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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

X Lighter or 'Beetle'


michaeldr

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Another photograph from the Bain collection at the LoC (USA) giving an excellent view of one of the craft used later in the campaign to transport men and supplies right up to the beaches.

BritlandingcraftatMudros.jpg

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Thanks Andy,

Yes, I checked his gallery but did not see this example there

It's a pity that we cannot see the 'K' number here as that would have been of help to Dave: he has such an excellent web-site on this subject

best regards

Michael

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Thanks Andy,

Yes, I checked his gallery but did not see this example there

It's a pity that we cannot see the 'K' number here as that would have been of help to Dave: he has such an excellent web-site on this subject

best regards

Michael

There are a couple of photos of X lighters being loaded up with 1st/3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) from HMS Doris in this thread Here. Posts No. 8 and 9. MG

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There are a couple of photos of X lighters being loaded up with 1st/3rd County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) from HMS Doris in this thread Here. Posts No. 8 and 9. MG

Martin,

Thanks for the link: the photograph in post #9 is particularly good

regards

Michael

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  • 1 year later...

Stumbled across what might be X044 and figured it'd be of interest here.

Note the barge looking hulk - http://www.thanetarch.co.uk/Virtual%20Museum/2_Galleries/G11%20Content/Stonar%20Cut%201900%20-%202006.html#German_Torpedo_Boat

X044, one of 200 ‘X-Lighters’ built during WW1 & were extensively used in Mediterranean operations as well as elsewhere. They were initially designed as landing craft, with a gangway type ramp in the bows, others were later produced as fuel or water tankers. Some were powered, others 'dumb'

The'Black Beetles' were were designed by James Pollocks of Faversham [in three days it was said after an urgent enquiry from the Admiralty]. X044 was built in Sunderland in 1915.

Further info at -

http://www.clydemaritime.co.uk/xlighters

http://www.clydemaritime.co.uk/x44

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  • 2 weeks later...

Just came across this thread, stunning photos, especially the one of HMS Doris! Capacity for the 'Black Beetle' was 500 men

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I wonder if I am the only forum member to have been to sea in one? Had an lovely days fishing on the MV Arreton off the Needles. If I remember what Dave told me Arreton was one of a batch that were completed just after the war, so she never saw service.

G

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Mate,

Although not the same thing, I remenber doing the trials for the new landing ship in the aussie Navy called HMAS Tobrouk. She was the same class as your HMS Galahad (RFA) ships which carried on each side landing barges which could be lowered at sea to land tanks and such on then, to be towed to the beach with out the ship landing them.

I was a tank commander who had to drive his tank on to the barge from the ship, then driven to the beach to land during the ships trials,

Quiet a feeling

S.B

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Can anyone tell me when they were first introduced? Wonder what difference it would have made to the 25th April landings if they had them instead of wooden rowing boats towed in by steam pinnaces (and the SS River Clyde of course)

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The first batch of two hundred X-lighters was ordered in February 1915. They were launched between April and July 1915 and most had been delivered by August 1915.

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Can anyone tell me when they were first introduced? Wonder what difference it would have made to the 25th April landings if they had them instead of wooden rowing boats towed in by steam pinnaces (and the SS River Clyde of course)

Rob - the landings at Suvla on the 6th/7th August might give you some idea. Most landed successfully, however some of the Beetles of the 34th Inf Bde (11th Northern Div) grounded in the bay. From what I have read, it seems the heavy ammunition was loaded towards the stern making them ground a few hundred yards out. All hell had already broken loose near Lala Baba, including flares, so the lighters could be seen and shot at. The other consequence of the heavy loading towards the stern was that the bow was too high and the drawbridge could not reach the water. It took a few minutes and a few brave men to dive in and wade ashore with a rope which allowed the men to pull themselves ashore. Many could not swim. The Manchesters lost a Machine Gun in the bay.

MG

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Thanks Martin for a superb post as always. Were the men carried by the X Lighters always below decks at the Suvla landings? I'd also be interested to know how the Argyll Battery and Ross & Cromarty Batteries (men and 10 pounder carried on horseback, presumably carried disassembled during the Suvla landings) were carried in the X Lighters,

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......... Were the men carried by the X Lighters always below decks at the Suvla landings? I'd also be interested to know how the Argyll Battery and Ross & Cromarty Batteries (men and 10 pounder carried on horseback, presumably carried disassembled during the Suvla landings) were carried in the X Lighters,

I am fairly certain that they would have carried men on the upper deck as well as below decks. At the landing it was imperative to get the maximum numbers ashore in the minimum amount of time. The contemporary photos typically show the trawlers and lighters absolutely crammed with men and the diaries suggest there was little room for anyone to move.

With regards to the Argyll, Ross and Cromarty Batteries I have not researched these units' diaries. I assume from your post that they were taken to Gallipoli on an X lighter rather than a towed barge. If this is the case I suspect they were above decks as I think the height clearance below decks was not enough for a horse. It is worth researching. I am at The National Archive either Friday or sometime next week and if I have time I will explore.

MG

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Rob,

Have a look if you can at the Volume 2 Appendices of the OH, republished recently by the IWM and the N&M

Appendix 3 is 'Final Instructions from GHQ to IX Corps for Suvla Operations' GSRZ.18/2 signed by Braithwaite 29th July 1915

the notes indicate that the two mountain batteries had 80 horses and Table I (p.24) shows that they were transported in

craft - 1 sloop, towing 1 motor lighter and 4 horse boats (1 steamboat accompanying)

capacity – 600 men, 88 horses, 8 mtn. Guns, 30 bicyles

landing place – New Beach

method of disembarkation – Motor lighters and horseboats loaded with guns, horses of mountain and 18-pdr batteries. Sloop loaded with men and bicycles

remarks – The sloops and trawler, after casting off their tows, will return to Kephalo. Other horse-boats will be there ready filled with the horses required in the first instance for two mountain batteries; the 18-pdr battery and the Signal Company. They will pick up these horse -boats and tow them over to the beach immediately.

Appendix 9 is Epitome of Orders Issued by the Vice-Admiral for the Suvla Landing (p.56)

Landing at 'C' Beach (First Trip)

Four tows to consist of:

item No.1 - Sloop Aster carrying 500 men with one motor-lighter carrying guns and horses of mountain brigade: and one picket boat

I hope that this helps

Michael

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Michael, that's fantastic thanks - take it the motor lighter is an X lighter?

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Rob,

after reading further on this aspect of the landing, it is not at all clear that everything went according to the plans which I referred to above.

In his book 'Suvla – August Offensive', Steve (Krithia on this forum) has a sketch map indicating that seven lighters, numbered K4 to K10 were at this beach.

If there were only 7 lighters, then that number matches the number of destroyers which had to tow them across from Kephalo. This raises the question what did the Aster tow?

Turning to the Naval OH Vol. III, one finds what appears to be conflicting evidence. There the sketch map shows the

seven destroyers with their motor lighters

three trawlers, each towing four horseboats

and the Aster, also towing four horseboats

In the text however, the Naval OH gives the following on p. 93:

“Seven destroyers and seven lighters carried the covering troops for this beach. The remainder, three thousand men, followed them, crowded into the supporting ships, Endymion and Theseus, the sloop Aster and six trawlers, the Aster towing a motor lighter and each of the trawlers four horse-boats with guns and horses.”

If Martin can manage to get to the NA and do a little exploring for you, then we might get this sorted out. It may also be worth contacting Steve (Krithia) to see if he has any research on this point.

Regards

Michael

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Letter from Lt Col E S Weldon CBE DSO 5th Dorset regiment to Aspinall describing the landing using Beetles or X Lighters on the night/morning of 6th/7th Aug 1915 at Suvla. Wedon was a Major in the 5th Dorsets at the Landings

"The orders for the embarkation directed that the troops were to be drawn up opposite three numbered posts and to be embarked on the lighter with the corresponding numbers to the posts. Each unit was allotted a post. On my arrival at the embarkation state I found that the lighters had not the corresponding numbers to the posts. I pointed this out to the naval officer who said he was in charge of the embarkation. After some words the officer informed me that the embarkation staff knew what it was about and that the numbers on the lighters were immaterial. The troops embarked while I was away looking for the military staff officer and I am convinced that the troops were taken to the wrong destroyers.

The process of embarking on the lighters was very difficult as their sterns were put in ballast with ammunition and sand bags to keep the screws under water. As the result of this trimming the sterns drew a considerable amount of water and ran aground while the bows - even with the troops on them - remained cocked in the air.
The landing bridges proved to be veritable death traps as they could not be let down nearer than about five feet of the water. The first men to jump off were drowned. The lighter with the 5/Dorset grounded about 100 yards from the shore in about seven feet of water. Boats were towed alongside for disembarkaton but several - including the one into which I got - had no oars. We managed however to tear up a floor board and arrived on shore, south of the Cut at dawn....The small Turkish gun on shore did not open fire until our destroyer - in order to discover what was causing the delay of the lighter - turned on her searchlight."

[source: 11th Div War Dairies held at The National Archives ref WO 95/4299 Vol IV page 104]

Diary extract from Brig Gen C C Hannay DSO 34th Inf Bde on landings of 6th/7th Aug 1915. Hannay was CO of the 5th Dorsets at the time.

"6th Aug. Left camp at 4 pm with N Fusiliers
[8th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers]
and embarked on Destroyers Bulldog (Bde HQ, and 2 Bn HQ) Beagle and Grampus. LF
[9th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers
] and Manch R
[10th Bn Manchester Regt]
went straight to beach. Rifle fire opened at once from Lala Baba and the bay generally, followed shortly by shrapnel. Lighters took bottom in 5' to 8' of water and the first 2 Bns had a most unpleasant landing.

7th Aug. at about 1.30 am (hour at which our advance was due to start from Hill 10) a lighter took DR
[5th Bn Dorset Regt]
and NF
[8th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers]
and Bde HQ plus 2 Coys off Bulldog. Grounded about 60 yards out in 5 1/2 feet of waterut got off in beach party rowboat...."

[source: 11th Div War Dairies held at The National Archives ref WO 95/4299 Vol IV page 96]

Note that although Hannay and Weldon were both in the 5th Dorsets, they landed on separate lighters.

Any mistakes are mine. Edited.

MG

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