Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Turks Had a Surprise in Store for the Navy; on March 18, 1915, the British Navy Threw Its Weight Behind One Final Assault against the Forts of the Dardanelles. in Part 16 of Our Centenary Milestones Series, We Look at How Close the Sailors Came to Victory, and How Their Failure Meant a Landing of Ground Troops - Including the Anzacs - Was Now Inevitable

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Turks Had a Surprise in Store for the Navy; on March 18, 1915, the British Navy Threw Its Weight Behind One Final Assault against the Forts of the Dardanelles. in Part 16 of Our Centenary Milestones Series, We Look at How Close the Sailors Came to Victory, and How Their Failure Meant a Landing of Ground Troops - Including the Anzacs - Was Now Inevitable

Article excerpt

Byline: Christina Ongley

THE ATTACK FORMATION

First line: British ships Queen Elizabeth, Agamemnon, Lord Nelson and Inflexible.

Second line: French ships Gaulois, Charlemagne, Bouvet and Suffren.

Third line: British ships Vengeance, Irresistible, Albion and Ocean.

Supporting ships flanking the formatio n: Majestic, Swiftsure, Prince George and Triumph.

In reserve: Cornwallis and Canopus.

IT COULD hardly be said there was any element of surprise to the Battle of March 18 - the British sailors and Turkish gunners had been engaging in a study of each other for the past month as they played at short bursts of attack and defence here and there.

And as Les Carlyon points out in his book, Gallipoli: "This wasn't a naval battle ... and it wasn't a land battle. It was ships against artillery."

In a further sign of the disarray in which the campaign found itself, Vice-Admiral Sackville Carden, commander of the British fleet in the Mediterranean, decided he was too ill to proceed with leading the assault.

It is not known if this was from stress or refusal to co-operate with a plan he did not believe in.

He was succeeded by Vice-Admiral John de Robeck, a cautious but highly credentialed navy man.

At the leisurely hour of 10.45am, 18 British and French ships began their advance in three lines to the Narrows - so called because of its 1.6km width - several kilometres up the Dardanelles and heavily laden with rows of mines along the sea bed.

The idea was to first silence the forts in the Narrows and the batteries protecting the five lines of mines at Kephez Bay.

This would allow the minesweepers to work through the night to clear those mines and open the path for the ships to proceed the next day through to Sari Sighlar Bay, below the Narrows forts.

The navy could then demolish the Narrows forts at close range, clear the remaining five lines of mines, and move on to the Sea of Marmara and Constantinople. …

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