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Thursday, 20 April 2017


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Always respect your opinion, David. My limited understanding of the campaign is highly coloured by the film Gallipoli which I saw when forced to stay in London because of a train strike. That (AFAIR) gave the impression that the real problem was a failure to capitalise on the temporary subjection of the Turkish forces.

"Be honest - 'wotcha fink?'"

Well since you've posed it as a question ... a narrowing of a sea-body is actually and more correctly identified as a strait!

Perhaps David you'd something else in mind in your spelling [it] 'Straight'? Mr/s Jenner of recently posted perhaps?


You'll be bearing (get it, bearing?) that in mind next time you're so inclined to correct my Hillbillianese?

It is Anzac Day next week here in New Zealand. Gallipoli is still a very raw memory even though it is now 101 years ago. There are still people whose grandfathers were lost there who feel affected by the messs.

G'day Duffers,

This fiasco of trying to force the Dardanelles Strait has been the subject of much discussion in [Commonwealth] Naval circles for decades.

At its narrowest between Canakkale and Kilitbahir it is only three quarters of a nautical mile wide and at its widest only 2.9 nautical miles. Aside from the established and fixed shore batteries which the guns of the ships largely silenced an attempt to force the narrows the ships would also be met by highly mobile field pieces. Consider that the standard light field piece of the time, such as the British 18 pounder, with a well trained crew could fire around 30 rounds a minute and had an effective range of around 3 nautical miles. The amount of fire from such ordnance at short range would have been fierce.

Debate still rages over whether such pieces could stop a determined attack by capital ships with large calibre ordnance. What is clear that even with the limited aerial observation available those ships could have "stood off" and reduced the fixed gun positions to small bits of smoking rubble leaving the mine-sweepers to do their job under the guns of Cruisers which could have dealt with the mobile batteries.

The three capital ships lost were due to mines and from an unidentified field laid after the initial attack. Prior to the loss of the capital ships the half dozen mine-sweepers were civilian crewed trawlers but these crews were replaced by Naval personnel from the three ships lost to mines.

What is of interest is the opinion of the US Ambassador in Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau, who reported that Constantinople expected to be attacked and that the Ottomans felt they could only hold out for a few hours if the attack had resumed on 19 March.

In my humble opinion, never having reached Flag rank, is that the idea was a good one but the execution was poorly planned and disastrous in execution. It also gave the Turks time to fortify the Gallipoli Peninsula against the subsequent invasion and unnecessary loss of life of British and Commonwealth troops.

As JD points out the campaign is still a raw memory in NZ and also in OZ.

My maternal grandfather fought in that campaign [and later in France and Belgium] and his great great grand daughters will wear his campaign medals to the Dawn Service on Tuesday 25th April [ANZAC Day]

Lest We Forget.

HOWEVER, today is San Jacinto Day, when the Texian militia defeated the fourth largest army in the world at that time, and won our independence. Huzzah!

Sated to lethargy by their recent campaign of slaughter in San Antonio and Goliad, the Mexican army lay encamped on the plain of San Jacinto, behind a rough barricade of saddles and baggage. Across the plain, the Texans, behind a similar barricade, and sheltered by the woods, were also encamped. The only two cannon that they had left were the Twin Sisters, loaded with broken up horse-shoes and hinges, in lieu of more conventional ammunition. At 1400 hours, a volley from the Sisters signaled the assault, and the frontiersmen leapt over their barricade, and, running across the plain, leapt the Mexicans' barricade as well. With shouts of "Remember the Alamo," and "Remember Goliad," the Texians defeated Santa Ana in eighteen minutes, thus securing the blessings of liberty to themselves, and their posterity, including me and my grand children, who will celebrate with me.

After Santa Ana declared himself Caudillo of all Mexico, revolts broke out in several states in northern Mexico. All were put down, very violently, but the Texians, who had been imported by the Spanish and later Mexican government to form a buffer between Commancheria and Mexico, were a much tougher nut to crack. Now the economy of free Texas is much larger than big Mexico, and Mexicans still try to get into the runaway state and into our prosperity.We embraced Liberty. They embraced a Caudillo. We got much the better deal.

Just as a matter of interest, how many major opposed amphibious landings had been made before this one? Just asking.

I forgot to mention that despite the failure of the fleet to force the Strait the Dardanelle Strait was forced by an Australian submarine, HMAS AE2, commanded by Lieutenant Commander H. S. Stoker. It achieved fame for its operations in the Dardanelles. The AE2 was ordered to sail through the Dardanelles and disrupt Turkish shipping in the Sea of Marmara. No other submarine had yet managed to breach the Turkish defences but, in the early hours of 25 April 1915, the AE2 got past minefields and land-based guns. After torpedoing a Turkish destroyer it reached the Sea of Marmara. It continued to operate for five more days before sustaining irreparable damage while under heavy fire. Stoker was forced to sink the submarine and surrender. He and his crew spent the rest of the war in Turkish captivity.

The wreck of the AE2 was located in June 1998.

BoE you will find a list of opposed amphibious landings at

JK, 'straight/strait', I am mortified and my 100x lines will be handed in after 'skool'!

AussieD, as I understand it part of the problem was the fact that naval guns, although powerful, tend to dire in a flat-ish trajectory thus making it difficult to hit targets behind a ridge/cliff line. In addition, whilst it was possible to more or less wreck a fort that didn't necessarily wreck the guns inside.

Michael, I trust that 'The Donald' will not attempt to become the Caudillo of Mexico!

Thass OK. The Bubbas have already demonstrated that they know what to do with caudillos.

Fascinating post and equally fascinating comments. No wonder I read this blog daily. You all have my admiration for your knowledge.

Thank you, dear Miss Red, and you are hereby appointed Public Relations Director for D&N!

G'day Duffers,

Maximum elevation on a WW1 gun such as the 15" on capital ships was around 20 degrees. They could have dropped shells into the forts from long range though not ideal still possible.

As an example HMS Warspite [ a Queen Elizabeth Class] had 15-inch guns with a maximum range of approximately 23000 yards at 20 degrees. Warspite was not commissioned until March 1915 so the ships available for the Dardanelles would have been of the older "Iron Duke" Class which were still capable of destroying the shore based forts.

But they didn't "destroy the shore based forts", or rather they did, but not necessarily the guns inside them because once the rubble was shifted the many of the guns could fire again.

Apart from the QE, all the other ships were pre-Dreadnought and were simply awaiting the scrapyard. They were used because Fisher refused to weaken the Home Fleet.

The sad fact is that the entire operation was a 'no-no' from the beginning led by gung-ho admirals who lacked the balls to say 'NO!', and encouraged by a hot-head, ex-cavalry officer with virtually no naval expertise or even much common-sense!

Duffers you hit the nail on the head in noting that apart from the QE the capital ships were pre-dreadnought. Ships were available which could have reduced the forts to gravel and anyone in the remote vicinity to mince.

The problem was not in the concept but in the execution.

But, AussieD, there was no way *anyone* was going to weaken the Home Fleet by sending modern ships out to the Eastern Med. In fact, this ex-Corporal still can't quite figure out what the magnificent and powerful QE was doing out there? And anyway, more than big ships what they desperately needed was minesweepers. The whole shambles was a disgrace and the cost was, I believe, nearly 300,000 killed, wounded or sick. How Churchill skated past that I do not know, I will have to plunge back into my history books.

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