- Moore, G.D., Rear Admiral
- WWI operations
- None noted.
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1977 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
In our September, 1976 issue we featured an article entitled ‘North of Gallipoli’ in which the author, Commander George Nekrasov, wrote of the relatively unknown operations of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and the effects on Allied strategy at the time. During the same period Acting Sub Lieutenant G.D. Moore was serving in HMS Defence south of Gallipoli. Here are his recollections of those operations.
IN 1914 I WAS SERVING in HMS Defence, flagship of Rear Admiral E.R.T. Troughbridge commanding the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet, and I had been promoted to Acting Sub-Lieutenant on 1st July – a month before the outbreak of World War II. I mention these details to indicate to readers that not only did these events occur some 62 years ago and I write entirely from memory, but also that I was a very junior officer, so I cannot vouch for the complete accuracy of some of the remarks.
The Mediterranean Fleet, under the command of Admiral Sir Archibald Berkley Milne flying his flag in HMS Inflexible, consisted of 3 battle cruisers, 4 armoured cruisers, light cruisers and destroyers.
On the outbreak of war our main concern was to track down the German ships Goeben, battle cruiser and Breslau, light cruiser. In those days of course there were no aircraft carriers and we were dependent on sighting the enemy from our ships or receiving information from our intelligence system.
The first news we got of the whereabouts of the Goeben was the report that she had bombarded Bone, east of Algiers and the next, when our light cruiser Gloucester sighted the two German vessels coaling at Messina. It was then considered they would attempt to reach the Austrian naval base at the head of the Adriatic near Fiume.
To counter this move our Squadron of four cruisers, Defence, Warrior, Black Prince and Duke Of Edinburgh, steamed back and forth across the southern end of the Adriatic when Gloucester reported the Germans had sailed on an easterly course and had passed Cape Matapan and eventually that they had entered the Dardanelles.
We hastened after them and set up a patrol to ensure they could not again enter the Mediterranean. We used to anchor by day off Mudros and patrolled by night off the entrance to the Dardanelles.
There was quite a gathering of warships and colliers at Mudros and of course in those days they were all coal burners.
Shortly after our arrival an enemy aircraft flew low over our anchorage and the two uniformed officers in the open cockpit could be seen examining us through binoculars. There was not an anti-aircraft gun in the Fleet and the aircraft flew just out of range of our rifles and machineguns. It was a most frustrating experience. As a result of this visit a signal was hastily sent to Malta requesting that a 12 pounder with a high angle mounting be sent to us by the next collier.
The day came when the gun arrived and there was great jubilation. The Gunnery Department set about rigging it and when the work was almost completed it was discovered that all the bits and pieces were there except the breech block. So the aircraft continued to enjoy its daily unopposed flight while we below gnashed our teeth with impotence.
It was yet one more example of our unpreparedness for a modern war.
Unfortunately, we did not remain at Mudros until the impertinent aviators received their just deserts. Defence was shortly afterwards ordered to Malta where Admiral Troughbridge left us, then as a private ship (sailing under independent command) we sailed on a southerly course under orders to join Admiral Stoddart’s Squadron of Good Hope and Monmouth off the west coast of South America. We had only reached Montevideo when the Battle of Coronel was fought. Scharnhorst and Gneisenau sank the Good Hope and Monmouth but that is another story.