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Remembered Today:

General Birdwood on British warship at Gallipoli


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Below is a photo from the AWM of General Birdwood on the deck of a warship at Gallipoli, with a light gun behind him. The scroll to the right of Birdwood reads "Blockade of Brest" : does that make the ship HMS Cornwallis ?

Also - the gun is vaguely similar to a twelve pounder, but mounting and gun jacket profile looks wrong. Anybody know what this is - possibly an improvised AA mounting , with the normal arrangement inverted - the breech appears to open to the left ?


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  • 7 months later...


I cannot confirm the name of this ship from the picture above,

however your suggestion of Cornwallis sounds reasonable as Birdwood did spend a few (?) days on her.

From his memoirs (Khaki & Gown, page 278) “I unfortunately, had had an attack of dysentery a few days earlier (mid-October 1915) so was not very fit. On arrival at Imbros, Admiral de Robeck sent me on board the cruiser Cornwallis, Captain Davidson, where they made me very comfortable. I was soon quite well again, and it was delightful to land on the island and be able to walk about in comfort with no fear of snipers. De Robeck was a splendid companion on such walks.........”



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Thanks for that lead Centurion

However, the barrel looks a tad different from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Elswick6PounderGuncirca1897.jpg

Any ideas why?

Apparently Admiral de Robeck was very fond of his walks on Imbros (as described by Birdwood above) The pic below shows him striding along with Fremantle, admirals' telescopes having been exchanged for canes: see http://cas.awm.gov.au/photograph/H10406

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It is CORNWALLIS.The picture appears opposite p.224 in "The Immortal Gamble and the Part Played in it by HMS CORNWALLIS" - by AT Stewart and Rev CJB Pershall BA

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I have some information and photographs of H.M.S Cornwallis :-

HMS Cornwallis was a Duncan class pre-dreadnought battleship that fired the first shells of the Dardanelles campaign on 19 February 1915. Prior to the First World War she had served in the Mediterranean twice before (1903-1905 and 1910-1912) as well as with the Atlantic and Channel Fleets. At the start of August 1914 she was part of the 6th Battle Squadron of the Channel Fleet. With the rest of her class she then moved to Scapa Flow to join the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet (August-November 1914), before returning to the Channel Fleet in November 1914 to form a new 6th Battle Squadron.

In January 1915 she was detached from that squadron, and sent to the Dardanelles, arriving early in February. At 9.51am on 19 February 1915 she fired the first shell of the first naval bombardment of the Turkish forts, firing at Fort Orkanie. After an hour she had to withdraw because a faulty capstan meant she couldn’t anchor in deep water, but she returned later in the day when the attacking ships moved closer inland. After that she was involved in every major operation during 1915.

On 26 February she supported the first landings by marines. She played a minor support role during the attempt to force the narrows on 18 March, supporting the mine sweepers.

During the Gallipoli landings of 25 April she had two duties – first to act as a landing ship for the troops going to Morto Bay and then to support the River Clyde. The Morto Bay landing was carried out by three companies of the 2nd South Wales Borderers. It was hoped that they could capture De Tott’s Battery on the right flank of the Allied attack, but it was seen as something of a forlorn hope. The troops were taken close to land on HMS Cornwallis and then transferred to small boats towed by trawlers for the actual landings. The Cornwallis stayed close inshore at Morto Bay providing artillery support for the troops, who achieved their main objective, and captured the battery. However, she stayed so long at Morto Bay that she was unable to support the landing from the River Clyde.

The level of naval support for the fighting at Gallipoli was seriously reduced by the threat from torpedoes. On 13 May HMS Cornwallis was operating with HMS Goliath when that ship was sunk by a Turkish destroyer, helping to rescue survivors. By December she was posted inside anti-submarine nets at Suvla Bay. On 18-19 December she stood by during the evacuation of Suvla, with her guns trained on possible Turkish targets, but did not need to fire.

In January 1916 Admiral Wemyss was offered the East Indies command, which included Egypt. One of his first duties was to allocate two battleships to defend the Suez Canal now that the importance of the Dardanelles was fading. He chose HMS Cornwallis and HMS Glory. The Cornwallis remained in the Mediterrancean for the next year, until on 9 January 1917 she was sunk by U 32 east of Malta. She stayed afloat for long enough for all but 15 of her crew to be rescued.

Top photo HMS Cornwallis, and bottom photo show HMS Cornwallis firing a broadside salvo during the evacuation of Suvla, December 1915. Cornwallis was the last Allied ship to leave Suvla Bay.



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HMS Cornwallis was torpedoed and sunk by U32, commanded by Kurt Hartwig, on January 9, 1917.

Kurt Hartwig

Kapitänleutnant (Crew 4/05)


47 ships sunk for a total of 149,128 GRT

1 warship sunk for a total of 14,000 tons

6 ships damaged for a total of 27,902 GRT

Born: 21 Jan 1887

Died: 16 Oct 1972


28 Sep 1908 Leutnant zur See

5 Sep 1911 Oberleutnant zur See

24 Apr 1916 Kapitänleutnant


Iron Cross 2nd class

Iron Cross 1st class

20 Jan 1917 Hausorden von Hohenzollern

1918 Badge U-Boat War

3 Oct 1918 Pour le Mérite

U-boat Commands

U 32 2 Feb 1916 - 15 Feb 1918

U 63 25 Dec 1917 - 11 Nov 1918


Was awarded the Pour le Mérite on the 3rd October 1918 in recognition of outstanding leadership and distinguished naval planning and successful submarine operations. Also given in recognition of the sinking of over 190.000 BRT of enemy shipping, including the warship HMS Cornwallis while in command of U32.


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Thanks for that lead Centurion

However, the barrel looks a tad different from http://en.wikipedia....uncirca1897.jpg

Any ideas why?

There were at least 3 different versions of the Hotchkiss 6 pounder used by the RN, 2 weighing in at 6cwt and one at 8 cwt. Different length barrels were used. However the breech and the layers shoulder piece all remained the same. There also seem to have been variations in mountings as well.

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  • 10 months later...

It is CORNWALLIS.The picture appears opposite p.224 in "The Immortal Gamble and the Part Played in it by HMS CORNWALLIS" - by AT Stewart and Rev CJB Pershall BA

This book is available here - read it online or download it as 17 MB pdf:


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