank with heavy loss of
life, including the commander of the 3rd Battle Division.
Austrian sabotage was later claimed to be the cause.
5th September - British
submarine "E-7" (1914, 655t, 4tt, 1-12pdr).
Another Allied submarine was lost to the Dardanelles
defences. Heading from Mudros on the 4th for another
patrol in the Sea of Marmara, "E-7" (Lt Cdr Cochrane) was
trapped in A/S nets at Nagara and shaken by exploding
mines. Next day on the 5th and still enmeshed, the boat
was damaged by charges lowered from a rowing boat by Lt
Cdr Heimburg, commander of the recently-arrived German
"UB-14" and his cook! The British boat reached the surface
to be scuttled by Cdr Cochrane.
Kut-al-Amara on the Tigris, well on the way to Bahgdad,
was taken when Gen Townshend defeated a well entrenched
Turkish force. He pushed on for Baghdad.
Capture of Kut-al-Amara -
Just before the taking of Kut-al-Amara, ships of the RN
Flotilla attempted to force a passage. They were stopped
short of the town by a boom across the River Tigris,
consisting of heavy hawsers and a dhow sunk in mid-stream,
the whole covered by Turkish fire. At dusk on the 28th,
armed paddle-steamer "Comet" (Lt-Cdr Cookson) and two
armed launches failed to destroy the dhow by gunfire or
break through the barrier by ramming. Cdr Cookson lay
"Comet" alongside the dhow, and tried to cut through the
connecting cables with an axe. He was hit and killed, and
the ships withdrew. When Kut was taken the next day, the
barrier was dismantled. The Victoria Cross was
awarded posthumously to Lt-Cdr Edgar Cookson DSO RN.
Italy - The Third Battle
of the Isonzo, really a continuation of the earlier one,
started in mid-month with the struggle carrying on into
Defeat of Serbia - After
an interval of nine months, the Fourth Invasion of Serbia
was about to take place. For the attack, German FM
Mackensen commanded three of the four armies taking part -
the Austrian Third, German Eleventh, and Bulgarian First.
The Germans and Austrians were to strike from
Austria-Hungary in the north, aiming for the Serbian
capital of Belgrade, while the Bulgarian First would
approach from the east. A fourth army, the Bulgarian
Second, commanded from Sofia, was to attack into southeast
Serbia and cut the railway to the Greek port of Salonika
on the Aegean. The Serbs were outnumbered, outclassed, and
lacked artillery. The Austro-German armies began their
invasion from the north on the 6th/7th, and Belgrade fell
two days later.
Allies open the Macedonian
Front - The Allies expected the attack on Serbia,
and on the 3rd, started to land a British and a French
division at Salonika. Nominal command of the Allied
Expeditionary Force was vested in French Gen Maurice
Sarrail. Greece remained neutral, but the landings were
supported by the pro-Allied Greek Prime Minister
Eleutherios Venizelos, who soon fell from power. Another
front - Macedonia - was thus opened, but soon faced
political problems, and a lack of aims and clear command
Bulgaria at War - On the
11th, Bulgaria declared war, and two more armies advanced
into eastern and southeastern Serbia. A week later and the
Bulgarians started to sever communications with Greece.
Five more days and the railway line to Salonika was cut,
and the Allies were unable to supply the Serbs or join up
with them. As Serbia struggled to survive, the Allies
retreated into Salonika and fortified the port against
both Bulgarians and Greeks.
War at Sea
Allied attempt to close the
Otranto Straits - With the Austrian fleet bottled up
in harbour, the Allies made their first attempt to close
the Straits of Otranto to German U-boats. Some 60 civilian
fishing drifters arrived from Britain in September, and
were now on A/S patrol with their nets out at the start of
a long and ultimately unsuccessful effort to close the 50
mile wide Straits. By the end of the war, the Otranto
Barrage as it was called, included minefields, destroyer,
trawler and submarine-chaser patrol lines, motor launches,
seaplanes and balloons.
Attacks on Bulgaria -
With war declared, Allied ships started to blockade
Bulgaria's short Aegean coastline. On the 21st, British
warships including cruiser "Theseus" and monitors "M-15"
and "M-28" bombarded Dedeagatch.
30th October -
390t, 6-45cm tt, 1-37mm). The first French submarine to
reach the Sea of Marmara ran aground on the 30th and may
have been hit by Turkish shore batteries (accounts
differ). "Turquoise" was captured intact and incorporated
into the Turkish Navy as "Mustadieh Ombashi", but never
re-commissioned. Papers found on board allowed the Germans
to ambush "E-20" which broke through at the same time.
31st October -
(1913, c1000t, 3-4in, 4tt) in a support role, was wrecked
off Gallipoli in Suvla Bay and destroyed by Turkish
Italy - The Third Battle
of Isonzo ended in early November. The Fourth Battle soon
started and continued through to December.
Serbia - The Fourth and
final Invasion of Serbia came to an end. The surviving
Serbian armies, fighting on in the west and south, were
forced to retreat into Montenegro and Albania. By the
28th, the campaign was nearly over, Serbia overrun by the
Austro-German and Bulgarian armies, and the Serbs cut in
Allied aircraft attack
Bulgaria - Sqdn Cdr Davies, No.3 Sqdn, RNAS flying
a Nieuport, and Flt Sub-Lt Smylie in a Henri Farman,
attacked the railway junction at Ferrijik near the Gulf of
Enos in the Bulgarian province of Thrace on the 19th. As
Smylie bombed, his 'plane was hit and he force-landed
nearby. Cdr Davies landed and rescues him. * The Victoria
Cross was awarded to Squadron Cdr Richard Davies DSO,
Libya - The Senussi
tribe was in revolt against their Italian masters, and
also threatening the British in Egypt. The Germans
attempted to support and supply the uprising.
Mediterranean War at
5th & 6th November -
British armed boarding steamer "TARA" (1,860grt)
and Egyptian coastguard vessel "ABBAS" - German
submarine "U-35" (Lt-Cdr Kophamel) carried men and
munitions across the Mediterranean, some towed in sailing
schooners, and landed them at Bardia to support the
Senussi. On the 5th, off Sollum, "U-35" sank the "Tara"
and towed the survivors in boats to Bardia, where they
become prisoners of the Senussi. Next day the Egyptian
"Abbas" was sunk and "Nur El Bahr" damaged off Sollum by
the U-boat's gunfire. In March 1916, the "Tara's" men were
rescued from their desert prison in a daring raid by a
British armoured car force.
Gallipoli Campaign - Lord
Kitchener visited Gallipoli. Allied casualties now
totalled at least 250,000 including 50,000 killed, and the
French were also pressing for a campaign on the Macedonian
front from Salonika. The decision was taken to evacuate.
5th November - British
submarine "E-20" (1915, 670t, 5tt, 1-12pdr), Lt
Cdr Warren. With information gleaned from the captured
French submarine "Turquoise", the German "UB-14" (Lt-Cdr
Heimburg) waited for and hit "E-20" with a single torpedo
in the Sea of Marmara. Only nine men including the C.O.
were picked up after the British boat exploded. (Some
sources credit the sinking to "UB-15", which after
assembly at Pola, had been temporarily commanded by
Heimburg before transfer to the Austrian Navy. "UB-15"
stayed in the Adriatic.)
NEAR EAST - continued
Mesopotamia - Just short
of Baghdad, during the first advance on the city, the four
day Battle of Ctesiphon started on the
22nd. The attacking British and Indian forces failed to
break through, and retreated back along the Tigris to
29th November - German
"UC-13" (1915, 170t, 12 mines). A few small German
submarines had now reached the Black Sea, via
Constantinople, and based mainly at Varna on the Bulgarian
coast. After being assembled at Pola earlier in the year,
"UC-13" now patrolled off the Caucasian coastline, and on
returning, ran aground in a heavy storm to the east of the
Bosphorus, near the mouth of the Sakaria River (41°09N,
30°30E). She either sank after the incident, or was later
destroyed by gunfire.
Serbia & Macedonia
- Through December, January, and into February, remnants
of the Serbian army made a fighting retreat across the
snow-covered mountains to the coast of Albania, taking
their prisoners with them. From there, the Italian and
French Navies evacuated the survivors first to Corfu, and
some eventually on to Salonika to be reformed into a new
Serbian army. More than 100,000 men made this journey
without loss. Early in December, the Italians landed two
divisions at Valona, Albania to hold the south of that
country. Meanwhile, Franco-British troops continued
operations on the Macedonian Front, with Salonika held in
a state of defence.
Mediterranean War at
4th December - Italian
destroyer "INTREPIDO" (1913, 680t, 1-12cm, 2-45cm
tt). Austrian and German submarines attacked Allied supply
routes in the Adriatic, and German "UC-14" laid mines of
Valona, Albania across the Straits of Otranto from the
heel of Italy. On the 4th, "Intrepido" and a transport
sank in "UC-14's" field.
5th December -
(c1909, 400t, 6 torpedo
collars/cradles). Austrian light forces including cruiser
"Novara" and destroyers raided the coast of northern
Albania and caught the "Fresnel" aground off the mouth of
the Bojana River, close to where she has been on station.
Destroyer "Warasdiner" completed her destruction by
gunfire and captured the crew.
28th/29th December - Austrian
Cruiser Raid in the Adriatic -
The Austrian Navy made another
raid, this time to interfer with the Serbian evacuation.
The new scout cruiser "Helgoland" accompanied by five
"Tatra" class destroyers (all 1913/14, 850t, 2-10cm,
4-45cm tt) left the advance base of Cattaro and headed for
Durazzo late on the 28th, and while on passage, sighted
400t, 1-45cm tt & 6 torpedo collars/cradles) herself
on patrol to the south of Cattaro. Destroyer "Balaton"
opened fire before ramming and sent her to the bottom.
Early next day the Austrian squadron arrived off Durazzo
and opened fire, but
was mined and sunk, and "Triglav" badly damaged in
the same field. "Czepel" attempted to take her in tow, but
fouled a propeller, and the job was taken over by "Tatra".
The crippled Austrian force then returned slowly north.
Allied forces in Brindisi were
alerted and British light cruiser "Dartmouth" and the
Italian "Quarto" sailed to intercept, followed by French
destroyers, and later British light cruiser "Weymouth",
the Italian "Nino Bixio" and Italian destroyers. The
Austrians also responded and sent out from Cattaro,
armoured cruiser "Kaiser Karl VI", and later still, other
ships including the "Novara", to support the returning
survivors of the raid, but they did not see action.
Early in the afternoon of the
29th, the advanced Allied ships were in action with the
Austrian squadron which was still only half-way home.
The French destroyers headed for the
still under tow, which was abandoned and sent to the
bottom off Cape Rondini, helped on the way by the French
"Casque". Meanwhile, the cruisers attempted to cut-off
and deal with the "Helgoland" and three remaining
destroyers. In a long-range gunnery duel fought
throughout the afternoon, "Helgoland" skillfully avoided
the Allied cruisers and reached Cattaro safely but with
the loss of the valuable "Lika" and "Triglav".
3rd December -
(c1907, 280t, 1-65mm,
2tt). On his third and last patrol in the Sea of Marmara,
Lt-Cdr Naismith in "E-11" added to his already
considerable score of Turkish vessels sunk and disabled.
On the 3rd, he torpedoed and sank the "Yar Hissar" in the
Gulf of Ismit.
British submarine operations
- Coming to the end of their operations in the Dardanelles
and the Sea of Marmara, claims for Turkish ships sunk by
British submarines to the end of 1915 included one old
battleship and an armoured ship, six small warships, 16
transports and around 200 small steamers and sailing
vessels, although some of these were beached and salved.
In exchange, three British and one Australian "E" class
boats were lost, plus four French.
Evacuation of Gallipoli
- The Royal Navy completed the evacuation of the British
and ANZAC forces from the northern beachheads around Anzac
Cove and Suvla on the 19th, all without loss. Three weeks
later, it was the turn of the men on the Cape Helles
beaches at the tip of Gallipoli. Major Allied losses in
warships throughout the failed campaign to take
3 plus 1 Australian
NEAR EAST - continued
Mesopotamia - Gen
Townsend and 10,000 men, with few supplies, were
surrounded at Kut-al-Amara by a Turkish-Arab army. Relief
forces from the south prepared to fight through to them.
Serbia - The
Serbian retreat across Albania continued. Further north,
the Austrians overran Montenegro, which surrendered on the
Final Evacuation of
Gallipoli - By the 9th, the last Allied troops had
been withdrawn from the Cape Helles beaches, again, as
three weeks earlier, without loss. The evacuations were
the most successful part of a campaign which proved a
great defeat for Britain. Of the half a million Allied
troops involved, half became casualties of battle
and disease; the same figures applying to the Turks. The
attempt to force the Dardanelles and take Constantinople
Mesopotamia - The
first attempt, under Gen Fenton Aylmer, to relieve Gen
Townsend at Kut-al-Amara, failed at the Battle of Shaikh
Sa'ad. River gunboats and steamers of the Royal Navy
continued to play their part.
Persia - A small
Russian force, commanded by Gen N N Baratov, and supplied
from the Caspian Sea, attacked into Persia, aiming for
Baghdad. He captured Hamadan in northwest Persia in
Caucasus - The main
Russian offensive into Turkey was launched from Armenia.
Here the target was the fortress of Erzurum. The attack
started in mid-month under Gen Nikolai Yudenich.
Serbia - The last
survivors of the Serbian Army, still holding their
Austrian POW's, reached the Albanian ports of Durazzo and
Valona on the Adriatic. From there they were evacuated,
mainly by the French and Italian Navies, to the Greek
island of Corfu. The evacuation was over by the 26th, by
which time most of Albania had been occupied. The
Italians maintained their foothold in the south around
8th February -
French cruiser "AMIRAL
(1894, 4,700t, 2-19.4cm & 6-13.86cm). On patrol off
the Syrian coast, the French armoured cruiser was
torpedoed by Hersing in German "U-21", who
also sank British pre-dreadnoughts "Majestic"
and "Triumph" off Gallipoli. The old ship went
down rapidly to the west of Beirut and just one survivor
was picked up.
Caucasus - The
Russian offensive from Armenia continued. On the 16th,
and following a 50 mile advance, Gen Yudenich captured
Italy - As part of
the Allied strategy to hold down Austrian forces, Gen
Cadorna launched the Fifth Battle of the Isonzo early in
the month. By month's end it has petered out with few
Mediterranean War at Sea
1st February -
British sloop "PRIMULA"
(1916, 1,250t, 2-4.7in). As German
submarines hunted for Allied merchant shipping in the
Eastern Mediterranean, "U-35" commanded by the
top scorer, Cdr von Arnauld de la Perière, torpedoed and
sank "Flower" class fleet sweeping sloop
"Primula" south of Cape Matapan, southern
16th February - German
minelayer "UC-12" (1915, 170t, 12 mines). Sailing
minelaying operation in the guise of Austrian "U-24",
"UC-12" was sunk off the southern Italian base
of Taranto by the explosion of one of her own mines
(40°27N, 17°11E). She was the first of only two German
submarines lost in 1916 in the Mediterranean. The next
one was not until August. The Italians salvaged
"UC-12", and in 1917 commissioned her into the
Italian Navy as "X-1".
18th February -
760t, 2-10cm, 4-45cm tt). On a sweep
from Brindisi across the Adriatic with other Allied
ships, "Renaudin" was hit by a torpedo from
"U-6", one of the few Austrian submarines
available for operations, and even than mainly in the
Adriatic. Cut in two, the destroyer went down off Durazzo.
Egypt - Gen Murray took
command in Egypt and built-up his forces
throughout most of 1916. He constructed a fortified area
to protect the Suez Canal and started to clear the Sinai
Peninsula, building the necessary logistics support -
water pipeline, railway, and road - into the desert.
Persia - The
Russians under Gen Baratov continued to advance on Baghdad
and captured Karind, not far from the border of
Mesopotamia and Persia. The Turks were forced to withdraw
a corps of their Sixth Army from Kut-al-Amara.
9th February - Russian
boat "LEITENANT PUSHCHIN" (1905, 350t, 2 or
3-45.7cm tt). The
Russian Black Sea Fleet continued to maintain its
superiority over the Turkish-German forces, and a
seaplane attack, covered by dreadnought
"Imperatritsa Ekaterina" and battleships, was attempted on
Varna. Escorting destroyer
"Zadorni", now torpedo boat "Lt
Pushchin" was lost on an enemy mine off the Bulgarian
Mediterranean War at
27th April - British
battleship "RUSSELL" (1903, 13,300t,
(1916, 1,250t, 2-4.7in). Sailing
from Germany and now heading for Cattaro, the large, 750
ton minelayer "U-73" laid mines off Malta's
Grand Harbour. On the 27th, approaching Malta after
service in the Aegean, the old battleship
"Russell" was sunk with the loss of over 120
men. Later that day, fleet sweeping sloop
"Nasturtium", sister-ship to the recently lost
"Primula", went down in the same small field. A
naval armed yacht followed them to the bottom next day.
Mesopotamia - Early
in the month, the third and final attempt to relieve
Kut-al-Amara failed. Gen Townsend had been besieged since
December, and surrendered to the Turks on the 29th. Ten
thousand mostly Indian troops were taken prisoner. Thus
ended the first British campaign to take Baghdad. And also
the last of the attempts to reach Kut-al-Amara, which cost
many casualties. For the rest of 1916, Mesopotamia was
quiet as the British built-up strength and supplies.
The last attempt to
supply Kut-al-Amara - Lt Firman RN in command of the
river steamer SS "Julnar" with Lt-Cdr Cowley as
his second in command, made the last attempt to carry
270 tons of supplies through to the troops at
Kut-al-Amara. Sailing from Fallahiya late on the 24th,
they were shortly discovered, came under fire, and
although hit, kept going. At midnight, a few miles short
of Kut, "Julnar" was caught in a boom
killed. She ran aground and the crew captured,
including Lt-Cdr Cowley. The Turks later claimed he was
killed trying to escape, but having lived in Mesopotamia
for much of his life, may have been executed as a claimed
subject of the Ottoman Empire. The Victoria Cross
was awarded posthumously to Lt
Humphrey Firman RN and Lt-Cdr Charles Cowley RNVR.
Caucasus - The
Russians captured Trebizond (Trabzon) on the Black Sea on
the 18th. Support by the Black Sea Fleet included the new
dreadnoughts "Imperatritsa Mariya" and
"Imperatritsa Ekaterina". The Fleet's C-in-C,
Adm Eberhardt was replaced in July by Vice Adm Kolchak.
25th April - Russian
boat "ZHIVUCHI" (1906, 350t, 1-11pdr, 2-45.7cm
The only threat to Russian dominance in the Black Sea
came from the few German U-boats. After being assembled
at Pola in mid-1915 and later making the voyage to
Turkey, small minelayer "UC-15" mined the
approaches to Sevastopol. The old Russian destroyer, now
torpedo boat "Zhivuchi", sank on one of them.
Italy - On the
15th, the Austrians, against German advice, launched an
offensive into northern Italy from the Trentino bulge. In
the Battle of Asiago, Austrian Gen Conrad was successful
at first, having transferred some of his best divisions
and 2,000 guns from the Russian front. However, aware of
these preparations, Italian Gen Cadorna had moved troops
into the area following the end of the Fifth Battle of
Isonzo. Austrian Archduke Eugen's Eleventh and Third
Armies attacked south near Asiago in the mountains, and
drove a five miles wedge into the Italians, taking
thousands of prisoners. As the Italians withdrew, the
Austrians were worn down and brought to a halt.
Macedonia - The
Bulgarians crossed the Greek border, north of Salonika,
advanced along the Struma River, and occupied Fort Rupel.
Mediterranean War at
13th May -
(1910, 240t, 2-45cm tt). Until
1917, only one enemy U-boat was definitely caught by the
Otranto barrage - Austrian "U-6" on the
night of the 13th May 1916.
Trapped in the nets of patrolling British fishing drifter
"Calistoga", she surfaced to be shelled by the
"Dulcie Doris" and "Evening Star II",
and was then scuttled by her crew some 12m ENE of Cape
13th/14th May - British
monitor "M-30" (1915, 350t, 2-6in). British
forces still blockaded the Turkish Gulf of Smyrna, partly
with a small naval force occupying Long Island at the
entrance to the gulf. The Turks reacted with shore-based
gunfire, and on the night of the 13th or the 14th
(sources vary), the small monitor "M-30" was hit
and set on fire before sinking. With the airfield also
out of action, Long Island was shortly abandoned.
Italy - By the 10th
in the Battle of Asiago, the Austrians had gained 12
miles in one sector, but the attack was brought to an end
as the Brusilov Offensive started on the Russian front.
Italian Gen Cadorna began his counter-offensive, and by
months-end, the Austrians had lost nearly all their
earlier gains. At a minimum, Italian casualties were
150,000, and Austrian, a further 100,000.
Mediterranean War at
5th June -
(1911, 450t, 6-65mm, 3-45cm tt) on
a submarine hunt was rammed at night by the similar
"Mameluk", and the wrecked ship was finished off
by gunfire from the older destroyer
"Fauconneau". One source places this incident
off the island of Fano, south of the Straits of Otranto.
23rd June - Italian armed
merchant cruiser "CITTÀ DI MESSINA" and
(1912, 800t, 2-10cm, 4-45cm tt).
Later in the month, in the Straits of Otranto, Austrian
submarine "U-15" hit and sank the Italian AMC
"Città di Messina". Accompanying destroyer
"Fourche" went into attack with depth-charges,
and believing the submarine destroyed, started to pick up
survivors from the Italian ship. Hit herself by another
torpedo from "U-15", the Brindisi-based
destroyer was cut in half, and went down to the east of
Arabia - The Emir
of Nejd, in the interior of Arabia, was already at war
with Turkey. Now he encouraged the Arabs of Hedjaz and
Asir on the Red Sea coast to claim their independence. In
June, the Sherif of Mecca started the revolt and claimed
Mecca, with his sons leading the Arab armies. British
help included political encouragement, medical aid, naval
support in the Red Sea, air attacks on Turkish supply
routes, and the secondment of British military personnel,
of whom Lawrence of Arabia became far and away the most
famous. Over the next year, much of Hedjaz and Asir came
under Arab control, and frequent attacks disrupted Turkish
movements along the Damascus-Medina railway.
Persia - The Turks
repulsed the Russian advance through Persia into
Mesopotamia, northwest of Baghdad. This brought Russian
operations in Persia to a virtual end.
Macedonia - The
Allies spent the first few months of 1916 building
facilities and reinforcing the defences of Salonika. All
this time, Greece remained neutral, and the five British
divisions that had arrived, had been given no
clear role and and remained essentially static. By the end
of the month, the total Allied force had grown to a
quarter of a million men. Apart from the British, these
included four French, one large Italian, and six reformed
Serbian divisions, and a Russian brigade. French Gen
Maurice Sarrail was C-in-C, and had now established a
continuous front across northern Greece from the Albanian
border to the Aegean, east of Salonika.
Mediterranean War at Sea
10th July - Italian
"IMPETUOSO" (1914, 680t, 1-12cm, 4-45cm tt).
Protecting the Otranto barrage drifters, the
"Impetuoso" was torpedoed and sunk by Austrian
submarine "U-17" in the Straits.
14th July - Italian
"BALILLA" (1915, 730t, 4-45cm tt, 2-7.6cm). On the
night of the 14th, the new "Balilla" was in
action with guns and torpedoes with Austrian torpedo
boats "Tb65-F" and "Tb66-F". She went
down off the Austrian island of Lissa half-way up the
15th July - British
(1915, 360t, 4tt). Further south on patrol off the
Cattaro naval base, the smaller, but equally new
"H-3" was believed lost on mines.
Caucasus - On the
25th, and after numerous halts to re-supply and re-group,
the Russians attacking from Armenia, captured Erzingian
beyond Erzerum on the edge of the hill country. For the
rest of the year they engaged in minor battles with the
Turkish Second and Third Armies.
Italy - Italy
declared war on Germany on the 27th. With Italian forces
now back to the Isonzo sector, the Sixth Battle of
Isonzo or the Battle of Gorizia started on the 6th/7th.
With a three
to one superiority, Gen Cadorna advanced and captured the
city of Gorizia on the 9th, the first real success of the
numerous Isonzo battles. He also made limited gains on
the Carso Plateau.
Macedonia - To
coincide with Rumania's entry into the war, Gen Sarrail
was ordered to advance north from Salonika. The Bulgarian
Second Army in the eastern Struma River area attacked
first from Fort Rupel, and shortly occupied the Greek
coastal strip of Kavalla.
Mediterranean War at Sea
2nd August - Italian
"LEONARDO DA VINCI" (1914, 23,000t, 13-30.5cm).
a year after the old battleship "Benedetto
Brin" blew up at Brindisi, "Leonardo da Vinci" caught
fire, also blew up and capsized in Taranto harbour with
heavy loss of life. Faulty
ammunition was suspected, but the cause was put down to
Austrian sabotage. As one of the few Italian
dreadnoughts, she joined the ranks other Allied
dreadnoughts lost by explosion in harbour - the Russian
"Imperatritsa Mariya" in 1916, the British
"Vanguard" in 1917 and the Japanese
"Kawachi" in 1918.
4th August - German
submarine "UB-44" (1916, served as Austrian
"U-44", 260t, 2-50cmtt, 1-8.8cm). After
completing at Pola, "UB-44" was lost. Sailing
from Cattaro on the 4th bound for the Dardanelles, she was
believed depth-charged and sunk by British drifters
"Quarry Knowe" and "Carragill"
patrolling the Otranto Barrage (40°12N, 18°46E). The
U-boat, only the second and the last one to be sunk in the
Med in 1916, may have first been caught in mined nets. In
some sources, she was shown as missing, fate unknown. The
drifter "Quarry Knowe", sometimes listed as two
vessels - "Quarry" and "Knowe", was sunk in the May 1917
Austrian raid on the Otranto
9th August - British
submarine "B-10" (1906, 290t, 2tt), Lt
Michell, was one of six "B"-class boats
allocated to the British Adriatic Squadron. After a
number of unsuccessful patrols in the northern Adriatic,
she was lying alongside her depot ship, the Italian
armoured cruiser "Marco Polo" in Venice harbour
with sister boat "B-8". An attack by Austrian
aircraft flying from Trieste and Pola resulted in damage
to both boats, sufficient in the case of "B-10"
for her to founder. She was the first submarine sunk by
14th August -
British Q-ship "REMEMBRANCE"
(or "Lammeroo", collier,
3,660grt, 2-4in). "Q-ships" also attempted to
play their part in the war against the
Mediterranean-based German U-boats, but
"Remembrance" was sunk in the Aegean by
30th August - Italian
destroyer "AUDACE" (1914, 800t, 1-12cm, 2-45cm
tt), escorting a convoy in the Ionian Sea, was sunk at
night in collision with merchantman SS
Egypt - As the
British advance continued slowly across the Sinai
Peninsula, 15,000 Turks and Germans commanded by Gen
Kress von Kressenstein attacked at Romani near the coast.
Gen Murray fought a skilful defence, and the Turks were
forced to retreat.
Italy - The
Italians attacked the Austrians in the Seventh Battle of
concentrating on the Carso Plateau region.
Macedonia - French
and Serbian troops started a limited offensive from the
Salonika area. In hard, mountain fighting, they forced
their way through the Monastir Gap towards Monastir
(Bitola) through into October and November.
Mediterranean War at Sea
1st September - British
carrier "Raven II". This German prize, converted
in 1915 to
carry one to six seaplanes, was damaged at Port Said in a
German bombing raid.
15th September -
(c1914, 400t, 1-45cm tt and 6
torpedo collars/cradles) was caught ten miles off Cattaro
in the Adriatic by Austrian flying boats L132 and L135
and sunk in the resulting attack. She was the first
submarine lost to aircraft at sea
Italy - Still
concentrating on the Carso Plateau region, the Italians
fought the Eighth Battle of the Isonzo.
Macedonia & Greece -
As Allied troops continued to fight their way through the
Monastir Gap, problems came to a head between the Allies
and neutral Greece with its pro-German King Constantine
Mediterranean War at
17th October - Italian
destroyer "NEMBO" (1902, 400t, 4-7.6cm, 2-45cm tt)
(1915, 125t, 2-45cm tt). During a
convoy attack, "U-16" torpedoes and
"Nembo" off Valona in Albania, but was herself
lost. She may have been rammed and damaged by one of the
convoyed ships, Italian steamer "Borminda" (or
"Bermida"), and then scuttled, or sunk by the
depth charges of the sinking "Nembo".
- The fleet was taken over by the
Allies, and the larger ships demilitarised. Smaller
vessels were requisitioned by the French Navy.
1st October - German
submarine "UB-7" (1915, 130t, 2-45cm tt). After
Pola and sailing for the Dardanelles, "UB-7" was now
operating in the Black Sea out of Varna. Along with
the other German boats she had little success. Leaving
for the Crimea in late September, she was believed to have
been bombed and sunk by Russian aircraft off Sevastopol
on or around the 1st October (44°30N, 33°15E). Some
sources show her mined or lost, cause unknown.
20th October - Russian
dreadnought "IMPERATRITSA MARIYA" (1915, 23,000t,
Barely challenged by the few German submarines available,
the Russian Navy continued to dominate the Black Sea,
supporting the Russian army on the Caucasus front and
blockading the Bosphorus and the coal-mining areas around
Zonguldak. Now it suffered its worst loss of the war and
in the process, the Allies lost another dreadnought in
harbour. On the 20th, the 30.5cm (12in) magazines of the
"Imperatritsa Mariya" exploded and she sank to
the bottom at Sevastopol. Russian supremacy at sea,
however, carried on well into 1917.
28th or 30th October
(or "Gaireti Vatanye",
1910, 665t, 2-8.8cm, 3-45cmtt) ran aground off Varna and
was abandoned. Sources vary on the date of "Gairet-i-Watanije's"
Italy - Now the Ninth
Battle of the
Isonzo took place,
with the main effort still in the Carso Plateau region.
As usual, the Italians made small gains in exchange for
heavy casualties on both sides.
Macedonia - The
attacking French and Serbian troops broke through the
Bulgarian First Army, and on the 19th, captured Monastir
after a 25 mile advance across difficult, mountainous
country. The Bulgarians were nearly destroyed by the
Serbs, but saved by blizzards and the arrival of two
German divisions. The Allied offensive in Macedonia came
to a halt at Monastir, too late to save Rumania.
Meanwhile, to the west, the Italian corps based in
southern Albania successfully struck north against the
Austrians, and joined up with the French and Serbians.
6th November - German
submarine "UB-45" (1916, 260t, 2-50cm tt,
1-8.8cm). Two more
of the few Black Sea U-boats were lost. On the 6th,
"UB-45" was sunk on Russian mines laid off the
Bulgarian base of Varna (43°12N, 28°09E).
German coastal minelayer "UC-15" (1915, 170t, 12
mines). A week
later, coastal minelayer "UC-15" sailed from
Constantinople for operations off Sulina, Rumania, at the
mouth of the Danube, and disappeared without trace. She
may have been lost on the 14th or 15th in the area on
previously-laid German mines or by the explosion of one
of her own (45°05N, 29°50E).
Mediterranean War at Sea
3rd December -
cargo ship, 1901,
4,350grt,1-4in) was torpedoed and sunk by German
"U-63" in the Gulf of Genoa, northwest coast of
11th December - Italian
pre-dreadnought "REGINA MARGHERITA" (1904,
14,100t, 4-30.5cm). A year
after her mines sank the Italian destroyer
"Intrepido" in the Adriatic off Valona, German
"UC-14" was credited with an even greater
success. Leaving Valona for docking in Taranto, the
pre-dreadnought "Regina Margherita" hit two of
the U-boat's mines and sank with heavy loss of life, a
major disaster for the Italian Navy.
27th December -
11,100t, 4-30.5cm), under escort and
on passage around Greece from Corfu to Salonika, was also
lost. Torpedoed and sunk by German "UB-47", she went down
between the islands of Cerigo (or Cythera) and
Milo in the southern Aegean.
Egypt/Palestine - By
year's end, the British had crossed the Sinai, and
after its evacuation by the Turks, entered El Arish on
the coastal route to Gaza on the 21st. Maghhaba and its
garrison was captured on the 23rd. The British defence of
the Suez Canal had now been pushed forward to the eastern
edge of the Sinai Peninsula. In the New Year, the battle
for Palestine started.
Mesopotamia - With
a two to one superiority, British Gen Maude started to
attack north towards Baghdad.
7th December - German
submarine "UB-46" (1916, 260t, 2-50cm tt,
1-8.8cm). The fourth
German U-boat in less than three months was sunk in the
Black Sea when "UB-46" was lost on Russian
ship-laid mines, 30 miles off the Bosphorus (41°26N,
Two Allied warships were lost to
the mines and torpedoes of German U-boats; a third was
sunk by the Turks.
Mediterranean War at Sea
4th January - Russian
"PERESVIET" (1901, 12,700t, 4-25.4cm). Russian
"Peresviet" was sunk in the 1905 Russo-Japanese
war, raised and re-commissioned into the Japanese Navy.
Returned to the Russians in 1916 and re-rated a cruiser,
she was on passage through the Mediterranean to serve with
the Russian Arctic Flotilla. Off Port Said,
"Peresviet" sank on mines laid by German
9th January - British
battleship "CORNWALLIS" (1904, 13,700t, 4-12in).
from the Aegean back to Britain, the old battleship was
torpedoed a number of times by "U-32" about 60
miles to the southeast of Malta. Some 15 men were lost,
but the rest were taken off by the escorting destroyer.
11th January - British
carrier "BEN-MY-CHREE" (1908, converted 1915,
2-4in, 4 seaplanes) arrived in the Mediterranean in 1915
for the Dardanelles campaign. She was sunk by shore
batteries off the south coast of Turkey, near the island
Mediterranean War at Sea
28th February -
970t, 100 mines). German
U-boats also operated in the Western Mediterranean, and
included amongst their successes the sinking of the old
French torpedo cruiser "Cassini" now converted
to a minelayer. First thought to have been sunk by
torpedo, she was more likely lost on mines laid by
"UC-35" in the Straits of Bonificio between
Corsica and Sardinia. Some sources give the date as the
Mesopotamia - As
the British advanced on Baghdad, Kut-al-Amara was captured
on the 24th. Royal Navy gunboats continued in support.
Macedonia - As the
Spring campaign opened, fighting continued around
Mediterranean War at Sea - The
Allies had few successes
against German and Austrian U-boats in 1917, and in turn,
lost one of their own submarines in tragic circumstances
in the month, and yet another Allied battleship.
10th March - Italian
"GUGLIELMOTTI" (1917, 710t, 5-45cm tt, 2-7.6cm). An
submarine was mistaken at night for a U-boat, and rammed
and sunk. The submarine was the newly completed
"Guglielmotti" on her maiden voyage. She
crossed an Allied convoy route to the east of Corsica and
was sunk northwest of Capraia Island by the British sloop
"Cyclamen" on escort duty.
19th March -
18,300t, 4-30.5cm & 12-24cm).
The French suffered their worst loss of the war at sea.
comparatively new "Danton" was returning to
Corfu with destroyer escort from a refit at Toulon, when
she was torpedoed and sunk with heavy loss of life by
"U-64" off southwest Sardinia.
Palestine - The
retreating Turks were located in the Gaza-Beersheba area.
On the 26th, in the First Battle of Gaza, five British
divisions under Gen Sir Archibald Murray attacked three
Turkish divisions, but failed to break through and were
forced to withdraw.
Mesopotomia - After
clearing the Turks from Kut al Imara, Gen Maude, with
50,000 men advanced up the Tigris on Baghdad. The weak
Turkish Sixth Army, commanded by Khalil Pasha, attempted
to stop the British outside the city, but failed, and the
long sought prize of Baghdad fell on the 11th. Khalil
Pasha retreated to the north, and both sides spent the
summer building up their forces.
Mediterranean War at Sea
1st April -
260t, 2-45cm tt, 1-7.5cm). Submarines
of the Central Powers suffered one of their few losses of
1917 when coastal boat "U-30" disappeared around
this date. Sailing from Cattaro on the 31st March, she
may have been mined in the Straits of Otranto.
(link) - Following earlier British
requests for assistance in the Mediterranean, two modern
Japanese destroyer flotillas totalling eight ships,
together with protected cruiser
reached Malta in mid-month. Working with the
Royal Navy, they played an important role in the
Mediterranean, especially on escort duty.
Palestine - The Second
of Gaza was fought on the 17th. Gen Murray
faced even stronger Turkish defences, and was repulsed
with heavy casualties. He was replaced by Gen Sir Edmund
Allenby, who spent the summer preparing his campaign.
to be continued