H.M.S. Albion letter 29 Apr 15

H.M.S. “ALBION”

29th April 1915

 

 

Sir,

I have the honour to submit the following account of such of the operations an 25th and subsequent days as came under my notice.

 

In accordance with orders, “ALBION” anchored S.10.E true, 1300 yards from Cape Helles on the morning of 25th.  At 5a.m. there was a slight mist especially between Seddul Bahr and No. 1 Fort, and hardly light enough to distinguish objects.  ”ALBION” opened fire at 5.4, and from then onwards fired deliberately into all objects overlooking ”V” Beach that seemed to be of military importance.

At 5.25 as the smoke over Area “A” was very thick, and no boats were approaching, checked fire.  Expenditure of ammunition up to this time being 6” 121 rounds, 12 pr. 54 rounds, 12” 2 rounds, both latter having been fired into S.W. Tower of Seddul Bahr Castle.

 

At 5.33 opened fire again, and continued as before.  At 5.50 observed boats from EURYALUS passing SWIFTSURE.  RIVER CLYDE and Fleet Sweepers approaching; increased rate of fire whenever boats seemed to be coming, decreased again when they proved not to be for ”V” Beach.

 

At 6.5 RIVER CLYDE passed to Starboard, but later dropped back.  Observed boats on “W” beach were under heavy fire.

 

At 6.25 SAPPHIRE signalled that our shot was falling on her landing party, (“Y” Beach).  ”ALBION” had fired at a trench on crest of hill close to Fort No. 1.  Checked fire accordingly.

 

At 6.33 observed ”CORNWALLIS” approaching with boats, and opened heavy fire, but checked again at 6.35 on observing the boats were not loaded.

 

At 6.37 observed loaded boats approaching, re-opened heavy fire.  The boats passed astern, and about this time “ALBION” received signal from “EURYALUS” to support “RIVER CLYDE”, and “RIVER CLYDE” passed astern.

 

At 6.44 observed fire on boats off “V” Beach.  At 6.45 boats were close to beach, checked fire, and then observed they were under heavy fire on the beach, from whence unknown.  At the same time “RIVER CLYDE” beached under heavy rifle and machine gun fire.

 

At 6.49 “ALBION” opened a continuous deliberate fire over head of boats.  At 6.50 boats cast off tow, and at 6.53 troops were landed on “V” beach with heavy loss, only a few men succeeding in crossing the beach and reaching the shelter afforded by the foreshore.

 

Many boats were drifting about helplessly, some broadside on to the beach with men in the water sheltering behind them.  “V” beach, and especially a rocky spit off the starboard bow of “RIVER CLYDE” being strewn with dead and wounded.  The lighters were ahead of “RIVER CLYDE” mostly on her Port bow.

 

In spite of the heavy cross fire on “V” beach, a few boats of the first tow got back, and at 7.5 observed them approaching “CLACTON”.

From about 7.15 onwards, disabled boats some with dead and wounded continued to come alongside ”ALBION”.  Dealt with boats as necessary and despatched them when ready to “CORNWALLIS”, and continued passing signals or information received.

 

About 8.10 an Officer of the Naval Division, and later the Beach Master came on board, and from them learnt that the “RIVER CLYDE” and “ARGYLE” were 50 ft apart, and that troops could not disembark, and that our troops were nowhere more than 100 yards from shore.

 

At 8.15, “QUEEN ELIZABETH” arrived; and informed her of situation.

 

At 9.10 having obtained permission from “QUEEN ELIZABETH”, hoisted out launch and pinnace manned by volunteer crews and loaded them with casks lashed under thwarts to form bridge, and sent them in tow to “RIVER CLYDE”.  Boats reached “RIVER CLYDE” at 9.50, but were apparently unable to get into place owing to heavy fire.

 

Throughout the forenoon continued firing on enemy’s supposed positions, occasionally checked by signal or reports, some of them inaccurate, old, or ambiguous, receiving wounded, and dealing with boats as requisite.

 

At 11.30 a.m. “EURYALUS” ordered boats for “V” beach to be diverted to “W” beach.

 

In afternoon continued the same as in forenoon, “ALBION” firing as desired by RIVER CLYDE.  By 4.30 p.m. rifle fire had considerably diminished, and “RIVER CLYDE” signalled asking for barrel pier.

 

At 5.35 ordered by Rear Admiral to attack hill 141, and directed fire accordingly.  At 6.30 ordered to weigh and close shore.  At 7.2 anchored in 10 fathoms, C. Helles N.28.W. 800 yards.  Could now see N.W. Side of wall of Seddul Bahr castle and more into the gullies below, and to eastward of Fort No. 1.  At 7.10 ceased fire.

 

At 7.30 “NEWMARKET” came alongside; discharged 23 dead and 45 wounded to her; all being troops or beach parties, including Captain Johnson of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, wounded, and the body of Mr. Handiman, Midshipman, late of  “CORNWALLIS” who died of his wounds on board “ALBION”.  About 8 p.m. Major Thomson, R.A., joined.

 

At about 9 p.m., I learnt from some of our boat keepers who had returned, that they had got the launch into position so that the troops from “RIVER CLYDE” could land.  About this time, a boat was sent to Cliff under Fort No. 1 to search for wounded seen in boat there, but could not find them.

 

Situation at dark as seen from “ALBION”.  “W” beach troops on hill 138, and at C. Helles signal station.  “V” beach troops dug in along fore shore, or in RIVER CLYDE, and under Seddul Bahr Castle wall, and behind Fort No. 3 earthworks.

 

S.W. Borderers visible along wall of Totts Battery.  The situation apparently precarious.

 

The expenditure of ammunition for day. All into Area “A” :- 12” 12, 6” common 604, shrapnel 294.  12 pr. Common 903, shrapnel 327.

 

All ranks and ratings of  “ALBION” did their duty, but mostly lacked the opportunity of distinguishing themselves.  I give however in Appendix I the names of volunteers who manned the launch and pinnace, particularly that of Petty Officer 2nd Class Frederick Gibson, R.F.R., O.N. C/191025, who, as I understand from several sources, behaved most gallantly.

 

Able Seaman Frank Dawe, O.N. D/231502 was wounded while coxswain of the Sailing Pinnace.

 

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

  1. Watts Jones

CAPTAIN (Act)

 

The Vice Admiral Commanding

Eastern Mediterranean Squadron,

H.M.S. “QUEEN ELIZABETH”.

& Rear Admiral Commanding

Divisions.

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