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Cape Helles Lighthouse


RobL
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Does anyone know if the current lighthouse at Cape Helles is on the same site as the previous one destroyed during WW1? And is there much in the way of visible positions around there? Particularly interested if any possible trace of gun positions of Ross Mountain Battery

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Rob, I think the coastline and the promontory where the lighthouse was has changed considerably since the campaign. The attached photo is I think W and V beach with the SS River Clyde. The lighthouse was on the sharp pointy bit of land. If you look at Google Earth today the coastline looks completely different. Admittedly the photo is probably not taken exactly perpendicular to the ground, but it seesm pretty clear that the land where the lighthouse stood has eroded away. You can judge for yourself...

Regards MG

P.S. This photo has often puzzled me as the contemporary maps don't show the prominent area and show a more rounded coastline, but I suspect they were all based on faulty earlier maps.

Edit: Cross referencin with Vol VI of the History of the Royal Engineers which has a sketch map of W Beach it shows a good fit. The long pier on the left - an extension of No.1 pier had two hulks which were broken in November and drifted. The SS Effie was put into the gap but sank during the process still leaving a gap between the SS Effie and No.1 hulk. The gap was filled with a floating bridge.

No.3 pier is only partly shown (under construction) on the photo and suggest to me that this photo was taken sometime in Sep-Oct 1915 a sit existed in Nov and survived the storm. Also the History of the RE states that No.1 pier was only half way to No.1 hulk in August 1915 and was not completed until October.

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Martin

What an interesting photograph, do you know when it was taken and where did you find it.

As you state most maps such as the 8th Army Corps Map used at the evacuation show a very similar coastline to that appearing today.

May be one of the more computer savvy Forum Members can over lay the photo on to the google earth image to see how it matches up.

Stupid thought - it is not a photograph of a model -.V Beach and W Beach appear to be very close together..........

Sepoy

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Sepoy

I can't remember where this came from. It definitely isn't a model in my view. I have tried to overlay this (I have overlaid many dozens of maps on GE) and the fit is not particularly good. In 1915-16 there are hundreds of features in the massive store area of the camp that no longer exist. Today's landscape is rather barren and there are very few hard reference points that existed in 1915-16 to anchor the photo to. I would have posted the 'faded' overlay but it is clear from the prominent shoreline on the photo that the coastline differs considerably. I am pretty sure it is V beach as the Fort close to the SS River Clyde is clearly visible with the smashed south western tower.

It is possible to overlay the image onto another map, but all the maps I have of the area are generally schematic and not particularly accurate for the purposes of locating the exact position of the old lighthouse.

My guess, from reading "Grasping Gallipoli" is that the Turkish maps used as a basis for the British maps were very old (decades old) and not particularly accurate. Further evidence for this is apparent when one overlays the British 1:20,000 and 1:20,000 scale maps with the Sevki Pasa maps. by modern standards they are all full of inaccuracies. I believe the mapping section was too busy producing maps for the front lines rather than the rear areas (my conjecture) so the Helles map was not corrected.

I have a few hundred maps collected over the years, most sourced from books (contemporary and modern) or the Internet or (mostly) the War Diaries, so I will trawl them and see if I can find the most accurate. I have tried the maps from the OH reproduced in the IWM CD but again these maps are very schematic and have their sources in older inaccurate maps.

The alternative is that it is not V Beach - something I think one needs to keep one's mind open to.

MG

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Having spent a few hours studying the photo and trying to get a decent map overlay fit I have come to a few conclusions. Firstly the image was taken at rather a steep angle which has created some foreshortening north-south an was taken slightly to the east, again creating foreshortening along a slightly east-west axis. The combination has distorted the image and the subsequent cropping has enhanced the trick on the eye as it straightened the frame. The net result is that it is very difficult to get anything resembling a decent fit.

I have tried it against 1:20,000 scale maps and one other detailed map and it is difficult to pin known spots. The fort on the right (east) and especially the alignment of the west wall provides an excellent reference line. When the location of the lighthouse and the forts are 'pinned' the coast is a dreadful fit due to the angle. Having studied the photo at length, I am 100% certain it is W and V beach as there are enough features, especially around the fort, camber, SS River Clyde the airfield (centre) etc...Cross referencing with Vol VI of the History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, there is a sketch map of W beach which has a very good fit with the photo. I have edited the post to reflect this.

One 'discovery' (well, new to me) from another map is that there was a railway running along the beach from W beach to V beach which would have involved considerable earthmoving immediately below the cliffs. I am fairly certain that these temporary engineering works changed the landscape a lot (quite simple to do with explosives and the available labour corps) at the time and subsequent erosion of the past 100 years has allowed nature to reassert herself on the coastline.

With regards to ascertaining if the lighthouse location has changed, I think it is impossible to tell with enough accuracy from the available maps.

MG

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Martin

Thank you for your comments regarding the photograph, which I also believe shows V and W Beaches.

I have original photographs of both beaches which show just how busy both locations were, and I have also recently seen an aerial photograph of V Beach on Facebook taken at the time of the evacuation. Your photograph, no matter any distortions, is the first I have seen showing that the whole tip of the peninsula. It appears to have been a lot busier than I thought.

Unfortunately, Gallipoli is one of the few WW1 battlefields that I have not visited, (despite being of greatest interest to me) and because of a long term illness it is unlikely that I will be able to visit the Peninsula and investigate it on foot. Accordingly, I am reliant on Google Earth. I would love to get there, but I would have to hire a tracked wheel chair (do they make them?)

Sepoy

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Sepoy - much of the peninsula is accessible by road and a normal wheelchair or motorised wheelchair would get access to enough places on Helles and some key locations at ANZAC and Suvla. Sadly, a 'tour' of Gallipoli can tend to be a visit to a string of beautifully maintained cemeteries and while this is an important aspect, the interesting stuff lies further afield and up/down some steep hills at ANZAC and Suvla especially.

Back on topic - here is a map that gives some idea of the crowded nature of W beach. up to the lighthouse area showing the railway immediately below the cliff. Reading the RE history, there was considerable demand for stone to fill the piers so I expect that rubble from the fort was used and stone from the cliffs, again possibly explaining the change in the coastline around the lighthouse.

MG

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Martin and Sepoy

I'm not sure if this helps, but I photographed a 8th Corps map at the NA some time ago, which I've attached. As you will see, just above the 's' of Cape Helles to the East of 'W' Beach a lighthouse is noted followed by 'ruin'.

Kind regards

Alan

Edit Sorry I should have mentioned Rob for his original post

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Edited by alan two
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