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HMS Irresistible - Dardanelles campaign 1915

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Guest

Would anyone have specific details of the sinking of this Battleship. I Know she sank after hitting a mine whilst attacking a fort in he 'narrows', but did she simply settle on the bottom or did she turn turtle etc, was their any casualties and if so is there a printed list of such. Presumably many of the crew were saved. If anyone knows of a suitable book relating to the incident or event, I would appreciate its title.

NEK.

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simonharley

From "Naval Operations..." Volume II by Julian Corbett, pp. 220-222:

"About 4.15 the Irresistible, which, in opening out the range, had reached the 11,000 yards line, was drifting with engines stopped, when she was struck. At first her Captain was uncertain whether or not it was a torpedo, but he soon realised that it was a mine, and that it was moored. The results were disastrous.

"It took her under the bilge of the starboard engine-room, very near the centre line of the ship, and the engine-room flooded so quickly that only three of the men who were in it were able to escape. Then under the pressure of the water the midship bulkhead buckled, the port engine-room flooded in its turn and the engines were completely disabled.

"With a list of 7 degrees to starboard and down by the stern, her condition was easily visible to the enemy, and their fire on her redoubled as the destroyer Wear and a picket boat hurried to her assistance. The Admiral, who was then ignorant of the extent of the damage or of its cause, ordered the Ocean to stand by and tow her out of action if necessary. The remaining vessels did all they could to keep down the new outburst of fire from the forts and batteries. By the time the Wear came up, Captain Dent, seeing it was impossible to save his ship, decided to abandon her. It was no easy matter; shells were raining on her deck, causing many casualties, but by a fine display of seamanship Captain Christopher Metcalfe of the Wear managed to take off 28 officers and 582 men. Only ten volunteers were left on board to get out a wire to the Ocean.

"It was not till 4.50 that the Wear got back to the flagship with the rescued crew, and only then did Admiral de Robeck learn that it was a mine that had caused the trouble. He at once signalled the advanced line to fall back. At 5.10 the Irresistible's crew were disembarked from the Wear, which was then ordered to close on the Ocean and instruct her to withdraw if the Irresistible could not be towed. The Ocean had by this time approached the mined ship, and Captain Dent went on board to confer with Captain Hayes-Sadler, but the Irresistible's list had increased so much, and she lay so awkwardly bows on to the Asiatic shore, that it soon became obvious this was impossible, and as the Ocean was under a considerable cross fire, it was decided to remove the remainder of the crew and carry out the Admiral's orders. At 5.50 the ship was abandoned 10,000 yards from Rumili, the intention being to make an attempt to save her after dark with destroyers and minesweepers. As soon as he saw that the Irresistible had been abandoned the Admiral hoisted the " General Recall" and began to return to Tenedos for the night. It was clear, in view of the unexpected danger and the losses sustained, that battleships could not be left inside the Straits after dark to cover the minesweepers, so that all idea of clearing the Kephez minefield that night had to be abandoned.

"How real the danger was was quickly demonstrated. The Ocean began to withdraw under a heavy fire from Dardanos and Suandere. At about five minutes past six she was a mile from the Irresistible, when a heavy explosion on her starboard side announced that she also had struck a mine.[1] The adjacent coal bunkers and fore and aft passages flooded and the helm jammed hard a-port. Almost at the same moment a shell got home on the same side aft and so flooded the tiller-room and starboard steering engine-room that they could not be reached and repairs were impossible. In spite of a prompt flooding of the port wing compartments the ship rapidly took a list of 15°. So critical was the situation that Captain Hayes-Sadler signalled the destroyers, Colne, Jed and Chelmer, which were passing at the time, to close. With great skill and pluck, under a cross fire from Dardanos and the barrage batteries on both sides, they removed the whole crew, and the Ocean, being well out in the channel, was abandoned to drift out of danger if she continued to float. Till dark Captain Hayes-Sadler lay off a mile away in the Jed, and then returned to the ship and was able to remove four men who had been left by accident on board. It was obvious, however, that nothing more could be done, and she was then finally abandoned about 7.80 p.m.

"After reporting to the Admiral at Tenedos Captains Hayes-Sadler and Dent went back to join the destroyers, which, with six minesweepers, had been ordered to go in and endeavour to tow the Irresistible into the current and prevent the Ocean drifting out of it. But though they searched till nearly midnight not a trace of either ship could be found. Their end was unseen. In the silence of the night they settled down quietly somewhere in deep water and no man knew their resting-place.[2]

"1 Her exact position at the time could not be determined, as the standard compass and upper bridge had been completely destroyed (Captain's report March 24).

"2 On Turkish information it was stated that the Ocean drifted into Morto Bay and sank there about 10.30 p.m. The Irresistible, they said, was caught in a cross current and carried back within range of the Narrows forte. After being fired on by them and by Dardanos she was believed to have sunk about 7.30."

The above account doesn't mention that Commodore Roger Keyes was aboard the "Wear" and raised hell with the Captain of "Ocean" for not taking "Irresistible" in tow. Eventually both battleships were beached and under enemy fire. After night fell Keyes went back into the Straits in the destroyer "Jed" to torpedo "Irresistible" and examine the plausibility of salvaging "Ocean". Both ships had already sunk though by the time he got there.

Simon

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joseph

The video/Dvd "Gallipoli 1915 : History in the Depths" tells the story and has underwater footage of the wreck.

Casualties

Irresistible, battleship, shore gunfire and mined, lost

BURROWS, William C, Leading Stoker, K 5582 (Po)

CHURCHILL, William G, Ordinary Seaman, J 25169 (Po)

COLCHESTER, Edward C, Lieutenant

COLE, Ernest, Stoker Petty Officer, 309715 (Po)

CROW, George H S, Stoker 1c, SS 110651 (Po)

DAVIES, William R, Assistant Clerk

FELLOWES, Ivan G, Midshipman

PRIESTLEY, George, Private, RMLI, 14346 (Po)

ROBINSON, Frederick J, Stoker 1c, K 10192 (Po)

WADE, Albany, Chief Engine Room Artificer 1c, 268910 (Po)

WHARTON, Arnold, Artificer Engineer

from; ROYAL & DOMINION NAVY CASUALTIES by Don Kindell

Regards Charles

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Guest
Brilliant it is just what I was looking for, many thanks for your expertise. NEK.

From "Naval Operations..." Volume II by Julian Corbett, pp. 220-222:

"About 4.15 the Irresistible, which, in opening out the range, had reached the 11,000 yards line, was drifting with engines stopped, when she was struck. At first her Captain was uncertain whether or not it was a torpedo, but he soon realised that it was a mine, and that it was moored. The results were disastrous.

"It took her under the bilge of the starboard engine-room, very near the centre line of the ship, and the engine-room flooded so quickly that only three of the men who were in it were able to escape. Then under the pressure of the water the midship bulkhead buckled, the port engine-room flooded in its turn and the engines were completely disabled.

"With a list of 7 degrees to starboard and down by the stern, her condition was easily visible to the enemy, and their fire on her redoubled as the destroyer Wear and a picket boat hurried to her assistance. The Admiral, who was then ignorant of the extent of the damage or of its cause, ordered the Ocean to stand by and tow her out of action if necessary. The remaining vessels did all they could to keep down the new outburst of fire from the forts and batteries. By the time the Wear came up, Captain Dent, seeing it was impossible to save his ship, decided to abandon her. It was no easy matter; shells were raining on her deck, causing many casualties, but by a fine display of seamanship Captain Christopher Metcalfe of the Wear managed to take off 28 officers and 582 men. Only ten volunteers were left on board to get out a wire to the Ocean.

"It was not till 4.50 that the Wear got back to the flagship with the rescued crew, and only then did Admiral de Robeck learn that it was a mine that had caused the trouble. He at once signalled the advanced line to fall back. At 5.10 the Irresistible's crew were disembarked from the Wear, which was then ordered to close on the Ocean and instruct her to withdraw if the Irresistible could not be towed. The Ocean had by this time approached the mined ship, and Captain Dent went on board to confer with Captain Hayes-Sadler, but the Irresistible's list had increased so much, and she lay so awkwardly bows on to the Asiatic shore, that it soon became obvious this was impossible, and as the Ocean was under a considerable cross fire, it was decided to remove the remainder of the crew and carry out the Admiral's orders. At 5.50 the ship was abandoned 10,000 yards from Rumili, the intention being to make an attempt to save her after dark with destroyers and minesweepers. As soon as he saw that the Irresistible had been abandoned the Admiral hoisted the " General Recall" and began to return to Tenedos for the night. It was clear, in view of the unexpected danger and the losses sustained, that battleships could not be left inside the Straits after dark to cover the minesweepers, so that all idea of clearing the Kephez minefield that night had to be abandoned.

"How real the danger was was quickly demonstrated. The Ocean began to withdraw under a heavy fire from Dardanos and Suandere. At about five minutes past six she was a mile from the Irresistible, when a heavy explosion on her starboard side announced that she also had struck a mine.[1] The adjacent coal bunkers and fore and aft passages flooded and the helm jammed hard a-port. Almost at the same moment a shell got home on the same side aft and so flooded the tiller-room and starboard steering engine-room that they could not be reached and repairs were impossible. In spite of a prompt flooding of the port wing compartments the ship rapidly took a list of 15°. So critical was the situation that Captain Hayes-Sadler signalled the destroyers, Colne, Jed and Chelmer, which were passing at the time, to close. With great skill and pluck, under a cross fire from Dardanos and the barrage batteries on both sides, they removed the whole crew, and the Ocean, being well out in the channel, was abandoned to drift out of danger if she continued to float. Till dark Captain Hayes-Sadler lay off a mile away in the Jed, and then returned to the ship and was able to remove four men who had been left by accident on board. It was obvious, however, that nothing more could be done, and she was then finally abandoned about 7.80 p.m.

"After reporting to the Admiral at Tenedos Captains Hayes-Sadler and Dent went back to join the destroyers, which, with six minesweepers, had been ordered to go in and endeavour to tow the Irresistible into the current and prevent the Ocean drifting out of it. But though they searched till nearly midnight not a trace of either ship could be found. Their end was unseen. In the silence of the night they settled down quietly somewhere in deep water and no man knew their resting-place.[2]

"1 Her exact position at the time could not be determined, as the standard compass and upper bridge had been completely destroyed (Captain's report March 24).

"2 On Turkish information it was stated that the Ocean drifted into Morto Bay and sank there about 10.30 p.m. The Irresistible, they said, was caught in a cross current and carried back within range of the Narrows forte. After being fired on by them and by Dardanos she was believed to have sunk about 7.30."

The above account doesn't mention that Commodore Roger Keyes was aboard the "Wear" and raised hell with the Captain of "Ocean" for not taking "Irresistible" in tow. Eventually both battleships were beached and under enemy fire. After night fell Keyes went back into the Straits in the destroyer "Jed" to torpedo "Irresistible" and examine the plausibility of salvaging "Ocean". Both ships had already sunk though by the time he got there.

Simon

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sadsac

NEK, After the excellent postings by CHARLES & SIMON, find here awards re IRRESISTIBLE ;

PANTON Henry B N/E Captain RMLI 80E015

Irresistible Captain Dent N/E N/E

Dardanelles Operations prior to 25.04.15 N/E

Landed in charge of the Marine Force covering the demolition party on the 26th February, 1915.

SANDWITH Humphrey R N/E S/Lt. RN 80E021

Irresistible Vice Admiral De Robeck N/E N/E

Service under Fire in Steamboats in Dardanelles 18.03.15 N/E

I desire to reiterate the fact that the work performed by these picket boats in destroying mines and rescuing some of the ships company of "Irresistible", and survivors of the "Bouvet", was most valuable and submit that the services of the officers and men concerned may be suitably acknowledged.

I am specially anxious to bring to Their Lordships' notice the behaviour of the Midshipmen.

Their conduct was splendid on all occasions.

Sadsac

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frev

From Henry Denham’s “Dardanelles – A Midshipman’s Diary”

(Denham was on board the Agamemnon)

Page 66 has a photo of Irresistible after she was hit.

“At 2.15 our 2nd Division ships Vengeance, Albion, Ocean and Irresistible now closed in to about 10,000 yds, the big forts firing at them; …..”

“At 3.30 big shots from Fort 19 were straddling Irresistible and soon after, 2nd Division was ordered to extend their distance from enemy.”

“At 4.15 Irresistible could now be seen to be hit by many shells and listed over to starboard. We kept firing one gun at a time slowly at Fort 13 aided by Queen Elizabeth, but the fort still fired two guns, and Irresistible continued to be under fire and seemed to be down by the stern. Destroyers now closed in to her and took off all except a volunteer crew of about 20 (mostly officers) in order to get a hawser ready for taking her in tow. I watched all the proceedings through my glass and could see shells landing on their quarterdeck causing some casualties, also killing the boat lowerers so that the cutter’s after-fall parted throwing them in the sea; shells pitching among the rescuers, but all destroyers and picket-boat stuck to their job well under the heavy fire. At 5 pm Ocean was ordered to take Irresistible in tow.”

“Battleships were now drifting down with the tide as Q.E. took on board Irresistible survivors.”

“At 6.15 we could see a heavy list on the Ocean, which had been struck by a torpedo or mine, and started blowing off steam, together with Irresistible. At 6.28 destroyers were ordered to Ocean and took off her crew under heavy fire; she had a big list and began to drift down with the tide; destroyers also took off the volunteers from Irresistible. Both ships sank unseen later during the night in deep water.”

“They had sunk our three battleships – Bouvet, Irresistible and Ocean – the former with nearly all hands; Irresistible lost 20 or 30 only; and Ocean probably only a few.”

“At 11pm 12 officers and 350 ship’s company of Ocean were brought aboard, also some from Irresistible; ….”

Cheers, Frev

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melliget

In addition to the list provided by Charles, The Times (Monday, Mar 22, 1915) gives 2 more casualties:

DIED OF WOUNDS

ASTBURY, G. E., Pte. R.M.L.I. (d. 19/03/1915)

BURTON, Reginald E. G., Captain, R.M.L.I. (d. 01/04/1915)

Also, Sto. P.O. E. COLE was listed as Died Of Wounds. Even though CWGC gives d.o.d. 18/03/1915, I guess that's possible.

A little hard to read, The Times also provided names of the wounded:

SEVERELY WOUNDED

HOWLEY, Richard A., Eng.-Lieut.-Comdr.

?URDON, A. R., Shp's. Cpl. 1st Cl., 213919 (Po.). Note: First letter of surname not visible. BURDON?

DYER, A. J., Ldg. Smn., 227890 (Po.)

LOUCH?, J. A., Actg. Ldg. Sto., K.1163 (Po.)

JONES, S., Sto. 1st. Cl., K.11876 (Po.)

Some of these service numbers were difficult to read.

Geoff's search engine throws up two casualties named WADE for Irresistible. As well as Chief Engine Room Artificer 1st Cl. Albany WADE, d. 18/03/1915, it also lists Midshipman R. R. WADE, d. 13/08/1915. A later report in The Times (Monday, Aug 16, 1915), under the heading of The Gallipoli Fighting, gives Midshipman Richard R. WADE (late of H.M.S. Irresistible) as having died of injuries August 13. I wonder which ship, if any, he was on when he died.

Stoker 1st Cl. Harry WATSON died 3 days prior to the loss of the ship.

Here's a brief obituary that appeared for Captain R. E. G. BURTON, R.M.L.I.:

The Times, Monday, Apr 05, 1915

FALLEN OFFICERS

CAPTAIN REGINALD EDWARD GEORGE BURTON,

Royal Marine Light Infantry, whose death has already

been briefly recorded, died on April 1, at Beghi

Hospital, Malta, from wounds received in the Darda-

nelles on March 18, when the Irresistible sank after

striking a mine. Educated at Highgate School, he

passed into the Royal Naval College, Greenwich,

in September, 1901. He was promoted lieutenant

on July 1, 1902, and captain on September 1, 1912.

He had served in the King Alfred, Prince George,

Majestic, Britannia, Dido, and Duncan, and also at

Wei-hai-wei. At one time he was assistant instructor

of musketry at Browndown. Captain Burton was

the elder son of Mr. and Mrs. T. H. Burton, of Balham,

and has one brother - Mr. A. W. F. Burton, of the

Naval Ordnance Department.

Given that Irresistible was under such heavy fire, it's surprising there weren't more casualties. Capt. Metcalfe's D.S.O. (in H.M.S. Wear) seems to have been well-earned.

regards,

Martin

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simonharley

Somewhat intriguingly, in "Battleships at War" by Commander B.R. Coward an eyewitness account is quoted (but unfortunately not referenced):

"3pm the "Irresistible" caught it properly. Her foretop was smashed in, all but one in the top being killed. Soon afterwards she was hit on the forebridge, setting it on fire. It was a sight to see her blazing away firing her 12in guns at the same time. That was not the worst that she was to get, for she was mined in the forward submerged flat and 40 hands were killed who were in there at the time."

According to Coward "Irresistible" also had had her after 12-inch turret knocked out by shellfire before being mined. According to another eyewitness source quoted (a Midshipman Banks) during the evacuation of the ships crew "'Irresistible' was under from concealed howitzers all the time." The small number of men killed is quite surprising.

Simon

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Guest
Thank you one and all for your knowledgeable response, if anyone has any info on Stoker Ist class Hadley.S K19798, who according to his naval record was on HMS Irresistible at the time of its sinking, before being transferred to HMS Amethyst the next day (19th March 1915). I presume he was picked up by HMS Ocean, which in-turn was sunk, before being reassigned to the Amethyst, I would be most grateful, as I am researching this mans naval back round. He continued serving on the Amethyst until discharged on the 1st Feb 1916. According to his record sheet, under Character & Ability, Fai or Jai appears beneath the 'C' (could this be Failed or Jailed?) beneath 'A' appears Sat, presumably this means satisfactory. Against the 'discharge' column is shown '42 days Stu or Dtu and (breakout). He next appears as on Victory II from 19th March 1916 29th April 1916, discharged VG and then again 5th May 1916 to 6th June 1916. Stoker Hadley is finally shown as being on Victory II from 7th Mark 1918 to 29th October 1918. VG and Sat is recorded under character and ability BUT the word 'Run' is entered under discharged. I presume he deserted but why a VG and Sat awarded him. He later surrendered to Portsmouth Police 30 days after deserting, the Chief Constable was informed that the man was not to be claimed for further service with the RN and his SB(?) was duly endorsed. Any info on this character would aid my research no-end. NEK.

In addition to the list provided by Charles, The Times (Monday, Mar 22, 1915) gives 2 more casualties:

DIED OF WOUNDS

ASTBURY, G. E., Pte. R.M.L.I. (d. 19/03/1915)

BURTON, Reginald E. G., Captain, R.M.L.I. (d. 01/04/1915)

Also, Sto. P.O. E. COLE was listed as Died Of Wounds. Even though CWGC gives d.o.d. 18/03/1915, I guess that's possible.

A little hard to read, The Times also provided names of the wounded:

SEVERELY WOUNDED

HOWLEY, Richard A., Eng.-Lieut.-Comdr.

?URDON, A. R., Shp's. Cpl. 1st Cl., 213919 (Po.). Note: First letter of surname not visible. BURDON?

DYER, A. J., Ldg. Smn., 227890 (Po.)

LOUCH?, J. A., Actg. Ldg. Sto., K.1163 (Po.)

JONES, S., Sto. 1st. Cl., K.11876 (Po.)

Some of these service numbers were difficult to read.

Geoff's search engine throws up two casualties named WADE for Irresistible. As well as Chief Engine Room Artificer 1st Cl. Albany WADE, d. 18/03/1915, it also lists Midshipman R. R. WADE, d. 13/08/1915. A later report in The Times (Monday, Aug 16, 1915), under the heading of The Gallipoli Fighting, gives Midshipman Richard R. WADE (late of H.M.S. Irresistible) as having died of injuries August 13. I wonder which ship, if any, he was on when he died.

Stoker 1st Cl. Harry WATSON died 3 days prior to the loss of the ship.

Here's a brief obituary that appeared for Captain R. E. G. BURTON, R.M.L.I.:

The Times, Monday, Apr 05, 1915

FALLEN OFFICERS

CAPTAIN REGINALD EDWARD GEORGE BURTON,

Royal Marine Light Infantry, whose death has already

been briefly recorded, died on April 1, at Beghi

Hospital, Malta, from wounds received in the Darda-

nelles on March 18, when the Irresistible sank after

striking a mine. Educated at Highgate School, he

passed into the Royal Naval College, Greenwich,

in September, 1901. He was promoted lieutenant

on July 1, 1902, and captain on September 1, 1912.

He had served in the King Alfred, Prince George,

Majestic, Britannia, Dido, and Duncan, and also at

Wei-hai-wei. At one time he was assistant instructor

of musketry at Browndown. Captain Burton was

the elder son of Mr. and Mrs. T. H. Burton, of Balham,

and has one brother - Mr. A. W. F. Burton, of the

Naval Ordnance Department.

Given that Irresistible was under such heavy fire, it's surprising there weren't more casualties. Capt. Metcalfe's D.S.O. (in H.M.S. Wear) seems to have been well-earned.

regards,

Martin

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per ardua per mare per terram

This file at Kew might be of interest:

ADM 116/1443 Dardanelles - Casualties in H.M.S. INFLEXIBLE, CORNWALLIS, ALBION, MAJESTIC and Loss of H.M. Ships IRRESISTIBLE and OCEAN 1915

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melliget
under Character & Ability, Fai or Jai appears beneath the 'C' (could this be Failed or Jailed?)

Fai may be "Fair" for Character & Ability. Jai could be jailed, which would certainly be the result of him doing a "runner". I'm sure others will be able to clarify.

regards,

Martin

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Guest
Fai may be "Fair" for Character & Ability. Jai could be jailed, which would certainly be the result of him doing a "runner". I'm sure others will be able to clarify.

regards,

Martin

Thank you Martin, I never considered 'Fair' as a possible interpretation of 'fai' but it certainly seems more feasible in the circumstances.

NEK.

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oak

Would any Pal happen to know, please, where the Irresistible's crew would have gone after her sinking? Would they have been dispersed and sent to different ships?

Philip

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per ardua per mare per terram

I think the crew of a battleship (even reduced by such losses) would be too large to keep together. The requirements of the service would mean that men would be redistributed after leave.

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oak

Thanks per ardua per mare per terram,

Philip

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James A Pratt III

See the book "British Battleships 1889-1904" R.A. Burt for more info on this ship and her carear.

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