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World War 1 at Sea - Contemporary Royal Navy Accounts

 

HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR - NAVAL OPERATIONS, Volume 3, Spring 1915 to June 1916 (Part 1 of 2) by Sir Julian S Corbett

 

Published by Longmans, Green, London 1921


The Commanders-in-Chief, Battle of Jutland: left - Adm Jellicoe, British Grand Fleet; right - Adm Scheer, German High Seas Fleet (Library of Congress, click to enlarge)

on to Naval Operations, Vol 3, Part 2 of 2

 

To enjoy reading the text and following  the maps at the same time, try opening the same page in two separate browser windows

 
 

 

 

A Modern Introduction

 

Up-to-date, well-researched naval histories have an important part to play in understanding past events, but I would like to suggest they are equalled by contemporary accounts written not long after the stories they describe, and often by those who took part.

 

Such near-contemporary accounts include the five volumes of NAVAL OPERATIONS, the first three by Sir Julian S Corbett and the last two by Henry Newbolt. They remain in print, but are still not widely known, and being out-of-copyright, can be found on the internet.

 

They are indispensable to any researcher or scholar of World War 1 who wants to start to understand the vastness of the war at sea and the role of the Royal Navy and its Allies.

 

The naval war, 1914-18 is almost considered peripheral to the war as a whole, especially compared with the Western Front, yet in my opinion, World War 1 was just as much a maritime struggle as that of World War 2. If it had been lost to either the German High Seas Fleet or the later U-boat campaign, Allied victory would have been very much in doubt. Hence the value of these volumes.

 

Later editions of these volumes were updated and corrected. These changes have not been taken into account: hence the need to move onto later histories. Also any transcription and proofing errors are mine, including the lack of accents on mainly French and German names, for which my apologies.

 

Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net

   

HISTORY OF THE GREAT WAR

 

BASED ON OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

 

BY DIRECTION OF THE HISTORICAL SECTION OF THE COMMITTEE OF IMPERIAL DEFENCE

 

 

 

NAVAL OPERATIONS

 

Vol. III

 

BY

SIR JULIAN S CORBETT

 

 

 

LONGMANS GREEN AND CO.

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON

1923

 

 

 

(Second edition published in 1940)

 

 

 

 

CONTENTS

Prefaces

I. General Situation When the Coalition Government Took Office May 1915 - Progress in the Minor Theatres - Mesopotamia

II. The Dardanelles, May 5‑June 7 ‑ Exploits of E14 And E11 in the Marmara ‑ Loss of the Triumph and Majestic ‑ The Third Battle of Krithia.

III The Western Front and the Dardanelles - Affairs in Home Waters, White Sea And Baltic, June‑July ‑ The End of the Koenigsberg

IV. The Dardanelles, June 20‑July 31 - The New Plan ‑ Submarine Activity in the Sea of Marmara ‑ Arrival of Reinforcements

V. Suvla

VI. General Situation after Suvla - The Collapse of the Russian Front - Change in the French Attitude - Peril of Serbia - British Submarines in the Marmara

VII. Home Waters and the Baltic, August and September, 1915 - The Arabic and the Baralong, and American Protest against the Submarine Campaign

VIII. The German Change of Front - Attitude of Bulgaria - Naval Operations in Support of the Autumn Offensive in France

IX. Salonica

X. The Mesopotamia Campaign ‑ July‑October

XI. The Doom of Gallipoli and the Battle of Ctesiphon

XII. Evacuation of Gallipoli

XIII. Home Waters September 1915‑March 1916, and the Cruise of the German Raider Moewe

XIV. Call of the German Army for Naval Assistance and the Catastrophe of the Sussex .

XV. The Air‑Raid on the Schleswig Air Base and the Bombardment of Lowestoft

 

(Part 2 of 2)

XVI. The Eve of Jutland

XVII. Jutland ‑ The First Phase ‑ Battle Cruiser Action

XVIII. Jutland ‑ The Second Phase ‑ First contact of the Battle Fleets

XIX. Jutland ‑ The Third Phase - 6.30 to Nightfall

XX. Jutland ‑ The Fourth Phase ‑ The Night

XXI. Jutland ‑ The Last Phase ‑ The First of June

 

APPENDICES - Battle Of Jutland

 

A. Distribution of the Ships of the Grand Fleet Before Sailing on Tuesday May 30, 1916, with the Names of Flag and Commanding Officers

B. Organisation of the Grand Fleet as it Sailed on May 30, 1916

C. Ships of the High Seas Fleet, with the Names of Flag and Commanding Officers, May 31, 1916

D. Organisation of the High Seas Fleet as it Sailed on May 31, 1916

E. List of Ships (British and German) Sunk

F. British Casualties

G. German Casualties

H. Hits Received by British Ships

I. Hits Received by German Ships

J. Signals Deciphered in the Admiralty Between 11.15 P.M. May 31 and 1.25 A.M. June 1

 

Index (not included – you can use Search)

 

 

PLANS AND DIAGRAMS IN VOLUME

 

Jutland, The Deployment ... Frontispiece

Operations in the Baltic ... 61

S.M.S. Koenigsberg in the Rufiji Delta ... 63

THE DARDANELLES

Operations Against Suvla, the Landing of the XIth Division ... 93

Suvla Beach, At the Date of the Evacuation ... 237

Tekke Beach, At the Date of the Evacuation ... 246

Helles Beach, At the Date of the Evacuation ... 247

 

MAPS AND DIAGRAMS IN SEPARATE CASE

Map No.

1. Lower Mesopotamia

2. Operations against Kurnah

3. The Sea of Marmara

4. The Torpedoing of H.M.S. Triumph

5. Operations in the Aegean

6. Operations against Suvla

7. Destruction of S.M.S. Meteor

8. Operations against the Belgian Coast

9. Operations in the Akaika Channel

10. Operations near Nasiriya

11. Operations against Kut

12. Operations of S.M.S. Moewe

13. The Raid on the Schleswig Coast

14. Strategical Plan of the Bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft

15. Tactical Plan of the Bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft

 

(Part 2 of 2)

 

THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND

16. Opening Movements

The Battle Cruiser Action

17. From 2.15 P.M. to 2.30 P.M.

18. From 2.30 to 2.45

19. From 2.45 to 3.0

20. From 3.0 to 3.15

21. From 3.15 to 3.30

22. From 3.30 to 3.40

23. From 3.40 to 4.0

24. From 4.0 to 4.20

25. From 4.20 to 4.40

26. From 4.40 to 5.0

27. From 5.0 to 5.20

28. From 5.20 to 5.40

29. From 5.40 to 6.0

30. From 6.0 to 6.15

The Deployment

31. From 6.15 P.M. to 6.26 P.M.

The Main Action

32. From 6.26 P.M. to 6.35 P.M.

33. From 6.35 to 6.45

34. From 6.45 to 6.56

35. From 6.56 to 7.12

36. From 7.12 to 7.18

37. From 7.18 to 7.26

38. From 7.26 to 7.35

39. From 7.35 to 7.45

40. From 7.45 to 8.15

41. From 8.15 to 8.35

42. From 8.35 to 9.0

43. From 9.0 to 10.0

The Night Movements

44. From 10 P.M. to 3.0 A.M.

The Night Actions

45. 8 Phases, A-H (in 8 parts)

The First of June

46. From 3 A.M. to Noon

 

 

 

 

Jutland, The Deployment (from the Frontispiece)

 

 

 

 

PREFACE TO REVISED EDITION

 

The most important section of this volume is that which relates the story of the Battle of Jutland, and for its revision a great many authorities have been consulted, including the German Official History of the battle. The German account is based largely on Sir Julian Corbett's original narrative, and even many of the German charts have evidently been com­piled from our own ‑ sometimes at the expense of contradict­ing the text they are supposed to illustrate. Some hitherto unknown details, however, notably with regard to the initial activities of their submarines, and the opening movements of their forces are now available. These have been incorporated in the present edition, together with such additions and corrections as have come to light from this and many other authoritative sources, and the diagrams have been amended where necessary.

 

Among the more important additions are: the explanation of the absence of the seaplane‑carrier Campania (Note A, p. 326a); the reason for the slow approach of the Grand Fleet to the battle area (Note B, p. 326b); and, in Appendix J (p. 442), a list of seven German signals received in the Admiralty but not passed to the Commander‑in‑Chief. It will be seen that the second signal in this list contained some words that were not included in the decipher. Had the officer responsible for the deciphering of this message realised the vital importance of the information it conveyed, it is hardly to be credited that it would have been withheld from Admiral Jellicoe.

 

In writing his narrative of the battle, Sir Julian Corbett had before him the official Admiralty study, but did not live to make due acknowledgment of its assistance. It is, there­fore, here recorded.

 

For the revision of the first part of the volume a further large number of authorities has been consulted, including eight volumes of the German Official History, and recourse has again been made to the Naval Staff Monographs. From these and the other authorities many amendments have now been made.

 

Throughout the task of revision every endeavour has been made to preserve the work of the original author; indeed, no disturbance has been admitted except where it is essential for historical accuracy.

 

Assistance on points of detail, mostly technical, has been rendered by Captain A. C. Dewar, R.N. (Head of the Historical Section, Training and Staff Duties Division, Admiralty), and by his assistant, Lieutenant‑Commander J. H. Lloyd‑Owen, RN, to whom my thanks are due.

I take this opportunity, too, of expressing my sense of gratitude, in particular, to Mr. C. V. Owen, Historical Section of the Committee of Imperial Defence, for his help and advice, which have been invaluable.

 

E. Y. DANIEL,

Lieut.‑Colonel, R.M.

Secretary, Historical Section, Committee of Imperial Defence. October, 1939.

 

 

PREFACE

 

THE present volume deals with the events in Home Waters from the spring of 1915 to the Battle of Jutland. It is also concerned with the Dardanelles Campaign up to the final evacuation and the opening of the Salonica Expedition; with the campaign in Mesopotamia as far as the Battle of Ctesiphon, and with operations in minor theatres.

 

It was only a few hours before his death that Sir Julian Corbett completed the last chapter. He had thus no oppor­tunity of revising his proofs, nor of checking the accuracy of his narrative, as he had done in the preceding volumes, and this task devolved on me as having been closely associated with him in his work for many years and being fully acquainted with his methods. I had, therefore, to compare the text very closely with the materials upon which it was based, and, where any errors of fact were discovered, to correct it in such a way that the original form was preserved. Particular care has been taken to ensure that every passage in which the author has given expression to his own opinions or made deductions from established facts has remained unaltered.

 

In addition to the books referred to in the prefaces to his earlier volumes, the author drew largely from the follow­ing works for matters affecting German war policy and strategy:‑

My Three Years in America, Count Bernstorff.

General Headquarters 1914‑1916 and its Critical Decisions, General Erich von Falkenhayn.

My War Memories 1914‑1918, General Ludendorff.

Die deutschen U‑Boote in ihrer Kriegfuhrung, 1914­-1918, Vols. 11 and III, Korvettenkapitan A. Gayer.

 

In describing the beginning of the Salonica Expedition he consulted:‑

 

Mon commandement en Orient (1914‑1918), General Sarrail.

Joffre. La Premiere Crise du Commandement, Mermeix.

 

The German Official Navaf History at present only covers a period of the war which has already been dealt with by the author.

 

The diagrams of the Battle of Jutland have been drawn from material prepared by Lieutenant‑Commander J. F. H. Pollen, R.N. (retired), who was also responsible for the battle plans in the first and second volumes.

 

It was Sir Julian Corbett's intention to express his sense of gratitude to the members of the Staff of the Historical Section who prepared and digested the immense amount of material upon which the three volumes of his history are based. I, too, am indebted to them for the assistance they have given me in my task of revising the proofs and verifying the narrative.

 

E. Y. DANIEL.

Lieut Col, RM.

Secretary, Historical Section, Committee of Imperial Defence.

 

Aug 1928.

 

 


 

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

GENERAL SITUATION WHEN THE COALITION GOVERNMENT TOOK OFFICE ‑ PROGRESS IN THE MINOR THEATRES ‑ MESOPOTAMIA

 

By the end of May, 1915, the new Government was formed. Mr. Asquith, Sir Edward Grey and Lord Kitchener retained their former offices. The chief changes which directly con­cerned the conduct of the war were that Mr. Balfour became First Lord of the Admiralty and Mr. Lloyd George, from being Chancellor of the Exchequer, took up the Ministry of Muni­tions ‑ a department now constituted for the first time as the best means of dealing with a need which, with ever­-increasing insistence, had been clogging and weakening our operations both in France and the Dardanelles. At the Admiralty Admiral Sir Henry Jackson, whose masterly work in the direction of oversea operations designated him as Lord Fisher's natural successor, was appointed First Sea Lord.

 

The general outlook which the new Government had to face was one of much anxiety ‑ filled as it was with unsolved problems and unsolved situations all over the world. Our war plan had broken down, nor was there any hopeful pros­pect of regaining the initiative. On May 25, the day the new Ministry was formed, Sir John French had broken off the battle of Festubert for lack of ammunition, with no positive gain to set against his losses. Further south the French had gained ground, but the battle of Artois was still raging and showed little promise of giving a substantial improvement of the Allied position. As for the Eastern Front, neither the great French effort nor the imminent intervention of Italy had availed to relieve the pressure on the Russians in Galicia. In that theatre the Central Powers had made a sweeping advance, and were in the act of isolating the all‑important fortress of Przemysl. The effect of their far‑reaching success was to extinguish the hopes which had once been entertained of a decisive offensive movement from that quarter, and coupled with our own check at the Dardanelles, it also promised to be fatal to the Entente hopes of re‑establishing a Balkan combination. Yet a united effort of the Balkan States was the only measure which could counter Germany's success in drawing Turkey into the war.

 

One of the first acts of the new Government was an effort to induce Bulgaria to enter the struggle against her hereditary enemy. But the minimum territorial consideration that was likely to prove an inducement to Bulgaria was far beyond what either Serbia or Greece was willing to consider. The attempt had no success, and only made it clearer than ever that if Germany were to be prevented from opening a road to Constantinople, and thus establishing an impassable gulf between Russia and the Western Powers, it was mainly upon our own strength we should have to rely. Had we strength enough? That was the crucial question, and it was one that was extremely difficult to determine. It really depended on whether our function in France was to be in the main defensive, or whether we were to par­ticipate directly with our French Allies in attempting to reach a decision there by offensive action. No clear, and certainly no unanimous answer to this question seems ever to have been given, nor, in view of the political frictions that are inseparable from acting with an Ally whose country has been invaded, was it easy for a clear answer to be made.

 

Apart from such friction it seems almost beyond doubt that, so long at least as there was any hope of a decision coming from the Russian side, the correct course and the one most in accordance with our traditions was to assume an alert but general defensive in France and throw everything that was not required for that defensive into an alternative theatre where decisive success was attainable, and where consequently we could hope to influence definitely the course of the war. Such a theatre the Dardanelles provided when the enterprise was set on foot. Now the problem was not so clear. The collapse of Russia, while affording additional reason for striking with all possible strength in the Near East, also pushed opinion to to the inevitability of the main Allied offensive being developed in France. The result was that it appears to have become a cardinal axiom of our war policy that, important as was the Dardanelles theatre, our enterprise there was no more than a secondary offensive, and that nothing must be devoted to it which would imperil the hope of a primary offensive in the main or central theatre at an early date. Our superfluous force, therefore, was all that could he used; but the measure of that force was no longer what was not required for a defensive attitude on the Western

 

Feb‑May, 1915

GERMAN SOUTH‑WEST AFRICA

 

Front, but how much of our disengaged strength the French could bear to see diverted to another theatre.

 

The superfluous force we had ‑ that is, the force not already earmarked for the main theatre ‑ was considerable, but it was far from free. Much of it was still engaged in the oversea attacks with which we had begun our vast effort to establish a permanent control of the seven seas. Every­where, except in the Pacific and Togoland, the liabilities thus incurred were unliquidated. In two places ‑ East Africa and Mesopotamia ‑ the liabilities threatened to increase, and only at one point - German South‑West Africa - was the situation really promising. There alone was there ample force for the work in hand, but the provision of that force was absorbing the whole strength of one of the three great self‑governing dominions.

 

It was on February 6, as we have seen, that General Botha left Cape Town for Walfisch Bay to open his well‑designed campaign. (Vol II, p.235). The success he met with fully justified the completeness and strength of his preparations. From the first his progress was uninterrupted. After a month's work it was found that before the various Union forces that had been so skilfully co‑ordinated the Germans were abandoning all the southern part of the colony and concentrating about the capital at Windhuk. Early in April, therefore, the plan was simplified, and the Central, Southern and Eastern forces were reorganised as a new Southern force, under the command of General Smuts. By April 20 he had occupied Keetmans­hoop, the railhead of the Luederitz Bay line, and then General Botha pushed forward to cut off the enemy, who were retiring northwards. So rapid was the movement that by May 5 his advance troops had cut the railway north of Windhuk, and a week later (12th) he seized Windhuk itself, with 8,000 Europeans all told, 12,000 natives, a large amount of rolling stock and the high‑power wireless station still standing. The navy's influence on these operations had been exercised at the Falkland Islands and in the wide wastes of the Atlantic; its activities relieved General Botha from all anxiety with regard to probable interference from the sea, and thus he was able to operate on widely separated lines the masterly com­bination which completely baffled the Germans and gave to the Union forces their rapid and well‑deserved success.

 


Duala and the Cameroons Estuary (link to first use of Map)

 

In the Cameroons the situation was much less satisfactory. Successful as had been the opening operations for the seizure of the coast, it had become clear, now that it was a question

 

April, 1915

THE CAMEROONS

 

of reducing the vast expanses of the hinterland where naval co‑operation was no longer possible, the troops on the spot were far too few for the task.

(In March the French troops numbered about 6,000, the British 4,000 and the Belgians 600. The Germans were believed to have less than 3,000 formed troops with an unknown number of native irregulars. We and the French each had a cruiser and a gunboat, but we had also armed and manned eighteen sea-going and river craft.)

General Dobell had asked for 4,000 Indian troops, and when he was told that it was impossible to provide them, he was for standing fast on the line he then held, from Edea to the northern railhead, till reinforcements could be found. When, however, the French civil and military mission arrived at Duala to concert opera­tions, they pressed for an advance on Yaunde at the great river junction where the Germans had established their headquarters. Their idea was that he should move on the place in two columns from Edea, with the British and French troops that were under his command, while General Aymerich advanced with two columns from the south and east by way of Lomie and Dume. Such a scheme General Dobell could not approve. In his opinion the troops available were too few and the distances too great for it to constitute a co­ordinated converging plan of operations. Yaunde was 100 miles from Edea and 150 from Lomie and Dume, which General Aymerich had yet to reach. Still, so eager were the French, that he gave way, and agreed to make the attempt in April.

 

Accordingly, on April 10 the movement began. It was made in two columns, the French troops working along the Midland railway for Eseka, and the British on their left along the direct road to Yaunde for the half‑way post, Wum Biagas. (On Apri 3 the control of the operations bad been taken over by the War Office.) From the first the resistance was very strong and progress slow. To relieve the pressure and prevent the enemy concentrating it had been arranged with Captain Fuller that he should make diversions at various points on the coast with his marines and native levies, and to this work he devoted the squadron, so far as was consistent with stopping the flow of contraband from Fernando Po.

 

So difficult was this task, owing to the attitude of the Spanish local authorities, that it had been decided, on Captain Fuller's suggestion, to establish a blockade of the whole coast on the same lines as that for German East Africa. Measures for reinforcing the squadron for the purpose had been taken at home in the middle of March, and

 

May, 1915

THE CAMEROONS

 

on the 21st the Sirius and Rinaldo had been ordered to be prepared for foreign service. (Sirius, light cruiser, 1889, 3,600 tons, 2-6", 6‑4‑7"; 8‑6 pdrs. Rinaldo, sloop, 1898‑9, 980 tons, 4‑4in. Both had been hitherto devoted to coastal attack and defence in home waters. See Vol. II., p. 234.) Another ship was being taken up and armed locally, and the French, who had been asked to co‑operate, were providing an armed trawler. The blockade, however, was declared without waiting for the arrival of the reinforcements, and put in force on April 24. It extended along the whole coast north of the Spanish enclave, a distance of about 200 miles. South of the enclave no blockade was necessary, for the coast was in the hands of the French. From the northern section the Cameroons River was excepted and Duala was declared an open port.

 

There the Senior Naval Officer's ship was stationed, but she was no longer the Challenger. Owing to the call for cruisers to watch the Koenigsberg on the east coast, the need of reinforcing the Cape station with a good ship had become so urgent that the long‑contemplated exchange had to be carried out, and the Astraea had arrived. But, as General Dobell was as unwilling as ever to lose the services of Captain Fuller, the two captains exchanged ships before the Challenger left for Walfisch Bay (May 1).

 

During this time the advance of the troops had been held up. By the middle of April each of the Edea columns, after much hard fighting, had reached their first objectives, Ngwe on the road and the Kele river on the railway, which meant in each case an advance of about thirty miles. Then it was found the enemy was moving troops down from the north, threatening the British line of advance, and General Dobell had to detach a force to his left to hold Sakbajeme, on the Sanaga river, where it was crossed by the road from the north which joined the main road between Ngwe and Wum Biagas, his next objective. (See Vol. I, Map 16 (in case). - not yet available GGG) At the same time General Aymerich sent word that he could not reach Lomie till the end of the month. The advance therefore was postponed. On May 1 it was resumed, and by the 4th the British were in Wum Biagas and the French in Sende again, on the 6th, after heavy fighting. On the 11th they had driven the Germans from Eseka and captured seven engines and two hundred wagons. The whole railway system was now in the Allies' hands, but General Aymerich had been unable to reach either Dume or Lomie. To General Dobell it was clear that, as he expected, the ambitious concentric attack was no longer possible, and that the only chance of reaching Yaunde

 

April, 1915

GERMAN EAST AFRICA

 

before the rains was a vigorous push along the shortest line with his whole force. His French column was therefore moved north to Wum Biagas, and the final effort began on May 25. But it was quickly found that the Germans had been able to bring about a concentration that made progress more difficult than ever. In ten days our men had only advanced a dozen miles, and in front of them the Germans held positions that swamps rendered almost impregnable. Dysentery was playing havoc with the troops, of General Aymerich there was no news, the rains were coming on, and by the middle of June General Dobell decided to abandon the attempt to reach Yaunde and fall back on the line of his first objectives. All there was to set against the failure was that in the north Garua had at last fallen (June 10), and on the coast the arrival of the naval reinforcements made it possible to render the blockade thoroughly effective. (The Sirius and Rinaldo arrived on June 6.)

 

On the opposite side of the Continent affairs were in much the same position. There ashore the attitude of passive defence was maintained and military operations were con­fined to German raids on the Uganda railway. The Koenigsberg still remained unapproachable, but at sea she led to much activity. The Germans evidently had no idea of leaving her to her fate, and early in April we began to get wind of attempts to relieve her and at the same time to run in arms and ammunition for the defence of the colony. The first attempt was planned for the spring tides in the second week of the month ‑ a time which seemed to indicate that the Koenigsberg would try to break out and meet the relief ship off the Rufiji. The Chatham was ordered to return temporarily to the east coast as soon as her refit at Bombay was complete, instead of going at once to the Mediter­ranean, but her defects proved too serious, and Vice‑Admiral H. G. King‑Hall had to do his best with the ships he had.

 

To some extent the blockade had to be relaxed. Keeping the Weymouth, Kinfauns Castle and Pioneer off the Rufiji to prevent a break out, he himself in the Hyacinth made a cast for the relief ship. As was afterwards discovered, she was the British steamship Rubens, of 3,587 tons, with 1,600 tons of coal, 1,500 rifles and a quantity of ammunition and provisions. (She was one of the vessels detained by the Germans at Hamburg on the outbreak of war, and was disguised as the Danish steamer Kronbeg.) As the time of spring tides drew near German wireless was heard by a British ship, and by the French in Madagascar, at the north end of the Mozambique channel. The expected ship was evidently coming up that way, but the Hyacinth failed to find

 

Feb.‑Apr, 1915

GERMAN SUPPLY SHIP ARRIVES

 

her on the anticipated course. Later on it was known that she was actually at Aldabra island, about 100 miles east by south of the Rufiji, from April 8 to 10. Then at the height of the springs she sailed and further wireless signals indicated she was moving northward. As the Koenigsberg had not stirred, it looked as though Tanga were her destination, and for that point Admiral King‑Hall made, and at daybreak on the 14th sighted her in the Kilulu channel. At that moment, as ill luck would have it, the Hyacinth's starboard engine broke down. With only one engine it was impossible to overhaul the chase, and she was able to run into Mansa Bay and beach herself out of sight. But her steam blowing off betrayed her position, and the Hyacinth as she ran on shelled her over the land. When Admiral King‑Hall got into the bay she was seen to be aground and burning forward. Boats were promptly sent in to try to salve her valuable cargo, but the heat was too great. Nothing of any value was recovered except her charts. From these it appeared she had left the Skaw on February 18, and making the Sumburgh head light after dark on the 21st, was able in the long hours of darkness to run the gauntlet of the Grand Fleet and pass out between the Shetlands and Orkneys and so by the west of Ireland southward. (The only cruiser squadron that happened to be out was the 10th i.e. the Northern Patrol of AMC's. During the week they had stopped 51 vessels.)

 

In the first week of March she was passing through the Canaries. Here, as in the North American area, we were still maintaining a considerable cruiser force to keep watch on the approaches to the Straits of Gibraltar, and on the German and Austrian vessels which, to the number of 120, had taken refuge in Spanish and Portuguese ports. It was now known as the squadron for the protection of trade from Cape Finisterre to Cape Verde islands, and although at this time it comprised eight British and three French ships, the Rubens passed through it undetected.

 

(The squadron at this time was composed as follows:

 

Finisterrer-Canaries Division: Three cruisers Europa, Amphitrite, Argonaut, and two armed merchant cruisers, Calgarian, Carmania.

 

French Morocco Division: Three light cruisers - Cosmao, Friant, Cassard

 

Cape Verde Islands Division: One light cruiser Highflyer and armed merchant cruisers Marmara and Empress of Britain.

 The first two divisions were based at Gibraltar and the last at Sierra Leone.)

Thence she carried on south, following the ordinary track, till at the end of March she rounded the Cape and, keeping well out to sea, made

 

May, 1915

GERMAN EAST AFRICA

 

Aldabra island on April 8. It was at this time, as she passed up the Mozambique Channel, that her attempts to com­municate with the Koenigsberg put our cruisers on the alert, with the result that her bold attempt ended as we have seen. As it was impossible to salve the cargo, the Admiral decided to destroy her by gun‑fire at close range. She was soon on fire fore and aft, and after three explosions indicated that her ammunition had gone, the Hyacinth left her. (The destruction was not complete, and later on the Germane succeeded in salving part of the cargo of arms and ammunition.)

 

But this was not the end of the German enterprise, and the strain on our cruisers increased rather than diminished. By the time the springs were over we had wind of another relief ship coming up. As she did not appear it was con­cluded she had received word to keep off till the next spring tides at the end of the month, when the Koenigsberg would have water again to break out. As the squadron was it could not count on stopping her. The Hyacinth could not steam much more than half speed and was sorely in need of an overhaul. The Cornwall, which had reached the Cape from home a week before, was therefore ordered up at high speed (she arrived on April 27), and the Chatham was also directed to the Rufiji, joining the squadron there on May 1. Meanwhile the islands north of the Mozambique Channel were searched, but no trace of the intruder could be found.

 

Under these conditions the need of making an end of the Koenigsberg was more urgent than ever. The two new seaplanes for which the Admiral had applied had proved unequal to the task. Though good enough for distant reconnaissance, they could not in that climate rise high enough for bombing in face of the enemy's anti‑aircraft fire. On May 5 one of them crashed in the sea and was wrecked. Bombing having failed, the Admiral was for attempting a torpedo attack, but this the Admiralty would not sanction. Their solution of the problem was to send down two of the original monitors which then were at Malta, and he was directed to husband his seaplanes till they arrived. His work, therefore, was chiefly maintaining the watch on the Rufiji. It was kept up in full strength till the springs were again past, and then both the Cornwall and Chatham left for the Mediterranean (May 11 and 16). Till the monitors and more seaplanes arrived nothing further could be done.

 

Ashore the lack of force kept things equally quiet. From India little could be expected, the needs of Mesopotamia were too great, and on April 16 Major‑General R. Wapshare sailed to take up a command there, leaving Major‑General

 

Jan., 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

M. J. Tighe as his successor in East Africa. The drain of Mesopotamia was indeed increasing ominously, and it was promising to be by no means the least of the liabilities which the new Government had to meet. Since the capture of Kurnah on December 9 no advance had been attempted. The Expeditionary Force had all it could do to secure itself. Till the end of the year it was engaged in entrenching a position on the Tigris about two miles above Kurnah, as well as at Muzairaa, on the opposite bank, while in the river a ship always kept guard at night with its searchlights.

 

Since December 18, on which day Captain A. Hayes‑Sadler sailed with the Ocean for Suez, the squadron attached to the expedition was in charge of Captain Wilfrid Nunn of the sloop Espiegle. He had besides her sister ship, the Odin (Commander C. R. Wason), the Indian Marine ship Lawrence and four armed launches. With this force he was able, so far as his guns would carry, to do a little to check the lawless tribes who inhabited the swamps and indulged them­selves with perpetual sniping; but to control them entirely was impossible, for as they constantly moved their mat villages from place to place punitive raids were not easy to carry out. Most troublesome of these tribesmen were those living in the marshes of the Euphrates west of Kurnah. One of their Sheikhs, who lived at Kubaish, thirty miles up the river, secure in his swampy fastness, was found to be intriguing with the enemy, and Sir Percy Cox, the Chief Political Officer, consulted Captain Nunn as to the possibility of removing him. (see Map 1.)

 

 

 

Map 1. Lower Mesopotamia

 

The river was uncharted, but on January 6 they made the attempt together in the Espiegle, with three armed launches and two of Messrs. Lynch's river steamers, carrying troops. The navigation of the sluggish stream proved unexpectedly easy. The Espiegle got nearly up to the village, the launches penetrated into Hammar lake above it, and the offending Sheikh was brought down to Kurnah and deposed.

 

In their hostile attitude the Arabs were sustained by the southward movement of Turkish troops. After the capture of Kurnah a division of the Mosul Army Corps had concen­trated at Bagdad, and by the end of the year an advanced force was established on the Tigris at Ruta, about eight miles above Kurnah. A combined reconnaissance, carried out on New Year's Day, found them entrenched on both banks of the river just above the Ruta creek, and below it they had blocked the river by sinking two iron lighters. Further reconnaissances, during one of which the Espiegle

 

Jan., 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

sank a Turkish steamer above Ruta, showed the enemy's strength constantly increasing. Their outposts had been advanced to within six miles north of our entrenched camp at Muzaira'a. The General (Lieutenant‑General Sir A. A. Barrett) therefore on January 20 moved out with a strong force, supported by the Espiegle, the launch Miner and the stern‑wheeler Mejidieh in the reach above Abu Aran. The operation was entirely successful. The enemy were driven back in confusion, losing their original position and some two to three hundred killed. The infantry then advanced, but as the object was reconnaissance only, no attack was made. Having ascertained that the enemy num­bered 5,000 men, mostly gendarmerie, the troops were with­drawn under cover of the ship's fire. Our losses were seven killed and fifty‑one wounded.

 

But the situation was still full of anxiety. For some time past the Muntafik Arabs had been concentrating at Nasiriya, on the Euphrates, thirty miles above Hammar lake ‑ a site once famous as "Ur of the Chaldees." It now became known that they had been joined by a number of Turks, and having crossed the river, were moving south of the marshes towards Basra. (see Map 1 - repeated.)

 

 

Map 1. Lower Mesopotamia

 

Simultaneously another Turkish force moving from Amara on the Tigris had crossed the Persian frontier, and in conjunction with the local Arabs seemed to be making for Ahwaz, on the Karun river, and the pipe line which connected the oil‑fields with the refinery at Abadan. On the night of January 29/30 a minor attack on our camp at Muzaira'a gave further evidence of the enemy's restlessness. There seemed to be little doubt that he meant to take the offensive and attack Basra, Kurnah and Ahwaz simultaneously; and no offensive movement on our part was possible. This was regrettable, for though our operations had been originally undertaken to confirm our command of the Indian Seas and, secure our interests in the Persian Gulf, it was becoming evident that something of much greater moment was at stake. Thanks to the industry of the Germans, the whole Arab world was in ferment, and whether they or ourselves would profit by it depended mainly upon what we could do in Mesopotamia. It was making itself strongly felt in Central Arabia, where the Pan‑Islamic movement had produced a deep impression. But here we scored the first point. The centre of the movement was at Hail, under the powerful Sheikh Ibn Rashid, and there on January 24 he was attacked by our partisan Ibn Saud, accompanied by Major W. H. Shakespear, our invaluable political agent at Kuwait. On

 

Feb-Mar., 1915

MENACE TO THE PIPE LINE

 

both sides the losses were severe, including unhappily Major Shakespear himself. Neither side could claim the victory, but the action put it out of Ibn Rashid's power to move on Mesopotamia. Unfortunately the last chance of effective co‑operation by Ibn Saud also passed away.

 

There the immediate danger was to the oil‑fields and pipe line. The Admiralty were specially anxious about its safety, and two of the armed launches, Shaitan and Comet, were ordered up the river. They reached Ahwaz on February 1. Troops followed, and the Sheikh of Mohmmerah mustered his men to assist, but for all they could do some of the oil stores were damaged and the pipe line was cut in several places during February. As for Kurnah, after the middle of the month it was made unassailable by the inundations that followed the rise of the river, and troops could be sent down to Basra in time to meet the attack which was developing from Nasiriya. The Turks and their Arab friends were slowly concentrating at Nukhaila, only thirty miles west of Basra, where supplies could reach them by water by way of the new channel of the Euphrates, which led out of the Hammar lake and joined the Tigris just above Basra. We were facing them at Shaiba, eight miles west of Basra, at the edge of the inundations caused by the new channel. From this point on March 3 an attempt was made with troops in bellums, or rude canoes of the district, propelled by punt­poles or paddles, to get at the enemy's line of communication. They were drawing their supplies from Nukhaila, on the Euphrates, and to this point, which was the objective of the operations, everything was brought down the river in mahailas. (The mahaila was a local kind of shallow‑draft dhow usually of from 30 to 40 tons burden, and occasionally a good deal larger.) The attempt failed, and a reconnaissance which had been pushed out to divert the enemy's attention was forced to retire before superior numbers. So formidable indeed was the concentration becoming that something clearly had to be done to arrest its further development.

 

The only way seemed to be to renew the attempt on the mahailas at Nukhaila with a regular combined operation, but whether or not it was possible for the flotilla to act was uncertain. At Kurmat Ali, seven miles above Basra, we had a post at the point where the new channel of the Euphrates joined the Tigris, but its navigation was quite unknown. So far as had been ascertained neither the sloops nor the Miner could operate in what was really a vast swamp with no more than three feet of water over the greater part of it. Consequently, as the Shaitan and Comet could not be spared

 

Mar., 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

from the Karun, a special flotilla had to be organised. The stern‑wheeler Shushan was commissioned, with Lieutenant­ Commander A. G. Seymour and six men from the Espiegle, and armed with two 3‑pounders. Another, the Muzaffri, carried fifty men of the Norfolks, and a barge was armed with two 4‑inch guns of the 104th (Heavy) Battery, and carried a crew of forty men under Major W. C. R. Farmar, R.G.A. A tug and a motor boat completed the little amphibious force, and on March 11 they started. By the second day they found their way through the shoals to within range of the enemy's camp at Nukhaila, and proceeded to shell it and the mahailas by which it was being supplied. The immediate effect was that the mahailas ceased coming down to Nukhaila and seemed to be stopping higher up. Next day, therefore, the flotilla moved on ten miles to Allawi, where there was a fort, with a depot near by at Ratawi. It was destroyed with more mahailas. So the work went on day after day in the wide waste of uncharted waters, with constant groundings as they tried to chase the elusive dhows which always made off and hid themselves in the jungle of high reeds that grew out of the floods. Above Ratawi the waters became more confined, and here it was found that a complete blockade could be established. Having ascertained this important fact they returned to Nukhaila and subjected it on March 20 to a full day's bombardment, setting the camp on fire, forcing numbers of Arabs out into the desert and destroying some of the mahailas that were there.

 

They were not many, for now it was found that the effect of the operations was that they came no further than a place called Ghabishiya, twenty miles above Ratawi, where they were unloaded and their cargoes transported by camels to Nukhaila. To Ghabishiya the flotilla therefore pro­ceeded and found there a crowd of mahailas and camels. Here they stayed, doing what damage they could, and com­pletely blocking the flow of supplies by water till they were forced to go down for more ammunition. Thus was set on foot what was known as the "Euphrates Blockade." Not only did it prove to afford invaluable protection to the west flank of the Basra position, but its moral effects were scarcely less important. The Arabs were peculiarly susceptible to ship fire, and the delay which the blockade caused in the attack so far disheartened them that, in spite of the Jehad, they began to fall away in large numbers.

 

On our right wing up the Karun river things were not so satisfactory. In attempting to anticipate the arrival of Turkish and Arab reinforcements our people had attacked

 

Mar‑April 1915

ARRIVAL OF GENERAL NIXON

 

the enemy west of Ahwaz on March 3, but we were too late, and met with a reverse from superior numbers, losing sixty­-two killed and 127 wounded. The enemy lost over 200 killed and about 600 wounded. The Karun column had therefore to be increased to the strength of a brigade, but here, too, the Jehad was losing its force. The depressed Arabs began to desert, and by the end of the month, though the pipe line was still broken, the position at the oil‑fields was better.

 

The whole situation, however, was still very serious, particularly in view of the failure of the naval attack on the Dardanelles. Ever since it had been realised how formidable was the effort the Turks were preparing to dislodge us from the Shatt‑al‑Arab, the question of reinforcements had been acute. Immediately the danger to the oil supply was known, the Admiralty, who were pressing for energetic military action to safeguard it, had ordered out the sloop Clio (six 4‑inch and four a‑pounder guns. Commander C. MacKenzie) from Egypt, and they had also shipped two converted stern‑wheelers armed with 4.7 inch guns. Troops were harder to find. The Government of India, owing to in­ternal anxieties, could not see their way to providing more from their reduced garrison, but eventually General Melliss's Indian brigade was spared from Egypt, so that the Expedi­tionary Force was brought up to the strength of an army corps of two infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade, but without its full complement of artillery. On April 9 General Sir John Nixon arrived to command it. His instructions were to retain complete control of Lower Mesopotamia, including the vilayet of Basra and all outlets to the sea, and of all such portions of the neighbouring territories as affected his operations. So far as was feasible without prejudice to his main operations he was also to endeavour to secure the safety of the oil‑fields, pipe lines and refineries, and further, in anticipation of possible eventualities, to study a plan for advancing on Bagdad.

 

So effectually had the Euphrates blockade checked the enemy that the long‑expected offensive did not develop till after his arrival. It was heralded on April 11 by a bombard­ment of Kurnah from the Turkish position just above. Next day there was a demonstration against Ahwaz, and simul­taneously the attack on our position at Shaiba developed in full force. We were holding the place with one cavalry and two infantry brigades, and after heavy fighting, which lasted till nightfall, the attack was repulsed with severe loss to the enemy. Next day Major‑General C. J. Melliss, who was in command, counter‑attacked and drove the enemy back on a

 

Apr. 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

position they had prepared at Barjisiya, three or four miles to the south‑west. This position he attacked on April 14, and by skilful tactics and indomitable persistence the valiant tenacity of the Turks was at last broken. A precipitate retirement began and quickly became a rout. The Turkish losses are estimated at one thousand. Four hundred prisoners and two guns fell into our hands. Pursuit was impossible for our exhausted troops, but the Euphrates flotilla was waiting its opportunity. It had been able to take no part in the battle, though the Shushan had had a little action of her own with two Thomycroft patrol boats, which she put to flight. In the evening. however, she was joined by a further force, so that the flotilla, which was now commanded by Lieutenant‑Colonel R. P. Molesworth, R.G.A., could show two naval 4.7‑inch guns, a 12‑pounder and three 8‑pounders, besides a military 5‑inch and an 18‑pounder.

 

With this force he went up to Nukhaila. As they approached at dawn a number of mahailas could be seen making sail. As yet our people had no news of how the battle had gone; but what they saw could only mean that the enemy had been defeated the previous day and a vigoorous pursuit was begun. Twelve of the largest dhows were destroyed or captured, but then came a gale which prevented anything being done for the whole of next day. When it abated they pushed on to Ghabishiya, but only to find it deserted. The enemy in scattered groups were flying in disorder. The truth was that our success had stifled the last breath of the Jehad. The Arab tribesmen had turned on the Turks, and were harassing and plundering them as they fled. It was a wholly broken and demoralised force that at last got back to Nasiriya. Their commander, Sulaiman Askari, had committed suicide before his assembled officers when the Arabs turned against him. Their total losses were about 6,000 men and a great quantity of arms and munitions which were found on the battlefield and at the river posts. Our casualties numbered 1,862 including 101 killed.

 

The work of the blockade flotilla was now done, and it could be withdrawn. The attempt to turn our Mesopotamian flank had failed, and failed so disastrously that its effects spread far and wide. Not only was General Nixon now free to operate in force up the Karun river in order to clear the enemy out of Persian Arabistan, but through all that district the Arabs began to renounce the Jehad. The result was that when Major‑General G. F. Gorringe, towards the end of April, was sent up the river with his division the Turks fell back before him. The advance was one of the greatest

 

May 1915

PIPE LINE SECURED

 

difficulty. In a bold effort to cut off the enemy's retreat he left the river twenty miles short of Ahwaz and struck north­ward across the swampy desert to the hills. But their retreat had been too rapid for him; they had just passed ahead of his column, and all he could do was to press on their heels and drive them back the way they came. On May 14 he entered Bisaitin, and Persian Arabistan was again clear of the enemy, and the oil‑fields and pipe line secured.

 

In this wholly successful operation the flotilla could take no part. Their turn was to come. For the present they were busy with work preparatory to further and larger operations by which General Nixon intended to follow up his victory at Shaiba. To consolidate the position in Lower Mesopotamia it seemed to him necessary to occupy Nasiriya and Amara, the two points from which the attacks on his flanks had originated. This forward movement had been sanctioned from home, and the minor units of the flotilla were investi­gating the channels about Hammar lake with a view to the advance up the Euphrates. About this phase, however, there was no immediate hurry. Far more important and more pressing was the capture of Amara. Since it was from that point the columns which attacked Ahwaz had started, it was probably there the baffled troops would retire, and if their retreat could be cut off it would mean a real and telling success.

 

The first operation would have to be the forcing of the Turkish position above Kurnah, where the enemy's advanced posts faced our own at a distance of 2,000 to 8,000 yards on both sides of the river. It was no easy matter. (See Map 2.)

 

 

Map 2. Operations against Kurnah

The inundation was now at its highest; Kurnah itself was an island, and as far as the eye could see there was nothing but a reedy waste of water, broken by a few low detached sandhills on which the Turks were entrenched. The nearest, known to us as "Norfolk hill," was on the west or Kurnah bank. In rear of it was " One Tree hill," on the east bank, and "One Tower hill " on the west. Further back again was a stronger post, "Gun hill." Two miles in rear of this was the main position at Abu Aran village, and on the extreme horizon could just be seen the enemy's camps at Muzaibila and Ruta, below which was the obstruction they had formed by sinking iron barges.

 

To attack such a position involved work of an almost unprecedented character. Though the water was but two feet deep, it was intersected by so many deeper ditches and canals that wading was impossible. The only way to enable the infantry to move freely was to adopt the methods of the natives and embark them in the bellums. Three hundred

 

May 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

and seventy‑two of these were collected, and ninety‑six were lightly armoured to give protection against rifle and machine‑gun fire. (Each carried ten men and a reserve of ammunition and other supplies.) As soon as the men had learned to use them brigade training had to proceed with every movement translated into terms of canoes. As for the cavalry, it could not be used at all. Its place had to be supplied by the flotilla, and on the flotilla, too, the force would have to rely for its artillery as soon as it had advanced beyond the range of the heavy batteries at Kurnah. Here the mobility of the water‑borne guns gave us a valuable advantage, for though the main attack must be frontal up the course of the Tigris, it seemed possible at least to menace the flanks of the position.

 

On either side of the river were two creeks which led northward, the one, Al Huwair creek, from the Euphrates, the other, Shwaiyib river, which joined the Shatt­al‑Arab below Kurnah. These Captain Nunn was investi­gating while the elaborate details of the strange operation were worked out by the staff. He had now, besides the Espiegle and Odin, his third sloop, the Clio. She had been long on her way from Suez, for apart from its duties with the Expeditionary Force the squadron had to be continually showing the flag at any gulf port where there were signs of unrest or hostility. She had got as far as Muscat when it was found that German propaganda at Bushire, the head­quarters of our political and naval activity in the gulf, had set up such a threatening state of affairs that she had to be diverted to that port, and there from March 12 to April 16 she had to remain till things were quieter. The Indian Marine ship Dalhousie was similarly engaged, but he had the Lawrence. The Al Huwair creek was found to have been mined, and some time had to be spent in clearing the neighbouring swamp villages and making all secure. It was not till the end of May that all the complex arrangements were complete, and the whole force concentrated at Kurnah under Major‑General C. V. F. Townshend, who had arrived from India on April 22 to command the VIth Indian Division.

 

(The units of the division which took part in the operation were:

16th Infantry Brigade (Brigadier‑General W. S. Delantain) - 2nd Bn. Dorsetshire Regiment, 104th Wellesley's Rifles, 117th Mahrattas.

17th Infantry Brigade (Lieut.-Colonel S. H. Climo) - 1st Bn. Oxfordshire and Bucking­hamshire Light Infantry, 22nd Punjabis, 103rd Mahratta Light Infantry, 119th Infantry.

Divisional Troops - one battery, R.F.A., 1/5th Hants (Howitzer) Battery, R.F.A., two heavy batteries, R.G.A., one mountain battery, 2nd Bn. Norfolk Regiment, 48th Pioneers, two companies and Bridging Train, Sappers and Miners, one Divisional Signal Company.

Besides the three sloops, the Lawrence, the armed launches, stern‑wheelers and gun‑lighters, a very large flotilla of small craft had been organised. All supply and field ambulance was floating, and bellums had been provided for one whole brigade (about sixty to a battalion), besides those carrying rafts for the machine‑guns.)

 

May 31, 1915

ADVANCE FROM KURNAH

 

To him General Nixon committed the conduct and organi­sation of the fantastic adventure. Though the idea he had worked out was a combined frontal and flank attack, the frontal attack up the main channel was to be the decisive one, and was to be supported by the bulk of the artillery ashore and afloat. The Espiegle, preceded by two launches to sweep - for the river above Kurnah was known to be mined ‑ was to accompany this attack with the General on board, and with her were to go the Odin, two naval horse­boats with 4.7inch guns, and two gun barges with 5‑inch and 4‑inch guns. The Clio, Lawrence and Miner were at first to assist the fortress guns in covering the advance. The Comet, which had come down from Ahwaz, was to move in company with an armed transport up the Shwaiyib river abreast of the Turkish position to cover the turning attack which was to be made by the 22nd Punjabis against One Tree hill, the only post the enemy had on the eastern bank. Up the other creek the two stern‑wheelers, Shushan and Muzaffri, were to make a demonstration against the opposite flank with the assistance of a swarm of Arabs under the friendly Sheikh of Medina in their own bellums. (Medina, is a village on the south bank of the Euphrates fifteen miles above Kurnah.)

 

At 5.0 a.m. on May 31 the preparatory bombardment began. By that time the Punjabis in their bellums had already stolen up to a point within a mile east‑south‑east of their objective and had deployed in the water. As soon as the guns began they crept slowly on, and by 6.30 had rushed One Tree hill and captured its slender garrison. Easy as the surprise had been, it was of no small importance, for the Punjabis could now enfilade Norfolk hill on the opposite bank with their machine‑guns. Against this point the rest of the 17th Brigade were now moving over the floods in their armoured bellums, making their way like rats through the jungle of reeds. No eye could see them nor could the enemy attend to anything but the squadron in the river. Preceded by the launches, Shaitan and Sumana, working a sweep, the Espiegle and Odin were pushing up stream, followed by the gun barges, with the Clio and Lawrence in support and the

 

June 1, 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

16th Brigade in steamers. Upon the leading ships the guns in the enemy's positions at One Tower hill and Gun hill were concentrated, but the sloops and the fortress guns and howitzers soon silenced them, and by 7.30 the Oxford and Bucks L.I. had Norfolk hill. In another two hours One Tower Hill had sur­rendered. Only Gun hill remained. Upon this the naval guns concentrated, and at 11.40 it also surrendered to the 103rd Mahratta L.I. So by noon it was all over. Thanks to the admirable staff work, and the skill the troops had developed in managing the bellums, all had gone like the ticking of a clock, and the long‑prepared position fell in a morning's work. Our own losses were negligible. The enemy's casualties in killed and wounded were over 100, and we had in our hands 250 prisoners and three guns.

 

This, however, was only a beginning. It was no more than an outpost line that had been taken. The enemy's main force, as we have seen, was higher up. Two miles above they had a position at Abu Aran, and two miles beyond that another on both banks at Mtizaibila and Ruta, below which was the obstruction they had made on their first retreat from Kurnah. These were not to be attempted till next day. It was necessary to consolidate the ground that had been won and to rest the men after their exhausting spell of work in the intense heat that prevailed.

 

The coming day's work was to begin at dawn with a frontal attack on Abu Aran by the flotilla, while the 17th Brigade made a wide sweep to take in flank from the west­ward. The 16th Brigade would be landed at Abu Aran, and together they would deal with Muzaibila. But when the bombardment began there was no reply, and as soon as the aircraft got back from Basra, where alone there was enough dry ground for landing, they reported the enemy in full retreat. Instantly General Townshend decided to pursue and keep them on the run, and now the flotilla had to take up its cavalry function. The infantry were ordered to con­centrate at Abu Aran, while the General pursued with the flotilla. The 16th Brigade was to hold Abu Aran, the 17th was to embark in their empty transports and follow him, and the Norfolks were also to come on. Then the General, with no more of his division than his staff and a guard of a dozen men, hurried on in the Espiegle, with the Clio and Odin in company and the Shaitan and Sumana sweeping head.

 

It was an exciting chase. (See Map 1 - repeated).

 

 

Map 1. Lower Mesopotamia

 

Several mines had been dis­covered, more were known to be ahead, but fortunately the engineer officer who laid them had been taken prisoner, and

 

June 2, 1915

TURKS IN RETREAT

 

being placed for custody in one of the sweeping launches, made no difficulty in pointing out where they lay. Still there were the sunken lighters below Ruta. As they approached the place they could see above it the gunboat Marmariss, with another steamer and other river craft flying up the river. A hasty reconnaissance seemed to show that the current had scooped a channel on one side of the obstruc­tion. Captain Nunn decided to try, and in a short time all three sloops successfully scraped through the difficult passage. Then the chase began in earnest, and surely it was unique. Here was a General pursuing with his Staff far ahead of his army, knowing little of what was ahead except that the enemy was flying before him. It was all an improvisation. His idea as expressed in general orders was, if he got the Turks on the run, to hurry after the flotilla with the 16th Brigade. He had no intention to pursue in person, but still he permitted Captain Nunn to carry him onward mile after mile, bend after bend, and as they steamed against the surging current the river became ever narrower and more tortuous. So sharp were the turns and so swift the current that the sloops could barely get round them and never without bumping heavily against one bank or the other. For them, too, it was an adventure beyond sober imagination. Built for police work where the oceans spread widest, they were driving irresponsibly up an uncharted waterway in chase of flying infantry, where such ships had never sailed before, into the heart of an ancient continental empire a hundred and fifty miles from the open sea.

 

The Shaitan was leading alone, for the Sumana had been left behind to seize a quantity of arms which the enemy in the flight had abandoned near Muzaibila. The chase was long and arduous in the intense heat, but foot by foot the flying enemy was overhauled. Towards sunset they could be clearly seen ‑ first the familiar white sails of the mahailas struggling against the current; then the steamer Mosul, full of troops and towing two barges equally crowded; and ahead of all the gunboat Marmariss similarly employed. Just as the sun dipped the Shaitan was able to open fire on the rearmost boats. The Espiegle followed quickly upon the Mosul, and then the reward began to be reaped. Both steamers hurriedly cast off their tows, and when before the brief twilight was done the blue dome of Ezra's tomb could be made out in its clump of palm trees, the mahailas could be seen lowering their sails and the small boats mooring under the banks. The Odin, as last in the line, was ordered to stop and take possession, while the rest went on in the dusk after

 

June 2-3, 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

the Mosul and Marmariss, firing till the targets could no longer be seen. At 8.0 navigation was no longer possible. They had to stop, and by aid of their searchlights they took possession of two large lighters and several more mahailas laden with troops, guns, mines and munitions, which the Turkish gunboats had abandoned. Here, too, they found the steamer Bulbul, which a shell from the Shaitan had sunk.

 

Two hours after midnight the moon rose and it was possible to move on. Leaving the Odin to guard the prisoners and booty, the Espiegle and Clio went on again with the Miner and Comet, who by this time had got up as well as the Shaitan and Sumana. As they proceeded the navigation became more and more intricate, until at 4.15, some six miles above Ezra's tomb, and just as the Marmariss was in sight the Espiegle had to stop with nothing but mud under her keel. Fire was opened at once on the Turkish gunboat. There was no reply, and an armed party sent to investigate found her cut to pieces, abandoned and on fire. The Mosul could also be seen round the next bend, and on her the Clio fired. The immediate response was a white flag, and the Shaitan went on and took possession. (The captures up to this time, besides the Marmariss and Mosul, were two steel lighters, seven mahailas, two field guns, large quantities of rifles and ammunition, 140 prisoners and treasure to the amount of over £1,000.)

 

The evidence of the enemy's demoralisation was now complete. It was a sore temptation, with all the day before them, to carry on and see how things were up at Amara. But it was still fifty miles on, the sloops could go no farther and the army was fifty miles astern. But on the heels of a routed enemy much may be dared, and, after a short con­sultation the General and Captain Nunn decided to carry on in the Comet with the other launches. The Miner soon had to be left for lack of water, but the Lewis Pelly had come up, and she, with the Shaitan and Sumana, each towing a horse‑boat with a 4.7-inch naval gun, continued the pursuit. No sign of opposition was encountered. At Qala Salih, half­way to Amara, which they reached in the early afternoon, some cavalry and an infantry company were dispersed with a few shells, and then the notables came off to make sub­mission. Six miles further on they stopped for the night.

 

At daylight next morning, June 3, they moved again up the intermingble succession of bends, less able than ever to tell what was round the next corner, but everywhere the villagers still greeted them with white flags and signs of obeisance. No troops were seen, but when they reached Abu Sidra, twelve miles short of their destination, it became

 

June 3, 1915

CAPTURE OF AMARA

 

necessary to go more warily. The flotilla was concentrated. and Lieutenant M. Singleton in the Shaitan, the fastest launch, was sent three miles ahead with Captain B. G. Peel of the General's Staff and a small launch as despatch boat, to ascertain and report whether Amara was being held or evacuated. Then the Comet, leading the rest of the launches and the gun barges, followed.

 

By 2.0 the Shaitan was within three miles of the town without having found any sign of the enemy, but just as she turned into the Amara reach, troops in large numbers were seen leaving the place by a bridge of boats and getting into a barge on the other bank which was secured to a steamer. The bridge was immediately opened, but before the steamer could get through, a shot from the Shaitan's 12‑pounder brought her to, and the troops took to the shore and made off up the river. The Shaitan followed through the bridge. As she passed it about half a battalion of infantry were just debouching on to the by‑ways. At sight of her they hurried back up the narrow streets. Lieutenant Singleton went on. On rounding the westerly bend of the river above the town a number of troops were seen retreating on either hand, some 1,500 on the one bank and 1,000 on the other, both abreast and ahead of him, so that with those still in the town he was practically surrounded by the enemy. Still, though the river here was less than 200 yards broad, no shot was fired on either side, and he held on for 1,000 yards further, when 100 Turks came down to the bank and surrendered. After quietly taking their rifles on board and ordering them to march down stream parallel with the Shaitan, he turned back, and had not gone far when another 150 also surrendered. They were dealt with in the same way, and these also he continued to escort towards the Comet, which was just coming up the Amara reach.

 

(Of this incident Captain Peel in his report to the General wrote: " Thus Shaitan caused 2,000 Turks to evacuate Amara and captured some 250 with eleven officers by firing three shells and a display of cool audacity which even the Royal Navy would find hard to equal. I am convinced had I been in command I should never have dared to proceed in the way she did, ignoring a strong force in my rear and with the knowledge that a few resolute Turks on either bank might easily have accounted for the crew at almost point blank." This was also Captain Nunn's opinion. Lieutenant Singleton was awarded the D.S.O., and the D.S.M. was given to his Coxswain A. J. Roberts and Gunlayer W. H. Rowe.)

 

As she approached with the rest of the flotilla all was quiet under the burning afternoon sun; the steam craft and lighters at the quays were deserted, and abreast of them she anchored. Still no sign of movement or preparation for

 

June 3-4, 1915

MESOPOTAMIA

 

defence, but it was difficult to know what to do next. Amara was quite an important port and trading centre, it was the headquarters of a sanjak, and its population was estimated at 20,000, besides its garrison. Our own troops were a day and a half's steaming down the river, and in the whole flotilla, counting the General's Staff and guard, there were no more than 100 white men besides the Lascar stokers. Bold­ness had served them well, and with a culminating stroke of it they acted on the spot. A boat, manned by a couple of seamen and one marine, was sent off from the Comet with a corporal and twelve men of the West Kent and 1/5th Hants Territorial Battery, and the final scene of the fairy tale was played.

 

The boat was met by an offer to surrender. In the barracks was found a whole battalion of the Constantinople fire brigade. Corps d'elite as they were, they gave themselves up to a few of the boat's crew - one officer, one seaman, one marine and an interpreter. The Turkish General, the Civil Governor, and a number of officers surrendered at the Custom House, where General Townshend, Captain Nunn and other officers landed on the arrival of the Comet. During the after­noon the British flag was hoisted over the Governor's house, up to a few of the boat's crew. The Turkish General, the Civil Governor, and between thirty and forty officers handed in their swords on board the Comet, and during the afternoon the British flag was hoisted over the Governor's house.

 

Still the position was highly delicate. With the Shaitan's captures there were now about 700 prisoners, and more, including the officers and crew of the Marmariss, were con­tinually coming in for fear of the Arabs. As many as possible were put on board a lighter and moored in mid‑stream, but it was little more than a tenth of the total, and it could not be long before such fine troops recovered their spirit and found out how slender was the force opposed to them. Messages were despatched down the river for the troops to press on. Hour after hour the southern horizon was eagerly scanned for a sign of them till darkness fell. What the morrow would bring none could tell, but towards morning the distant glow of a searchlight could be seen, and by dawn the smoke of the leading transport. So the position was saved. By 10.0 a.m. (June 4) the 2nd Norfolk came up in the P.3. But it was not a moment too soon. In the town the Arabs had discovered the real state of affairs, and had already started to fire and loot when they arrived. Then all was quiet, and Amara was securely ours with an abundant booty. In the four days' operations a gunboat and two steamers had been sunk, and the

 

June 4, 1915

THE FRUITS OF VICTORY

 

prizes were three steamers, a couple of motor boats, ten iron barges and other craft, on board one of which was £1,000 in gold coin. The prisoners numbered 139 officers and 1,634 men, and amongst the captured material were 17 guns, 2,700 rifles and over a million rounds of small‑arm ammunition. Nor was this the whole tale of success. For they had been in time to cut off the retreat of the troops retiring from Ahwaz. Part of the advanced guard, ignorant of what had happened at Amara, was actually captured, the rest only escaped by dispersing with the loss of two guns, and these it seems were the fugitives whose retreat the Shaitan hurried on the east bank. The main body had to find its way northward to Kut, and there, too, the broken remnants of the Amara garrison eventually found refuge. The success was thus complete, and it was due not only to the audacity and alert resource in which the operation culminated, but in an equal degree to the skilful and patient staff work by which each Service from first to last had made good the inabilities of the other, and to the close co‑operation between them which, as General Nixon wrote in his despatch, stands out as a marked feature of the operations.

 

(The British casualties in the four days, 31st May‑3rd June, totalled only four killed and twenty‑one wounded. The enemy lost 120 killed and wounded. (For a full account of the military operations outlined in this volume see Official History of the War, Military Operations, Togoland and the Cameroons, 1914‑1916, and The Campaign in Mesopotamia, 1914‑1918, Vol. I.)

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER II

 

THE DARDANELLES, MAY 5 TO JUNE 7 ‑ EXPLOITS OF E 14 AND E 11 IN THE MARMARA ‑ LOSS OF THE TRIUMPH AND MAJESTIC ‑ THE 3rd BATTLE OF KRITHIA

(See also The Official History of the War, Military Operations: Gallipoli.)

 

The success in Mesopotamia was the more welcome since in the main attack on the Ottoman Empire things had been going from bad to worse. The inability of the army had now extended to the squadron. It was not only that it was re­duced in strength, but the long‑expected hour had come when it could no longer claim a full working command of the Aegean. The Queen Elizabeth had gone (May 14), and under the Italian Convention Rear‑Admiral C. F. Thursby had left with the Queen (flag), Prince of Wales, Implacable and London on the 18th. He joined the Italian fleet at Taranto on May 27. The four light cruisers which had been promised (Dartmouth, Dublin, Amethyst and Sapphire) were already at Brindisi; and Vice‑Admiral J. M. de Robeck thus lost many of the ships which experience had made the most efficient at the work to be done. At the same time the Exmouth and Venerable joined from home, with the experience they had gained on the Belgian coast. The French had made up their contingent of six battleships by sending the Suffren, Charlemagne and Patrie, under Vice‑Admiral E. E. Nicol, who was now in command of the French Dardanelles Squadron. The agreed number of cruisers was reached by the Kleber from Brest and the Dupleix and Bruix from patrol duty in the Mediterranean. All were comparatively old cruisers, which, though good enough for supporting troops ashore, could not make up for the light cruisers Admiral de Robeck had lost. They had to be replaced, and accordingly the Chatham and Cornwall were ordered to the Dardanelles from East Africa.

 

The squadron thus reconstituted might have served well enough but for the new danger that was menacing it. The supporting ships were now under Rear‑Admiral Stuart Nicholson, Rear‑Admiral R. E. Wemyss having resumed his duties as Senior Naval Officer at Mudros, and they were doing their best to assist the continual trench warfare that was going on and to keep down the fire of the new heavy batteries which had been established on the Asiatic shore, and which were beginning to hamper seriously the work of supply upon the southern beaches. The efforts of the ships in this direction

 

May 19, 1915

ATTACK ON ANZAC

 

were, however, soon to be checked. It had long been realised that the appearance of German submarines in the Aegean would naturally alter the situation for the worse. Sooner or later their arrival was inevitable, but so heavy was the strain in Home waters that little provision had been possible to meet the peril. No destroyers and few trawlers were to be had, and in default of them material had been sent out for closing the Straits with a barrier, but so strong was the current that it was found impossible to place it in position, and the idea had had to be given up. And now rumours were rife that German submarines had arrived, or were about to arrive. The Turks appear to have expected them on May 17, and the following day our Smyrna patrol reported that a large one had entered that port. The news was specially disquieting, for our intelligence agents were reporting that two new divisions had been brought to Gallipoli, and that submarine attack on the supporting ships at Gaba Tepe was to be expected. The inference was that the two new divi­sions were to be used against the Anzacs.

 

General Liman von Sanders had made up his mind to combine the first effort of the submarines with a desperate attack to drive the Anzacs into the sea, and so remove the threat to his communications with Krithia and Achi Baba. The two new divisions were accordingly committed to Essad Pasha, and with the two old divisions already there he began the attempt before dawn on the 19th. At daylight the attack developed great intensity, but in spite of the danger to the supporting ships the Admiral had kept all four of them (Canopus, Captain Heathcoat S. Grant, Senior Naval Officer, Triumph, Vengeance and Bacchante) in position, as well as four destroyers, and they were able to play their part. As assault after assault was made they kept up a continuous fire as directed from the shore. Over much of the line of conflict the opposing trenches were so close that they could do little in actual support of the infantry. But the artillery fire they could keep down. No submarine appeared to disturb the bombardment. A ship in the Narrows tried to interfere, but was quickly driven off by the Triumph, and though the Turks had never fought with greater determination, by 11 a.m. the battle was over. Their losses amounted to 10,000 and more than 3,000 dead were counted that afternoon. A suspension of arms was arranged for them to bury their dead. The Australian losses were about six hundred. The result was very satisfactory. "After May 19," the Turkish War Office has stated, "it was realised that the British defences at Anzac were too strong to enable us to

 

May 22, 1915

 

effect anything against them without heavy artillery and plenty of ammunition." The Turks also recognised the impregnable strength of their own position and withdrew two battalions. For nearly two months no major operation was attempted in this quarter.

 

But, though no submarine attack had been made on the supporting ships, the question of their exposure remained. For two days more there was no sign of the threatened danger, but on the morning of May 22 a submarine was reported by several ships between Gaba Tepe and Tekke Burnu. The transports were immediately ordered to raise steam and make for Mudros, and ships without nets to get under way. A thorough search failed to locate the enemy and no harm was done. It may even have been a false alarm ‑ possibly due to dead mules, of which there were now many floating about ‑ but that enemy submarines were in the vicinity could not be doubted, and steps had to be taken to minimise the risk. To the Admiral the problem. was one of extreme difficulty. The presence of some covering ships he regarded as indis­pensable for the army. Its supply of artillery ammunition was so short that it was powerless to deal with the enemy's batteries without naval assistance. What he did, therefore, was to reduce the ships at Gaba Tepe from four to two, with one in reserve at Imbros, and those of the Southern Division from seven to four. That even six were to remain was solely due to what he felt was his minimum duty to the army, yet to the soldiers the change looked like a stampede. There can be little doubt, however, that Admiral de Robeck was taking the utmost legitimate risk that was consistent with safeguarding their communications.

 

Nor did it mean resting on a merely defensive attitude; for as it became clear that the enemy, having failed to dis­lodge us by direct means, was bent on breaking our hold by cutting up our sea communications, so we by the same means were doing our best to cut up his. How far we had succeeded was now known. Lieutenant‑Commander E. C. Boyle had just returned from the Marmara (May 18) to tell the tale of E 14. Since his successful attack on his persecutors on May 1 the patrols had treated him with more discretion, but he had had little luck. Till May 5 no chance presented itself, but then he fell in with a large transport under convoy of one of the smartest of the enemy's German‑built destroyers. The escort was being very well handled, and as it was a flat calm an attack was a very delicate matter. Yet by timing it when the destroyer was on the far side of the transport

 

May 5‑17, 1915

E 14 IN THE MARMARA

 

he was able unseen to fire his shot at 600 yards. It was a fair right‑angled hit, but the torpedo failed to explode. Next day there was another good chance at a transport coming through the Marmara strait, but she saw the danger in time and turned back to Constantinople. (See Map 3).

 

 

Map 3. The Sea of Marmara

Day after day steamers were chased, but the few that were overhauled were full of refugees and were allowed to proceed. May 10 was a more exciting day. It began in the eastern part of the sea by a destroyer running over the submarine near Kalolimno island, but in the evening two large transports, escorted by another German‑built destroyer, came along. The first torpedo fired at the leading transport did not run true, but then the bad luck ended. The second hit the other transport and exploded with such force that debris and men could be seen falling into the water. She was, in fact, crowded with troops proceeding from Constantinople to Gallipoli. Starting in life as the White Star liner Germania, she was now the Ottoman transport Gul Djemal, a ship of 5,000 tons, and on board of her were 6,000 men and a battery of artillery. What became of her could not be seen ‑ night had fallen and she disappeared into the darkness. Later on an eye‑witness on the island declared that she turned back on her course, but sank almost immediately with all hands. (Prize Court Reports, Lloyd's List, Jan. 30, 1917. The German official History, however, states that she was towed next day to the Golden Horn (Der Krieg zur See: Die Mittelmeer Division pp. 160‑1).

 

So at last Lieutenant‑Commander Boyle could feel he had struck a blow of high material and moral consequence, but it had cost him his last torpedo, for the one he had left proved defective. Still, innocuous as he was, with­out a gun and with a single periscope left which he dared not expose to rifle fire, he held on. He could at least keep up the impression he had made, and so hope to hamper the flow of the enemy's reinforcements and supplies. One small steamer he did manage to force ashore, but that was all. Still he continued to cruise until May 17, when he was recalled in order to give his successor the benefit of his experience.

 

Meanwhile the enemy, pending the arrival of the German submarines, was developing his other means of disturbing our supply service. More and heavier guns were being brought into action against the beaches and inner anchorages, and the need of ship fire to keep them in check became every day more indispensable. Every day the duty battleships, in hourly expectation of submarine attack, were at their firing stations. For two days after the first alarm nothing happened, but then the crisis came. On May 25 Admiral

 

May 25, 1915

 

Nicholson in the Swiftsure was off Cape Helles, expecting the Majestic to relieve him. (See Map 4).

 

 

Map 4. The Torpedoing of H.M.S. Triumph

The Agamemnon was anchored near by till the hour she was to go inside and assist the French in dealing with the Asiatic heavy batteries. Up at Anzac the Triumph was under way with her nets out off Gaba Tepe, ready to deal with any Turkish battleship that attempted to fire from the Narrows. On the Anzac north flank was Captain Heathcoat Grant in the Canopus. In the early morning he had been engaged in supporting another raid at Suvla Bay, where the observation post on Nibrunessi Point, destroyed a fortnight earlier, had been restored. About fifty troops in the destroyers Chelmer and Colne landed, and once more demolished it, and at 7.0 a.m. the Chelmer came down to protect the Triumph. The Canopus then moved off to meet the Vengeance, which was coming up from Mudros to relieve her. Special precautions were being taken, for it was clear at an early hour that a submarine was about.

 

It was a Grimsby trawler, the Minoru, that gave the first alarm - one of those maids‑of‑all‑work of the fleet that were doing everything no one else could be found to do, and doing it well. Towards 7.30 a.m. off the entrance she began giving sharp blasts on her siren. It was all she could do. For the trawlers, having been sent out as minesweepers, were unarmed, and indeed when they started there were no guns to give them. Their only method of attack was to ram, and for this they had scarcely speed enough. They could, however, give the alarm to destroyers. The Harpy, which, with another destroyer was patrolling round the Cape Helles battleships, at once rushed to the spot and passed the warning signal. She quickly saw the submarine making apparently for the St. Louis off Sedd el Bahr, and pressed after it. Possibly for this reason the French battleship was not attacked, or it may be, as we had been informed, the submarine's orders were to deal with the ships at Anzac. At all events the enemy held on, and ten minutes later her periscope was seen passing between the Swiftsure and Agamemnon going north. The Swiftsure fired on her, but she disappeared, and nothing more was seen of her till shortly after 10.0. By that time the Vengeance was zigzagging up from Mudros, and when she was due east of Cape Kephalo the track of a torpedo was seen coming for her from shorewards. A smart turn to star­board swung her clear, and after a few rounds at her assailant's periscope she held on for Gaba Tepe, while the submarine made off up the coast. The Talbot, which was off Y Beach,

 

May 25, 1915

LOSS OF THE TRIUMPH

 

and all available destroyers and trawlers spread in search. Four times was her periscope seen and fired on, and once a destroyer ran right over her without touching. When the Vengeance reached Gaba Tepe, Captain Heathcoat Grant transferred to her, and the Canopus started for Mudros, heading to take the safe course round the north of Imbros. As the hunt indicated that the submarine was coming northwards up the coast, Captain Heathcoat Grant ordered the Manica and all transports present to clear away for the protected Imbros anchorage at Kephalo Bay. Then the excitement quickened. A quarter of an hour later the Canopus, which was now half‑way to Imbros, signalled a submarine 2,000 yards to the northward of her, steering south. The Canopus was working up to full speed, zigzagging hard, with the Ribble guarding her, and she was not attacked. On receiving the report Admiral Nicholson at noon signalled to Admiral de Robeck, who was at Kephalo in the Lord Nelson, for leave for all ships to retire there. All these attacks and alarms were the work of one submarine, the U 21 under Lieutenant‑Commander Hersing, who had left Wilhelmshaven on April 24, and so far the calm sea and good visibility had frustrated his efforts. But he had not long to wait.

 

Six miles away to the south‑eastward was the Triumph at her firing station off Gaba Tepe, still under way, with her nets down, light guns manned and all watertight doors closed, and round her the Chelmer was patrolling at 15 knots. About 12.25, as the destroyer was rounding the battleship's bows, she saw a suspicious white wash 500 yards on the Triumph's starboard beam. Instantly she made a dash for it, but too late. The Triumph had started firing at the periscope, but in another minute a shock of extraordinary violence seemed to lift her, and then for a while she was smothered fore and aft in a shower of falling water and coal. The torpedo had got fairly home as though her nets had been a spider's web. When she could be seen again she had listed ten degrees. As she continued to heel over, the Chelmer rushed up under her stem walk, and by a fine display of seamanship was able to take off a number of men before, ten minutes after the battleship was struck, she capsized. For nearly half an hour she remained floating bottom upwards, and then, with a lurch that sent her stern high in the air, she slowly disappeared. As she went down the rescued men gave her a last cheer with cries of "Good‑bye, old Triumph," for her requiem. Happily there were many to swell the sound of that farewell. The moment her list had become dangerous the "Retreat" had been sounded and the men had quietly

 

May 26, 1915

 

dropped down from the nets and booms. Thus, thanks to the prompt action of the Chelmer and the other craft which hurried to the rescue, nearly all were saved. The Chelmer and her boats alone took up over 500 officers and men, and in the end only three officers and seventy men were lost.

 

Yet the loss was severe enough. For the Australians and New Zealanders it was like an old friend gone, so ready and skilful had she been to help at every turn of good or evil fortune. They were even loth to believe she was dead, and were for subscribing a month's pay all round towards salving her. Deep as was the moral impression of the brilliantly executed attack, it was small compared with the material effect on the whole plan of operations. Not only did it mean a serious new complication in the problems of supplying the various beaches, but the fact had to be faced that continuous battleship support for the army was no longer possible. Admiral Nicholson in the Majestic withdrew to Kephalo for the night, the rest of the ships were withdrawn to Mudros, and destroyers took their place. But the lesson was yet to be driven further home. On the following day (26th) nothing further happened, and all was quiet except for a submarine reported by the Jaureguiberry off the entrance. It was during the afternoon, and the French battleship was zigzagging between Kum Kale and Sedd el Bahr when a periscope suddenly appeared 100 yards from her. At the moment fortunately she was altering helm, so that instead of being torpedoed she ran over the submarine, and some on board believed they had cut her in two. Another hunt was instituted, but nothing found, and Admiral Nicholson, who had returned to Helles in the morning, remained at his post taking every possible precaution against attack.

 

The objective of the submarine was clear enough. What had most hampered the enemy's operations was the fire of the battleships. This had first to be got rid of, and till that was done the transports could wait. Amongst the transports, therefore, a battleship could hope for a certain amount of security. Accordingly in the midst of those discharging stores at the southern beaches the Majestic was anchored with her nets out as close inshore as possible, and yet in a position where she could command the enemy's principal positions. Outside the transports destroyers were patrolling, and in the entrance of the straits was a cordon of unarmed trawlers. Even against the skill and boldness of the German submarine commander the berth seemed safe enough, but the sun was barely up on May 27 when it was

 

May 27, 1915

LOSS OF THE MAJESTIC

 

shown how inadequate the precautions were. At 6.45 a periscope broke the water no more than 400 yards away on the Majestic's port beam. She opened fire immediately, but not before the track of a torpedo was seen coming through one of the few gaps in the surrounding screen of trans­ports. It was a shot the best might envy. Striking the nets the torpedo went clean through them without a check and took its target fair amidships. Another followed instantly, and in seven minutes the famous old ship, the pride of the old Channel fleet, in whose design the whole thought and experience of the Victorian era had culminated, capsized. So good, however, was the discipline that all the officers and nearly all the men were saved. Of her whole complement, only about forty who were killed by the ex­plosions or became entangled in the nets were missing. The ship did not sink, but being in only nine fathoms of water, lay resting on her foremast with the fore‑end of her keel and bottom plating awash, looking like a stranded whale.

 

Yet she was gone, and with her the last hope of clinging to what still was left of the system by which the army had been supplied and supported. Never before, perhaps, had a military operation been so deeply affected by means so small. For the brilliant way in which the enemy submarine had been handled, both services had nothing but admiration. It was indeed no more than was to be expected from the man in command. For later on he was known to be none other than Lieutenant‑Commander Hersing, the determined officer who in April, as we have seen, in spite of every difficulty, had brought his boat U 21 into the Mediterranean, and had thus demonstrated the possibility ‑ till then not credited of navigating a submarine to the Adriatic without a half­way base of supply. (See Vol. Il., p. 384 n). Reaching Cattaro on May 18, with only half a ton of oil in his tanks, he had rested a week and then continued his voyage to the Dardanelles. The grave moral effects of the exploits in which his remarkable feat had resulted could not be dismissed. Hundreds of Turkish troops, depressed by loss and failure and demoralised by the heavy shell from the sea, had seen the stampede of the ships they most dreaded; thousands of our own men had seen it and the loss of the ships as well, and they knew there was nothing now but the cruisers and destroyers to support them in their daily struggle in the trenches.

 

Fortunately there was something to set on the other side. The day the Majestic was lost a message was received from E 11, and the tale she had to tell was no less stirring than

 

May 18-24, 1915

 

that over which the enemy was exulting. (See Map 3 - repeated).

 

Map 3. The Sea of Marmara

This was the boat which had succeeded E 14, and the same in which, after failing to get into the Baltic, Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith on Christmas day, 1914, had so brilliantly rescued four wrecked airmen in the Heligoland Bight while they were being attacked by a Zeppelin. (See Vol. I., pp. 237‑8, and Vol. II., p. 52. Lieutenant‑Commander Boyle in E 14 had safely run the gauntlet of the mines, nets and guns in the straits on May 18, and after learning all he could from him, Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith started the same night to find his way inward through the tangle of dangers himself. He was entirely successful. Though fired on by battleships and destroyers whenever his periscope showed, he reached the Marmara during the forenoon of May 19. All that day and the next nothing was seen In the western portion except torpedo-boats and armed trawlers. During the night, therefore, profiting by his predecessor's experience, he proceeded to the eastern end of the sea, where patrols were less active. There he seized a small sailing vessel, and trimming well down, lashed her alongside the conning‑tower, and then cruised on a course which made him invisible from the eastward. But the ruse failed. His appearance going up the straits had evidently stopped all traffic. Nothing came along, and at nightfall he dismissed his prize and returned to the westward.

 

Here there was still nothing but the patrols, and early on the 28rd he was back at Oxia island, eight miles south of the entrance to the Bosporus. In this position, while cap­turing a small sailing vessel, he sighted an empty transport returning to Constantinople and followed her. Now came his first stroke of luck. At anchor off the city was a Turkish torpedo‑gunboat giving a fine target, and he attacked at once. The torpedo hit her fair amidships and she began to sink. Before she went down, however, she gamely got off a few rounds with a 6‑pounder, with the first of which she had the good luck to hit the submarine's foremost periscope, and Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith retired to Kalolimno island to repair it, but in this he was unsuccessful. Then, after going west again, he started next morning (the 24th) for a cruise north‑east towards Rodosto, the chief Turkish port on the Thracian coast. On this course he soon met a small steamer coming west. She was summoned to stop, but took no notice, nor had the submarine a gun to enforce her signal. A rifle shot at the bridge, however, quickly brought her to, and when she was visited an American journalist on board explained she was taking marines to Chanak. They were already in the water, having capsized the boats in their hurry. As they

 

May 24‑25

E 11 IN THE MARMARA

 

all had lifebelts they were left alone to right the boats and escape, but the steamer was found to carry a gun and a quantity of shell. She was therefore sunk with a demolition charge. (According to the German account, which wrongly allots this sinking to the E 14, this vessel, the Nagara, had on board a 5.9‑inch gun from the Goeben. (Der Krieg zur See. Die Mittelmeer Division, p. 162.)

 

But there was more to come. As she blew up smoke was seen coming up from the eastward. E 11 dived to attack, but the chase, alarmed by the last explosion, altered course for Rodosto. When the submarine came to the sur­face the steamer was seen and chased till she was alongside the pier. With a gun she could easily have been finished, but the shallowness of the water made it very hazardous to dive within torpedo range. Still Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith was unwilling to leave her alone. Her deck was piled high with packing‑cases which told she was a storeship eavily laden. So he took the risk and dived to attack. His periscope was greeted with rifle fire, but at one successful shot she burst into flames, and then the submarine, whose periscope could not be hidden owing to the shallowness of the water, made off out of the bay. Almost immediately a third steamer, laden with barbed wire, was seen. To a summons to stop she replied by an attempt to ram, and then made away and beached herself under the cliffs. A demolition party was got ready to finish her, but a body of horsemen on the cliff opened so hot a fire that Lieutenant­-Commander Nasmith thought it best to beat a hasty retreat.

 

But appetite had grown with feeding. Nothing but small game was to be found in the open, and he now made his way eastward to see what could be found in the Bosporus. Shortly after midday (25th) ‑ at the fatal hour when the Triumph was sinking ‑ he was off the entrance, and there, to use his own words, he "dived into Constantinople." Rising close to the United States guardship, he saw a large vessel lying alongside the arsenal. By an ominous coincidence she was called the Stambul, and on her his blow fell. The first torpedo failed to run true, the second sank a lighter and also holed, but did not sink the Stambul. The result could not be seen from the submarine for she was suddenly swept aground by a cross‑tide. But two explosions were heard, the stray torpedo which narrowly missed her exploding against the quay. As for the submarine, she behaved like a thing intoxi­cated by the wild adventure. Bouncing from shoal to shoal and spinning round with the current, she was quite out of control and in acute danger of destruction. Yet she survived, and when in twenty minutes she was calm enough to come to

 

May 26-June 1, 1915

 

the surface, she found herself well clear of the entrance. "The next day," wrote Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith, was spent resting in the centre of the Sea of Marmara."

 

Surely rest was never better earned. The material result of his unprecedented exploit was not great. The Stambul was an old ship, but the moral effect was all that could be wished. For over 500 years, since the Turkish flag first flew on the city walls, no foreign enemy had ever profaned the Golden Horn. All along the shores there was panic, shops were closed, troops disembarked from the transports, and sea communication etween Constantinople and Gallipoli was practically stopped.

 

So much of what the adventurous submarine had done was known on the 27th, but it was not the end of her cruise. For another eleven days she remained in the Marinara as active as ever. Early on the 27th, as she was making her way back to the Bosporus, she encountered a large battleship, apparently the Barbarousse Haireddine, coming westward at high speed through the Marmara strait . He promptly trimmed low to attack, but just as she neared the firing position she saw in the moonlight a destroyer coming right on the top of her and was compelled to dive. Next morning she was consoled by catching a convoy of one large and four small supply ships, and in spite of the escorting destroyer, torpedoed the large one. (This vessel, the Panderma, carried some 500 Turkish soldiers, of whom about half were lost. This is claimed to be the only loss to the army caused by submarine. (Der Krieg zur See.. Die Mittelmeer Division, p. 161.)

 

For the next two days there was no luck, but on the 31st she attacked a steamer making for Panderma. The torpedo failed to explode, although on its being recovered it was found to have hit; the vessel was towed ashore. Little else was moving, so on that day Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith decided to look into Panderina. There in the roads he found a large Rickmers liner and torpedoed her, but she also was towed ashore with a heavy list. All next day (June 1) he waited for transports which were reported to be coming with troops from Ismid, but nothing appeared. After reporting to the Jed, which was the linking ship in the Gulf of Xeros, he was proceeding on June 2 north‑eastward up the northern coast when he met a vessel coming from the eastward. Diving to attack he got in a successful shot, and the explosion was so extraordinarily violent, seeming to heave her whole upper deck overboard, that there could be no doubt she was full of ammunition. She sank almost immediately, and in

 

June 2‑7, 1915

E 11 IN THE MARMARA

 

an hour or so another smaller storeship was attacked. The torpedo missed and could not be recovered owing to rifle fire from the shore, and for the same reason the storeship, which anchored and was abandoned close to shore, could not be demolished. Later on she attacked a despatch vessel escorted by two destroyers; again the torpedo missed, but this time it was recovered.

 

So the work went on, with hairbreadth escapes from the destroyers that were now hotly hunting her and no further success till June 7, when failing machinery warned her it was high time to return. She had still two torpedoes left, and these were reserved for the battleships she expected to find in the Straits on her way down. As far as Chanak she smelt for her prey, but nothing was seen except a large empty troopship lying off Moussa bank, eight miles above Nagara point. The torpedoes were reserved for better game, but when none was found Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith turned back, doubled the dangerous Nagara point once more, and torpedoed her. Then at last he started to go out, but only to meet an adventure that outdid all the rest.

 

He had passed the Narrows, diving deep to clear the mine­field beyond, when the boat began to grate as though on the bottom when no bottom was near. The only thing to do was to come up and investigate. As soon as the periscope was clear something ugly could be seen careering along twenty feet ahead of it. It could he nothing but a large mine with its moorings foul of one of the hydroplanes. There could be no worse company, but both shores bristled with guns and it was out of the question to come to the surface and clear it. There was no choice but to carry on with their evil shipmate in company. For an hour the nightmare continued till they were clear of the entrance. Then came the work of getting free. One false move must have proved fatal. What Lieutenant‑Commander Nasmith did was to trim his vessel so that, while her bows were submerged, her stern was on the surface. In this position she went hard astern, till after a breathless interval the stern way, combined with the rush of water from the screws, caused the mine to slip free and drop off ahead like a necklace. The coolness and resource displayed was a fitting end to his brilliant cruise. In the course of it he had sunk a gunboat, two ammunition ships, two troopships, two stores ships and beached and holed a third transport. He had also saved his vessel from an almost impossible situation. (For their exploits in the Marmara both he and Lieutenant‑Commander Boyle received the V.C.)

 

If, then, with equal skill and daring the enemy was dis­turbing our communications, it was not done without retalia­tion. To the enemy, whose lines of supply were almost entirely by sea for at least some part of their extent, the interference was serious. The number of ships available was very limited ‑ those sunk could not be replaced, and the repair of those damaged was practically impossible. More and more they had to rely on land transport for troops and supplies, and it was quite inadequate. No railway ran to Gallipoli; the nearest station was on the Adrianople line at Uzun Kupru, fifty miles from Bulair. (See Map 5.)

 

 

Map 5. Operations in the Aegean

The consequent delay and inconvenience were great, nor was there any relief except for the small quantities of stores that could be got through in small craft by night.

 

Our own case was not so bad, but for us the new develop­ment entailed a complete reorganisation of the system of supply. Transports could no longer anchor off the beaches and discharge into small craft. The only anchorage that as yet was safe for them was at Mudros. There a boom, which had been intended for the entrance of the Dardanelles, had just been completed across the channel leading into the inner harbour, and another was about to be laid at the entrance to the outer bay with material already on the spot. At Mudros, then, the transports would have to discharge, and this would mean for the already overworked fleet sweepers, trawlers and other small craft a trip each way of from fifty to sixty miles instead of a few thousand yards. It could only cause serious delay, and delay was specially untimely, for General Hamilton was preparing a last attempt to win Achi Baba and Krithia by a general assault. To add to the difficulty the strain on the flotilla and small craft had been increased by the necessity of keeping up a systematic search of the Aegean coasts and islands, whose multitudinous indentations offered endless facilities for submarine supply bases. In the course of this work the long‑suspected port of Budrum was visited by the Dupleix. Finding the harbour full of shipping she signified her intention to examine them. The Vali asked for time, and on its termination boats were sent in under flag of truce. They were fired on, and suffered serious loss. The Dupleix then closed in, and having extri­cated them, bombarded the town. On hearing her report Admiral de Robeck sent away the Bacchante and Kennet with orders to destroy all the shipping. This they did on May 28, and having also laid the castle and barracks in ruins, came away.

 

June 2, 1915

BLOCKADE OF TURKISH COAST

 

So important was it now to restrict the enemy's sources of supply for his submarines that desultory operations of this character were not deemed sufficient. For the islands which were not in Turkish hands no more could be done, but with the mainland it was different, and at the Admiral's suggestion it had been decided to institute a blockade of the whole coast from the Dardanelles down to Samos. It was declared on June 2, and was thenceforth carried on from the land‑locked harbour of Iero in Mityleni, where the officer in charge was stationed in a battleship or cruiser, and where with the sanction of the Greek Authorities an aerodrome was established.

 

Such, then, was the awkward situation which the new Board of Admiralty had to face, but in fact they found it had been discounted by their predecessors, for they had been making provision to meet it with all speed. Some of the monitors that were to replace the battleships were already in commission, and the work of providing four of the "Edgars" with protective bulges to render them immune from mine or torpedo was well advanced. But until they arrived on the scene of action there was need of a definite understanding as to how far the squadron could continue to give direct support to the army. The first telegram sent by the new Board to Admiral de Robeck dealt with the point. Their suggestion was that he should keep his battleships as much as possible at Mudros until netting patrols and other defensive arrangements that were in hand gave them reason­able security while bombarding, and that bombardments should be confined to occasions when important military operations were on foot. Even so their exposure should be reduced to the shortest possible time, and special precautions be taken to protect them with transports lashed alongside, and sea and air patrols. To enable him to act on these lines twenty more trawlers were ordered out, as well as thirty of the best drifters from Poole to work indicator nets.

 

In reply the Admiral explained how he had gradually reduced the number of battleships at sea as the submarine menace closed in upon him. He was now confining the sup­port of the flanks to the "Beagle" class destroyers, with three battleships at short notice as supports, two at Mudros and the Exmouth at Kephalo, where her specially heavy nets would make her reasonably safe. Until he received similar nets for other ships it was all he could do pending the arrival of the monitors.

 

They could not, however, be in time for the next important military operations. During the week which had seen the

 

June 4, 1915

 

coming of the submarines the Allied line had been advanced by local operations to within rushing distance of that of the enemy, and General Hamilton, rather than wait for his coming reinforcements, had determined to make one more attempt to carry the Achi Baba position before the enemy could strengthen it. Though submarines were still showing them­selves the Admiral agreed to support the attack with two battleships. Accordingly on June 4, Admiral Nicholson took the Exmouth and Swiftsure with the light cruiser Talbot off Helles, while the little Latouche‑Treville went inside close off Kereves ravine to support the right of the French. (The French Corps was now under the command of General Goarud, who arrived on May 14 to relieve General d'Amade.)

 

It was little enough the battleships could do. The aeroplanes were reporting submarines present, and though well covered by destroyers and indicator nets the ships had to keep circling, and indirect fire under way at unseen targets could be worth little beyond its moral effect. Still the attack opened brilliantly. It was a day of overpowering heat with a dust storm obscuring everything. At 8.0 a.m. the preparatory bombardment began afloat and ashore, and was kept up till past 11.20, when the men were ordered to fix bayonets and show them over the parapet. This was to bring the enemy into their advanced trenches to meet the attack. But the hour was not yet; the real bombardment had not begun. Not till the enemy's trenches were filled did it burst in full fury. For half an hour it was maintained in ever‑increasing intensity. On the stroke of noon it lifted, and from end to end of the line the men sprang from the trenches. Bayonets were quickly crossing, but in spite of the fine resistance of the Turks the effect was all that could be wished. On the right the French, well assisted by the Latouche‑Treville, swept into the formidable work on the Kereves ravine, which had so long held them up; on their left the "Ansons" rushed a redoubt quite in old army style, and the "Howes" and "Hoods" captured the trenches in front of them. The "Collingwoods" which were sent forward in support suffered very heavily. (The Royal Marine Brigade and the 1st Naval Brigade, less the Drake battalion, were in Corps Reserve.)

 

Even better was the work of the Manchester Brigade (with whom were the 115th and 116th Lancashire Fusiliers) on their left. In five minutes they had poured over the first line of trenches, which, the Turks state, had been rendered untenable by ship fire, and in half an hour they were masters of the second line 500 yards on. On their left again the XX1Xth Division, including the Indian Brigade, were able

 

June 4, 1915

THIRD BATTLE OF KRITHIA

 

to win the first line, but here the trenches had suffered less from the sea, and it was only gained a fierce bayonet fight. (Late on this day, Major‑General H.de B. De Lisle took over the command of the XXIXth Division from Lieut.‑General A. G. Hunter‑Weston, who had been given the command of the newly‑formed VIIIth Army Corps.) On the extreme left, which was dead ground for the ships, there was no progress at all. There the wire proved to be intact, and the most desperate work and devotion, of Sikhs and Gurkhas could produce no result.

 

Still all promised well. The Manchesters were lying out on the slopes of Achi Baba with nothing between them and the coveted summit ‑ waiting only for the word to go on. But that word never came. On the extreme right by the Kereves ravine, the work the French had so gallantly captured proved but a death‑trap. They were simply blasted out of it by high explosive, and before an overwhelming counter­attack had to fall back to where they started. The Naval division, with its right exposed by the French retirement and cruelly enfiladed, was forced also to let go its hold, and the Manchesters were in the air. Yet for hours they held on while efforts were made to recover the lost ground. But the French had suffered too severely to renew the attack, nor was it possible for the XXIXth Division to get further forward while its seaward flank was pinned down. There was nothing for it but to get the Manchesters away. By sunset it was done ‑ at the cost of further heavy loss; and the day, which had begun so well and brought us almost within grip of the forbidden height, ended with no more gain than the central sections of the enemy's first‑line trenches ‑ 250 to 500 yards on a front of about a mile. It was little enough for what it had cost in death, wounds and heroic fighting. (The two Royal Naval brigades engaged had alone 1,170 casualties. Killed, 35 officers and 185 men; wounded, 24 and 608; missing, 5 and 808. Total casualties were: British, 4,500; French, 2,000; Turkish, 9,000.)

 

Both armies were completely exhausted, and with this hard‑fought battle in the dust storm the second act of the tragedy closed down like the first, in failure and disappointment. With both army and navy half paralysed, all on which hope had been built was gone ‑ but on our part there was no thought of retreat. With the Turks it was different. So heavily had they felt the weight of our attacks that every man had to be pushed up into the trenches, and units became hopelessly mixed. The consequent demoralisation was so great that they saw it was impossible to hold against another assault, and the Chief of Staff urged a withdrawal from the position before Krithia to Achi Baba and Kilid Bahr.

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER III

 

THE WESTERN FRONT AND THE DARDANELLES ‑ AFFAIRS IN HOME WATERS, WHITE SEA AND BALTIC, JUNE‑JULY ‑ THE END OF THE KOENIGSBERG

 

WITH the failure of the original Expeditionary Force to seize the keys of the Dardanelles the whole outlook darkened. The bold plan for striking Turkey out of the German com­bination by a coup de main had finally broken down, and with it went all reasonable hope of bringing the war to a speedy termination. That hope depended on the power of the Allies to deliver a concentric attack upon the Central Powers in overwhelming force ‑ and Turkey was the sole obstacle that stood in the way of its development. With Turkey gone the bulk of our troops in India and Egypt would be free, the vital communications with Russia would be open, and the attitude of the Balkan States would no longer be doubtful. Then, except for the little sustenance that could reach the enemy across the Baltic, the investment of the Central Powers would be complete, and the mass of force that could be launched against them would be as irresistible as the tide.

 

There are probably few now who do not see in that narrow area where General Hamilton's little army clung exhausted to their trenches before Krithia and Achi Baba the decisive point of the war. It was there, as at a new Thermopylee, the struggle of the Anglo‑Saxon and Latin civilisation with the German seemed to be finding the gate of destiny. Nowhere could anything like so much be achieved with so little force, nowhere could a small advance reach things so great, nowhere could the shedding of Christian blood promise so rich a prospect of an all‑embracing peace.

 

It was this venture so rightly aimed ‑ but aimed without the energy of true faith ‑ that had been at first scouted as a blind dissipation of force, as a mere eccentric operation. Its significance was clearer now. With Russia, half paralysed for lack of material and equipment to reorganise her shattered armies; with Austria, relieved from pressure on the east and

 

ALTERNATIVE POLICIES

 

free for a new attack on Serbia; with Bulgaria under German temptation too obviously waiting till she could make her mind which was the winning side, there could be little doubt where the key of the situation lay. Failure could not be admitted. When success had been so narrowly missed, when a little more would mean so much, it was impossible to drop the half‑finished task.

 

A decision, however, to carry on energetically with the enterprise on which we had embarked presented the most thorny difficulties. The problem raised in acute form the fundamental differences between the traditional British method of conducting a great war and the Napoleonic method which with all continental nations had become the strictly orthodox creed. Our own idea had long been to attack the enemy at the weakest point which could give substantial results, and to assume the defensive where he was strongest. The continental method was to strike where the enemy's military concentration was highest and where a decisive victory would end the war by destroying his armed forces. By general agreement this method, being the quicker and more drastic of the two, was the better, provided there was sufficient preponderance of force to ensure a decision, and the reason why in past great wars we had never adopted it, when the initiative lay in our hands, was that we never had military force enough to enjoy that preponderance.

 

In the opinion of Lord Kitchener and the British Ministers concerned with the conduct of the war the Allies could not have any such preponderance in the main theatre for a long time to come. The obvious and logical policy, therefore, was to postpone offence in the main theatre and devote our combined energies to the work of gathering the needful excess of strength by every means in our power. From this point of view the Dardanelles offered an ideal objective. Havana, the Peninsula and Sevastopol were the leading cases which supported our doctrine, but not one of them was so perfectly adapted to our method as was now the Dardanelles. The instinct, then, to complete the arrested enterprise was very strong. That it was well within our grasp there was no doubt if only we could devote to it every man, gun and round of ammunition that was not required for holding the line in France and Flanders, as well as every ship that was not wanted in Home waters for dealing faithfully with the High Seas Fleet should it become active.

 

To those for whom the old tradition was still a living light all this was clear as day, but in the century which had elapsed since our last great war the light had become obscured

 

June 7, 1915

THE DARDANELLES

 

by a misreading of the continental doctrine of concentration for a decisive blow at the strongest point. Insensibly that doctrine had been extended by a doubtful corollary. Given the truth of the main proposition, it was assumed that all available force should be concentrated in the main, or, as it was usually called, the decisive theatre, whether or not those forces were large enough to secure a decisive preponderance. It was, of course, a non sequitur which did not flow from the cardinal idea of the doctrine. Nevertheless, though it was widely held in military circles, civilian opinion, in this country at least, was not convinced ‑ it was indeed thoroughly seeptical ‑ but in the circumstances the military attitude was difficult to resist. The French were bent on a great offensive effort, which we had more reason than ever to regard with grave misgiving. The failure of our own spring efforts at Festubert and Ypres could no longer be disguised.

 

The battles were just dying down and our Ministers were more deeply impressed than ever with the hopelessness of the idea of a "break through." On the other hand, it was to be argued that with Italy about to take the field and with the fall of Przemysl, emphasising the menace of the German thrust on her eastern front, it was the moment for a vigorous effort in the west, if only to relieve the pressure on Russia. To the other school, however, the new orientation of Germany was evidence that a defensive attitude in the west could safely be assumed while we con­centrated our whole offensive strength on the point which was vital to a Russian recovery. On this view, however, it was impossible to insist. Premature and ill advised as our Government believed the French policy to be, they knew that no other could be accepted by a high‑spirited people whose richest provinces were being exploited and trodden down by their hereditary enemy, and they knew that the only way of minimising the evil consequences was to give the attack what additional weight we could. For the present, then, there could be no thought of a strictly defensive attitude in France, and, if there had been, the minimum force required was very difficult to determine. The men on the spot were the men to judge, and they were also the men inevitably the most prejudiced for a high margin of safety.

 

Such was broadly the position when on June 7 the War Council met for the first time since the formation of the Coalition Government. (It was now assembled as a Committee of the Cabinet known officially as the "Dardanelles committee," but the reactions of the Dardanelles opera­tions in other theatres tended continually to extend the area of its deliberations till in practice it was scarcely distinguishable from a general War Council. It was attended by the Ministers of the Departments concerned and their expert advisers as the questions under consideration required.) In the meanwhile much time had

 

June, 1915

REINFORCEMENTS

 

been lost. Of the two divisions which General Hamilton had asked for on May 10, only the LIInd Lowland Territorials had gone. Transports were ready for the other on May 30, but in the chaos of the Cabinet crisis they had been dispersed and it was still at home. He had thus only half of what he had asked for, and the two divisions for which he had stipulated were only a minimum, contingent on some neutral or allied power assisting him against Turkey. If he was to have no such help he would require two army corps. Moreover since he sent in his requirements his position had changed for the worse; for the assault of June 4 upon the Krithia position had failed with heavy loss, and the first duty of the Council was to decide how the depressing situation was to be dealt with.

 

The decision was to act on our time‑honoured system as strongly as possible without an open conflict of opinion with France. The Dardanelles enterprise was to be carried on and General Hamilton was to have the first call on the new armies. Of the first army, which was ready, one division was already in France; the remaining three were to go out in time for a new assault on the Turkish position in the second week of July. The recall of the Queen Elizabeth stood, but in her place most of the monitors which Lord Fisher had prepared for carrying the war to the German coasts were to be taken, besides six submarines and two of the old 10th Cruiser Squadron, Endymion and Theseus, which had been fitted with bulges for coastal attack, and four of the new sloops. (Fifteen of these monitors were ready or nearly so. In the first class were four, each carrying two 14" guns mounted in single turret. Six more had been armed with 9.2" guns, and another five smaller ones with 6" ­which had had to be removed from the five "Queen Elizabeths" owing to spray interference. A number of others were in hand, including two fitted with new 15" turrets prepared for our "furthest off " new battleships and eight other large ones to carry a 12" turret from four of the old "Majestics." For the sloops, see footnote, p. 50.)

 

This decision, being in effect a new departure in our war policy, was referred, in accordance with constitutional usage, to the Cabinet, and by them approved two days later. (Dardanelles Commission Report, II., pp. 23‑26.) There only remained the question of reserves. It was to the omission to provide them that General Hamilton attributed his first failure, and now it was urged that two first line territorial divisions which were still in England

 

June 1915

 

should be moved to Alexandria and Malta. With the ripening of the new armies the nervousness about invasion had begun to die away. The two divisions could well be spared from home defence, and eventually it was agreed that they should go out as soon as possible.

 

To detail the troops was one thing: to get them out another. Time was of the last importance. The new blow must be struck before the Turks could consolidate and reinforce the Gallipoli position and, above all, before further successes of the Central Powers on the eastern Front drew Bulgaria into their orbit and opened the road from Berlin to Constantinople. The transport problem was becoming very difficult. The war demands on the mercantile marine were already being severely felt. Tonnage was scarce, the voyage to the Dardanelles was long, and the transports were detained there; beyond all this there was the submarine danger, which meant that transports could only sail as and when escort could be provided from the overworked destroyers.

 

To devote them entirely to the transports was impossible, so constant was the call for commerce protection. Again and again the escort arrangements were interrupted by cries for help from merchant vessels against molesting submarines. The hope of being able to destroy an enemy submarine was naturally more in accordance with naval ideas than passive defence against their attacks, and a rush for the spot whence the call came was always made, often with the result that the sailing of transports was delayed. The frequency of such calls was evidence enough of the enemy's determination to do his utmost with the new weapon. In spite of the American protests about the Lusitania, there was no sign that the German hand was faltering. Reports of enemy submarines were coming in from all round the coast at an average of seven a day, and so far as we could see the notes from Washing­ton had produced no apparent effect; but in fact, unknown to us, the whole policy was in the melting‑pot.

 

In Germany civilian ministers had from the first opposed the use of the submarine against commerce, believing it would inevitably bring America into the ranks of their enemies. The same conviction in this country had also a good deal to do with our backwardness in preparing to meet the new form of commerce warfare. Before the war we could not fathom that peculiar faculty of German mentality, their " imperturbable capacity for self‑deception," as Admiral von Tirpitz calls it, which led them to believe they could wantonly destroy Atlantic liners and commerce and yet

 

June, 1915

GERMAN SUBMARINE CAMPAIGN

 

cajole or intimidate America into acquiescence. The original difference of opinion between the Chancellor and the General and Admiralty staffs was resuscitated by the American notes in all its intensity. Such differences must necessarily be acute where, as in Germany, soldiers and sailors had come to be regarded as the supreme experts in the conduct of war. They of course could be no more than experts in military and naval operations. Of the other two main factors in war ‑ foreign affairs and economics ‑ they had no special technical knowledge. In these matters the statesmen were the experts. Naturally, then, the Chancellor could not admit responsibility for what happened if the fighting services were allowed to persist in what he was convinced was so grave a mistake. He therefore pressed for a severe restriction in submarine operations. The navy resisted hotly, and the difference was referred to the Emperor. At the conference that ensued the military chiefs supported the Chancellor; the Emperor supported the Admiralty, and decided that unless the Chancellor was willing to be responsible for aban­doning the submarine campaign altogether the existing orders must stand. (The conference was held at Pless on May 31.)

Apparently the Chancellor was not prepared to go so far, and the result was a re‑issue of orders, pre­viously given to submarine commanders, that they were to spare neutral vessels, but to sink all British without exception. With this compromise, however, the Chancellor could not rest ‑ neutral non‑combatants in British vessels were still in jeopardy, and the danger of raising up a new enemy was not removed. He therefore urged the Admiralty to give up all idea of another Lusitania incident. Again the Admiralty refused and there was another appeal to the Emperor; he gave way to the Chancellor, and on June 5, in face of con­tinued naval protest, an order went out that all large passenger ships - even those of the enemy ‑ were to he spared. (Von Tirpitz, My Memoirs, Vol. II, p. 406.)

 

Of these dissensions we, of course, knew nothing at the time. All that was apparent was that the submarines were more active than ever in all parts of Home waters. In the area of the Grand Fleet this activity was mainly shown in attacks on our North Sea fishing fleets. During May the trouble was already so bad that new measures were taken to deal with it. As a first step special trawler units were told off for their protection ‑ one of them disguised to act as a decoy. In June the mischief was as bad as ever, but it was soon checked. On the 3rd off Peterhead the armed trawler Hawk saw a steamer blow up about ten miles away.

 

June 5-23, 1915

HOME WATERS

 

She hurried to the spot rescued the crew and took them into port. Then she returned and with another armed trawler, Oceanic II, resumed the ro1e of simple fishing vessels. The submarine appeared on the 5th, and opened fire on the latter but the Hawk came up quickly to her assistance and after damaging the enemy by gunfire, rammed and sank her. Six officers and twenty‑one men were saved, but the commanding officer refused to leave his ship. She proved to be U 14, which had destroyed two neutral steamers on her way out. This same day the armed trawler Ina Williams engaged the U 35 off Tylizen Head (South‑West Ireland), and claimed a hit, but the submarine was able to continue her operations.

 

A fortnight later there was an attempt at bigger game. On June 19 the 3rd Cruiser Squadron together with the Nottingham and Birmingham, were making one of the periodical sweeps across the North Sea from Rosyth. To screen them they had four destroyers ‑ the most that could be provided ­but all too few, and the Birmingham was attacked by U 32, but without success. Next day (the 20th) torpedo attacks were made on the Roxburgh, Argyll and Nottingham by U 17. They were all missed, but later the Roxburgh was hit by U 38, though not severely enough to prevent her getting back to Rosyth. The Nottingham was also unsuccessfully attacked by U 6.

 

At this time there were five submarines in the area, whose main object was to operate against the Grand Fleet. They were on a line running east from the Forth. The fifth was U 40, a large new boat which had begun her cruise on the 18th. Her identity was ascertained by means of a new and ingenious device which for a month past had been employed for the further protection of fishing fleets. The newscheme was to make use of the coast defence submarines, which hitherto had had little or nothing to do, in company with an armed trawler, which, while towing the submarine submerged, could act as a decoy ship to invite attack. (The idea was suggested in the Grand Fleet by Acting Paymaster F. T. Spickernell, Admiral Beatty's secretary, and it was worked out and the crews trained by Captain V. H. S. Haggard of the Vulcan, depot ship of the 7th (Coastal) Submarine Flotilla at Rosyth.)

 

In pursuance of this idea the armed trawler Taranaki (Lieutenant‑Commander H. D. Edwards) had been cruising for a month both with C 26 and C 27, and on June 8 C 27 by a piece of bad luck just missed getting the U 19. On the 23rd the Taranaki was out again, this time with C 24 (Lieutenant F. H. Taylor). Leaving Aberdeen shortly after midnight, they found them‑

 

June 23, 1915

U 40 SUNK BY C 24

 

selves at 9.30 in the morning in sight of U 40, the boat that had recently been identified. She was 2,500 yards away, trimmed low down for instant diving, and her gun ready. At sight of her Lieutenant‑Commander Edwards signalled to his submerged consort to cast off for attack, but unluckily the slipping gear failed to act. Meanwhile U 40 had called on the trawler to stop, but as it was essential to keep way on her till her submarine was clear, Lieutenant‑Commander Edwards held on, but so coolly that the Germans' suspicions were not aroused. Finally after ten minutes, finding his submarine had not let go, he had to slip his own end of the towline and telephone wire to set his consort free. But C 24 was still in trouble. With a hundred fathoms of 3 ½‑inch wire and as many of telephone wire hanging to her bows she immediately dipped to thirty‑eight feet. Only with the greatest skill and coolness could she be brought to trim. Still it was done, and in spite of having to tow the heavy line, and with the telephone wire beginning to foul her propeller, she managed to get into position for attack without breaking the surface. At the same time the trawler's crew were engaging the enemy's attention by scrambling into their boat as though panic‑stricken, so that even the shy peeps of C 24's periscope were not observed. When right abeam at five hundred yards Lieutenant Taylor took his shot. The torpedo hit fair under the conning‑tower, and the German immediately disappeared in a burst of flame, smoke and debris. Her two officers and a petty officer who were on deck were rescued ‑ the rest all perished.

 

From the prisoners valuable information was obtained. We knew the Germans were getting disturbed at the un­accountable losses of their submarines, and now it was admitted they had already lost eighteen. (Admiral von Tirpitz states that on April 2, 1915, after the loss of several submarines in our traps, an order was issued that the safety of the boats was to come before all other considerations, and that it was no longer to be deemed necessary to come to the surface and give warning before an attack. My Memoirs, Vol. II, P. 414.)

 

Naturally it was decided to extend the new system to other areas, and, the crying need of such extension was simultaneously emphasised. For on this day and the next the U 38 got into a fishing fleet fifty miles east of the Shetlands and sank no less than sixteen drifters. (According to Gayer, U 19 and U 25 were also at work about this time amongst the fishing fleets, and claimed between them to have sunk 27, when U 25 was rammed while attacking submerged, and was forced to return for repairs (Vol. II., p. 32).) Our losses in fishing craft were indeed at

 

June-July, 1915

 

this time growing serious in spite of all the precautions that were being taken. On June 15 a special trawler patrol was allotted for fishing protection to the Dogger Bank area, but the havoc continued, and during the month no less than sixty boats were destroyed on the home fishing grounds ‑ a heavy toll, seeing how great and never‑ending was the call for trawlers and drifters for military purposes.

 

The new system, however, soon brought fresh fruit. Two more trawlers had been prepared for acting with submarines, and one of them, Princess Marie Jose, for these operations temporarily named Princess Louise (Lieutenant C. Cantlie), proceeded from Scapa on July 18 to cruise in company with C 27 (Lieutenant‑Commander C. C. Dobson), the same boat which had so narrowly missed the U 19 with the Taranaki on June 8. When off the eastern entrance to the Fair Island passage on July 20 they fell in with U 23, which was four days out from Emden. The usual play was performed with perfect skill and coolness till C 27 was in position to fire. Owing to the Germans seeing the track of her torpedo and going ahead it missed, but a second got home just abaft the conning‑tower, and when the smother of spray and smoke had cleared the submarine was gone. Three officers and seven men were all that could be saved out of her crew of thirty­-four. (Lieutenant Cantlie was awtrded the D.S.C. and Lieutenant‑Commander Dobson the D.S.O. The latter afterwards won the V.C. for his fainous exploit in Kronstadt harbour on August 18, 1919.)

 

When U 23 met her fate she was making for the west coast of Scotland, where the Germans were now keeping at least one submarine at work. To us it appeared that there must be more, for in June there were six engagements between submarines and the Stornoway Auxiliary Patrol. This disturbance meant a new burden on the Commander‑in­Chief, for through these waters passed one of the main routes to Archangel, a line of communication which was rapidly growing in importance. Until the Dardanelles could be opened, Archangel was the only port through which we could supply the munitions and equipment which were vital to the Russian army. Already as early as February 5 the Tyne guardship Jupiter had had to be sent there to try to break a passage through. The regular ice‑breaker had broken down, and the old battleship established one of the many records of the war as being, so far as was known, the first vessel that had ever reached Archangel in February. There she remained till the first week in May, when the ice‑breaker returned; but the trouble only increased. Petrograd reported that the navigation would be open in about ten days; some

 

June‑July, 1915

THE WHITE SEA

 

thirty ships were waiting to get in, and the Russians feared that the enemy's mining activity would extend to the White Sea. Some form of examination service was essential if mining under neutral flags was to be prevented, and as usual they looked to us for help. Though they had plenty of suitable vessels (Bakan despatch vessel, Vera, armed yacht, three armed merchant cruisers, four armed and four unarmed small craft and trawlers) they expected the British navy to supply them with an examination service at Alexandrovsk, and a patrol to work between it and the North Cape.

 

Nothing was more probable than that the Germans would endeavour to disturb this now all‑important trade route, and in spite of the daily increasing strain elsewhere we could not but take the new theatre in hand. Destroyers, of course, were not available, but a special White Sea group of six trawlers equipped with 12‑pounders and sweeping gear were prepared at Lowestoft in June under Lieutenant­-Commander L. A. Bernays. Before they could get away the need of them was proved. On June 10 a British steamer (Arndale) was lost on a mine in the White Sea and another (Drumloist) on the 24th, two days after the trawlers had sailed. (A minefield was laid by the German minelayer Meteor in the northern approaches to the White Sea on June 7/8. On the 17th the Russian vessel Nikolai was lost. The British African Monarch and the Norwegian Lysuker were lost on July 6.)

 

Still the Russians remained helpless. They could not exert energy to form an examination service, nor could they be induced even to buoy channels for the trawlers to sweep. As July advanced and submarines seemed to have become more active in the north their cries for help increased. One or two small auxiliary cruisers, or reserve ships, they said, would he welcome as an anti‑submarine patrol, if we could not send regular ships of war. What they asked for would have been useless even if such ships had been available, and Lieu­tenant‑Commander Bernays was instructed to see if an auxiliary patrol could not be organised from local craft. As, however, there was a strong suspicion, on Russian information, that the Germans might he forming a submarine base in the far north, the Commander‑in‑Chief on July 27 detached a light force to examine Spitzbergen and also Bear Island, between it and the North Cape, which, having been bought by a German before the war, was specially suspect. The force consisted of the armed merchant cruiser Columbella from the 10th Cruiser Squadron (Northern Patrol), with two armed trawlers and the Acacia, the name ship of the new class of sloops, four of which had just been allotted to Admiral Jellicoe. Nothing was found, and although the masters of

 

June 1915

 

the local coasting craft asserted that mines were still being laid under the Norwegian flag, no evidence was obtained that German submarines had yet appeared so far north.

 

(The building of the "Acacia" sloops, which were just coming forward, was one of the remarkable feats of construction during the war. The class originated in the need which arose immediately after the outbreak of war for better and more numerous minesweepers, coupled with a continually increasing demand for general utility ships for carrying baggage and liberty men, and all the minor services of the fleet. It was to meet all these require­ments that the new class of sloops was designed. They were single screw­ships of 16 ½ to 17 knots speed and 1,210 tons displacement, armed with two 12‑pdrs. and two anti‑aircraft 3‑pdrs, and fitted with minesweeping and towing gear. Twelve were ordered on January 1, 1915, twelve in the following week and twelve more on May 4. Being designed on the mercantile system of construction, the orders could be placed with a large number of private firms not accustomed to naval work. The utmost rapidity of con­struction was thus secured, with the result that some were completed in nineteen weeks and the average was under six months. They proved so great a success that in July, 1915, thirty‑six more were ordered of improved design giving a full 17 knots speed and allowing for 4.7" or 4" guns, instead of 12‑pdrs. All were named after flowers, the first thirty‑six being the "Acacia" class and the second the "Arabis" class.)

 

No German submarine had in fact yet rounded the North Cape.

 

The middle part of the Archangel route was, of course, protected to some extent by the 10th Cruiser Squadron. It was still maintaining the Northern Patrol with undimin­ished vigilance and success. During four weeks in June, in spite of all interruptions, it intercepted no fewer than 290 vessels, and of these sixty‑one were brought in for examina­tion, and for the remaining three summer months its monthly average of visits and search were over 250. The blockade was thus well maintained, and the Germans seem to have made little effort to disturb it. Occasionally units were attacked as they proceeded to and fro to coal, but the danger was minimised by the establishment of their base under Rear­Admiral W. B. Fawckner at Swarbacks Minn, in the Shetlands.

 

There still remained however, the Shetlands through which the route passed and in which submarines were visibly active on their way north‑about. The ordinary patrols could do little to check them, and yet another device was tried. It was again a form of decoy which afterwards became so famous as the "Q" ship. Since the beginning of the year a scheme had been in hand for taking up small merchant vessels on which the enemy would not be likely to waste a torpedo and arming them with concealed guns which could be suddenly unmasked when a submarine was tempted to molest them. The idea, of course, was not a new thing ‑ time out of mind the trick of a wolf in sheep's clothing had been a commonplace of naval warfare. No one,

 

July 1915

"Q" SHIPS

 

therefore, could claim to be the inventor. The first ship of the class to get to work appears to have been the Victoria, which began operations in the Channel on November 29, 1914. In the next month the French fitted out another, a small collier called the Marguerite, but neither ship was a success nor had a long career. (Vedel, Quatre Annees de la Guerre Sous‑Marine p 178. Commandant Vedel believed that the Marguerite was the first Q ship and that we borrowed the idea from her, but the Victoria was certainly prepared in November, and the idea had been suggested from many quarters in reply to a secret Admiralty letter inviting suggestions from the Service for thwarting submarines (December 4).) Our next was the Vienna, renamed Antwerp (Lieutenant‑Commander G. Herbert), which began cruising on January 27, but she proved a failure. Others followed in the spring, and amongst them the well‑known Baralong. All of them worked in the Channel and its south­western approaches.

 

For northern waters Admiral The Hon. Sir Stanley C. J. Colville, who still held his Orkneys and Shetland command, prepared a small auxiliary fleet collier, the Prince Charles, at Scapa. Her concealed armament was two 6‑pounders and two 3‑pounders; the whole of her merchant crew volunteered for the cruise, and her guns' crews were volun­teers from the guard and repair ships at the base. An officer on Admiral Colville's staff was placed in command, with orders to cruise on a specified route east and west of the Orkneys and Shetlands on the Archangel tracks. His instructions were to act strictly as a decoy; on sighting a submarine he was to make every effort to escape, but if she closed and fired he was to stop and all the crew except one engineer and the crews of the hidden guns were to set about abandoning ship. Simultaneously a slightly differ­ent application of this method was being prepared from Rosyth. Here no special ships were taken up, but Captain James Startin (Vice‑Admiral (Retired), now serving as a Captain, R.N.R. See Vol. II, ­p. 47n), commanding the Forth Auxiliary Patrol base at Granton, had received permission to disguise an armed trawler and send her out to operate between Hoy Island and Aberdeen. Accordingly the armed trawler Quickly was disguised as a small Norwegian trader with a deck cargo, and in addition to her normal armament of one 6‑pounder was given a 12‑pounder with two gunlayers and two sight‑setters from the Zealandia. At nightfall on July 19, with Captain Startin in command, she put to sea, and the following morning fell in with a submarine (U 16) on the surface. After about

 

July 20-24, 1915

 

half an hour's scrutiny the German opened fire, which, after striking neutral colours and hoisting the white ensign, the Quickly returned, and, assisted by the trawler Gunner, which soon joined her, she claimed to have destroyed the enemy. The claim was allowed, but the U 16 had not been sunk. She returned to Heligoland for repairs arriving there on July 22.

 

On July 21 the Prince Charles sailed to try her luck. After proceeding through his assigned eastern positions Lieutenant Mark‑Wardlaw rounded the Shetlands without seeing anything, but on the evening of the 24th, when near North Rona island (about 100 miles west of Scapa), he was aware of a three‑masted steamer stopped, with a submarine standing by. Continuing his course to the westward, with guns' crews closed up behind the screens and the rest of the men standing by to get out the boats, he soon saw the sub­marine making for him at full speed on the surface. When about three miles off she fired. He then stopped and ordered the boats to be got out. As the submarine came on she fired again, and having closed to six hundred yards she altered course so as to bring her broadside on and continued to fire. Seeing there was no chance of the enemy coming nearer, Lieutenant Mark‑Wardlaw unmasked his guns and opened fire. The German gun's crew were seen immediately to leave their gun for the conning‑tower and the submarine began to dive. But it was too lat., the Prince Charles's shooting was too good. The submarine had been hit abaft the conning‑tower and had to come up again all out of trim, with her bows high above water. The Prince Charles promptly closed to three hundred yards and opened rapid fire; the submarine crew came scrambling out of the conning‑tower, and with her bows reared thirty feet out of the water she suddenly plunged down stern foremost. (The Prince Charles saved four officers and eleven men from the submarine.)

 

The large ship with which she was seen was a Dane, and, after giving a satisfactory explanation that she had been stopped and compelled to jettison her contraband, she was allowed to proceed. The submarine proved to be U 36, a new boat which in June had been cruising between the Forth and Jutland. She was now about a week out, and after passing round the north of the Orkneys had taken up a cruising station west of the islands. In this area she had already sunk nine of our fishing trawlers as well as three steamers, Russian, French and Norwegian (Rubonia, Danae, and Fimreite), and had attacked unsuccessfully the Columbella of the 10th Cruiser Squadron. On the last morning of her cruise she had also captured an American sailing

 

July 24, 1915

FIRST "Q" SHIP SUCCESS

 

vessel with a cargo of cotton for Archangel. This ship had been stopped by the Victorian of the same squadron, and as her destination was suspicious she was being taken into Lerwick by a British armed guard. Contrary to the usual practice the German commander decided to make a prize of his valuable capture, and, ignorant that she was in British hands, for the guard kept themselves concealed, sent a petty officer on board to take her into Cuxhaven. Resistance was useless; the armed guard were told that the vessel was escorted by a submarine. This was not true, and the German petty officer took the prize into Cuxhaven entirely alone. There the armed guard gave themselves up as prisoners. (This ship the Pass of Balmaha, was afterwards fitted out as a raider, the Seeadler which operated in the Atlantic in 1917.)

 

The destruction of U 36, however, did not clear the area. Another boat, U 41, was working there, for on the same day (July 24) the British steamer Grangewood and on the 25th the American Leelanaw, both Archangel ships on the return voyage, were sunk. Five trawlers also met the same fate. The success of the Prince Charles, however, was sufficient to prove the value of the decoy ships if well handled, and in a short time four more were fitted out at Scapa. (Vala, Duncombe, Penshurst and Glen Isla.)

 

It may be said, therefore, that in the northern area the enemy submarines were far from having it all their own way, but they were a constant source of worry, and the strain they caused was increased by mining. In this work the Germans were becoming very active. A certain ship called the Meteor was a matter of special interest. She was known to have been out several times equipped as a minelayer, and special sweeps were made to catch her, but without success. Other ships were believed to be escaping from Germany along the Norwegian coast, and one patrol of the 10th Cruiser Squadron had to be devoted to watching this route.

 

The work was very difficult. On June 22 the Teutonic intercepted a ship (Konsul Schulte), but on being chased she escaped into Norwegian waters. The danger from sub­marines was too great for an armed merchant cruiser to remain watching her, and Admiral Jellicoe asked for trawlers. He was told he could have no more and should use his four sloops. But these, he replied, were all he had to rely on for sweeping ahead of the fleet if he had to undertake any serious operation. The old fleet sweepers had proved too slow. Eventually, however, one armed trawler, the Tenby Castle, was sent. She succeeded in disabling one German vessel

 

June-July 1915

 

and sinking another (Pallas, June 30, and Friedrich Arp, July 8), but as both incidents occurred between the Lofoten islands and the mainland, which Norway claimed as territorial waters, the result was a disturbance of our excellent relations with that country. Later in July, however, six more trawlers were sent up to Kirkwall for the Norway patrol.

 

A further effort to curtail German activity in this region took the form of a raid into the Skagerrak from July 28 to 31. The force employed was a large one consisting of eight light cruisers and twenty destroyers supported by the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron and the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron with a screen of six destroyers. It was carried out under Rear­-Admiral W. C. Pakenham, commanding the battle cruisers in the Australia, but though it had been hoped, among other objects, to catch the German fishing fleet, no enemy was found except one trawler, the Hanseat, which was sunk. On the other hand, no effort was made by the enemy to interfere. In this it only repeated an experience which Commodore Tyrwhitt had had in the first week of the month. With three of his light cruisers, sixteen destroyers and five scouts he had proceeded off the Ems in support of another seaplane operation. Little or nothing was effected, but though he remained off Borkum for twelve hours the enemy made no move.

 

In the lower part of the North Sea, however, with the guard of which he was specially charged, they had been active enough in other ways. In this area, indeed, the strain had been perhaps the greatest of all; for here not only the sea but the air was alive with menace. In the first half of June, three airship raids took place on various points from Northumberland to London, and Commodore Tyrwhitt's light cruisers, each carrying a seaplane, were constantly out watching for Zeppelins, but attack from the sea either by gunfire or seaplane proved very difficult. (Commodore Tyrwhitt had now received some more of the new light cruisers, and had as a separate squadron (5th Light Cruiser Squadron) Arethusa. Penelope, Conquest and Cleopatra, beside the Undaunted attached to the 3rd ("L" class) Flotilla and the Aurora to the 10th ("M" class) Flotilla. Each of them was to have a new type flotilla leader. Four more of the new light cruisers, Calliope, Comus, Phaeton and Royalist were with the Grand Fleet forming the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron under Commodore Le Mesurier.)

 

The only one that was caught (LZ 37) fell a victim near Ghent on June 7 to Flight Sub‑lieutenant R. A. J. Warneford of the Royal Naval Air Service working from Dunkirk. For the cruisers it was risky work, since the Commodore never had enough destroyers to provide an adequate screen. Most of them were called away for escort duty in the south‑west approaches

 

June-July 1915

GERMAN MINELAYERS

 

to the Channel, and what were left had multifarious duties of the same kind to perform, such as escorting the Portsmouth floating dock to the Tyne and the protection of "Paddler" minesweepers working south of the Dogger, and our own minelayers laying fields off the enemy's coast to check his submarines. Both in this area and off the Thames estuary and the approaches to the Dover Strait submarines were reported daily, and in searching for them we lost in the month of June two destroyers, Mohawk and Lightning, and two torpedo boats ‑ the latter a specially disturbing exper­ience, for torpedo boats were generally regarded as fairly immune from torpedoes owing to their shallow draft, yet both were sunk while hunting in company with five destroyers and four other torpedo boats. (Mohawk of the Dover Patrol was mined on June 1, but was afterwards towed into harbour. On the 10th Torpedo‑Boat No. 10 was trying pluckily to take Torpedo‑Boat No. 12 in tow after she had been torpedoed and was herself torpedoed. Both the latter belonged to the Nore Defence Flotilla.)

 

Fresh minefields, moreover, from now onward became a never‑ending source of trouble, especially round the light­vessels, and it was at this time we began to perceive that the enemy were adopting the new and insidious plan of laying mines from submarines.

 

The Germans, in fact, were now developing a new form of the guerrilla warfare to which from the first they had decided they must confine themselves at sea. The weapon they were bringing into use was a new form of submarine, classed as "UC" boats and designed for minelaying. The earliest of them were fitted with four vertical tubes each charged with three mines, but the later ones had six tubes. Being small boats of limited range of action, their special plan of opera­tions was to lay and maintain minefields round the light­vessels in the lower part of the North Sea, which, for the sake of the traffic, it had been found necessary to leave in place, and off the headlands and fairways which the trade passed between the Channel and the North Sea. The first intimation we had of this clever device was on June 2, and on the 18th minefields were discovered off Dover and near the Sunk light­vessel off Harwich. On June 30, off the mouth of the Thames, the Lightning, an old "A" class destroyer, foundered on a mine near the Kentish Knock light‑vessel. Two days later a small tramp steamer, the Cottingham, bound from Calais to Leith, accidentally ran over and sank one of the new minelayers, UC 2, near Yarmouth Roads. As July advanced the "UC " boats grew bolder. On July 13, besides the field found off Dover, another beyond the net barrage was located off Calais,

 

June 1915

 

and others were continually being reported from the South Foreland as high as Lowestoft, and from this time forward the whole strength of the minesweeper flotillas had to be employed daily in keeping open a lane from Dungeness to Yarmouth, as well as the main channels into the Thames. (From May 31 to July 31 UC boats laid mines in eleven positions.)

 

The work put a strain on the Dover, Nore and Harwich areas which with the force then available was almost beyond bearing. All up the east coast the pressure of the enemy's activity was scarcely less, but crying as were the needs of the North Sea and the Dover Strait zone, they had at this period to be subordinated to those of the south‑western approaches. Admiral Jellicoe was urging that special flotillas should be formed for hunting submarines and nothing else. The reply of the Admiralty was that his suggestion for a striking force of fast vessels was for the present impossible, owing to the paramount military necessity of protecting transports. Again, when Commodore Tyrwhitt had to repre­sent that he sometimes had not a single destroyer to work with his cruisers, the Admiralty could only reply that the employment of his destroyers to the westward was unavoid­able owing to the enemy submarine activity in the entrance to the English Channel and the approaches to the Bristol and St. George's Channels, and the ever‑increasing importance of the transport routes in those waters. Through them passed the tracks to the Mediterranean and the inward flow of food, remounts and munitions from America and troops from Canada. It was an obvious objective for the best of the German submarines, and it was clear they were trying to make the most of it. We have seen how in the later part of May the flow of reinforcements to the Mediterranean was held up owing to a political crisis, and how, of the two divisions which Sir Ian Hamilton had urgently asked for on May 10 only the LIInd Lowland Division (Territorial Force) had been sent. At this critical period sinkings or attacks were re­ported daily along the south coast of Ireland, in the approaches to the Bristol Channel and on the transport route. The sudden calls raised difficulties enough for the harassed Transport Department; the insecurity of the route increased them three­fold, and raised questions upon which naval and military requirements came into direct conflict. The Transport Department were at their wits' end to find the necessary tonnage. They complained that ships going to the Darda­nelles were detained there apparently to meet unforeseen military emergencies. They did not return to time, and at

 

June 1915

TROOP TRANSPORT

 

home it was impossible to provide shipping without dislocating the sparse trade that still existed, or unless the great liners, like the Mauretania, were used. She herself had been employed for the Lowland Division, and had made the passage to Mudros in nine days; two others followed and arrived within ten days, and each of them carried over 8,000 officers and men. At a push they could carry more. Doubts, however, now arose whether the risk of embarking so many men in one ship was justifiable. On May 27 a submarine, was definitely found to be operating between Scilly and Ushant directly on the transport track, and in the next three days six ships were sunk there, including an Admiralty collier. Moreover, since the submarines had appeared in the Aegean that terminal was equally dangerous, for the great ships could only enter the anchorages which had now been made secure against underwater attack. The risk was obvious, but it was not for the Admiralty to say if the end justified the risk. It was a question which only the Government could decide. It was referred to them, and after learning that the army was ready to face the danger they decided the large ships were to be used.

 

Still there remained the scarcely less thorny question of the port of embarkation. The army wanted Avonmouth, where the railway and wharfage facilities were excellent, but it meant a far greater strain on the destroyers than Devonport, which was the Admiralty choice. From there the destroyers had to cover no more than a hundred miles to see the transports clear of the danger area; from Avonmouth it meant a voyage of two hundred and fifty miles each way, and no anchorage where they could wait for the transports to come out. Seeing then that escort had become the real crux of the problem, the decision was given for the naval choice, and of the three divisions of the new army which were under orders for the Mediterranean only the XIIIth, for which preparations were complete, sailed from Avonmouth. All the rest embarked the troops at Devonport, except the big liners, which had to use Liverpool.

 

The strain that all this meant upon the naval, military and transport staffs, no less than on the unresting destroyers, is difficult to conceive. Had everything been normal at the ports the work would have been heavy enough. But condi­tions in the ports were far from normal. Owing to depletion of labour, due to intensive enlisting for the new armies, the were badly congested, and ships which usually took a week to prepare as transports now often took three weeks. But, bad as was the block, and sudden and great the call, the

 

July 1915

 

work was done, and done to time. By July 1 the move of the XIIIth Division was complete, by the 14th both the others (XIth and Xth) had sailed, and by the end of the month the two Territorial divisions (LIIIrd and LIVth), whose despatch had only been sanctioned on July 5, were well on their way. But, great as was the accomplishment, it by no means represents all that was being done for placing and maintaining our army where it was wanted. Both to the Mediterranean and to the northward for Scapa and the White Sea there was a steady flow of store and munition ships. Small craft to serve the needs of the increasing army at the Dardanelles had also to be prepared and sent forward; outgoing monitors and important store ships had to be provided with trawler escort, and during July the whole of the Second New Army was put across into France, besides more than the normal flow of drafts and the slowly increasing supply of ammunition. In the early days of the war the rapid transport of the old army into France had seemed an almost incredible feat of organisation. It was child's play to what was going on now.

 

Yet not a single troop transport was touched ‑ only one was molested by gunfire ‑ but it was not for want of German activity. During the first ten days of July two submarines, U 20 and U 39, were at work in the critical south‑western area, and between them they sank a round score of ships, British, allied and neutral, and at least a dozen more were attacked. Yet, in spite of every effort in the area, not a single submarine had been caught. Nor was it surprising. The immunity with which for months our Harwich submarines had maintained their watch inside the Heligoland Bight in face of the patrols and bombing aircraft with which it swarmed was proof enough of the difficulty of dealing with underwater craft in open waters. Still we could not admit failure. New methods must be tried. The remedy was sought in a better co‑ordination of our auxiliary patrol. It took the form of a radical reorganisation of the western patrol areas, by which they were all to be under one command from the Hebrides to Ushant, with headquarters at Queenstown. To fill this all­ important post, Vice‑Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, then serving as President of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, was chosen on July 12. The selection was indisputable. It was he who in 1907 had been appointed the first Commodore of Flotillas and, having chosen Harwich for the centre of his labours, had earned his reputation in the Service as the father of destroyer tactics and organisation ‑ a reputation he was destined to confirm and enlarge as his task increased in difficulty.

 

July 1915

COAST OF IRELAND STATION

 

The number of units in his command was very large. At the time of his appointment to Queenstown (July 22), includ­ing those under the immediate command of Admirals Dare and Boyle at Milford and Larne, they numbered four hundred and fifty yachts, trawlers, drifters and motor boats. He had also at Queenstown a few torpedo boats, and by the end of July the first complete unit of four of the new sloops was added to his command. Many of the drifters were absorbed by the North Channel net barrage, and under Admiral Boyle the system had become so effective that it could be regarded as completely barring the passage of submarines. Whether or not any had attempted to get into the Irish Sea this way is uncertain, but in any case nothing was now passing. The problem which Admiral Bayly had to solve was to this extent simplified, and the system was now being applied to the St. George's Channel. Besides the Larne, Kingstown and Milford areas, the Scilly Islands sub‑base was also transferred from the Falmouth command to Queenstown. (For the eastern half of the Irish Sea a new area (No. 22) was formed, with its base at Holyhead. The Bristol Channel also became a separate area with its base at Swansea.) This was regarded as necessary for the main purpose of the new arrangement. The idea was that, if submarines in open waters had to be dealt with, numbers were essential, so as to ensure that whenever one was reported the locality could be surrounded by vessels numerous enough to cover a wide area, and so make it very dangerous for her to come to the surface.

 

It was not till August 1 that the new organisation came into force, and it was during the critical last half of July which followed Admiral Bayly's appointment that the Ger­mans had probably one of the best chances in the war for dealing us a telling blow at sea. A determined attack on the Mediterranean route at this time could scarcely have failed to create a serious disturbance, but no exceptional effort was made.

 

During all this period our own oversea submarines were as active as ever. The Bight was never left alone, but in that quarter there was little to be done beyond the now established routine. Typical of the adventurous work are the activities of S 1 (Lieutenant‑Commander G. H. Kellett), a new class of submarine which it was desired to try for over­sea work. (She was one of those laid down in 1912 in a private yard to an Italian design, and was the first double‑hull boat built for the British navy. The type was not continued.) On her first cruise in the third week of June she began by winning her way through a combined Zeppelin,

 

July 24-26, 1915

 

seaplane, trawler and destroyer patrol, and reaching Horn Reefs, on the 21st. Then her engines broke down, and for two days she was busy repairing them under the constant annoyance of patrolling airships. As soon as one engine was repaired the other failed, but on the third day she could crawl well enough to capture a German trawler, the Ost, and employ it to tow her. Twice the trawler's engines failed, twice they were repaired by the submarine crew, until on the seventh day she met the Firedrake, who brought her in to Harwich with her useful prize.

 

Another typical cruise was that of Commander C. P. Talbot in E 16. On July 24 he left Yarmouth for the Ems. Reaching his station next morning, he was continually kept under by the air patrol, till near the Borkum Riff lightship he found himself foul of a submarine trap which dragged him down by the bows. In vain he struggled by every device that cool resource could suggest. Unable to get clear, he managed, with his bows still fast, to bring the conning‑tower above water and open the lid. It was only to find a Zeppelin hovering a few hundred feet above him and evidently watching the trap. He had to dive again and continue his efforts ‑ blowing, pumping and venting his tanks ‑ going ahead and astern every few moments, and all to the accom­paniment of exploding bombs which the watching airship dropped as his struggles disturbed the surface. Smaller charges also burst close to him. Still coolly as ever he and his crew struggled on, till after an hour of the nightmare the bows suddenly flew up and he was free. Then, after sending off a pigeon to warn the Commodore of the danger spot, he continued his patrol undisturbed. His reward came the following day (July 26). About noon, being then forty miles north of Terschelling on the outer edge of the German patrol lines, and having been kept down by a Zeppelin for three hours, he rose to find three large destroyers quartering the ground at high speed. In about an hour he got within six hundred yards of one of them, took his shot and blew off her stern. Yet he was not content. Though the other two enemy vessels at once made for him, he kept returning to the surface and interrupting their work of rescuing the crew of the sinking destroyer. Each time he appeared they broke off and made for him. Yet in spite of their persistent efforts to ram him he got in two more shots at them, which unfortunately they were easily able to avoid. That his conduct was highly commended and won him the D.S.O. will cause no surprise. (The destroyer sunk was V 188, a 32‑knot boat of 650 tons with four 19.7 tubes and two 15‑pounders.)

 

May 4‑June 4, 1915

E 1 AND E 9 IN THE BALTIC

 

 

Operations in the Baltic

 

In the Baltic our submarines found possibilities of exerting a more direct influence on the course of the war. Towards the end of April the Germans, by way of creating a diversion for the thrust which in combination with the Austrians they were making in Galicia, had begun a menacing advance on Libau; a naval force was known to be concentrated in Danzig, and a cruiser squadron was located between the north end of Gothland and the mainland as though to cover the passage of transports eastwards. On May 4 both submarines were warned to prepare for a long cruise, and next day they were away, E 1 for the Bornholm area and E 9 to Dagerort, at the south side of the entrance to the Gulf of Finland, which was to be her base for operating against the enemy's covering force. Each of them found opportunity to attack light craft, but no hit was made before, on May 10, it was known that Libau had fallen and the enemy's covering force had with­drawn. (Libau was taken by the Germans on May 7.) E 9 was then ordered to work on the lines from Memel and Danzig to Libau, and here she at once fell in with three cruisers conducting three transports on the return voyage from Libau. Both the convoy and its escort had strong destroyer protection. Nevertheless Commander M. R. Horton proceeded to attack. Diving under the van of the port destroyer screen he fired his bow torpedoes at one of the cruisers, but unfortunately both missed. He then got into position for attacking the transports from right ahead as they came on. At two hundred yards he fired his port beam tube at the leading ship and again there was a miss by passing under. Then he tried his stern tube at her next astern. He was now under heavy fire, but the torpedo hit her just before the funnel, a second shot from a reloaded bow tube finished her, and notwithstanding the destroyers and an explosive sweep fired close to him he got safely away to Revel to replenish torpedoes. Both submarines continued their respective operations without success till June 1, when E 1, having fractured a main motor, was reported unfit for service. On reaching Revel they found that Admiral von Essen, the energetic and devoted officer under whose command they had been serving, had died (May 20) after a short illness.

 

Commander Horton in E 9 had now to continue the. work alone. Strong forces were reported west of the Gulf of Riga, and on June 4 news came in that the Russian minelayer Yenisei had been sunk by a submarine off Dagerort. He at once made for the spot, and there he found the offender and dived to attack, but the German submarine (U 26), also dived and was lost. Later on in the afternoon he came in sight of

 

July 2, 1915

THE BALTIC

 

four destroyers, two coaling from a transport, two patrolling, and a light cruiser of the "Gazelle" class, standing by. Getting into position for attacking the cruiser and the coaling group simultaneously, he fired his port beam tube at the cruiser and missed. Both bow tubes, however, got home on the collier, and when, after avoiding being rammed by the patrolling destroyers, he came to the surface, the collier was gone, as well as one of the destroyers that had been alongside her, and a few survivors from each of them were rescued.

 

As June advanced the activity increased, for now the German demonstration was taking the form of an advance on Riga. The loss of Libau mattered little; it had in fact been discounted when it was evacuated early in the war. But Riga, besides being an important munition centre, was vital to the security of the capital. A new army had to be found for its protection, and in spite of Austro‑German successes in Galicia it could only be formed by drawing on that front. Its right rested on the sea between Windau and Libau, and here on July 2 E 9 was patrolling when the month­-long sparring at sea culminated in a conflict. Early in the morning the Russian cruiser patrol, Admiral Makarov, Bayan, Bogatuir and Oleg, moving through a heavy fog off the east of Gothland, came upon an inferior squadron of Germans, consist­ing of the Roon, two light cruisers, Augsberg and Luebeck, with the mining vessel Albatross. (Bayan and Admiral Makarov were cruisers of 7,700 tons armed with two 8" and eight 6", Bogatuir and Oleg were slightly smaller old cruisers, recon­structed with twelve 6" ‑ all less than twenty knots sea speed. The Roon was 9,500 tons with four 8.2" and ten 5.9". The two light cruisers had nothing heavier than 4.1").

 

Owing to the fog nothing decisive occurred, but the Albatross was cut off and forced to beach herself in a damaged condition on the neutral coast of Gothland, where she and her crew were interned. (Casualties in the Albatross numbered 27 killed and 55 wounded.)

 

The rest were lost in the fog, but as the Russian squadron made back for its own coast it was boldly attacked by the Roon, Luebeck and four destroyers. The Augsberg, which was severely damaged in the first conflict, did not appear. A desultory action seems to have ensued for half, an hour, when the Russian cruiser Ryurik came upon the seene. (Ryurik, 15,000 tons, four 10", eight 8" and twenty 4.7".) The Roon was then forced to retire, and though by her superior speed she was soon able to get clear, it was not before she had suffered a good deal from the Ryurik's heavy metal. But she was not left unsupported. In response apparently to her signals two of the older German

 

July 18, 1915

GERMANS TAKE WINDAU

 

battleships went to her rescue. To Commander Horton at least, who was lying right in their path, they seemed to have come out of Libau. As he saw them coming on he closed to attack, and at four hundred yards fired his bow torpedoes at the leading ship. Both hit: but with what result he could not tell, for only by a very smart dive did he avoid being rammed by an attending destroyer which for an hour would not leave him alone. It was certain that the ship attacked, the Prinz Adalbert was not sunk, but her consort had to escort her back to Kiel, for later on in the afternoon, when E 9 sighted the Roon and her two light cruisers coming south, but too far off to attack, neither battleship was with them. The crippled ship reached Kiel on the 20th.

 

After this exploit E 9 had to lie up at Revel for the rest of the month, but by this time E 1 had made good her defects, and on July 30 signalled her reappearance by sinking the Aachen, one of three large auxiliaries which she encountered off Gothland escorted by a light cruiser. Yet in spite of all that had been done the strategical advantage of the campaign lay with the Germans. In the middle of the month their great change of front had begun to operate. From the Baltic to the Rumanian frontier the grand offensive against Russia was opening; the army of the Niemen, as it was called, operating from Libau, became the left of a great movement. To this army fell the first‑fruits; within a week it had cap­tured Windau, and with it one side of the entrance to the Gulf of Riga was in German hands.

 

 

 

S.M.S. Koenigsberg in the Rufiji Delta

 

While the whole Eastern front was thus astir with the new movements to crush Russia out of the Entente circle, far away on the coast of East Africa the last scene of the original German plan of commerce destruction on the high seas was being played out. There, in the Rufiji river, the Koenigsberg was still lying. At the end of April, when the new seaplanes arrived, they carefully reconnoitred her position, but as they proved unable to rise more than 800 feet over the land in that burning air, and a bombing attack was therefore impossible, she had been left alone till other means were provided for her destruction. So far as could be ascertained she was still capable of breaking out, and Admiral King‑Hall of the Cape Station had been keeping up the blockade of her and the adjacent coasts with his available forces.

 

Such a position on the flank of our far eastern route could not be tolerated indefinitely, and it was now, (April 19), that the Admiralty detached two of the 6‑inch monitors, which had been sent to the Mediterranean, to see what they could

 

June 3 – July 6, 1915

GERMAN EAST AFRICA

 

do. On May 9 and 10 they recalled the Chatham and Cornwall to the Dardanelles, leaving the Admiral only one light cruiser, the Weymouth, capable of chasing and engaging the Koenigsberg if she broke out. In accordance with the new plan Captain E. J. A. Fullerton left Malta on April 28 in the Severn in company with the Mersey (Commander R. A. Wilson), the fleet messenger Trent, four tugs and a collier. The voyage before him was as arduous as any in the war. The ships of his squadron were wholly unfit for the intense heat of the Red Sea, but thanks to the devotion and spirit of all con­cerned, especially in the engine‑rooms, Aden was reached on May 15. In two days he was away again, and as the motley squadron struggled down the African coast against head seas and abnormal currents, the difficulties they encountered increased beyond measure. But they were encountered only to be overcome. There were times when scarcely any progress could be made without the Trent and the collier assisting the tugs, but in the end they were rewarded, and on June 8, after five weeks' struggle, the squadron anchored at Mafia island. (In recognition of the successful conduct of this arduous voyage Captain Fullerton and the commanders of all his auxiliaries received letters of apprecia­tion from the Admiralty.)

 

Here at Tirene Bay, where, since the occupation of the island, the blockading force had its base, an aerodrome had been established under a Major of marines, Squadron Commander R. Gordon, with two good aeroplanes, and here the moni­tors had to remain to prepare for the operation. Its interest lies in its novelty. To destroy by a combination of aircraft and heavily armed shallow draft vessels a ship of war lying concealed ten miles up a tropical river with unknown defences at its mouth was a new experience. Consequently, besides making good defects developed during the arduous voyage, the monitors had to be fitted with deck and side plates and sandbag protection, and spotting with the aircraft needed careful rehearsal. It was not until July 5 that all was ready, and on this dav, in order to prevent reinforcements being sent to the Rufiji, the Laurentic, with three transports carrying a few Indian troops from Zanzibar, made a demonstration of landing at Dar‑es‑Salaam and returned after dark. (Admiral King‑Hall now had with him four light cruisers (Hyacinth (flag), Weymouth, Pioneer and Pyramus), two armed merchant cruisers (Laconia and Laurentic), and two monitors (Severn and Mersey). The Challenger joined his flag on July 8, after the first attack on the Koenigsberg had been made.

 

At 5.20 next morning the two monitors entered the Kikunja, a northern mouth of the river, accompanied by an aeroplane to cover them by bombing the Koenigsberg while

 

July 6, 1915

ATTACK ON THE KOENIGSBERG

 

they were taking up their firing position. On entering the river they came under fire from 3‑pounders, pom‑poms and machine guns concealed in the density of the trees and the rank undergrowth, but it was easily dealt with and did no harm. As they felt their way up the river the Admiral followed in support in the Weymouth (Captain Denis B. Crampton), attended by the Pyramus (Commander Viscount Kelburn) and the whalers Echo, Fly and Childers sweeping and sounding ahead. By 6.30, when he was scraping over the bar, the two monitors had anchored head and stern at a point judged to be 11,000 yards from their objective and were opening fire, with Flight Commander J. T. Cull spotting for them in the other aeroplane, while the Admiral, as soon as he was anchored, did what he could at long range to keep down the fire which greeted him and to search the Kumbini hills on the north side of the river, where it was believed there was an observation station. As a further diversion the Pioneer (Commander T. W. Biddlecombe) engaged and silenced the defences of the Ssimba Uranga mouth by which the Koenigsberg had entered.

 

The firing position selected for the monitors was just below an island some four miles up, and no sooner were they anchored than it was apparent that the enemy expected them there and had their range to a nicety. The Koenigsberg was firing salvoes of four and sometimes five which straddled them at once. The enemy evidently had a well‑placed spotting station, but where the spotting station was it was impossible to discover. All that could be done was to fire into the jungle at any suspicious sign of movement, while the enemy's shells continued to fall within ten or fifteen yards. Yet, by a miracle, for nearly an hour neither ship suffered a direct hit, till, at 7.40, a shell struck the foremost 6‑inch gun shield of the Mersey, put the gun out of action, and inflicted eight casualties including six killed. Within a few minutes she was again struck and holed near the waterline; she, therefore, shifted her berth 1,000 yards back, but only just in time to escape a salvo which pitched exactly on the berth she had left. The Severn then carried on alone, the enemy's salvoes still straddling her, for half an hour and was scoring hits when the aeroplane had to go home. She then also shifted to open the range, and as she did so was able to wipe out what seemed to be an observation party in a tree on the bank. The action now slackened, till at 1.30 another aeroplane arrived. Both ships then moved up again to a spot near the first position and came into action. But the results were disappointing; the Koenigsberg was still firing, but with less accuracy and fewer guns, and at 3.30 the monitors proceeded

 

July 3, 1915

 

down the river with the crews worn out and dispirited at the failure to complete their task.

 

They retired to Tirene, but not to rest. All was unchecked activity to prepare for a renewal of the attempt. The frail ships had been badly shaken by so much firing at extreme elevation and needed tightening up, there was the Mersey's gun to repair, and well as observation had worked in rehearsal, it had been far short of success in action. Out of 685 shells fired only for 78 had spotting correction been received, and no more than six hits had been registered. It was therefore decided that only one ship should fire at a time, and on this plan, after four days' work on strained frames and bulkheads, they went in again on July 11. At the entrance they had the same reception as before, but though the ships were hit, no harm was done. As soon as the Mersey reached the first day's firing position she anchored to draw the enemy's fire, while the Severn steamed on. One salvo was fired at the Mersey, but after that the Koenigsberg concentrated on the Severn. For a mile she steamed on under a rain of salvoes, untouched till about 12.30 she was securely anchored and could open fire.

 

By this time Flight Commander Cull was again ready to spot for her. Seven salvoes were fired before he got her on, but the eighth was a hit. After that "H.T." (hit) came in almost continuously. In ten minutes the Koenigsberg was firing only three guns ‑ but then came a signal from the aeroplane, "We are hit, send a boat for us." In fact, hits had been numerous, but though the engine was pierced and failing, the intrepid pilot would not come down so long as he saw it was possible to plane down into the river. Even as he did so his observer, Flight Sub‑Lieutenant C. V. Arnold, continued to signal, with the result that in a couple of minutes more the Koenigsberg was firing only two guns, and as the wounded machine came down into the water between the two monitors one only was in action. The last spotting signal was "H.T. All forward." The Severn's guns were at once trained further aft to get the target amid­ships, and at 12.52 a large explosion was seen, followed by thick clouds of smoke. Amidst the cheers that greeted the success the Mersey's boat was rescuing the gallant pilot and his observer. The doomed ship was now clearly near her end, but before closing, the Severn continued to fire where she was for nearly an hour. By 1.46 seven more explosions occurred though no gun was firing at her; it is probable that these were the result of an attempt to destroy the ship which could no longer be defended. Captain Fullerton then signalled to the Mersey to move up to the second position well above the

 

July 11, 1915

END OF THE KOENIGSBERG

 

island. From this point, as the other aeroplane appeared, she fired twenty‑eight salvoes ‑ the third was a hit, and by 2.20 the target was a wreck blazing from stem to stern. The monitors were recalled by the Admiral at 2.30, and so ended the last of the German cruisers on the high seas. (The only British casualties on this day were two men of the Mersey slightly wounded.)

 

For eight months she had defied all the efforts we were able to spare for her destruction, and had fought gamely to the last. Inglorious as had been her career as a commerce destroyer, her end redeemed her honour, and the survivors of her crew with some of her guns went to swell the local defence force. So they continued the struggle, but the menace to our communications which she had so long maintained was now finally removed, and Admiral King‑Hall was free to devote himself to the general blockade of the coast and to such assistance as the military authorities should require for operations against the enemy's garrison.

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER IV

 

THE DARDANELLES JUNE 20 ‑ JULY 31 ‑ THE NEW PLAN - SUBMARINE ACTIVITY IN THE SEA OF MARMARA ‑ ARRIVAL OF REINFORCEMENTS

 

WHILE the question of reinforcing General Sir Ian Hamilton was under consideration, doubt had been expressed as to whether it was physically possible to develop a powerful offensive from the position he held. On the assumption that he merely had in mind a more powerful attack on the Achi Baba position, it was objected that the ground he occupied was obviously too limited to give room for another army corps to deploy. But to seek success by mere weight of numbers was foreign to his idea of generalship. Fully alive to the freedom of manoeuvre which the sea afforded, he was bent on making further use of it for strategical surprise by breaking in upon the enemy at a fresh point.

 

The idea had originated at Anzac. The costliness and even the futility of pressing the attack on the Achi Baba position, which was now only too apparent, drew attention more strongly than ever to the possibility of turning it. For some time past General Birdwood had had his eye on the Sari Bair ridge, the dominating feature of the neck of the peninsula. Rising from the sea directly in front of his left, it stretched away about north‑east to the Boghali valley, so that once established on the summit he would be able to command all the communications both by sea and land by which the Turkish forces holding Kilid Bahr and the Achi Baba position were nourished. Nor was its value only military, for in the opinion of the naval staff it would mean securing a spotting station for effective bombardment of the Narrows. So promising was the plan, even as first conceived, that as soon as General Hamilton knew that another army corps was coming, he saw the possibility of developing General Birdwood's plan into the main line of operation.

 

With the new reinforcements, all the troops necessary for giving effect to his project could now be allotted to him. More than this, the surplus forces could be used to give an important

 

June 1915

THE SUVLA PLAN

 

expansion to the scheme and so overcome its technical difficulties. Its defect had been that from the cramped and insecure Anzac beaches it was impossible to nourish the increased force which was necessary to promise success against Sari Bair. But hard by, Suvla Bay offered an ideal anchorage for the purpose. Its conformation was such that it could be quickly closed by anti‑submarine nets. True it was open to south‑westerly gales, but six miles further up the coast, at Ejelmer Bay, was an alternative anchorage completely sheltered from them, and over and above the six brigades destined for Anzac there would remain sufficient force to seize both bays. Thus the primary object of the Suvla landing was to secure an adequate base for the new development, but incidentally the force employed could, by a comparatively small advance inland to the eastward, effectively protect General Birdwood's exposed left flank and generally operate in support of the main attack.

 

With every precaution for secrecy the new ground was reconnoitred from the sea, and was found to be practically unentrenched and occupied by little more than the usual look‑out posts. Surprise, which the sea put in General Hamilton's power, seemed certain, could secrecy be preserved long enough. The confidence of the British Staff was con­firmed by an appreciation received from General Gouraud on June 14. He was proving himself an ideal colleague, and between him and General Hamilton the closest harmony existed. The French still had their eyes on the forbidden Asiatic side, but realising that the expected reinforcements would be insufficient to enable the allied force to operate astride the Straits, he was seeking an alternative method of breaking the deadlock. One was a descent at Bulair, the other a development of the Anzac zone. The Bulair idea, as he frankly admitted, depended on the assumption that the naval authorities did not regard the difficulties as insuperable, and on this they were more strongly convinced than ever. Admiral de Robeck had, in fact, just been called upon to go once more into the whole question of a landing at the head of the Gulf of Xeros. After full con­sideration he could only report that since the advent of the submarines the original risks and difficulties of a disem­barkation so far from the base at Mudros had so materially increased that nothing could justify the attempt but the respect of a quick and decisive military success, and this he understood was not to be expected. His view was endorsed by the Admiralty, and Bulair was thus definitely ruled out. The only alternative that remained was General

 

June 20-21, 1915

 

Gouraud's third one, and this was to use the new divisions for developing the Anzac line of operation with much the same general idea of seizing the Maidos neck as was in General Hamilton's mind. (General Gouraud's plan differed in detail. He proposed a landing south of Gaba Tepe, and thence, in concert with the Anzac force, to capture the heights which dominated the Maidos plain. The establishment of a new base at Suvla did not enter into his plan. The technical naval con­siderations on which the need of such a base rested had probably not been brought to his notice. He was probably also unaware of the reasons we had for thinking the Turks were prepared to meet an attack south of Gaba Tepe. They had actually a division deployed on this part of the coast and another in reserve. General Gouraud's letter, which is dated June 13, is given by General Hamilton in his Gallipoli Diary, Vol. I., p. 296.)

 

So high was the impression for capacity and knowledge of his profession which General Gouraud had created, that his independent and spontaneous approval of the general idea was all the encouragement that was required to confirm the wisdom of the plan. So vital, however, was the pre­servation of secrecy that his staff were not informed, for the part assigned to the two French divisions was to be no more than a share in a holding attack on the Krithia positions by the Helles force. Of our own staff only the few officers needed to work out the plan were let into the secret. Even the authorities at home were told no more than enough to satisfy them that the General knew how to use the three new divisions. But Lord Kitchener did independently suggest the very plan that was in course of preparation.

 

So the famous Suvla movement was set on foot, but it must be many weeks before it could be carried out, and General Gouraud at least was not content to wait inactive so long. Already, just before news of the coming reinforce­ment arrived, he was arranging with General Hamilton for a carefully prepared attack on the formidable Turkish trenches in front of his left and centre, and after the news came the elaborate preparations continued. Owing to the submarine menace the ships could give but little assistance. All depended on the massing of artillery fire and the accumula­tion of unlimited supplies of ammunition. By June 20 all was ready, and on that day the Lord Nelson, with a kite­ balloon spotting for her, bombarded the docks and shipping at Gallipoli over the land, inflicting considerable damage. For several days the front of attack had been kept under a hot fire by the French artiliery which opened the attack on the 21st with a greatly intensified bombardment. The St. Louis, screened by trawlers with nets, and protected by British destroyers and trawlers, did her best to keep down the fire

 

June 28, 1915

ACTION OF GULLY RAVINE

 

of the Asiatic guns: otherwise the fleet took no part. After a long day's desperate fighting, in which, under General Gouraud's inspiration, the French infantry displayed all their best qualities, the fierce resistance of the Turks was overcome. By nightfall the obnoxious "Haricot " redoubt in the Kereves ravine, which hitherto had baffled all his efforts to gain ground on this side, had been won.

 

Nor did the effort end here. While the question of another army corps was under debate at home General Hamilton had reported that he had enough ammunition left for one more day's assault. He was now preparing to deliver it with the idea of doing against the Turkish right what the French had done on their left. The first of his original reinforcement, the LlInd (Lowland) Division, arrived on June 19, and with the XXIXth Division and the Indian brigade he meant to make the attempt supported by a hold­ing attack at Anzac. No battleship was to be risked in its support. Naval assistance was to be confined to a light cruiser and four destroyers. On the 28th, the day fixed for the operation, the Talbot, which was now the ship of the Senior Naval Officer at Gaba Tepe, took station off the left of our Helles line, with Admiral Nicholson on board to direct operations. From 10.0 a.m. onwards, with the Manica spotting, and four destroyers (Racoon, Beagle, Bulldog and Basilisk) screening, she shelled the enemy's trenches and silenced several batteries, while the other destroyers Renard, Scorpion and Wolverine, starting at 9.0 a.m., were at work where the enemy's trenches came nearly down to the sea.

 

Again the bulk of the battery work came from our artillery ashore, assisted by French 75's, and it exceeded all that it had been able to do before. But there seems little doubt that the ship fire was a material assistance. According to the Turks it entirely destroyed the front‑line trenches of the division that was on the sea flank, with the result that when at 11.0 our infantry got the word to advance they were able to occupy them at once with little loss. And not only that, but before the second line could be properly organised they had rushed that as well, and by noon all the assigned positions were in their hands. The advance made was about 1,000 yards, and it gave us five lines of trenches and the notorious "Boomerang" redoubt, which for so long had been holding up our left. During the night the Turks counter‑attacked heavily. The chief effort was on the coast, but here a strong attempt to turn our sea flank along the beach was detected by the searchlights of the Scorpion and Wolverine, and was swept away by their guns. Nor were the attempts upon the rest of the front any more successful or less costly. All were repulsed with heavy loss and the whole of the new ground was retained.

 

Materially the gain to the general position was sub­stantial. The Allied line was not only advanced, but straightened, and in every way improved. The moral effect was even greater. Since the first advance no such success had been won, and it had been won in spite of the reinforcement the enemy had received and of the time he had had to consolidate the position. There was a feeling of elation in the air ‑ the light of victory was in all eyes, and could the blow have been followed quickly, all agreed that the victory could have been made complete. In this view we were certainly not over‑sanguine. General Weber, who was now in command of the southern zone, was deeply enough impressed by our success to advise a retirement to the line of Soghanli Dere and Kilid Bahr. It was the last ditch for saving the Narrows forts, and General von Sanders would not consent. He was for recovering at all costs what we had gained on our coast flank, and for this purpose he brought over a division from the Asiatic side and moved another down from Anzac. This was an important result of our success. After General Birdwood had delivered his holding attack he was strongly counter‑attacked, but the Turks were repulsed with heavy loss.

 

By July 4 the two Turkish divisions were in position, and from then onward the enforced delay till our new rein­forcements arrived gave our troops in the southern area little rest. At short intervals the Turks delivered counter‑attacks with a desperation and persistence that seemed regardless of cost and were testimony enough to the value of our newly‑won ground. All was in vain; they gained nothing by their courageous efforts but incurred a loss of 6,000 men. We were even able to react, for on July 12‑13 the Turks, with their attention fixed on our left, found themselves attacked by the French and the LIInd Division on the British right. About 400 yards more ground was gained and the position further improved. So far spent was the British artillery ammunition that the preparation and counter‑battery work was all done by the French, with the assistance of the Prince George, Chatham, Suffren and half a dozen destroyers which were in action against Krithia, Achi Baba and the Kereves ravine.

 

It was little, however, that the fleet could do to give direct assistance to the land operations during the period of waiting, and the opportunity was taken to send the

 

July 1915

NAVAL REINFORCEMENTS

 

ships away to Malta to refit. Above all it was necessary to husband ammunition for the next great effort. But whenever an objective of sufficient importance presented itself a battleship would come out. These special targets were points where depots of ammunition were reported to exist, and in this way, amongst other places, Gallipoli, Chanak, Eren Keui and Examil, the centre of the Tenedos front, were all bombarded in turn. For this work the Admiral now had the assistance of another kite‑balloon ship, the Hector. The monitors and the "Edgars," with their bulge protection, were also coming in and were available to take over the bombardments. The first to appear was the Humber, one of the original three monitors bought from Brazil. She had arrived on June 4, and shortly afterwards was sent to Gaba Tepe to deal with a large number of guns concealed in the Olive Groves along the Axmah ravine south of Gaba Tepe, which were enfilading the main Anzac beach and making it almost impossible for craft to approach it in daylight. Assisted by the Kephalo destroyers she was apparently successful, for after July 17 the guns were silent for the rest of the month. She was followed (on July 15) by the Roberts, one of the new 14‑inch monitors. She was told off for the Asiatic batteries. Pro­ceeding to Rabbit Island, north of Tenedos, she was securely anchored, netted in and connected up with the shore by telephone. Here she was joined by M 19, the first of the new 9.2‑inch monitors to arrive. She was established in the same way, and the two, with the Ben-My-Chree to spot for them, settled down together to the sorely needed counter­battery work. By the end of the month the other three 14‑inch monitors, Abercrombie, Raglan and Havelock, had arrived, as well as the 6‑inch monitors, M 29, 32 and 33, and the rest of the bulge ships of the old 10th Cruiser Squadron, Theseus, Endymion, Grafton and Edgar. (A "bulge ship" was a ship fitted with an outside hollow belt as a protection against torpedo attack. The belt was termed a "bulge" or "blister," and these vessels were known later as "blister ships." From the autumn of 1914 onwards bulges were included in the designs of all large ships.)

 

The new arrivals, which henceforth became the main naval support for the army, were under Admiral Stuart Nicholson, who flew his flag in the Exmouth, in the now well‑protected anchorage at Kephalo in Imbros. (It had now submerged defences in the form of a net boom, placed in position by the special net‑layers Queen Victoria and Prince Edward, which had been sent out after proving their capacities on the Belgian coast. See Vol. II, P. 387.) At Imbros, too, owing to its position midway between Anzac and the

 

July 1915

 

southern beaches, General Hamilton had established his headquarters ever since the advent of the submarines. What was most to be feared during the period of arrested activity was that the efforts of the Turks on our flanks would develop into a violent attack all along the line. The month of Ramadan had begun, when Moslem religious enthusiasm was at its highest, and we expected that on the 23rd its driving power would be used to the utmost extent. So real was the expectation that it was deemed advisable to reinforce the Allied line with some of the new army that had just arrived. Accordingly the three brigades of the XIIIth Division and one of the XIth were landed at Helles to give the old XXIXth a sorely needed rest. By the 21st they were in position, and on the same day Admiral Nicholson, in consultation with the General Staff at Anzac, assigned to all the supporting ships (Talbot, Humber, Colne and Pincher) definite stations and areas of fire should an attack take place. The expected did not happen. Nothing but another attack on our left was made ‑ it was the tenth they had launched ‑ and was easily beaten off, like the rest.

 

For the monitors, however, there was other work. In the crowded end of the peninsula, particularly at Helles and at Sedd el Bahr, where General Gouraud had his head­quarters, the Asiatic guns had become more and more galling, and it was mainly to check the disturbance that the recent bombardments had been ordered. Even so the beaches were never safe. All work in the daytime had to be done under fire, from time to time ammunition dumps were exploded, one of the beaches used by the French had to be abandoned and, worst of all, on June 30 General Gouraud himself was so severely wounded by a heavy shell from Asia that he had to relinquish the command to his second, General Bailloud, and go home. It was a catastrophe destined to have far-­reaching consequences arising out of the appointment of his successor, and even at the moment, coming, as his loss did, immediately after the successful push, the blow was severely felt. "Gouraud's loss," wrote General Hamilton, "almost wipes out our gains." General Bailloud, on whom the com­mand temporarily devolved, seeing no other way of ending the trouble, was setting his heart on landing part at least of the new army on the Asiatic side, but General Hamilton would not hear of it ‑ nothing must he done to compromise the new plan. Meanwhile another means of relieving the annoyance at Sedd el Bahr and Helles was in hand, and the navy did its best with its own means. Two 4.7‑inch naval guns, landed from the Alnwick Castle, and two French 5.5‑inch

 

June 10‑25, 1915

E 12 AND E 14 IN THE MARMARA

 

naval guns were already in position, and were to be supple­mented in a short time by another 4.7 and a 6‑inch naval gun. In this way, by getting the monitors off the coast about Yeni Shehr, it was hoped to bring an effective cross‑fire upon the obnoxious batteries. In this service they were principally employed during the rest of the period of waiting, with occasional bombardments, in combination with aircraft, of depots such as Chanak and Maidos, in the hope of crippling the enemy's supply of ammunition.

 

But the real work of breaking the flow of Turkish supplies was done by the submarines. All through June and July their activity never ceased, and during much of the period there were two operating in the Marmara. (See Map 3 - repeated.)

 

Map 3. The Sea of Marmara

On June 10 Lieutenant‑Commander Boyle went up again in E 14 and remained there over three weeks, keeping the whole sea in a state of disturbance. On his first day he met a brigantine and forced her to stop. As it was too rough to go alongside, Lieutenant R. W. Lawrence, R.N.R., swam off to her, and finding she was laden with heavy stores, he set her on fire with her own matches and paraffin, while the crew looked on from their boat. Next day at Panderma, the principal port on the Asiatic side, he torpedoed a steamer in the harbour and sank four dhows alongside her. But large steamers had disappeared from the sea; nothing was left but small ones of the ferry‑boat type and sailing craft, and beyond a gunboat and destroyers that hunted him and a few grain dhows which he sank he saw nothing till, on the 20th he had to go back to meet E 12, which was coming up under Lieutenant‑Commander Bruce.

 

The career of the newcomer was beset with trouble. She arrived at the rendezvous in the evening of the 21st, and the following two days were spent in repairing her main motors, which were causing trouble. She then proceeded to cruise in the eastern part of the sea while Lieutenant‑Com­rnander Boyle remained in the western in order to report her condition by wireless to the connecting destroyer the other side of Bulair. This was on June 24, and the following day the crippled E 12 began her adventures. Entering the Gulf of Mudania, in the south‑eastern extremity of the sea, she came upon two small steamers which seemed to be passenger packets. But as they were towing between them five sailing vessels Lieutenant‑Commander K. M. Bruce chased the first one and stopped her. Seeing all her crew on deck with life‑belts and no trace of a gun, he ran his bow up alongside, With his 6‑pounder and rifles ready, and ordered his first

 

June 25-July 10, 1915

 

lieutenant to board. Then suddenly it was evident the lesson of our decoys had reached the Turks. As the board­ing party stepped over the side a bomb was thrown which hit the submarine forward. Luckily it did not explode, but it was followed by fire from rifles and a small masked gun. The fire was promptly returned, and an action began at ten yards during which the two sailing vessels which the steamer was towing also opened fire with rifles and tried to foul the submarine's propellers. They were soon silenced by her small‑arm men, and she slowly got clear. By this time E 12's gun, which, after dealing with the steamer's masked gun, had been holing her from forward aft, must have found the ammunition she was carrying, for she suddenly blew up and sank in fifteen minutes. Having also sunk her two tows, Lieutenant‑Commander Bruce gave chase to the other steamer, which had three sailing craft in tow. They promptly slipped and made off, while he engaged the steamer till he was within range of a gun on shore. Then he could do no more; his starboard main motor was again showing defects, and as the chase was in flames he left her to beach herself. Still he carried on with his cruise round to the Gulf of Ismid, the easternmost arm of the sea, and there he forced another steamer ashore. A second had disappeared towards Mudania, and in hunting back for her he met E 14, who passed to him an order to return to make good his defects. Crippled as he was, his struggle with the cross­currents going down the Straits was very severe, but, by a fine display of seamanship, all difficulties were overcome, and in the evening of June 28, in the midst of the elation at our success ashore, E 12 crawled safely into Kephalo harbour. She had sunk three steamers and three sailing vessels. Five days later Commander Boyle (promoted to rank of Commander on June 30) followed him down. On this cruise E 14 sank one large steamer and 18 sailing vessels.

 

Lieutenant‑Commander A. D. Cochrane, who commanded E 7, had difficulties no less great than E 12, but of a different character. To begin with he and his crew were suffering from the depressing form of dysentery with which both services were affected, and to add to the trouble during his first exploit, which was to destroy a steamer and some dhows at Rodosto, on the north coast, his first lieutenant and an able seaman were so badly burnt by an explosion that both were unfit for service for the rest of the cruise. In spite of everything, however, during the next ten days he destroyed four brigantines, two small steamers and sixteen dhows, ending on July 10 by torpedoing a 3,000 ton steamer at

 

July 10‑25, 1915

E 7 IN THE MARMARA

 

Mudania pier. Still not content, he made for the Bosporus, and in the afternoon of the 15th, while aground on the Leander Shoal, fired a torpedo with a T.N.T. head into the arsenal. There was a resounding explosion, but the effect could not be seen, and proceeding out of the Bosporus he, at midnight, bombarded the Zeitunlik Powder Mills, in the western suburbs of the city.

 

His next exploit against the enemy's rear communica­tions was quite a new departure. Near Kava Burnu, the cape at the entrance to the Gulf of Ismid, the railway from Constantinople passes through a cutting close to the sea. This point, early on the 17th, he bombarded till the track was blocked. He then proceeded up the Gulf for some twenty miles, where at Derinji there was a shipyard. It was found to be closed and nothing was there, but while it was being observed a heavy troop train was seen going towards Constantinople. Hoping the line ahead of it was blocked he gave chase at full speed, and sure enough about twenty minutes later the train was seen coming back. It stopped in a belt of trees, so that spotting was difficult, but, nevertheless, after twenty rounds three ammunition trucks blew up, and later on he caught and damaged a second train near the same spot. After these exploits there was a few days cruise in Mudania Gulf and along the north shore, during which more steamers and sailing vessels were destroyed and some munition sheds blown up. Then he returned to the railway, and on July 22 caught another train in motion, but did little harm. A railway viaduct was then attacked, without better result, but the vulnerability of the line at this point had been demonstrated. In the evening he met Commander Boyle, who was at the rendezvous on his third trip and had a new difficulty to report. On approaching Nagara Point, where the navigation of the Narrows was most dangerous, he found the Turks busy on a net obstruc­tion from shore to shore. A line of lighters marked its position, but seeing a gap which he believed to be the gate he dived to eighty feet and passed clear. (The Obstruction was probably incomplete at this time. The Turks state it was laid in July and that the gate was off Nagara Point, where there was only a depth of four fathoms over the shoal. It was afterwards ascertained that the net was seventy metres long, made with meshes four metres square of three to five inch steel wire rope and that the depth corresponded with the depth of water. The fairway through it was closed by torpedo netting. It was watched by five armed motor gunboats with searchlights and carrying bombs, and was commanded by ten guns in three batteries.)

 

Three days later Lieutenant‑Commander Cochrane had to face the obstruction on his way down. Fortunately when

 

July 25, 1915

 

he reached the boom he found it had apparently dragged, so as to leave plenty of room to pass between it and the Point, but lower down he twice fouled moorings. From these, however, he cleverly managed to get clear, and reached the base safely with his sickly crew to be highly complimented on the skill, judgment and fine spirit which he and his men had shown.

 

Even with nothing to contrast it with, the appreciation must have been high, but, unhappily, the luck and skill of these two boats was emphasised by a reverse. A compara­tively new French submarine; the Mariotte, slightly smaller and less powerful than our "E" class, went up on the 25th to join Commander Boyle next day. All went well till 5.30 in the morning, by which time she calculated she was clear of the Narrows minefield, when she suddenly found herself foul of something. Everything possible was done to free her, but she could move neither ahead nor astern, and in her struggle she suddenly rose till her conning tower was exposed. It could then be seen she was sorme 250 yards away from one of the Chanak batteries, which immediately opened fire. To complete her plight there was a mine foul of her forward. An attempt was made to dive, but before she was under she had received so much damage to her conning tower and after ventilation hatch (manche d'aeration arriere) that diving was no longer possible, and nothing was left but surrender. Accordingly, after wrecking all her engines and gear and making sure she would sink, the conning tower was opened and the ship abandoned. Officers and crew were all taken prisoner, to the keen regret of their British colleagues. (Report of the officer in command, communicated by the Service His­torique de l'Etat‑Major General de la Marine.)

 

Her unhappy loss was but one more testimony to the desperate nature of the service on which they had been engaged, and cannot but increase our wonder at the almost incredible endurance and resource which made it thoroughly effective. For two months or more they had held the Sea of Marmara in a panic. The sudden appearances which their restless activity enabled them to make, now here, now there, in quick succession from end to end of the Sea, multiplied their numbers in the Turkish imagination till the supply of Gallipoli by water was thoroughly crippled apd the passage of troops entirely ceased. Nothing like a transport was seen, except hospital ships, and so numerous were these that grave suspicion was aroused. But all that were examined proved to be in order, and the explanation of their number was

 

June-July, 1915

BLOCKADE OF TURKISH COAST

 

doubtless the heavy losses the Turks were suffering in their determined and incessant attempts to recover the ground they had lost at the end of June. (The Turks admitted using transports as hospital ships in breach of the Hague Conventions. It was therefore lawful to sink them, but neither the General nor the Admiral was willing to embitter the conflict by exacting the extreme penalty. The instructions, therefore, which our submarines received were, if possible, to hold transport coming from Constantinople, and if troops or munitions were on board to destroy her.)

 

The disturbance which our submarines were thus producing was supplemented by the work of the Black Sea Fleet. We had urged the Russians to continue their raids on the Turkish coal supply, and they claim that up to the end of July they had set one coal depot on fire, destroyed three shipyards and sunk over a hundred sailing vessels engaged on the supply of fuel and munitions. To cover these operations they had got a submarine mine­layer to work in the entrance of the Bosporus, and on July 18 the Breslau struck one of the mines and had to go into dock.

 

In the Aegean outside the Straits the main work of the navy, beyond the operations of the bombarding ships, was maintaining a blockade of the Turkish coast. (see Map 5 - repeated).

 

Map 5. Operations in the Aegean

To some extent, in that it stopped the inflow of supplies, it was supplementary to what the submarines were doing. Reports of the scarcity of food in Constantinople were growing in coherence, and something at least was to be hoped from efforts to increase the distress. But the chief object was naval. The menace of German submarines was the most serious feature of the situation from all points of view, and now that the anchorages had been made proof against their attacks, the main concern of the fleet was to stop supplies for them and to prevent them establishing bases in the Aegean. On June 2, as we have seen, a formal blockade of the whole coast had been declared.3 Smyrna, of course, was the best port for the enemy's purpose, and this area was allotted to the British and watched by the Smyrna patrol, from the Gulf of Adramyti to Khios. It was based at Port Iero in the south‑east of Mityleni, where the Greek Population was found to be sympathetic. The patrol normally consisted of two ships of force, two destroyers and a boarding steamer, with two trawlers to work indicator nets and the fleet sweeper Gazelle fitted for mine‑laying. Here, too, was stationed the seaplane‑carrier Ben-My-Chree. South of the patrol area all the lower Aegean, down to a line from the southern point of Greece to Marmarice on the Asiatic

 

June-July 1915

 

coast, was watched by a French patrol, which was also based at Port Iero and maintained the blockade down to Samos.(The French patrol consisted usually of two cruisers, five destroyers, eight armed sweepers and ten armed trawlers with drift nets.)

 

The system was completed by two more British patrols. Two light cruisers with armed boarding steamers formed the "Southern patrol" to watch the area between Mudros and the Smyrna patrol and to search for submarine depots, which were being continually reported from all quarters amongst the islands off the Greek coast. The "Northern patrol," which consisted of armed boarding steamers only, was charged with watching the north Aegean, and especially Salonica and Dedeagatch, to prevent contra­band going into Turkey through Greek or Bulgarian ports. Finally in the Gulf of Xeros was the destroyer which was always stationed to keep up wireless communication with the submarines in the Marmara, to watch enemy movements about Bulair and to keep an eye on the island of Samothraki.

 

On these dispositions, so far as the limits of Admiral de Robeck's command were concerned, we had to rely for the safe arrival of the reinforcements, both naval and military, that were now going through the Mediterranean. (By an arrangement made with France and Italy in June 1915 the British Dardanelles zone was bounded by Euboea and the chain of islands that stretch south‑east of it to Mykonos. Thence the line ran across to Nikaria and on through Samos to the Turkish mainland. All the rest of the Mediterranean, except British and Italian territorial waters, was under the French.)

 

For the safety of the rest of the transport route, except the vicinity of Gibraltar and Malta and the Egyptian and Syrian coast, the French Commander‑in‑Chief was responsible. We had urged him to provide destroyer escort, but this he was unable to do. His available destroyers, he said, were all absorbed in patrolling between Sicily and Malta, south of Malta, the Ionian Islands, and between Crete and Cape Matapan. Consequently the transports had to proceed unescorted, except when outgoing armed boarding steamers could be used to convoy the slower ships. For the rest all the French Commander‑in‑Chief could do was to see that no submarines passed in or out of the Adriatic from Pola, where it was reported German boats were arriving by rail in sections and being assembled, and from time to time to give routes for the transports as the conditions of the hour suggested.

 

The whole question was further complicated by the requirements of the Army Staff. For military reasons they insisted that all transports should proceed in the first instance to Alexandria. As this meant exposure to submarine danger

 

June-July 1915

TRANSPORT ROUTES

 

for another seven hundred miles, Admiral de Robeck pressed for at least a modification of the order. But on technical grounds General Hamilton felt unable to give way. As a general rule he was not prepared to take the risk, but the two largest transports, Aquitania and Mauretania, were permitted to proceed to Mudros direct. (These two ships made the voyage out in a week, against a fortnight taken by other transports via Alexandria. Their value for effecting a rapid concentration of troops at a distance is best testified by their performances. The Mauretania, which was originally destined to go via Alexandria, but was subsequently diverted, left Liverpool with 3,470 officers and men of the Xth Division on July 9, and reached Mudros on the 16th. The Aquitania with 5,800 men of the XIth Division, sailed on July 3, and arrived on the 10th. Returning immediately she sailed again on the 30th with 5,860 of the LIVth Division, and was back at Mudros by August 6. Thus, in a little over a month she carried nearly 12,000 officers and men over a distance of 3,000 miles.)

 

From Egypt the transports came on into the British Aegean zone through the protected channels to Mudros, where they could find shelter behind the now double boom, and here, except for small store ships, the voyage ended. Large ships discharged into destroyers, fleet sweepers, trawlers and other small craft, and these proceeded to the various beaches by night unescorted, but for this critical part of the voyage no more than five hundred troops were permitted to be carried in one vessel. The need for these precautions had been unhappily demonstrated on July 4. About the 1st a fine French transport, the Compaigne Transatlantique liner Carthage of 5,000 tons, had arrived with munitions and stores. No ship had been attacked in the Helles area since June 17, when two torpedoes were fired at a supply ship, which both missed. So badly was the ammunition needed at the time to resist the Turk attempts to recover their lost ground, that it was decided to risk breaking the rule, and the Carthage was sent on straight to Helles. There she had been discharging for four days, and had landed with other stores 5,000 shells for the 75's, when she was torpedoed and sank in five minutes with what was left of her cargo. Besides the ship little was lost, but the lesson was severe enough, and the new system was thenceforward adhered to strictly.

 

Owing to the deficiencies of Mudros ‑ where as yet the Engineers had been able to do little to construct piers ‑ the system was necessarily slow, and this was the main cause of the Home Transport Department's complaint that trans­ports were detained so long at their destination. It further entailed very heavy work on the beach parties, for owing to the landing places being exposed to fire, the troops and all

 

July 1915

 

personnel had to be put ashore in the dark, and as yet no deep‑water piers had been constructed.

 

As the reinforcements arrived and Mudros became more crowded the difficulties of making military requirements square with naval limitations increased. Admiral Wemyss was still in command as Senior Naval Officer, and he was also acting as governor, though a Greek governor was also on the island. Since the resignation of M. Venizelos on March 6, on King Constantine's refusal to co‑operate against the Dardanelles, relations with the governor had not been smooth. Difficulties of all kinds arose, particularly in regard to the native population and undesirable strangers, until the general election, which in the following August (22nd) returned M. Venizelos to power and ended the friction. Admiral Wemyss had now also a ship, the Europa, for his flag, in which there was room for a proper office. His staff, too, had been established on a more adequate scale. He had a Principal Transport Officer, Captain R. C. K. Lambert, whom he established afloat in the same ship with the military Inspector‑General of Communications, and in this way diffi­culties that arose through the exigencies of the two services were more easily smoothed. Kephalo and Port lero, of course, did something to relieve the pressure at Mudros, and just west of the bay was Port Kondia, where the auxiliary patrol was established, consisting of the Osiris and nearly a hundred trawlers and drifters. The air base was at Tenedos, where Commander C. R. Samson had formed an aerodrome for his squadron. Here Captain E. K. Loring, RN, was governor, with a garrison of Marines, and it was from this point the air bombardments of the Turkish depots were carried out.

 

To all the other anxieties under which the navy laboured during the period of preparation was added the question of small craft. From the first it had been difficult to maintain a sufficient supply, and now the great increase of the army, a new line of operation and the impossibility of taking the transports further than Mudros, had rendered the problem two‑fold more exacting. In view of the possible interruption of communication owing to bad weather and other causes, it was considered necessary to keep a ration supply of at least twenty‑four days on all beaches, and this it was desired to increase to thirty. Water had always been scarce. The distillery plant at Mudros barely sufficed for the navy, and for the army water had to be brought from Egypt and other places and then distributed in barges. The call for small craft was indeed endless, and from all parts our officers were

 

July 1915

CONCENTRATION COMPLETED

 

buying anything they could lay hands on. The problem, however, was to some extent simplified by better provision having been made for the actual landing of the troops. Thirteen specially designed motor lighters, each capable of carrying five hundred men or forty horses under a bullet‑proof deck, had come out from home. The idea was that they could run up to the beach by their own power ‑ thus doing away with the need of tows ‑ and each was fitted with a brow or gangway forward so that at the last moment the men could emerge from their shelter and march straight on to the beach over the bows. They were taken up to Rephalo, for from Imbros were to start the troops forming the covering force for Suvla. It was to consist of the XIth Division and the infantry of the Xth Division, less one brigade. On the last night of the month the brigade belonging to the XIth Division, which had been landed at Helles, was silently transferred to Imbros, where the rest of the division was being exercised with the motor lighters. The concentration point of the Anzac reinforcement, whose main strength was the XIIIth Division, under Major‑General F. C. Shaw, was Lemnos, and there three brigades which General Bailloud had agreed to replace were brought in the same way. To the Anzac force was also attached the 29th Indian brigade and one brigade of the Xth Division; of its two remaining brigades which were to be landed at Suvla, three battalions were at Lemnos and six at Mityleni. With these movements the long and difficult concentration was completed without mis­hap in spite of the hazards, and with every hope of success the great effort to break the deadlock was ready to be launched.

 

 


 

 

CHAPTER V

 

SUVLA

(See Map 6, and Vol. II, Map 4.)

 

 

Map 6. Operations against Suvla

 


Vol. II, Map. 4 The Dardanelles
(click plan for near original-sized image - 9.5Mb)

 

In the long history of British warfare there is a special feature which distinguishes it from that of any other country. The precession of years is marked by a series of great com­bined expeditions which, over and above those which were planned as diversions or for seizing subsidiary strategical points, were aimed as definite thrusts at the decisive points of a world‑wide war. Quebec, Havana, Walcheren and the Crimea, to name only the more conspicuous, occupy a position in our annals which, at least in modern times, is not to be matched elsewhere till we come to the decisive use of the device by another Island Power in the Russo‑Japanese War.

 

Our record in the late war was true to type. It has given rich proof that the British genius for that most difficult and least appreciated form of operation, and the instinct for seeking in it the solution of baffling strategical problems, has in no way diminished in vigour and resource. Admittedly the first landing at Gallipoli outshone all precedent. So forlorn a hope did it seem at the time that even its partial success for a while struck dismay into the counsels of our enemy, and its moral effect bade fair to give a wholly new colour to the war. Apart from the high place which the actual fight for a footing won for it as a feat of arms, as a piece of subtle planning and finished organisation it was quite on a par with Quebec or Walcheren. Had it stood alone it would have served well enough to mark the vitality of the old spirit, but in these respects the Suvla operation even surpassed it. Nothing quite equal to it, either in conception, difficulty or magnitude, had ever been attempted before, and when we try to visualise the operation as it presented itself to its originators in the nakedness of its birth, we can only bow before the men who could see it clothed and nourished into a full‑grown possibility.

 

After over three months' campaigning in a strictly limited area a strategical surprise was to be attempted ‑ not at a

 

Aug. 1-3, 1915

PRELIMINARY MOVEMENTS

 

distance, but at a point within the area, half a day's march from the enemy s reserves. The surprise was to be not only strategical, it must be tactical too. In the dark the troops must start and in the dark they must be put ashore, and this must be done in great part on a beach that it had been impossible to survey or reconnoitre adequately, and by a force exceeding in number anything that had been attempted before. In the original descent at Helles the navy had been unable to guarantee the landing of a much smaller force before daylight, and therefore it had been agreed that the advantage of preparation by the guns of the fleet was greater than that of surprise. Now the conditions were different. The might of the fleet could no longer be brought up in sup­port, and at the new landing‑points the currents which the navy feared at the southern beaches did not interfere. On this occasion, therefore, surprise naturally took precedence.

 

To secure it to the full no elaboration of plan was omitted. A period of moonless nights was the first essential, and this would occur in the first week in August. The new moon was on the 10th and the attack was fixed for the night of the 6th-­7th. As a preliminary step it was necessary to get from 7,000 to 8,000 Anzac drafts ashore. This was done during the nights following July 31, and by August 3 they were all ashore, together with forty guns and extra transport, without being detected. The next step was to land the new force of five brigades which were to reinforce the Anzac Corps from Mudros, and not only to land them secretly, but to keep them hidden till the last moment. For this purpose General Birdwood had constructed an elaborate series of dug‑outs.

 

To cover these delicate operations dispositions were made to attract the enemy's attention to the Asiatic coast. At Mityleni the six battalions of the Xth Division, which had been sent to wait in their transports till they were wanted, were landed every day for route marches and inspected by General Hamilton, while in concert with some French ships every effort was made to create an impression of an attack from Adramyti Gulf on the railway from Smyrna to Panderma, a line of supply which the operations of our submarines in the Marmara had doubled in importance. Lower down the coast a more elaborate menace was staged by Admiral Nicol, the French naval commander, who was now flying his flag in the Patrie. During the afternoon of August 8 a French squadron, escorting transports and our seaplane carrier Ben-My-Chree, appeared before Sighajik, a small port some twenty milies from Smyrna, lying on the south of the neck of the Peninsula which divides the Smyrna Gulf from the Gulf of

 

Aug 3-5, 1915

 

Scala Nuova. After a line of trawlers with their nets out had been stationed across the entrance to the bay, guarded by tugs patrolling inside, the squadron proceeded to bombard the coast till 4.0 p.m.; at dusk the transports came in, the small craft gathered to meet them, boats were lowered and formed into tows, and as night fell a regularly formed flotilla headed for the shore.

 

During the next three nights (August 3‑5) the reinforce­ments for Anzac were moved to their positions in the ordinary way by destroyers and troop carriers, undetected by the enemy. Towards the first morning, it is true, the Olive Groves batteries woke up again after their long slumber and rained shells upon the beach. A steamer and two horse‑boats were sunk, but that was all. After that they went to sleep again as though it had been all a bad dream, but to make sure the next night the bulge ship Grafton was there to drop shells into the trees and remind the enemy of the unwisdom of revealing their position by gunflashes.

 

The work of reinforcement being successfully completed, all was in order for the Suvla operation to proceed. The risk attending it, as it was finally settled, was considerably greater than that of the Anzac landing. The original inten­tion, as agreed between the Admiral and the General, was to land the whole of the force on the Nibrunesi beach, which lies outside and just south of the bay. It was admirably adapted for the purpose. Not only did it afford ample elbow room, but during the naval raid that had been made upon Nibrunesi observation post on Lala Baba Hill it had been found to be so "steep‑to" that destroyers could run in with their bows almost touching the beach. Both from a naval and a military point of view nothing better could be desired, and so it stood in the operation orders which the Commander‑in‑Chief issued to Lieutenant‑General The Hon. Sir F. W. Stopford on July 29. He it was who, as commander of the new army corps (IXth), was to have charge of the Suvla part of the operation. These orders laid down as the primary object "to secure Suvla Bay as a base for all the forces operating in the northern zone." If he found this could be done without using the whole of his force, he was to assist General Birdwood's attack by an advance on the village of Biyuk Anafarta, with the object of moving up the eastern spurs of Sari Bair. On discussing these orders with the General commanding the XIth Division, which was to lead off, he came to the conclusion that the bay could not be secured without seizing the whole of the high ground between Ejelmer Bay and Sari Bair known as Ana­farta Ridge, and for this it would be necessary to land two

 

Aug. 1, 1915

THE LANDING PLACES

 

brigades inside Suvla Bay on its eastern shore. (Properly speaking, the Anafarta Ridge is a low spur taking off from this high ground. but in the narrative the expression has been used to describe the group of heights now known as Kavak Tepe Sirt.)

 

But Admiral de Robeck and, his staff saw serious objections. Having already reconnoitred the place, as thoroughly as could be done, from the sea and the left of the Anzac position, they reported that a landing by night inside the bay was inadvis­able. Though a proper survey was impossible for secrecy's sake, they could see enough to tell them the old chart they had was not to be relied on. The eastern shore had appar­ently silted up and the north shore was clearly foul with reefs. Under these conditions of uncertainty they could not undertake to land two brigades at once. One it might be possible to get ashore, but they could not promise to get up a second till four hours after the first had landed, the reason being that the motor lighters would probably take the ground and would not be able to return for the second brigade. For these reasons they were still for landing the whole force at Nibrunesi.

 

The soldiers, however, still had to insist. From the northern point of the bay there ran north‑eastward and parallel to the coast a ridge known as Karakol, and this at least it was necessary to seize at once as part of the covering position; otherwise, they urged, the bay would be untenable and could not be used as a base. Between the southern end of this ridge and the Nibrunesi beach was a salt lagoon which left only a narrow spit of sand between it and the southern half of the east shore of the bay, and it was along this spit that a force landed at Nibtunesi beach would have to make its way north. Whether the lagoon was dry or not could not be seen, but if it proved to be impassable or defended there was little likelihood of the ridge being seized at the first onset by troops advancing from Nibrunesi. The General, therefore, was anxious to land half his force within the bay north of a cut which was believed to connect the lagoon with the sea.

 

The two Commanders‑in‑Chief thus found themselves face to face with one of those delicate questions which cannot fail to arise in the conduct of combined operations. Con­tinental Powers had never seen but one way to deal with them, and that was to make the General supreme and the Admiral subordinate. Our own long experience had taught us at an early stage that in practice this plausible solution tended to raise more difficulties than it removed. The British method was to have two co‑equal Commanders‑in‑Chief, the

 

Aug 2, 1915

 

Admiral being paramount at sea and the General on land. By tradition the Admiral was to land the troops and re‑embark them as and where the General desired, so far as was, in his opinion, technically possible and consistent with the safety of the fleet. If the General's plan involved, from a naval point of view, risk to the army, it was for him to say, after the sea risk had been explained, whether he would accept it or not. Naturally such an arrangement could only work by mutual goodwill and understanding between the two officers concerned, but we had found it the only practicable method, and this case affords an excellent example of its merits.

 

The difference to be settled was one of unusual complexity, for the naval and military exigencies were tightly interwoven. To the navy the command of Suvla Bay was indispensable. Not only was it essential to their ability to give continued support to the army, but it could so easily be closed by nets that large ships would be able to lie there, and thus the difficulty of supply for the whole northern zone would be materially reduced. The nets, of course, would only prevent the entrance of submarines; they were no bar to torpedoes, and in the initial stages of the operation, when the bay was crowded, ships would have to lie so close to the net that they could easily be hit by torpedoes fired from outside. This was a risk which to the utmost extent the Admiral was ready to run, for by no other means could the army he was there to assist carry out its last hope of breaking through the deadlock ashore; but with guns on the heights com­manding the bay and always forcing the transports close up to the net, the risk would become so great as to bar entirely the working of the base. On these grounds he could but agree to what the divisional General considered absolutely necessary for securing the ridge; and finally on August 2 the operation orders were so far modified that one brigade was to be landed north of the cut and the other, with the rest of the division, on Nibrunesi beach, whence, as soon as Lala Baba was rushed, they could march northward along the shore of the bay. Having reluctantly decided to take the risk of landing a whole brigade simultaneously in the dark on an un­surveyed beach, the Admiral at once set about minimising it. In case things went wrong with the destroyers and motor lighters orders were issued for an alternative landing flotilla, consisting of ketches (trawlers and drifters) with tows of the transports' lifeboats, to be anchored off the mouth of the bay, a typical example of the spirit by which from first to last all concerned testified to the vitality and virtue of our

 

Aug. 1915

NAVAL SUPPORT

 

traditional method of command in the hands of men of goodwill and understanding.

 

The question of naval support, now that the monitors and bulge ships had nearly all arrived, was comparatively simple. It was these specially prepared craft, which, with the cruisers and destroyers, had of late been doing most of the battery work on the flanks, that were to be used. All the battleships had been kept back in reserve for action that would be needed if the new plan proved successful in throwing open the Straits. The supporting ships were organised in three squadrons.

 

The 1st under Admiral Nicholson, with his flag in the Exmouth at Kephalo, was to be devoted to the southern or Helles zone, for an integral part of the coming operation was an attack in force on the Krithia and Achi Baba position. (During the operation he flew his flag in the Scorpion on the left flank.) For the left flank in this area were detailed the Edgar, two monitors, (Raglan, Abercrombie), three destroyers (Scorpion, Wolverine, Renard), and the kite balloon ship Hector. Support of the right flank, except for two French and two British destroyers (Harpy, Savage) at Helles, was confined to counter­battery against the Asiatic guns by the Roberts and two small monitors from Rabbit Island, with a French battleship in reserve at Kephalo in case more weight was required.

 

The 2nd Squadron, under Captain The Hon. A. D. E. H. Boyle in the Bacchante, was for Anzac, with four monitors (Havelock, Humber, M 33, M 20) on the right flank and the Endymion (bulge ship), a small monitor (M 15) and two destroyers (Chelmer, Colne) on the left.

 

The 3rd Squadron, under Captain Fawcet Wray in his light cruiser the Talbot, was for Suvla, with two bulge ships (Grafton and Theseus) and three small monitors (M 29, M 30, M 31) and to this division were attached one destroyer and the balloon ship Manica for spot­ting.

 

The general conduct of the Suvla landing was assigned to Rear‑Admiral A. H. Christian, who had recently come out in place of Rear‑Admiral R. S. Phipps Hornby, and for the time flew his flag in the sloop Jonquil. Admiral Phipps Hornby had arrived in the Glory from the North American Station in June, but was invalided in July.

 

In addition to the usual artillery support the navy had also undertaken to arrange for two small diversions designed to hold certain enemy troops away from the northern beaches. The Turks, who were fully aware that large reinforcements had arrived ‑ they believed them to amount to 100,000 men­ - had collected large forces in the peninsula. In what zone the expected attack would fall they could not tell, and could do no more than dispose their troops in relation to the most

 

Aug 6, 1915

 

likely points of attack. Besides three divisions watching the Asiatic coast about Bashika Bay, five divisions facing our southern force and three in the Anzac zone, they had three more guarding the Bulair beaches and another south of Anzac, where the Chanak Plain runs out to the sea at the Olive Groves. Here a demonstration of landing was to be made by a flotilla of trawlers, while at the head of the Gulf of Xeros the Minerva and Jed were to land a force of three hundred and fifty irregulars under two French officers for a raid on the north shore.

 

The operation began with the movement in the southern zone. It was now temporarily under Major‑General W. Douglas of the XLI1nd Division, for unhappily Lieutenant­-General Hunter‑Weston's health had broken down under the long strain. (On August 8 Lieutenant‑General Sir F. J. Davies took over the com­mand of the VIIIth Corps, and Major‑General Douglas reverted to the command of the XLIInd Division.)

 

Although it was intended primarily as a holding attack, it was hoped that certain tactical progress would be made which might soon lead to the capture of Krithia. The attack, which was to be confined to our own right and centre, while the French stood fast in the trenches they had taken over, was timed for 3.50 in the afternoon on August 6, and had been prepared during the previous days by the supporting ships occasionally bombarding Achi Baba and other gun positions. In support of the actual attack the whole of the 1st Squadron was to join in the final artillery preparation, each ship with her appointed group of batteries, with special instructions to fire a proportion of shots on the weather side of both Krithia and Achi Baba so as to raise a dust screen across the enemy's observation posts, while the destroyers fired as required by the military direction officers ashore. At the prescribed moment the infantry rushed forward, and all appeared to be going well, but only for the first few seconds. Our centre and right found themselves up against heavy masses of Turks, and in spite of long and persistent fighting, involving many casualties, no impression could be made. The Turks, unable to divine where we meant to strike, had concentrated five divisions in their southern zone, so that of their own accord they had done what General Hamilton intended to force them to do by his diversionary attack. The result, however, was that only on our extreme left was a precarious hold won and maintained on a corner of the Turk­ish position. Everywhere else their lines were intact.

 

Simultaneously a similar attack was made against the Turkish left at Anzac, where a system of formidable trenches,

 

Aug. 6, 1915

ATTACK ON SARI BAIR

 

known as Lone Pine Hill, constituted the strongest section of the enemy's line. Though here again the main idea was diversionary, its capture was keenly desired. It commanded an important source of the enemy's water supply, and had further marked tactical importance which would render its seizure a clear step on the road to the ultimate object of getting astride the neck of the peninsula. To reinforce the Australian artillery the 2nd Squadron was brought up. The pre­paratory bombardment was assigned to the Bacchante (Bacchante 2‑9.2"; 12‑6"; 12‑12‑pounders) with the monitors protecting her from disturbance by the enemy's artillery: the Havelock with her 14‑inch guns kept an eye on any ships that might fire from the Narrows, while the Humber and the M 33 dealt with the guns between Gaba Tepe and the Olive Groves.

 

At 4.30 the bombardment began, and an hour later the Australians went over and rushed the wire, but not until they had tom up the massive timber covering of the trenches could they penetrate, and then the impossible was done. As a feat of arms it could hardly be surpassed, but the occupation of the redoubt was far from the end. Hour after hour as the Bacchante lifted to the ravines that formed the approaches to the captured trenches an heroic struggle raged for their retention. Mass upon mass the Turks hurled forward with splendid pertinacity, and upon these the Bacchante and Grafton took their toll as they made their way to the front. Yet neither side would give way. All night long and for the next forty‑eight hours the fight went on as fiercely as it began; since the first landing there had been nothing like it, but for all the Turks could do, the stubborn Australians were still in possession, with large numbers of prisoners.

 

By that time General Birdwood's real attack was in full swing. Its objective, it will be recalled, was the Sari Bair Ridge., which dominated both the Anzac and the Turkish positions. Where the ridge begins to fall to the sea, at a point known as "Battleship Hill" the main line of Turkish entrench­ments ended. It was, however, prolonged towards the sea at Ocean beach by a system of entrenched positions. Beyond the main line and to the right of it was a minor feature, Chunuk Bair, which was still unentrenched, and once in our hands would give us the whole Sari Bair Ridge. The enemy's flank could then be turned and his rear threatened. The plan meant that the attack must start from the Anzac extreme left in a north and north‑easterly direction, and then turn up the main ravines which led to the ridge easterly. To carry out so complicated an operation over a maze of broken ground

 

Aug 6-7, 1915

 

through thick scrub and in the dark required the nicest adjustment. The operating force was organised into two assaulting columns and two covering columns. The function of the covering columns was to clear and occupy the ground to the north, so that the assaulting columns could be free to march straight to the entrance of the ravines up which the main attack was to be thrust.

 

In the preliminary or covering stage the Turkish advanced positions must be won before the ground was made good, and here the navy could give direct assistance. The first of them was our "No. 8 Old Post," 800 yards from the beach. At the end of May it had been snatched from us by the Turks, and ever since they had been engaged in turning it into a well­-nigh impregnable redoubt. But what is difficult by force may be easy by guile. Its capture was assigned to the right covering force, composed of New Zealanders, under Brigadier-­General A..R. Russell, who, with Commander C. Seymour of the Colne, the left flank destroyer, arranged a pretty little stratagem. To ease their task, the Colne for several nights before the assault turned her searchlight on the post and then bombarded it for ten minutes. After a short interval she did it again, always at the same time, 9.20 to 9.30, till the Turks seem to have acquired the habit of retiring into cover as the hour approached. Needless to say, it was also the hour the assault was to be made.

 

At the appointed moment, with the guns of the Colne still covering the sound of their steps, the New Zealanders moved forward in the dark shadow that fringed the beam of the searchlight. Half of them crept up the bush‑covered spur on which the post stood, and then the moment the guns stopped and the searchlight was switched off they sprang up out of the scrub, to find the redoubt empty. So the first point was scored without a blow, and a good half‑hour before midnight the whole system of trenches was in their hands. Meanwhile the rest of General Russell's column passed to attack Bauchops Hill, the next post to the north­ward, and the valley between it and "Old Post." By 1.0 a.m. all this zone was won, the way for the right assaulting column was open, and General Russell could proceed against his final objective, Table Top, to which the Colne had shifted her fire and searchlight. It was a scarped hill sloping at an angle which, according to our regulations, was impracticable for infantry, but, nevertheless, when the Colne threw her beam up and ceased fire its precipitous sides were scaled, and soon after midnight, in face of a fine resistance put up by the Turks, that post too was in our hands, at the point of the bayonet and almost without a shot. As an example of perfect

 

Aug. 6‑7, 1915

LANDING OF XIth DIVISION

 

combination between land and sea, and a dashing push home of surprise, the movement could scarcely be surpassed.

 

Meanwhile the left covering column, consisting of two battalions of the XIIIth Division, under Brigadier‑General J. H. du B. Travers, had passed on, before Bauchops Hill was entirely ours, and in spite of enillading fire from the trenches still in the enemy's hands the New Army troops, unshaken, rushed the trenches in the next ravine northward and then stormed Damakjelik Bair, the hill beyond it. It was the last height towards Suvla, and so the New Army not only proved its metal, but cleared the way for the left assaulting column, and completed the security of the left rear of the main attack, which the Colne was now doing her best to cover.

 

 

 

Operations Against Suvla, the Landing of the XIth Division

 

Away to the left the landing at Nibrunesi beach of two brigades (32nd and 33rd) of the XIth Division had been going equally well. As at the first landing, the weather was perfect, with the sea like glass, and at Kephalo the leading troops were embarked without a hitch, five hundred in each motor lighter and five hundred in the destroyer that was to tow it. Seven destroyers and seven lighters carried the covering troops for this beach. The remainder, three thousand men, followed them, crowded into the supporting ships, Endymion and Theseus, the sloop Aster and six trawlers, the Aster towing a motor lighter and each of the trawlers four horse‑boats with guns and horses. With a destroyer anchored close in to the beach as a guide, the leading troops arrived accurately and to time about 10.0 p.m. and the lighters cast off and went in.

 

An hour later they had discharged their men, and two battalions were moving for the spit between the lagoon and the sea to seize Lala Baba Hill. Returning at once to the destroyers the lighters went in again, and by midnight all the covering troops were ashore and the lighters could come back to meet the cruisers, which had already arrived with the rest of the troops. The surprise was complete. Beyond a few rifle shots from amongst the sandhills there had been no opposition, and there was not a single casualty. (One naval rating was killed by a shot from the shore.) With equal success the cruisers were cleared, so that by 1.30 a.m. the whole of the two brigades were ashore with the guns and horses, and the two cruisers were able to take up their supporting stations for the coming day's work, while the rest of the troops advanced against their first objectives. These were Chocolate Hill, which lay about a mile and a half north‑east from the beach east of the lagoon and the guns on Ismail Oglu Tepe or "W" Hill a mile further to eastward. Both these Positions commanded Suvla Bay, where the most doubtful

 

Aug 6-7, 1915

 

part of the operation, the disembarkation of the remaining brigade (34th) of the XIth Division, was proceeding. Only three destroyers (Bulldog, in which was Brigadier‑General W. H. Sitwell, commanding the brigade, Beagle and Grampus) with three motor lighters were required for this landing, but here also by dawn were to come two brigades of the Xth Division from Mityleni and Mudros, and the brigade that was now being landed was, in fact, its covering force. Here, too, General Stopford took his post of command with Admiral Christian in the sloop Jonquil, while Admiral de Robeck came over from Kephalo in the Chatham. The landing was planned to take place five hundred to a thousand yards north of the cut, directly opposite a knoll known as Hill 10, but in the blackness of the night, with no mark to guide them, the destroyers deviated slightly to starboard, and at 10.20 p.m. anchored six hundred yards from the shore a little to the south of the cut. Ignorant of the error, the lighters cast off and pushed straight inshore, and almost immediately the trouble which the Naval Staff had anticipated began.

 

One after the other they went hard aground a hundred yards short of the beach, and from the sand dunes snipers opened fire. So far, however, little harm was done. There were only three feet of water, and though it deepened shorewards all the fifteen hundred men by the aid of ropes run out from the lighters got ashore without serious loss. But how to support them was the difficulty. They were soon under fire from the Turkish outposts on Ghazi Baba, on the north arm of the bay, as well as from Hill 10 and from Lala Baba, which had not yet been taken; two small‑calibre guns were searching the bay with shrapnel, and the lighters were so hard aground they could not move to go back to the destroyers. As soon as their plight was known picket boats were sent off to fetch reserve tows, but it must be long before they arrived. Meanwhile every effort was being made to get the lighters off, and by 11.30 the Grampus had hers alongside again. An hour later her men were ashore, and by 2.30 the Bulldog's contingent had also been landed. It was not till nearly five o'clock that the Beagle had sent her men ashore in the reserve tows, and the delay was already serious. General Sitwell, when he landed, seized a sand dune in front of him, and believing it to be Hill 10, seems to have waited for the 32nd Brigade from Nibrunesi to join up. The Turks thus had time to be fully on the alert, and when the advance to Hill 10 was made it was held. Eventually, how­ever, the position was turned. By 6.0 a.m. it was in our possession, and only then could the deployment begin which had been timed for 1.30.

 

Aug. 7, 1915

LANDING OF Xth DIVISION

 

Unhappily the delay did not end here. At break of day, as Hill 10 was being occupied, Brigadier‑General F. F. Hill arrived from Mityleni with five battalions of the Xth (Irish) Division, and the question at once arose where they should land. Commander E. Unwin had just come on board the Jonquil to report that he had hastily surveyed the beach and found that the whole eastern side of the bay was so shoal and beset with rocks that it was impracticable. Admiral Christian was for sending the troops round to Nibrunesi at once, but it was not till General Stopford had consulted General Hill that he assented and the troop carriers were ordered there.

 

Before, however, they were all away Cdre R Keyes, Chief of Staff to Admiral de Robeck, came on board to report that two practicable beaches had been discovered on the north side of the bay where from a distance the rocks had seemed to bar all approach to the shore. After recon­noitring the Karakol Ridge to the northward, Admiral de Robeck had returned at 8.0 a.m., and could at once see that the reefs really ran out to seaward, so as to form two conv­enient coves, afterwards known as "A East" and "A West." It was obviously by far the best point for the left­-wing troops to land, and knowing by this time of the troubles at the original beach, he sent away Commodore Keyes to urge the newly‑found coves as an alternative. As they lay right under the Turkish look‑out post on Ghazi Baba, and troops could be dimly seen on the Karakol Ridge beyond, he ordered up a monitor and two destroyers to cover the landing. Meanwhile Commodore Keyes had ascertained that the troops were our own; in fact the 11th Manchesters, who were on the left of the XIth Division, were already established there. Commodore Keyes could, therefore, with increased confidence urge the Admiral's view of what should be done to recover lost time. Lieutenant‑General Sir B. T. Mahon, with the remaining three battalions of the Xth Division, had also arrived; his idea was that the division should be landed immediately on the north shore. As orders had already been given to General Hill's five battalions to go round to Nibrunesi, General Stopford was unwilling to recall them, but General Mahon was directed to land his force where the Admiral advised, as well as one of General Hill's battalions which had arrived late and had been deflected to the northern arm of the bay. (This composite force of four battalions, landed in the northern part of the bay, together with the 11th Manchesters, came under the command of Brigadier‑General L. L. Nicol.)

 

The new landing‑place, besides saving the men a long

 

Aug 7, 1915

 

march along the beach from Nibrunesi, had another advantage. At dawn the Turks had begun shelling the other beaches, this one they could not reach. Moreover, owing to the first landed troops not having reached their initial objective, all the inner part of the bay was unsafe. At 8.30 the Com­modore had returned to the Jonquil with Admiral de Robeck, and while they were conferring with General Stopford about the new scheme of landing, the destroyer Scourge, which had been trying to get off some lighters that were still aground was hit by a shell in the engine‑room and had to retire for repairs. Shortly afterwards a definite signal was made that the new beaches were to be the main landing‑place.

 

Unhappily they had not proved all they seemed, for when the men began to land at "A East" land mines, placed there apparently to defend the Ghazi Baba post, exploded, with disaster to the leading files, but the landing proceeded without interruption. The other cove was found to be clear, and though the disembarkation was slow, owing to there being room for no more than three lighters abreast, progress was soon made. With the destroyer Foxhound operating on the left and another monitor searching the ground in front from Ejelmer Bay, General Mahon was able to push along the ridge till the new beach was practically safe. By this time, moreover, half the anti‑submarine nets were in place and the two paddle net‑layers had gone back for the remaining sections.

 

In the centre and on the right the position was less satis­factory. Here the covering troops were little more than clear of the beach. The line actually ran from the right of the Nibru­nesi beach through the lagoon, which was found to be dry, and Hill 10 to a point on the Karakol Ridge which General Mahon had reached nearly two miles in advance of his landing‑place. The main cause of the halt was said to be want of water. Ample provision had been made in the fleet for bringing it up as soon as the troops were landed, but owing to the need of shifting the point of disembarkation in Suvla Bay the first water lighters could not begin to get in till after noon; even so it was only at the narrow beach on which the troops were crowded. Later on one got in under shelter of Lala Baba, and the Foxhound was doing all she could to supply General Mahon's men, by way of the Karakol cliffs. Unhappily the arrival of the lighters did not end the trouble, for it was found that the troops were entirely unprovided with gear for the reception or distribution of the water. Baths, canvas tanks, buckets and tins were hastily requisitioned from all the craft within reach, but the supply was all too small for the demand on that burning August day, and the troops were

 

Aug. 7, 1915

FAILURE AT SARI BAIR

 

declared incapable of further effort till their thirst had been quenched.

 

With the main attack at Anzac things had gone better. By a display of leadership, hard fighting and endurance that nothing in the war surpassed, the two assaulting columns had never ceased to grope their way forward up the scrub-­filled ravines and over the tortuous ridges. No wire was too thick, no trenches too well held, no scarps too precipitous to stop them. Higher and higher they fought their way, and the stubborn Turkish resistance melted before them like shadows of the night, till when the Sari Bair Ridge was taking shape in the first light of the dawn the right column was on the Rhododendron spur, which led straight up to their goal at Chunuk Bair, and the left was just below Hill Q and Koja Temen Tepe, the two culminating points of the ridge where victory was holding out her hand. In the growing light they still pressed on, exhausted as they were, but only to find the enemy's resistance was hardening. His reserves had hitherto been held back on Battleship Hill by a desperate attack which the Anzac centre was making on the trenches at its foot. Now part of them were being hurried forward. By this means about 7.0 a.m. the great attack was held up, and a call went out to the guns. The supporting ships heard it and joined in. For two hours the Endymion with her 6‑inch guns was smothering Battleship Hill with lyddite. The Bacchante had her 9.2's on Chunuk Bair, where she claimed to have silenced two guns, while with her 6‑inch she was doing her best, like the Endymion, to stop the advance of the enemy's reserves. Then at 9.30 the guns ceased fire and the weary troops were