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Lancashire Fusiliers - Transport and sailing time UK to Dardenelles


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Can anyone give me a idea of the sailing time from the UK to the Dardanelles in 1915 please?

Also interested in any details that might be out there on Lancashire Fusiliers reinforcement groups and transports departing UK between 24 August and 12 September 1915.

Rgds

Tim D

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My Grandfather, Collingwood Battalion RND, embarked on SS Ivernia and left Devonport at 1130am on 12th May 1915. The ship arrived at Gib at noon on 16th May but owing to a perceived U Boat presence were underway again by 5pm and arrived at Malta 5.30 pm 19th May where they remained until 7pm on 20th May. They headed straight for Lemnos arriving at 7pm on 22nd May but were unable to anchor at Mudros Bay until the next morning, 23rd May, due to closure of the submarine boom protecting the harbour. It took a further 7 hours to transfer, to Gallipoli Peninsular V landing Beach, by lighters towed by tugs. So 11 days of which just over 9.5 were actually underway with about roughly 1.5 days in Gib, Malta and waiting to get into Mudros.

I believe all troops destined for Gallipoli used Mudros Bay as the start point for amphibious landings.

Hope this helps.

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Tim

I see Lawryleslie has posted as I write this but as an alternative

From 17th Siege Battery, 24th Siege Brigade RGA War Diary.

Depart Keyham 11th July 1915 6.30am.

Arrived Gibraltar 15th July 1.45am, depart 9.30am.

Arrived Malta 19th July 6.00am, depart 7.00pm.

Arrived Alexandria 22nd July 7.30am.

Brigade remained in Egypt until 6th September 1915, departing Alexandria at 7pm.

Arrived Mudros harbour 10th September 7am.

Transhipped in harbour on 13th/14th September departed on 14th at 2pm.

Arrived Anzac night of 15th/16th September, took up position at Taylor's Hollow.

Not all ships stopped at Gibraltar.

The only reference to the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers at Mudros I have is on the 21st July 1915 when they arrived on SS Ionic.

Regards

Alan

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The Lancashire Fusiliers travelled from the UK in the SS Alaunia, a Cunard liner of 13500 tons. The Royal Fusiliers were with them on board. They had embarked on 6 Apr.

The 86th Bde Staff Captain's (as you know the LF were in 86 Bde) journey was on board the Ausonia:

17 Mar - Dep Avonmouth 7pm

24 Mar - Arr Malta 5am

By 29 Mar he was in Alexandria.

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Cheers guys,

Much appreciated. I am looking especially at reinforcement groups who went out after Suvla.

My Grandfather was posted to the 9th Bn from 3rd (Reserve) Bn on 24 August. He joined the Bn on 12 September at Suvla.

Would love to know what ship he was on. Might have to start trolling other men's papers again!

Rgds

Tim D

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It depends on a a few main factors

1. Speed of the ship

2. Route - stopping at Gibraltar or Malta (or both) and whether the ship went via Alexandria or straight to Mudros harbour at Lemnos

3. U boat threat - occasionally forced the ships to sail erratic zig-zag courses.

There are over 100 war diaries that have records of the voyage. The typical time was 12 to 16 days depending on the route. The average across all units that sailed to Gallipoli was 14 days. There are large out-liers to the data. The RMS Olympic took just 6 days but this was the exception.

I have the ledger of all ships arriving at Mudros. The last ships to arrive carrying reinforcements for the 11th (Northern) Div were the SS Minnewaska and the SS Megantic on 7th September. Troops would have disembarked at Mudros and concentrated at the Base before being sent forward to Gallipoli. The SS Ionian also arrived on the 12th September. You will be able to tell from his MIC which of the two dates he was likely to have disembarked. It is worth noting that the process of disembarking thousands of men sometimes took a few days

If he was posted on 24th That means he probably started his journey on that day. The 7th Sep was 14 days later which seems a reasonable time-frame. Unless you have primary material it is impossible to be absolutely certain, but I would suggest the Minnewaska or Megantic are a fair bet.

MG

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Thanks Martin,

That's very helpful. I have him actually joining the 9th Bn at Suvla on 12 September. This is unfortunately the next entry after his posting to the 9th Bn with no mention of embarkation or ship.

The men on the 9th Bn 1914/15 Star Medal Roll who also have papers appear to have similar entries.

Do you know when and where the Minnewaska and Megantic departed the UK? I am am guessing there is no regimental breakdown held anywhere?

I have done up the end of H for the 9th Bn and have 34 men for 12 September.

Rgds

Tim D

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Thanks Martin,

That's very helpful. I have him actually joining the 9th Bn at Suvla on 12 September. This is unfortunately the next entry after his posting to the 9th Bn with no mention of embarkation or ship.

The men on the 9th Bn 1914/15 Star Medal Roll who also have papers appear to have the identical entries.

Do you know when and where the Minnewaska and Megantic departed the UK? I am am guessing there is no regimental breakdown held anywhere?

I have done up the end of H for the 9th Bn and have 34 men for 12 September.

Rgds

Tim D

The register only record ships arriving and departing, not when they departed to original port. As drafts would not have kept separate diaries, it is not possible to say. I would suggest contacting the Lancashire Fusiliers Museum and asking if the 3rd Reserve battalion kept a record of the dates drafts left for the Dardanelles. The Ship's logs might survive (The National Archives?)

In the remote chance you are not ware, the 9th Bn War Diary for September is missing. Typically drafts for all battalions within the same Brigade arrived on the same date. In the case of the 34th Inf Bde for this period there is exceptionally strong evidence that the reinforcements arrived with the battalions on the 9th September. The Brigade HQ diary an dthe other three battalion diaries all corroborate this as doe the Brigade Admin appendices. None arrived on 12th.

HQ 34th Inf Bde -

7th Sep Trenches improved. Left section started on 3rd advanced work. Right section – 150 yards trench from centre of line in NE direction before reinforcements of 514 men arrived and was accommodated on beach".

8th Sep Right sub section communication trench from Battalion HQ to rear which will eventually be main line of approach. Left sub section work on advanced trenches.

9th Sep Work progressed slowly owing to an alarm at night. Later stood to arms and all work came to a standstill. Alarm proved totally unfounded. Reinforcements joined units. A second reinforcement of 500 men came up on to beach in rear of trenches.

8th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers

9th Sep. Lt A FORSON SCOTS FUS joined for duty. Draft of 113 men 3rd Battalion joined.

5th Bn Dorsetshire Regt

9th Sep 19:00. First reinforcement 150 men arrived; no Officers.

11th Bn Manchester Regt

9th Sep. 234 NCOs and men of the First Reinforcement joined Bn. Capt J F OLIVER to hospital sick.

I have done a fair amount of hard yards on Gallipoli diaries and drafts. Note that the numbers suggest only 17 men outside the drafts listed above could have been for the 9th Bn LF (Calc: 514-113-150-234 =17). Some thoughts:

1. If he was in a large draft, he didn't join his battalion on 12th.

2. The 12th might simply be the day his ship arrived at Mudros and he disembarked (does his MIC show 12th?)

3. The alternative explanation is that he (and a few others) may have been sent in a very small group that didn't warrant any record in the diaries. We know a ship left on the 12th from Mudros (the SS Ionian)

Lastly, the diaries/MICs often show gaps of a few days, sometimes with no logical explanation. In this case the fact that four other diaries are consistent and show drafts arriving on 9th and not 12th provides some reassurance that if there is an error in the chain of evidence, it is unlikely to be in the diaries. MG

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Hi Martin,

Thanks very much.

His papers have a typewritten entry taken from his B213 stating 'Joined Bn: Suvla 12/9/15'. A number of others also have an identical entry, though some don't have a joining date - just a posting date to the MEF (and 9th Bn) of either 23 or 24 August.

I have been through the 9th Bn's 1914/15 Star Roll and the draft dated 12 September was 80 men total. Perhaps they were in the second draft of 500 actually reaching the beach on 9 September and joining the Bn on 12 September?

Yes I am aware the War Diary is missing. I am going to be at Gallipoli between 10 and 14 Sep, staying at Eric's - so that's a bit of a hindrance! I have some basic locations, but am hoping to tie down some decent Maps or Google coordinates.

Rgds

Tim

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So much for my theory....

As luck would have it the Brigade Diary records for the Reinforcements have survived. 4 Officers and 125 men arrived on the 11th Sep at the 9th Battalion...

It is worth noting the differences in the dates between this document and the arrivals recorded in the other diaries...8th Bn Northumberland Fus for example showing 113 arriving on 9th Sep but the table showing 8th Sep....anyway, I think you can now be 100% confident that he arrived on 11/12th and was not o the Ionian.

MG

Courtesy of TNA. WO 95/4299 Crown Copyright.

post-55873-0-36814700-1440340733_thumb.j

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Hi Martin,

Thanks very much.

I have been through the 9th Bn's 1914/15 Star Roll and the draft dated 12 September was 80 men total. Perhaps they were in the second draft of 500 actually reaching the beach on 9 September and joining the Bn on 12 September?

Tim

Tim, I think this is right. In my haste I didn't read the diary entry properly i.e. that a second draft arrived and was parked on the Beach. Also if I have read a few diary entries after the 12th I would have seen the 188 men arriving with the Manchesters and the 96 men arriving with the Dorsets a few days later (diaries record 188 and 100 respectively on 13th and 15th).

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Brilliant,

Much appreciated mate.

I think we can assume he arrived at Mudros on 7 September with either Minniewaska or Megantic, transhipped to Suvla probably arriving 34 Bde on 11 September and was TOS 9th LF on 12 September.

Tim D

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It depends on a a few main factors

1. Speed of the ship

2. Route - stopping at Gibraltar or Malta (or both) and whether the ship went via Alexandria or straight to Mudros harbour at Lemnos

3. U boat threat - occasionally forced the ships to sail erratic zig-zag courses.

There are over 100 war diaries that have records of the voyage. The typical time was 12 to 16 days depending on the route. The average across all units that sailed to Gallipoli was 14 days. There are large out-liers to the data. The RMS Olympic took just 6 days but this was the exception.

I have the ledger of all ships arriving at Mudros. The last ships to arrive carrying reinforcements for the 11th (Northern) Div were the SS Minnewaska and the SS Megantic on 7th September. Troops would have disembarked at Mudros and concentrated at the Base before being sent forward to Gallipoli. The SS Ionian also arrived on the 12th September. You will be able to tell from his MIC which of the two dates he was likely to have disembarked. It is worth noting that the process of disembarking thousands of men sometimes took a few days

If he was posted on 24th That means he probably started his journey on that day. The 7th Sep was 14 days later which seems a reasonable time-frame. Unless you have primary material it is impossible to be absolutely certain, but I would suggest the Minnewaska or Megantic are a fair bet.

MG

Love points one and two....where did you get your "State the Bleedin' Obvious" degree from Martin haha. Only pulling your leg.

Also you say the average time was 14 days with 12-16 being typical. And yet the three examples on this thread are all between 9-11 days. Would be interested to see how you came to your conclusion on time scales though.

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I think we can assume Minniewaska.

The Megantic sailed from Devonport on 19 August (with 1st Royal Newfoundland Regt - detailed in the LLT).

Thoughts?

Rgds

Tim

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Love points one and two....where did you get your "State the Bleedin' Obvious" degree from Martin haha. Only pulling your leg.

Also you say the average time was 14 days with 12-16 being typical. And yet the three examples on this thread are all between 9-11 days. Would be interested to see how you came to your conclusion on time scales though.

I am not sure it is obvious to everyone that the slowest ship took over twice as long as the fastest ship. I am not sure it is obvious that some men went out on Irish cattle boats and some went on state of the art ocean liners. There is a huge difference. Similarly it is not obvious to everyone that there are scores of ways a ship could (and did) make the journey. It is not a simple as one might think. For example two separate units did the trip on the Aquitania; one voyage took two days longer than the other.

A random example: The 6th Bn Loyal North Lancs (13th Western) Div took 22 days to get from Avonmouth to Mudros having embarked on 15th Jun, languished on board in Walton Bay for three days, sailed past Gibraltar without stopping, stopped in Malta for 14 hours, stopped at Alexandria for 24 hours, arriving at Mudros on 5th July. 16 days at sea, 22 days in total. Their journey was typical for the 13th (Western) Div.

The 9th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers (11th Northern) Div (the unit in the OP) took 17 days including embarkation to disembarkation when it initially sailed overseas.

It is worth noting;

Some ships started from different ports

Some ships sailed direct, making no stops

Some ships stopped at Gibraltar- for varying periods from a few hours to a few days

Some ships stopped at Malta - for varying periods from a few hours to a few days

Some ships stopped off at Alexandria - for varying periods from a few hours to a few days

Some ships stopped at two of the above

Some ships stopped at three of the above.

There are fourteen different permutations of the above, and if we add the varying lengths of time spent at each stopping off point, the permutations exceed at least 20 different ways one could get from UK. If we add the fact that some ships had to wait for their escorts offshore and some ships were attacked on the way, the permutations of grow further. Ditto waiting to disembark which could take anything up to two days in crowded Mudros harbour

The source of the data is the unit war diaries (as already mentioned in the post). I have transcribed 128 unit war diaries for Gallipoli and most of the units recorded their departure date, where they stopped, the length of time they stopped and when they arrived. I have also cross-referenced with 72 published unit histories, most of which also recorded the voyages......So, the data has a high degree of integrity.

Given the fastest ship took just six days, I am not surprised that some took 9,10 or 11 days. Some random samples:

The 29th Div (12 battalions, three Brigade HQs, Div HQ) took 14 days just to reach Alexandria. They took another two days to sail from Alexandria to Lemnos. Total time on board ships was 16 days.

The 162nd Infantry Brigade, 54th (East Anglian) Div took half the time (8 days), sailing on the Aquitania.

The 30th Infantry Brigade 10th (Irish) Division took 15 days including a two day stop in Alexandria... as did the rest of the 10th (Irish) Div

etc..

None of the above was obvious to me when I embarked on the analysis.

MG

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I think we can assume Minniewaska.

The Megantic sailed from Devonport on 19 August (with 1st Royal Newfoundland Regt - detailed in the LLT).

Thoughts?

Rgds

Tim

Tim. The Megantic arrived with details for a number of Divisions, and probably picked the Australians up in Alexandria to boot....

post-55873-0-00295600-1440417968_thumb.j

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Ah gotcha. Nice one Martin. So they may well have left the UK on another ship and transhipped at Alex or elsewhere.

They definitely didn't depart the UK on the Megantic though!

Don't suppose you have the 34th Bde War Diary for Aug-Dec 15 in a manageable file?

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They definitely didn't depart the UK on the Megantic though!

Tim - curious to know how you are sure they didn't leave the UK in the Megantic. Presumably there is some anecdotal evidence.

Separately, The Newfoundland Regt embarked from the UK on the Megantic and disembarked in Alexandria on 1st Sep.The diary is missing for this period but their published history gives some detail, although does not mention if there were other troops on board. We know from the 13th Div diaries and the Mudros ledger that the Megantic carried at least two whole battalions on an earlier voyage, suggesting it had room for more than just the Newfoundland Regt. On 10th Sep the Newfoundland Regt embarked on the HMT Ausonia, arriving at Mudros on 18th Sep according to their War Diary. This is corroborated by the arrivals ledger showing the HMT Ausonia arriving on 18th with the "1st Newfoundland Regt, 2/3rd City of London Regt and details of the 52nd, 53rd, 2nd Mounted and A & NZ Divisions".

The Megantic having disembarked the Newfoundland Regt at Alexandria clearly sailed on to Mudros arriving on 7th arriving with the details shown in the earlier posts. Either these men joined at Alexandria or were already on the ship.

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If the LF reinforcement departed UK circa 23/24 August the Megantic was already at sea....with the Newfoundlanders having departed on 19 August.

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If the LF reinforcement departed UK circa 23/24 August the Megantic was already at sea....with the Newfoundlanders having departed on 19 August.

Noted. A very good point.

I see the Minnewaska originally went to Lemnos by mistake before being sent to Alexandria (notes at end of Chapter I of the Newfoundlander's history) which at least shows the ships occasionally went astray.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Had an idea on this. Checked the 25th and 26th Bn AIF War Diaries. They boarded and departed Alexandria on Minniewaska 5 Sep, arrived Mudros 7 Sep, transhipped to Sarnia (25th Bn) and Abbassieh (26th Bn) on 11 Sep and embarked overnight at Anzac 11/12 Sep.

Just have to figure out if Minniewaska sailed from the UK to Alex beforehand! I think the timings for this are about right.

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