- Jeffrey, Vic
- History - WW1, WWI operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2000 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
Despite three battleships sunk and Gaulois, Suffren and Inflexible withdrawn for repairs, a reinforcement of four British and two French battleships, re-crewing the trawlers and equipping destroyers with sweeping equipment, the force was still substantial.
Commander of the ANZACs, Sir William Birdwood, who had been present as an observer during the operation, had reported to Lord Kitchener in early March that a naval assault was unlikely to succeed. General Sir Ian Hamilton witnessed the March 18 attack and may have had some influence on Admiral de Robeck.
Whatever the case, as Lord Kitchener was now preparing to use troops to force the Dardanelles, on March 22 de Robeck agreed with Hamilton: troops would have to be used for the plan to proceed, the scheme now changing from a naval to a military operation.
Ironically the Allied commanders were unaware of just how low Turkish ammunition stocks were, and it is quite possible that a renewed naval assault could have achieved victory and prevented much of the losses, waste and futility of the Gallipoli campaign.
Three further major losses in those very waters as the campaign dragged on were three pre-Dreadnought battleships. HMS Goliath, anchored in Morto Bay, was torpedoed by the Turkish torpedo boat destroyer Mauvenet on May 15 and sank with heavy loss of life. The arrival of German submarines saw HMS Triumph torpedoed by U-21 off Gaba Tepe on May 25 and two days later this same submarine torpedoed and sank the battleship HMS Majestic off Helles.
The proudest and most successful aspect of the whole campaign for the British was the exploits of the four submarines, B-11, E-11, E-14 and the fledgling RAN’s AE-2, all performing magnificently. The most notable was the sinking of the Turkish battleship Hairredin Barbarouse by Lieutenant Commander Martin Nasmith, RN, whilst commanding E-11.
The irony of the whole drawn-out Dardanelles campaign was the last event, a major triumph that saw not a man lost, the evacuation at Helles on the night of January 8-9, 1916, thus closing a campaign of catastrophic incompetence in which countless acts of heroism could not win victory.
Philip J. Haythornthwaite. “Gallipoli 1915”. Osprey Campaign Series. London. 1991.
Paul H. Halpern. “A Naval History of World War One”. Naval Institute Press. Annapolis. 1995.