The Orange Navy – Part 7
The Naval War in the Mediterranean
and the attack on The Dardanelles
At the start of the First World War Britain was not expecting to need to deploy strong naval units to the Mediterranean. Austria-Hungary had only a small navy which could easily be blockaded in the Adriatic Sea. It was thought that the Mediterranean could safely be left to the French navy whose main task was to be ferrying troops from North Africa to fight in France. The German ships Goeben and Breslau posed a threat, but they obligingly took themselves off to Constantinople, where they too could easily be bottled up.
Britain’s need for troops for the Western Front quickly became pressing, and these were to be supplied by the overseas garrisons, the Dominions, and the Indian Army. These were to be brought over by convoys of ships that would travel through the Mediterranean and would need to be guarded appropriately.
The cruiser HMS Hampshire had taken part in the hunt for the Emden. When that was brought to a successful conclusion the Hampshire was used to escort an Anzac troop convoy through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. In December 1914, Hampshire refitted at Gibraltar and then went to join the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow. As we have seen, Rev Louis Ewart wrote of “a good number of our dear brothers” on the Hampshire, but he did not name them.
HMS Duke of Edinburgh was an armoured cruiser with a speed of 23 knots and a main armament of six, single-mounted, Breech-Loading 9.2 inch Mark X guns, and a further ten, single-mounted, Breech-Loading 6 inch Mark XI guns and three torpedo tubes. The Duke of Edinburgh was refitting in Malta when war broke out and she took part in the unsuccessful pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau. On 10th August she was ordered, with her sister ship HMS Black Prince, to the Red Sea to protect troop convoys coming from India. On the way there Duke of Edinburgh captured a German merchantman, the Altair, on 15th August.
The armoured cruiser HMS Warrior was in the Mediterranean when war broke out, and took part in the unsuccessful pursuit of the Goeben and Breslau and also the Battle of Antivari, where an Austrian light cruiser had been sunk. After this she was ordered to the Suez Canal to help guard that essential lifeline of the British Empire. On 6th November she was ordered to Gibraltar to join a squadron of ships intended to search for German ships off the coast of Africa. The Admiralty must have been thinking of von Spee’s German East Asia Squadron because, when that force was located off the west coast of Chile, the previous orders were cancelled on 19th November, and in December 1914 HMS Warrior was sent back to Britain to join the Grand Fleet. Brother Leonard Beasley, of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge 287, was a member of Warrior’s crew.
LOL 287 was badly disrupted by the War. In the Orange Standard of March 1915 a report from that Lodge described their situation –
ULSTER SCOT L.O.L. 287 This lodge is now entirely at the service of our King and Country. The Secretary writes: "You cannot imagine what it means here in Devonport. It is work, work, work, for the dock yard men and they never see daylight at home. We cannot even get a special meeting, all our brethren are either at the front, sea and land, or at work in the yards."
Turkey enters the War
Goeben and Breslau were now, nominally, part of the Ottoman navy and the Ottoman Empire was neutral. The historian A J P Taylor once wrote that we may never know what the Ottomans thought they would gain by joining the War, but on 29th October 1914 the two ships bombarded the Russian port of Odessa and the Ottomans thus joined the Central Powers.
At the beginning of November, while escorting a convoy of Indian troops to France, HMS Duke of Edinburgh covered the landing of three battalions of the troops at Cheikh Said, a rocky peninsula in Yemen at the entrance to the Red Sea. The Turks had a fort there and, on 10th November, Duke of Edinburgh put ashore a party that demolished the fort. In December, she was ordered back to the UK to join 1st Cruiser Squadron with the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow.
HMS Duke of Edinburgh had a crew of 789, of whom seven are mentioned on the Grand Lodge of England’s 1915 “Roll of Honour”. Their names are W A Fowler, R B Greenfield, A Harris, T McClelland, and S Venus, all of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge 287, and J Neill and R B Greenfield, both of Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge 827. Both lodges were based at Devonport and had a large number of Naval personnel in their ranks. It is unlikely that there were two R B Greenfields, so this may be a case of double counting. This may suggest an element of haste in compiling the Roll of Honour, probably with the intention of getting as many names listed as possible by the time the Grand Lodge Report for 1915 was ready for the printers. It does remind us that there may have been some errors in compiling and printing the Roll of Honour so that, although it is an invaluable source of information about the Orange Order in the early months of the War, it is not infallible.
The battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable had also begun the War in the Mediterranean and taken part in the chase of the Goeben and Breslau. She was a modern ship with a speed of 25 knots and an armament of eight twin-mounted Breech-Loading 12-inch Mark X guns, supported by sixteen single-mounted Breech-Loading 4-inch Mark VII guns and two torpedo tubes. With the Ottoman Empire now in the War, Churchill was eager to strike at the new targets that presented themselves. He ordered an attack on the Turkish forts at the mouth of the Dardanelles and, on 3rd November 1914, this took place, the attack being made by Indefatigable, accompanied by HMS Indomitable, another battlecruiser, and two French pre-dreadnoughts. The bombardment lasted 20 minutes and resulted in a large explosion that caused severe damage to the fort and killed 86 Turkish soldiers. Churchill deemed this attack to be a success, and it may have planted in his mind the ideas for the later Dardanelles expedition. On 24th January 1915 HMS Indefatigable was relieved by HMS Inflexible, following which she went to Malta to refit and from there back to Britain where she joined 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron. The 1915 Roll of Honour names Brother J Moorcroft as being a
member of the crew, though here again there is some confusion as two J Moorcrofts are shown, one being a member of King William Loyal Orange Lodge 688, based at Plymouth,
and the other being a member of Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge 827 based at Devonport. There may have been two J Moorcrofts on board HMS Indefatigable, but this may be a case of duplication.
The Naval Assault on the Dardanelles
The Ottoman Empire’s first thought on entering the War was to attack Russia, and they quickly committed large forces to an attack in the Caucasus Mountains. The Russians had drawn large numbers of their troops from this region to take part in the battles in Poland, and they were deeply concerned about the Turkish offensive. They asked their western Allies to do something to divert Turkey’s attention away from this front. The response was the Dardanelles campaign.
The British plan was to assault the Dardanelles using Royal Navy ships, mostly the older ones that would be too exposed in a battle with the German High Seas Fleet, to blast their way past the Turkish defences and reach Constantinople. A bombardment of that city may force the Ottomans to surrender and, at the very least, it would open up a route into the Black Sea by which Russia could be sent much needed war material. Winston Churchill was the great champion of this idea. He had already begun to see the fighting on the Western Front as a frustrating stalemate and he was restlessly looking for ways round it. Ironically, the threat to Russia in the Caucasus, which had prompted the call for help, was made irrelevant when the Ottoman high command obligingly marched their troops into the mountains in the depths of winter clad only in light summer uniforms. Tens of thousands froze to death and a Russian counter-attack did the rest. By that time, however, the Dardanelles project had gained a momentum of its own.
By the beginning of February 1915 a large British naval force had gathered outside the Straits, supported by some French units. On 19th February they began bombarding Ottoman positions ashore. One of the ships that took part in this was HMS Inflexible, a battlecruiser with a main armament of eight twin-mounted Breech Loading 12-inch Mark X guns. In her crew she had at least six Orangemen, namely Brothers T Atkins; C Edwards; S J Harper; W Johnson; W G Sage; and J Williams, all members of Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge number 827. Inflexible had already taken part in the chase of the Goeben and the Breslau and The Battle of the Falkland Islands. The British were using spotter aircraft to help their gunnery but poor weather hindered this.
On the 25th February the Allies resumed their assault. British and French ships shelled the Ottoman forts at the entrance to the Straits, and by mid-afternoon the guns in the forts had fallen silent. The next day Allied ships entered the Straits in order to shell and destroy the Ottoman forts further in. They were aware of mines laid in the Straits at this point, and these would have to be cleared to enable the Allied ships to advance further. Any vessels used to sweep the mines would be under fire from the forts, and these were now brought under fire to enable mine-sweeping to begin.
HMS Albion, HMS Triumph, and HMS Majestic carried out this operation. All were pre-dreadnought battleships which were armed with 12 and 10-inch guns. The Majestic had joined the Allied force only two days before. Her crew included Brother George Nugent of
Litherland Temperance Loyal Orange Lodge number 770. The British ships opened fire at 9.14am and kept it up until 17.40. Ottoman resistance was determined, and Majestic took a hit below the water line, but the damage was not serious. The next day she was out on patrol again. On 26th and 27th February Royal Marines landed and demolished the forts at the entrance to the Straits so that they could not be used again.
The Ottoman forts were shelled several times over the coming days. HMS Majestic took part in this on March 1st, 3rd, and 9th. Under cover of this fire British mine sweepers kept going into the minefields with a view to clearing a way through for the Allied fleet. The naval guns had been unable to silence the Ottoman guns entirely, as the Turks had made use of mobile gun batteries that could be moved before the ships could locate them. “Dummy” batteries were also employed to cause the Allies to waste their efforts. Landing parties going ashore to wreck enemy guns were encountering more resistance, and on 4th March HMS Majestic had to cover the evacuation of a party of Royal Marines who were in serious difficulty. It was felt, however, that sufficient progress had been made in clearing the mines to enable the fleet to force its way further up the Straits. The main effort was scheduled for 18th March. Two days before the British Admiral in charge, Sir Sackville Hamilton Carden, was taken ill and had to be replaced by Rear Admiral John Michael de Robeck. Although it was a bad time for a change of command it may have been for the best. Carden’s health had collapsed under the strain of command, while de Robeck was a much more aggressive character.
On 18th March the Royal Navy, the largest and best navy in the world, assisted by a strong French contingent, entered the Straits. Their formation was so precise it must have looked like a regatta or a fleet review. The first line was four ships abreast; the second line was composed of the French contingent, similarly four ships abreast; and there was a third line of four ships abreast. There were two ships on each flank and a further two in reserve. HMS Queen Elizabeth led the Allied force and on it was Brother F Reypert Junior of John Wycliffe Loyal Orange Lodge number 674, which was based in Southampton, and his father was the Worshipful Master.
HMS Inflexible was in the first line of Allied ships, which opened fire on the forts at 11.00am. After about an hour the French ships were ordered forward and they joined in the bombardment. The fire was not all one way. The Turks resisted firmly and landed several hits on Allied ships, but eventually their rate of fire began to slow as their guns were put out of action. About 13.25 hours de Robeck decided to order the French ships to retire so that he could bring up the third line who had not yet taken part in the bombardment. The French ships turned to starboard and began to withdraw along the Asiatic shore. At this point disaster struck.
The Allies were unaware that the Turks had noticed that the Allied ships usually withdrew by turning to starboard and so, on the night of 8th March, they had laid a string of more than twenty mines in Eren Koy Bay, which was the area the French ships were turning into. The French pre-dreadnought Bouvet struck one of the mines at 13.55 hours and capsized and sank within a few minutes. From a crew of 710 only about 50 survived.
The Allies thought that Bouvet had been torpedoed or that its magazine had been struck, so they remained unaware of the Turkish mines and carried on their attack. HMS Majestic was one of the ships covering the left flank of the Allied force. She was shelling the Ottoman Fort
9 and a mobile battery hidden in some woods. Majestic, in turn, took four hits from Turkish guns.
At 16.00 hours HMS Inflexible struck a mine in the area that Bouvet had gone down. Thirty crewmen were killed but the ship stayed afloat. The Inflexible eventually beached on the island of Tenedos. Losses began to mount. At 16.16 hours HMS Irresistible struck one of the mines, causing it to lose power and start to drift. HMS Ocean was sent forward to take Irresistible under tow, but Ocean also struck one of the mines. Irresistible eventually sank around 19.30 hours. About that time Ocean was abandoned and eventually sank around 22.30 hours. The French also suffered further losses. The Gaulois was holed below the waterline by artillery and was run aground to prevent it sinking.
The Turks were very worried by the Allied attack and were expecting an attack on Constantinople itself. The Allied ships withdrew, however, and although some wanted to
renew the attack as soon as possible de Robeck contacted London on 23rd March to advise that any further attack would have to be made by land forces. HMS Inflexible sailed for Malta on 6th April and almost foundered at one point, but eventually made Valetta safely. It returned to the UK in June and joined the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron.
The Gallipoli Campaign
The Allies began to amass a military force large enough to land on the Gallipoli peninsula and advance on, and take, Constantinople. British troops were to land at the tip of the peninsula, largely composed of the 29th Division and the Royal Naval Division, Australian and New Zealand troops of the ANZAC Corps were to land further north to outflank any defences, and a French Corps was to stage a diversionary landing on the Asian side of the Straits.
The work of the Allied Naval forces was kept up, however, at a high level. HMS Majestic was very busy, shelling Turkish positions on 28th March and again on 14th April. On 16th April the British submarine E15 tried to get into the Sea of Marmara to attack Turkish shipping, but ran aground near Fort Dardanus whose guns quickly scored hits on the stricken vessel. Some British sailors were killed and the submarine had to be abandoned, the survivors being taken prisoner. It was thought to be imperative that the submarine should be sunk by the Allies to prevent the Turks salvaging her. On the night of 18th April HMS Majestic and HMS Triumph both sent picket boats to attack the E15 and sink her with torpedoes. They were successful, but came under Turkish fire and the picket from Majestic was sunk. Survivors were extricated in Triumph’s picket.
The sailors who crewed the picket boats were all volunteers and were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. The Orange Standard of February 1916 reported that two members of the Hong Kong Lodge, Star of The East number 802, had taken part and been so decorated. They were Brothers F Robinson and J J Martin, the latter being Petty Officer Joseph J Martin, O.N.214321. In the issue of November 1915, the Orange Standard reported that Brothers Nesbit and Martin of 802 had each been awarded the DSM for “remarkable bravery in the Dardanelles”.
This episode attracted much interest and comment from the Orange Standard, though the reports seem confused at times. The issue of October 1915 carried the following account –
English Orangemen blow up Submarine. Orangemen are in the thick of the fight wherever it is fiercest. There is not a battle fought either in France, Flanders or the Dardanelles, but what some brother distinguishes himself. Noble deeds have been performed by many of our dear brothers who have laid down their lives for their Country's cause. Very many have gone down in the Dardanelles. Our readers will remember the following incident which took place some time ago in the Dardanelles. An enemy submarine had run ashore. A steam pinnace belonging to one of our ships was taken by a volunteer crew who blew the submarine up under very heavy fire from the enemy. We are delighted to know that the coxswain of the boat was Bro. W. Martin, of our L.O.L. 287 Devonport. Bro. Robinson and other brethren were in the boat with him. We understand Bro. Martin has been recommended for the D.C.M. He had a splendid reception at the last lodge meeting. L.O.L. 827 has over 100 members on War Service. At the August meeting there were present four brethren, one an officer, who have recently escaped from wrecked vessels. We heartily congratulate the Lodge and its gallant members.
HMS Minerva was an Eclipse-class protected cruiser, launched in 1895 with a main armament of eleven 6-inch Quick Firing guns. On 16th April the Turkish torpedo boat Demirhisar attacked some Allied troopships near the island of Chios. The Minerva, accompanied by the destroyers Jed, Kennet and Wear attacked the Ottoman ship and forced it to run aground, where it was later destroyed. In Minerva’s crew was Brother A Morbey of Prince of Wales Loyal Orange Lodge number 329, which met in Portsmouth.
The landing of land forces took place on 25th April 1915. The French staged an extensive diversionary raid on the Asiatic shore at Kum Kale and captured a large area, but withdrew after a few hours as the Allied plan was to force a breakthrough on the European shore. The ANZAC Corps landed slightly to the north of the intended beaches, and they had to scale sheer cliffs to begin their advance inland. 25th April is still observed with great pride in the countries of Australia and New Zealand as “Anzac Day”.
At the end of the peninsula British forces were to land on four separate beaches, designated W, V, X, Y and S. The main landings were at W Beach, where the Lancashire Fusiliers were cut down by a few well-sited Ottoman machine guns, and V Beach, where a collier called the SS River Clyde was used as a landing ship. Sally ports had been cut into the side of the ship so that British troops could run out of the ship, down gangways, and head for the beach. Turkish troops had the sally points covered and the Hampshire Regiment and the Royal Munster Fusiliers suffered heavy casualties. Men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers tried to land from boats and suffered similarly.
The landings at X, Y and S beaches met with much lighter resistance, and troops on these beaches were ideally placed to outflank the Turkish defences that were inflicting slaughter at V and W. The officers in charge, however, seem to have been completely bemused and almost without initiative. Instead of attacking the Turks in the rear, they were content to consolidate the positions they had captured, and possibly the best chance of the whole campaign was missed.
From 25th to 29th April, HMS Majestic stood offshore and supported the landings by bombarding Ottoman positions. HMS Dublin assisted with the landings at Y Beach, and HMS Minerva was another ship with Orangemen in her crew that supported the landings at Cape Helles. HMS Talbot was a protected Cruiser, launched in 1895 with a main armament of five Quick-Firing 6-inch guns. Talbot had arrived at Tenedos on 27th March and supported the landings on Y Beach. In her crew was Brother R Jones of Stanley’s Pride Loyal Orange Lodge number 286, which met in Bootle.
Brother Jones, like most of the Orangemen serving in the forces, corresponded with his lodge back home. The Orange Standard of November 1915 mentions him, but not by name -
L.O.L. 286, BOOTLE Monthly meeting held in the Albert Hall, Bootle, on Sat. the 16th. The W.M. (pro. tem.) opened the lodge. A letter from a Bro. on board H.M.S. Talbot was read. He was in good health and spirits. The W.S. was instructed to send a reply enclosing some "Orange Standards" and cigarettes expressing the lodge’s pleasure to hear from him and to wish him a safe, speedy and victorious return. The P.G.M. and D.P.G.M. paid a visit to this lodge, and after a hearty vote of thanks was passed gave an encouraging address. They urged a good attendance at the November Church Parade and also at the Grand Lecture with Belgium views, to be held in Bootle, 12th November. The roll was called, dues collected, and the lodge was closed in the usual manner.
The February 1915 edition of the Orange Standard had reported that LOL 286 had fourteen members “serving their King and Country”.
HMS Majestic was a pre-dreadnought battleship and would have been deemed obsolete in any clash with the German navy, but at the Dardanelles she had done great service. The British pre-dreadnoughts had, however, begun to suffer at the hands of Ottoman torpedo attacks. In the early hours of 13th May a Turkish torpedo boat hit HMS Goliath with three torpedoes and the British ship sank with the loss of 570 of her crew of 700. This worried the British so much that the modern battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth was withdrawn. On 25th May HMS Triumph was sunk by a torpedo from the German submarine U-21. Although she sank swiftly, most of her crew were taken off and losses amounted to 3 officers and 75 men.
The November 1915 issue of the Orange Standard noted that there were fifteen members of Star of the East Loyal Orange Lodge number 802, Hong Kong, on board HMS Triumph when it sank, but that they all got off safely.
Loyalty of Brethren in China Our L.O.L. 802 at Hong Kong, China, has given some splendid men to fight for the old flag. Fifteen members were on H.M.S. Triumph when she went down. We are glad to know they are all safe and trust those who are wounded will speedily recover. There are twenty members at the Dardanelles and several are with the Navy in the North Sea. Others are serving with the Canadian submarines. Bravo L.O.L. 802, we congratulate you.
HMS Triumph had been the flagship of Admiral Nicholson, and when it was sunk HMS Majestic took this role. On 27th May, Majestic was stationed off W Beach when U-21 once
again moved in to the attack. At 06.45 a single torpedo struck the Majestic and caused a huge explosion. The ship capsized and sank in nine minutes with a loss of 49 of her crew. The upturned keel remained visible above the water for several months and then sank in a gale on 17th November 1915. Brother George Nugent, of Litherland Temperance Loyal Orange Lodge number 770, meeting in Bootle, was a member of the crew, and as he is not listed amongst the casualties we may assume he was able to survive the sinking. The loss of three battleships in just a few days was enough to cause the British Admiralty to withdraw them from bombardment duties and this role was taken over by smaller, (and perhaps more expendable ?), units such as Cruisers.
HMS Exmouth was a pre-dreadnought that was not withdrawn. In fact, she was the only battleship allowed to remain off the Gallipoli peninsula. She had been launched in 1901 and had a main armament of four Breech-Loading 12-inch guns, and had joined the Allied fleet in the Dardanelles on 12th May. She was made the flagship for the Rear-Admiral Supporting Squadron, Rear-Admiral Nicholson having gone aboard. Three Orange brethren were members of the crew, namely brothers L W Dwyer and H Fisher, both of Excelsior Loyal Orange Lodge number 56, based in Plymouth, and Brother W H Garnsworthy of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge number 287, based at Devonport.
The initial landing of ground troops on 25th April had made little headway in advancing inland, neither at Cape Helles nor at Anzac Cove. Strenuous, and costly, efforts were made to advance the Allied lines. On 4th June the British at Cape Helles made a major attack on the village of Krithia and the high ground beyond at Achi Baba. HMS Exmouth lent support from her guns, but the attack was a failure. During this period the protected cruiser HMS Talbot was used as the Senior Naval Officers’ ship off the coast at Gaba Tepe.
Orangemen were present in the ground troops who took part in the landings and the subsequent battles. In the October 1915 issue of the Orange Standard there was the following report from Lily of the North Loyal Orange Lodge number 255, meeting in Liverpool –
L O.L. 255 LILY OF THE NORTH The above lodge held their monthly meeting in Christ Church Mission Hall, Howe Street, Liverpool. Lodge opened with a good attendance, Bro. Woods W. M. in the chair, Bro. E. Scott D.M. in vice-chair. The Secretary, Bro. Makepeace read minutes of previous meeting which was confirmed. Several members went through the Lecture. One new member proposed for next lodge night. A hearty welcome was given to Bro. Speakrnan, District Secretary, who very ably responded. The W M. made reference to one of the lodge members, Bro J. Parr, who had lost his life in the Dardanelles. The Secretary was instructed to send a letter of condolence to the late Bro's wife. Lodge closed in due form.
This may be a reference to Petty Officer James Parr, Mersey1/79, who died on 16th May 1915. He was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and had been serving with the Hood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division. He is buried in the Chatby Military and War Memorial Cemetery at Alexandria.
If this identification is correct, Brother Parr was born in Liverpool in 1877 and married Beatrice Elizabeth Lawson in 1899 at St Mary’s in Kirkdale. They had five children, all girls.
Brother Parr received a severe gunshot wound to the abdomen during the May fighting and was evacuated to Egypt. He died of wounds in the 15th General Hospital in Alexandria.
The Orange Standard issue of February 1916 carried the report already referred to, which said that Brothers Robinson and Martin had been awarded the DSM. It concluded with the words, “We regret to announce that Bro. Lt Moran was killed at the Dardanelles.” From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records, this would seem to be Lieutenant William Paul Moran of the 10th Ghurkha Rifles. He was the son of Lt-Col James Moran, of the Indian Medical Service, and Zoe Moran. He had been mentioned in despatches and was 28 years old when he died of wounds on 8th July 1915. He is buried in the Addolorata Cemetery in Malta, where there is a very striking memorial to him raised by his sister. He had been educated at Bedford Grammar School. His brother, Lieutenant Herbert James Moran, of the 8th Ghurkhas, was killed fighting in France. Their deaths were noted in the Roman Catholic journal “The Tablet”, which is something that can be said of few Orangemen.
The issue of December 1915 mentioned a letter from a Brother fighting at Gallipoli –
Fighting the Turks We have received a long splendid letter from Bro. Private Wm. Hayton who writes from the Military Hospital, Hoylake, Cheshire. He has been in the thick of the fighting in Egypt and the Dardanelles with the Manchester Regiment and Lancashire Territorials, and says, "We have been constantly at grips with the enemy and a good many faces that I knew will never see England again. The Turks are good fighters and good shots and the bravery of our troops who first made a landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula is equal to the best traditions of the British Army. Faced by overwhelming odds and great disadvantages we drove the Turks back at the point of the bayonet. We gained ground which was hard to keep, and at heavy cost held the trenches. When darkness came on June 4th we were keeping a sharp look out and at about 8 o'clock a body of Turks came about a hundred yards from our trench, but we could not see who they were. A voice quite near called out in English, “B. Co.,” but we knew that B. Co. had come in. We sent out a scout who soon returned shouting "They are Turks, fire on them, they have shot me in the leg!" We played on them until there was not one Turk left to tell the tale and we were not troubled any more that night. On the morning of the 12th of July I wrote a letter to my wife, telling her I was alright and hoping the brethren would enjoy 'The Glorious Day.' In the evening a shell dropped into our dug-out, killing two and wounding four of us - a portion of shell splintered my back bone and now I am in hospital.
Brother William Hayton was a member of Bridgewater Loyal Orange Lodge number 459, which met in Wigan, and was serving with 5th Battalion, Manchester Regiment.
On 4th June 1915 the British launched another attack from the Cape Helles bridgehead. This was known as the Third Battle of Krithia. The British suffered 4,500 casualties and their French allies 2,000, while gains were very limited. The November 1915 issue of the Orange Standard included a poem written by an Orange soldier who had been wounded in that battle from a hospital in Malta –
“God of our Fathers" Lines composed by Private Ridley Sheldon (6thManchester Territorial Regiment) on Sunday, June 27th, in St. Andrews Hospital, Malta, where he lies, after being wounded in the awful fighting at the Dardanelles on Friday, June 4th, 1915. (The first verse is by Rudyard Kip1ing.).
GOD of our fathers, known of old, Lord of our far-f1ung battle line, Beneath Whose awful sway we hold Dominion vast o'er sea and clime, LORD GOD of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget, lest we forget !
Fierce rolls the battle on the line, Men fall in thousands, called by death, O GOD ! Give peace, now, in our time, Strike Thou the foe, LORD, with Thy breath. LORD GOD of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget, lest we forget !
Now falls, with deepening gloom, the night, Now has the pall of Death o'erspread Those who so bravely fought the fight, Who now are numbered with the dead. LORD GOD of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget, lest we forget !
O CHRIST ! Whose might was known of old, By Israel, whom Thou gav'st Thy Law, Show forth Thy power, lay firm Thy hold On Nations, now plung'd deep in war. LORD GOD of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget, lest we forget !
Grant, LORD, Thy peace, Thy love, Thy rest, That safe eternal we may be In Thee, dear Saviour, ever blest, So shall we live, and die, in Thee, LORD GOD of Hosts, be with us yet, Lest we forget, lest we forget !
After the failure of the June attacks to make any serious progress the whole future of the Gallipoli operation was cast into doubt. It was decided to make one last great effort to break through, and this was done in August. The operation began on the night of 6th August when British troops began landing at Suvla Bay to the north of the ANZAC beachhead. At the same time troops of the ANZAC Corps attacked Ottoman positions on Sari Bair Ridge. This was intended to divert Ottoman troops from Suvla and, if successful, could even have meant the ANZAC troops could have moved up on the right of the forces landing at Suvla and force a breakthrough. Another diversionary attack was staged at Cape Helles. Here HMS Exmouth was once more in action providing assistance by shelling the Ottoman positions.
The cruisers HMS Minerva and HMS Talbot supported the landings at Suvla Bay, and Talbot was the flagship of 3rd Squadron. The attack by the ANZAC Corps was pressed home with the greatest bravery and good progress was made, despite heavy casualties being incurred. At
Suvla, however, things were going badly wrong. The British troops landed against fairly light opposition and the troops were fresh. This also meant, however, that they were still raw and naïve. Instead of pushing inland with the utmost urgency they tended to remain on the beaches while supplies were brought ashore. Some of them even went swimming in the Bay.
The fault lay not with the troops, who were subsequently to prove themselves when called upon, but with the commanders who lacked the vision to see how much of an opportunity was being squandered. More divisions were landed in the next few days – the 10th (Irish) Division, the 53rd (Welsh) Division, and the 54th (East Anglian) Division. More ANZAC troops were landed also, but by 29th August it was obvious that the Turks had been given enough time to bring up reinforcements and strengthen their defences. The operation was a failure.
Once again the Orangemen were in the thick of the fighting. One Brother who distinguished himself in the action at Suvla Bay was Brother Mason of Loyal Orange Lodge number 810. In the Orange Standard of May 1916 there was a report of him being awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal –
Liverpool Orangeman wins D.C.M. We heartily congratulate Bro. A. Mason, of L.O.L. 810, Liverpool, on winning the Distinguished Conduct Medal. Bro. Mason was one of the first in Liverpool to join the Ulster Volunteer movement, and it was not until fifteen months ago he enlisted in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was awarded the D.C.M. on March 10th for conspicuous gallantry at Suvla Bay, on August 15th, 1915. He brought back into safety a wounded Officer under heavy fire, after two other men had been wounded in the attempt. Bro. Mason has always been a true and loyal Orangeman. On behalf of the Institution, we wish him good luck and a safe return at the close of the war.
The fighting took a toll on the Orangemen who fought here. In October 1915 the Orange Standard carried the following report –
The Erne Family The war has levied a heavy toll on the Erne family, whose late lamented head was for so long the Imperial Grand Master of the Orange Institution. He died eight months ago in ignorance of the fate of his son, now the Earl of Erne, of whom nothing has been heard for nearly a year. That Victoria Cross hero, Sir John Milbanke, Bart., who died a soldier's death in the Gallipoli Peninsula, was married to a niece of the late Earl, and her only brother, Major Crichton, of the Irish Guards, fell in the early part of the war whilst leading a desperate bayonet charge of the Guards. Dearly, dearly have the Ulster aristocracy paid with their best blood the price of the unpreparedness of the late Government - that Government which had doomed them to destruction to satisfy a political enemy no more merciful than the Hun.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir John Peniston Milbanke was killed in action on 21st August 1915 at Suvla Bay, aged 42, and he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial. He was serving with the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry, (Sherwood Rangers). He was the son of the late Sir Peniston
Milbanke, DL, JP, and Elizabeth Milbanke. He was the 10th Baronet, and he was married to Leila Milbanke of 19 Manchester Square, London. He had won the Victoria Cross while serving with 10th Hussars in South Africa.
Born on 9th October 1872 at 30 Eccleston Street, London, Milbanke had attended Harrow School, where he had befriended Winston Churchill, and he was married at St Peter’s, Eaton Square. The action in which he was killed was an attack launched against a position known as Hill 70, just as dusk was falling on 21st August 1915. He was killed during the charge up the hill, which was lost to Ottoman counter-attacks during the night.
In the Orange Standard of January 1916 there is news of more losses –
Shot at Suvla Bay Bro. Jas. Downham, of L.O.L 818, Limehouse, London, was struck down by a sniper at Suvla Bay on Oct. 4th, when returning with the party under his charge, from performing a task in a blockhouse during the landing operations and the consolidating of the positions on the subsequent days. He was twenty- two years old, a good Christian and a loyal Orangeman. Prior to enlisting in the Royal Engineers, he had completed his apprenticeship; and a very promising career was open before him, but he gave up all for King and Country. Bro. Downham (his father) and family have our deepest sympathy in their sad loss.
Brother James Downham Jnr was a member of the Dr Barnardo Memorial Temperance LOL 819, which met in Limehouse, east London. He served in the Royal Engineers, 2nd London Field Company, 1st (London) Division, service number 1511, and is buried in the Azmak Cemetery at Suvla.
The 1st (London) Division was a Territorial unit that was called up on the outbreak of war. Its several units were detached, piecemeal, and sent to France as reinforcements. Some units were sent to garrison Malta. It is probably by this latter route that Brother Downham found himself at Suvla Bay.
Submarines in the Marmara
Although the campaign on land was going against the Allies they had been very successful in getting their submarines into the Sea of Marmara, where they caused havoc among Turkish shipping. The passage through the Narrows into the Marmara would have been a very dangerous one as the currents running between the Black Sea and the Aegean are strong and very treacherous. For the primitive submarines of that time to have made the journey is a tribute to their crews.
The Roll of Honour in the Grand Lodge Report of 1915 includes three Orangemen who are shown as being part of submarine crews. They are Brothers W Reid, S Clayton and A Hart. All of them are shown as members of Rising Star of Devonport Loyal Orange Lodge number 808. Reid and Clayton are shown as being on submarine B2, based at Malta, but B2 was sunk in the Channel in 1912 after a collision with a merchantman, with only one survivor. The Roll of Honour must be mistaken, (it is not infallible), but it leaves us wondering which submarine these brethren were serving in.
B9, B10 and B11 were in Malta at the outbreak of war from where, in September 1914, they were ordered to the Dardanelles to guard against any break-out by Goeben and Breslau into the Aegean, an eventuality which never arose. In February 1915 they were reinforced by B6, B7 and B8, who arrived from Gibraltar. Brother A Hart was among the crew of B7. The B-class submarines maintained their vigil throughout the summer, but were insufficiently powerful to penetrate as far as the Sea of Marmara. The one exception was the B11 which, on 13th December 1914, torpedoed and sank the Turkish ironclad Mesudiye. The commander, Lieutenant Holbrook, was awarded the Victoria Cross for this action. More modern submarines arrived at the Dardanelles, notably the E-class, and they were the vessels that struck into the Sea of Marmara.
In September 1915 the B-class submarines were withdrawn from the Dardanelles and sent for service in the Adriatic, being based at Venice. The B-class subs were now meant to patrol against the likelihood of the Austrian Navy sortieing from its base at Pola, and these patrols began in October 1915. They continued for twelve months, during which time they made a total of 81 patrols. Several times they were attacked by Austrian submarines or seaplanes. On 9th August 1916 B10 became the first submarine to be sunk by aerial attack. In June 1916 B7 had a close call when it sustained damage from an attack by an Austrian seaplane. On 30th October 1916 the B-class subs were finally withdrawn from combat and ordered to Malta.
The campaign on land settled into the sort of stalemate found on the Western Front, the circumventing of which was one of the main reasons for the campaign in the first place. The weather began to deteriorate, which made the soldiers’ lives even more miserable. The Orange Standard of February 1916 carried a letter home from one of the Brothers in the Royal Naval Division –
Singing in the Dark One of the "unofficial chaplains" – Bro. Isaac Cook – tells of the good work going on among his comrades in the Royal Naval Division at the Dardanelles. "Sunday's service seemed to be a trial of our faith," he writes. "We expected the Presbyterian minister, but he had a service at some other place, so we had to carry on by ourselves. It was a terribly cold, dark night, and the man who furnishes us with a flash light had gone away. But even these things did not seem to be a sufficient cause for giving up the service. Four of us turned up, to begin with. I asked the other three if it would be advisable to give up the service. They would not listen to anything of the kind, so we began to sing 'When the roll is called up yonder,' and soon had a good company. Singing is the best way to draw the boys now it is so dark. Before I had finished speaking, big cold drops of rain began to fall, and the wind was blowing in gusts. I asked the boys if I should close with the Benediction, or would they rather sing our usual closing hymn. The answer was unanimous, 'We'll sing.' These were boys who had been digging all day and were tired – hungry, too; yet when I offered to let them go they said, 'We'll sing!', and sing they did ! It’s really remarkable to see the way in which the boys come to the service – so sincere, reverent, and devout. As they walk along to the now sacred bit of ground, they throwaway their cigarette ends. Every one of them is a perfect gentleman of whom any nation may be proud. I wish every British mother who has a boy on active service could hear these repeat the Lord's Prayer, and listen to their fervent ‘Amens.’ It would do them good, I am sure."
Nothing could disguise the fact that the campaign had failed and the Allies would not be able to capture Constantinople and knock Turkey out of the War. It was decided to evacuate the peninsula, and this was expected to incur heavy casualties.
On 20th December Anzac and Suvla were evacuated. HMS Talbot, which had played such an active role in the campaign, provided cover, but the operation had been planned so thoroughly, and had been carried out so skilfully, that the Turks were not aware of it and no casualties were incurred during the course of it.
Even with the campaign winding down casualties were still being inflicted on the troops remaining behind at Cape Helles. The Orange Standard of February 1916 carried the following report –
Coleraine man killed at the Dardanelles Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Millet of Orange Hall, Portstewart, Co. Derry have received intimation that their nephew, Chief Petty Officer, Thomas McLaughlin of the Nelson Battalion, R.N.D., M.E.F., was killed in action at Achi Baba on the 28th December. Deceased, who was 27 years of age, was the youngest .son of the late Mr. James McLaughlin, Glasgow, and formerly of Coleraine, Co. Derry, and brother of Sis. Mrs. Harris of Saunderson's Memorial F.L.O.L. No. 93, Devonport.
Chief Petty Officer T McLaughlin, Clyde Z/245, was killed on 28th December 1915 and was a member of the Royal Volunteer Naval Reserve. He had been serving with the Nelson Battalion of the Royal Naval Division and he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial. He was 27 years old and was the brother of Mrs Martha McQuarrie of 12 Apsley Street, Partick, Glasgow.
HMS Talbot was present again when Cape Helles was evacuated on 8th January 1916. In this operation the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Hibernia was also present, with Brother W Feltham of the Prince of Wales Loyal Orange Lodge number 329, based at Portsmouth, among the crew. The withdrawal from Cape Helles was much more difficult than that from Anzac and Suvla as the Turks were expecting it. Once again, however, the Allies were able to slip away without incurring any casualties, though large amounts of stores were left behind. It is amazing that the Allies were able to disengage from such an exposed position with so little difficulty. In all the campaign, nothing went so well as its ending.
Not all the ships serving at the Dardanelles with Orangemen in their crew had quite such an exciting time as those mentioned above. Brother W Roberts of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge number 287, Devonport, served on HMS Hannibal. This ship was a pre-dreadnought battleship, but so fast was naval technology developing that it was obsolete quite early in the War. In March and April 1915 Hannibal was at Dalmuir and had her 12-inch guns removed for use on other ships. On 9th September 1915 she was recommissioned as a troopship and sent to the Dardanelles, arriving at Mudros on 7th October. In November 1915 she was sent to Alexandria to serve as a depot ship for auxiliary patrol craft operating from Egypt and in the Red Sea. This may not have been a glamorous wartime career, but much of the Naval War involved such work, vital if mundane. Certainly, the lack of strategic depth on the Gallipoli
beachheads meant that large ships had to be used in place of the usual base areas that a land campaign would need.
The Cruiser HMS Endymion also served at the Dardanelles. Included in her crew was Brother Charles Church of Ulster Scot Lodge number 287, based in Devonport.
The First World War had begun with an attack on Serbia by Austria-Hungary. Three times in 1914 the Austrians tried to invade Serbia and three times they were hurled back in ignominy. Another attack commenced on 7th October 1915, but this time the Austrians had the help of the German Eleventh Army, while Serbia’s forces had been depleted not only by battle casualties but also by sickness.
The Serbs put every man they had into the line against the invasion, but still the Central Powers made steady progress. After a week, Serbia’s position was rendered hopeless by the entry into the War of Bulgaria. On 14th October two Bulgarian Armies invaded Serbia from the east and the Serb Army had to retreat to avoid being surrounded.
In these desperate circumstances the French and the British each sent a division. They landed at the Greek port of Thessaloniki and headed north to try to give support to the Serbs. The Franco-British force was, however, too small to fight its way through the Bulgarians, whose much greater numbers threatened the Allies and forced them to retreat back into Greece.
The Serb Army had to retreat over the mountains to the Albanian coast. Thousands of Serb civilians went with them, fearing the treatment they would receive at the hands of their ancestral enemies. The Balkan Wars of our own time have shown the treatment that can be meted out to civilians in such conflicts. The retreat took place in the depths of winter and thousands died from cold and hunger. Their retreat was also harried by Albanian tribesmen who butchered stragglers. Those that reached the coast were evacuated by the Allied navies to nearby Greek islands, where they stayed until they had recuperated after which they were sent to join the French and British troops in Salonika.
There had been a small force of British gunboats on the Danube as part of the Serb defences. This force was commanded by Rear-Admiral Troubridge, who had been given the assignment after having been held responsible for the escape of the Goeben and Breslau, and was in disfavour. Troubridge and his men retreated with the Serbs, suffering as they suffered, and when they reached the coast Troubridge gave great assistance in organising the evacuation. They were eventually taken off by HMS Exmouth, who we have seen was very active in the Dardanelles campaign.
The French seem to have been more interested in the Salonika Front than the British. They had given up on the Gallipoli campaign much earlier than the British and saw this as a more promising alternative. The position of the Allied force was made very difficult by the fact that Greece was a neutral country and they were actually violating Greek neutrality. The Allies wanted Greece to join the War as an ally, but though the Greek Prime Minister Venizelos favoured the idea the Greek King was pro-German. The Allied force received reinforcements, but they were able to do very little in the political situation which they faced.
Bulgaria had a small coastline on the Aegean, so it was decided to blockade this, but the adjacent Greek coastline was blockaded also to exert pressure on the Greeks to toe the Allied line. HMS Exmouth was involved in this also, as Flagship of 3rd Detached Squadron.
In August 1916 the Bulgarians invaded Greece and took all Greek territory east of the Struma River. The pro-German King ordered his troops not to resist and a Greek Army Corps was forced to surrender to the Germans, who placed them in prison camps in Silesia until the end of the War. Most Greeks were furious with the King, and this strengthened Venizelos, who set up a rival government. The Allies seized the Greek fleet, another operation in which HMS Exmouth took part, and on 1st December 1916 Exmouth landed Royal Marines at Athens.
In June 1917 the King finally abdicated, to be replaced by his son, and Greece formally entered the War on the side of the Allies. By autumn 1918 Bulgaria was on the point of collapse and surrendered on 30th September 1918. By that time their front line had been breached by Allied forces who were advancing north. By the end of the War the Serbs were back in Belgrade.
Other ships that had Orangemen in their crew were the cruiser HMS Foresight, with Brother James Cuddy of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge number 287, based at Devonport, and the cruiser HMS Skirmisher, which had ten Orangemen aboard, all members of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge number 287. Their names were Harry MacCormick; Robert Brockbank; James Martin; William Luxon; Erno Scantlellry; T Lowden; A S Wadge; A G Hunt; H J Howe; and W H Pascoe.
Foresight was sent to the Mediterranean in 1915, and in July 1916 was sent to the Aegean. Skirmisher went to the Mediterranean in 1916 and then on to the Aegean in 1918.
The naval units in action at the Dardanelles were redeployed elsewhere. Some of them went to the Adriatic to help the Italian Navy against the Austro-Hungarian fleet.
The Light Cruiser HMS Dublin was sent to Brindisi in May 1915. On 9th June she was taking part in a sweep off the Italian coast, escorted by Italian and French Destroyers, when she was hit and damaged by a torpedo from the Austrian submarine U-IV. Dublin managed to get underway again and returned to Brindisi but she was out of action for several months and had to return to the United Kingdom for a refit. Brother G Minford, of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge number 287 and based in Devonport, was on board the Dublin.
HMS Comet was an Acorn-class Destroyer armed with two 4-inch guns. Brother D Prentice of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge number 287, based at Devonport, was among her crew. She sank in the Mediterranean on 6th August 1918. This was thought to be the result of an attack by a submarine, but this was never claimed by anyone so there may be another reason for its loss.
The Orange Standard of September 1917 carried an account of a very close fight which took place in the Adriatic –
A Terrible Day We have received the following letter from Bro. W.H. Wadsworth, wireless operator on H.M.D. “Capella,” “Your letter of the 16th inst. enclosing one of your Testaments received yesterday, for which I am obliged. No doubt my friend will send me the July issue of the Orange Standard, as he generally sends it on to me when he has finished, and I pass it on out here. My people are in the Order. No doubt you will have read of the fight we had with the Austrian cruisers in the Adriatic. Our drifters stuck it well, but the cruisers sunk fourteen and took 72 prisoners. The drifter my chum was on was bombarded terribly, and when I went down in the wireless room I found him dead with his 'phones on his ears and pencil in hand, in the act of writing a message, and a scrawl was on the paper. Several of the crew were dead. The wounded I took charge of and administered first aid. One man had over twenty wounds, and was bleeding to death. I stopped his arteries and bandaged him up well, the poor chap was a sight. I hear I saved his life, and today he is up and well, but he has lost his hand and the sight of one eye, and is going home soon. It was a terrible day. I was busy sending out distress messages for help while the firing was in progress. I thank God I am alive and well today. It is a marvel how our ship escaped being sunk. Some of the drifters even replied to the fire of the Austrians 6-inch guns; we drifters, as you know, are only fitted with a small gun. The men were brave and died true Britishers. I am pleased to say I was recommended for what I did. I will let you know if I receive a decoration."
Operations against the Ottoman Empire
Other Royal Navy ships that had served at the Dardanelles were retained in the eastern Mediterranean for continued action against the Ottoman Empire. On 12th August 1915 HMS Jupiter, after a major refit, was sent to Egypt to join the Suez Canal Patrol. Jupiter was a pre-
dreadnought battleship with a main armament of four 12-inch guns. She would not have been able to compete against the German High Seas Fleet but she could still provide much-needed gunnery support to the defenders of the Suez Canal. The Turks had attacked the Suez Canal in February 1915 and there was a need to bolster the defences against any further attacks. On board HMS Jupiter was Brother W Hall of Star of Toxteth Loyal Orange Lodge number 105, based in Liverpool.
On 21st October 1915 HMS Jupiter was sent to Aden where she became flagship of the Senior Naval Officer of the Red Sea Patrol, but returned to Egypt on 9th December. She was based at Port Said until 22nd November 1916 when she was sent back to the United Kingdom. She was paid off at Devonport so that her crew could be transferred to submarines.
HMS Venus was a protected cruiser with a main armament of five 6-inch guns. Brother Robert Penn of Southdown Loyal Orange Lodge number 398, based in Lewes in Sussex, was a crew member. After service in Home Waters she went out to Egypt in June 1915. Here she spent most of her time on patrol, particularly in the Red Sea which the British were beginning to use as a means of contacting the Arab tribes who were beginning to revolt against the Ottomans. For quite a lot of the time she was working with the protected cruiser HMS Fox.
Fox was an old ship, having been launched in 1893 with a main armament of two 6-inch guns and a speed of 18 knots. She was due to be scrapped before the War, but on the outbreak of hostilities she was reprieved and took part in operations off the east coast of Africa. Brother
Syd Shepherd, of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge number 287 based in Devonport, was a member of the crew.
In January 1916 she was sent to the Red Sea, where she stayed until November 1917. She was very active in supporting the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, a task which she carried out with great vigour, particularly after William Boyle became commander. Boyle was a flamboyant figure, and succeeded to the title of Earl of Cork and Orrery in 1934. Fox took part in many bombardments of Ottoman positions including, in June 1916, a six-day bombardment of Jeddah.
By 1918 the Ottoman Empire was close to exhaustion, despite the presence of German troops to assist them. The British Empire sustained two major lines of attack against the Ottoman Empire, in Palestine and Syria and also in Mesopotamia. The Arab Revolt assisted by draining away Ottoman forces from these main battle fronts. The Battle of Megiddo in September 1918 brought about the collapse of the Ottoman forces in northern Syria. The Battle of Sharqat, fought in northern Mesopotamia in October 1918 confirmed that the Ottoman forces there had disintegrated.
The Ottoman Empire concluded the Armistice of Mudros on 30th October 1918, forcing them out of the War. The Empire collapsed and several wars were fought between a revived Turkey and neighbouring peoples, notably the Greeks.
Grand Lodge Historian
22nd February 2015