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Remembered Today:

Light Railway Lemnos and Tramways at Gallipoli


green_acorn

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I have just been trawling through the AWM, there are quite a few new images that have been uploaded. As an example there are images of the light railway (2'6" gauge) operations of the 117th (Railway) Company, Royal Engineers on Lemnos Island. Railway crane and train Lemnos Is, a small train operated by 117 (Rlwy) Coy RE on Lemnos. The tractor/locomotive is a Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0 Petrol Mechanical tractor.

The photo albums of LT CMDR Leighton S Bracegirdle RAN CO of the RAN Bridging Train has been digitised and uploaded, there are some images of the track that the RANBT laid being operated, as a tramway system, with rolling stock being manhandled or pulled by mules at Anzac and 'Kangaroo' Beach', Suvla Bay. As many would be aware, it was planned that when the MEF advanced they would be supplied by a light railway network operated by 117 Coy RE, but as the August offensive failed there appears to have been no deployment of the tractors and remaining rolling stock needed.

Cheers,

Hendo

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Hendo

I've been looking at the diary and photographs of PO [photographer/air mechanic] William Pollard RNAS which appeared in Cross & Cockade Int., Vol.38, No.3, and there seems to have been another light railway on Lemnos, which the RNAS built and ran, post campaign

Pollard's diary entry:

“1st December 1916 – Fine. Opening of the 'Mudros Light Railway' from Wing Capt. Scarlett's HQ to Repair Base. This was made by mechanics out of lorries which ran on rails of narrow gauge. The transport of large aeroplane cases arriving by sea and a great saving of petrol was made.”

The design of the railway is attributed to John William Kidston Allsop; born 1878, he was a civil engineer by profession and though Ancestry has him as a Flight Sergeant, RNAS, I suspect he was a in fact a Petty Officer at that time

The locomotive in Pollard's photograph is said to be a converted Austin truck, and I wonder if the rails for this line were also 'converted' from those left over post campaign?

regards

Michael

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Michael,

That may well be the case for some of the track. Though I would imagine 117 (Rlwy) Coy RE recovered as much of the track, in particular the points (turnouts for our American friends), as possible. The points being the most valuable item of track and the hardest to manufacture/construct.

I imagine the RNAS track was simply a length of track from the waters edge to the workshop. It may have needed a traverser to allow the workshop to get more than one aircraft into the hanger. A traverser is a platform at the same level as the track which is set on rails at right angle to the track, once the loco/wagon/or aircraft on a trolley is pushed onto the traverser the traverser is pushed sideways to line up with tracks in the workshop and then the aircraft is pushed into the hanger. An efficient and space saving way of replacing many points in confined spaces.

Cheers,

Hendo

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Another example of track used for more unconventional purposes was the section laid at Ark Royal Bluff seaplane base, at Aliki Bay, Imbros. Laid between the waters edge and the salt lake, it was apparently used for transporting the seaplanes to the salt lake when sea conditions precluded flying from the bay itself.

Unfortunately I have yet to locate any clear photos of it.

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Hendo,

the track that the RANBT laid being operated, as a tramway system, with rolling stock being manhandled or pulled by mules at Anzac and 'Kangaroo' Beach', Suvla Bay.

The RE history provides an indication of the placement of the tramway at Kangaroo Beach, Sula; as seen in this crop

6c82fb50-cb8a-4458-bb82-6298c9545ad1_zps

The RE's history, Vol. VI, also tates that another tramway was built at Suvla and that the RANBT were also involved in work in that southern area as well.

“They also [the 53rd Divisional Engineers] helped to construct the tramway from South Pier to C Beach, which involved in some places cuttings 10ft deep”

.

This is clarified somewhat a little later with information supplied to the RE's historian by Brigadier-General Bland, CE, IXth Corps.

“The only purely timber pier was South Pier, built by the 133rd Company, RE*, in October. The company averaged from seventy to forty strong and were helped by 130 men of the RANBT and by fifty Welsh pioneer. The pier was 260ft long with a 40ft T-head, with 13ft spans and a 12ft roadway, on trestles. It reached to ten feet of water at low tide (tide in the Aegean Sea is only about a foot or two). The November storms damaged it very badly. It was then rebuilt in constantly rough water, with twelve crib piers, and finished by the 16th December, just in time for the evacuation. A chance shot from a 5.9-inch gun tore a hole in it the day before the evacuation, but there was just enough material to patch it up. In 1919 not a trace of these piers was to be seen.”

* given in the RE History's OoB as 'Army Troops Company' [bUT in contemporary orders as 'Fortress Co. RE']

While no trace may remain of the piers and other construction at South Pier, I would have thought that it might be possible, even today, to identify the “cuttings ten feet deep” made for the tramway - I must try to check this out on the spot sometime.

The map crop below shows South Pier and C Beach

a4968b37-7c39-46cb-a120-b37baa9afec9_zps

.........................................................................................................................................................................................................

there are images of the light railway (2'6" gauge) operations of the 117th (Railway) Company, Royal Engineers on Lemnos Island. Railway crane and train Lemnos Is, a small train operated by 117 (Rlwy) Coy RE on Lemnos. The tractor/locomotive is a Hawthorn Leslie 0-4-0 Petrol Mechanical tractor.

I have yet to spot a map indicating the whereabouts of the Mudros line, however a clue may be given on this map from the History of the RE, Vol. VI which has a pier named for the Railway

434fd1c7-df00-42d7-a100-16be96a4805f_zps

best regards

Michael

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RE's history, Vol. VI, also tates that another tramway was built at Suvla and that the RANBT were also involved in work in that southern area as well.

“They also [the 53rd Divisional Engineers] helped to construct the tramway from South Pier to C Beach, which involved in some places cuttings 10ft deep”

.

This is clarified somewhat a little later with information supplied to the RE's historian by Brigadier-General Bland, CE, IXth Corps.

“The only purely timber pier was South Pier, built by the 133rd Company, RE*, in October. The company averaged from seventy to forty strong and were helped by 130 men of the RANBT and by fifty Welsh pioneer. The pier was 260ft long with a 40ft T-head, with 13ft spans and a 12ft roadway, on trestles. It reached to ten feet of water at low tide (tide in the Aegean Sea is only about a foot or two). The November storms damaged it very badly. It was then rebuilt in constantly rough water, with twelve crib piers, and finished by the 16th December, just in time for the evacuation. A chance shot from a 5.9-inch gun tore a hole in it the day before the evacuation, but there was just enough material to patch it up. In 1919 not a trace of these piers was to be seen.”

* given in the OoB as 'Army Troops Company' [bUT in contemporary orders as 'Fortress Co. RE']

While no trace may remain of the piers and other construction at South Pier, I would have thought that it might be possible, even today, to identify the “cuttings ten feet deep” made for the tramway - I must try to check this out on the spot sometime.

Even if no trace could be found of South Pier and the tramway in 1919, it occurs to me that perhaps traces were still extant in 1916 when the Sevki Pasha maps were made

Below is the relevant map sheet

and below that a crop which I think does indeed show traces of the engineers' work

* The green arrow points to what appears to be South Pier

* Inside the blue circle is what could well be one of the deep cuttings (?)

* And the red arrow points to what might be, all that by then remained of, the 1915 tramway

Thoughts or comments are welcomed

482c02d4-3b92-4f19-bcaf-12c859cc7ccc_zps

ba6237fb-501f-4b11-9b33-fc847134d319_zps

[maps thanks to the WFA's disc Mapping the Front - Gallipoli]

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Michael,

Very interesting reading, thank you for taking the time to do the additional research. As you say the tramway cuttings are probably still visible, if one knows what they are looking for. I don't find it unusual that the pier was not visible in 1919. I imagine the Ottoman's ensured significant aids to a potential future invasion were removed. Though I imagine they didn't get around to removing too many of the stones that filled the pier cribs. Dare I say they are probably still identifiable as rock mounds on the sea bed.

I imagine that Railway Pier on Lemnos Island is the locality of the image of the railway crane at AWM.

Cheers,

Hendo

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The 117 Railway Coy Re and 133 Fortress Coy RE dairies have some detail on laying railway tracks at Mudros. Over 2 miles worth. The Fortress Coy RE has a detailed run of diary entries for the building of the South Pier at Suvla as well as a sketch of the piers. It was 280 feet long, 12 feet wide and had 13 spans. The construction took a month and was mostly built at night due to the constant shelling during the day.

the Angelsey Fortress Coy RE (TF) diary records laying track at Suvla for a Decauville Railway

DRC 53rd (Welsh) Div (TF) records laying out preparatory works for a railway from South Pier to C Beach (dated 1st - 30th Oct in a catchall diary entry)

2/1st Cheshire Field Coy RE (TF) diary records constructing a coast road tramway at Suvla up to 17th October

MG

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have recently been researching the 117 Railway Company and there were railways of TWO different track gauges at Mudros.

A 2-FOOT GAUGE RAILWAY

The 117th Railway Company RE brought 2’ 6” gauge equipment with them from the UK for their own use and landed 9 Hawthorn Leslie petrol locomotives, 2 2-ton capacity rail mounted cranes, several light trollies and track during September 1915. On 12 October, however, their war diary noted that they landed ‘old 2-foot gauge locomotives for the Director of Works at Mudros.’

These 2-foot gauge locomotives are visible on two of Albert Savage’s photographs. The image ‘Inspection of Transport’ shows all 9 of the 2’ 6” gauge petrol locomotives on railway track running parallel to the coast but to their right, it also shows another two locomotives facing the sea.

An even better image is Savage’s ‘3rd AGH Motor Launch’ picture which was taken from the end of the Railway Pier and which shows the Railway Depot area. Two petrol locomotives can be seen at work on the 2’ 6” gauge railway, the jib of one of the cranes can be seen as well as the timbers for the locomotive shed. To the left of the image can be seen at least two and possibly three small steam locomotives; the one facing the camera is of Orenstein and Koppel design and the rear locomotive is probably built by Krauss. These German-built locomotives were probably shipped from Egypt; their intended purpose is not clear but similar locomotives were used in 1916 on the Suez Canal Defences for road construction and for moving construction materials.

Further information on the 2-foot (or 60-centimetre) gauge railway on Lemnos would be welcomed as the 117th Railway Company war diary makes no further reference to it.

A 2 FOOT 6 INCH GAUGE RAILWAY

Returning to the 117th Railway Company and its 2’ 6” gauge railway, in late October 1915 the ships that had carried their equipment from the UK were ordered to sail to Egypt before they had been fully unloaded. The SS Inkonka left with six petrol locomotives still on board, the SS Beethoven sailed with most of their rolling stock and a third ship sailed (SS Merchant Prince?) sailed with lots of 2’ 6” track. Long delays in harbour and partially unloaded vessels were a common tale at Mudros but this left the 117 Railway Company with 9 Hawthorn Leslie petrol locomotives, 2 rail-mounted cranes of 2-ton capacity, some light trollies but only three 2-axle railway wagons and about 3 kilometres of track. With this they built and successfully operated a railway carrying heavy or bulky items from the deeper water piers on the headland at Mudros West to nearby depots.

Using the map already provided in this thread by Michaeldr, the original line ran from Railway Pier, with its adjacent Locomotive Shed, to the South towards the Ordnance Pier. The route therefore ran through the Supply and Ordnance Depots being laid out there and could have served the Electricity Generating Station that was planned but not built near the Ordnance Pier. The Savage images ‘Inspection of Transport’ and ‘3rd AGH Motor Launch’ therefore illustrate the Southern section of railway in late October 1915

A short line was then laid across the headland so coal could be supplied to the Water Condensing Plant beside Water Pier. The Savage image ‘Arrival of Troops from Gallipoli’ shows this part of the railway and Image C01165 from the Australian War Memorial (AWM) also shows a loco and train on this part of the line.

The railway was then extended to its Northern terminus which was at the RE Pier. The Royal Engineers had to undertake the heavy rock work but there are various Savage images of Egyptian Labourers preparing the track-bed. The RE Pier could accommodate ships drawing up to 25 feet of water and it had a steam-powered dock crane so it was potentially the pier where the largest ships and heaviest items could be unloaded. Nearby were the RE Field Park and Workshops and looking at the items being stored in the image of the rail crane, AWM C01170, I think that photo may have been taken in the Engineer’s Park as the Railway Pier was short and only went out into 7 feet of water.

In November 1915, a branch was built to serve the Turks Head Causeway and then, on 9 November 1915, the 117th Company began the construction of a new Supply Pier which was 100 metres long and had double track laid upon it. AWM image PS1620 seems to show track on the Supply Pier whilst Savage’s later photographs from the Gallipoli evacuation show general views of these deeper water piers.

The Supply Pier was completed on 18 December but four days later, after the evacuation of ANZAC and Suvla Bay had been completed, the 117th Company was warned of a possible move. Railway and pier construction then ceased and the war diary summary for December ends with the statement “All stores and machines dismantled and packed up, ready for departure.”

On 8 January, orders were received to load up stores onto the SS Haverford and on 11 January 1916, the 117th Railway Company sailed for Salonika. So ended the operation of the first purpose-built British military light railway of the Great War.

Later that month, the decision was taken that Salonika would use 60-centimetre (2 foot) gauge light railways whereas Egypt was building 2’ 6” gauge light railways as part of the Suez Canal Defences and so petrol locomotives and wagons were sent there and saw subsequent service in both Palestine and in Mesopotamia.

THE LATER RAILWAY AT MUDROS

In the war diaries of the GHQ EEF for June 1916, I discovered a telegram from ‘NavyMudros’ dated 13 June 1916 which reads:-

‘MUDROS is being made principal base for Royal Naval Air Service in Eastern Mediterranean Squadron. It is therefore necessary to build a light railway from MUDROS Harbour to new air camp. Total length of railway required is 3365 yards. Can this be supplied along with one locomotive, four trollies and two trucks?’

No reply to the Navy can be found in those war diaries but it is unlikely to have been positive. The Navy’s request reads like a request for 2’ 6” gauge equipment similar to that which had operated earlier at Mudros but the Army had just completed nine 2’ 6” gauge railways along the Suez Canal totalling 121 kilometres which had used up all their supplies of military railway equipment and so they were having to lift track from civilian narrow gauge railways in Egypt in order to construct the 134 kilometre Bahariya Military Railway and to extend the railway at Kharga Oasis by a further 30 kilometres. Egypt was also dealing with a request from the Salonika Army for 50 kilometres of 2-foot gauge track, locomotives and rolling stock to support a proposed offensive in Macedonia.

I’ve not yet been able to read the Cross & Cockade article but it comes as no surprise to learn that the RNAS line had to use home-built motive power.

Does anyone know the track gauge used?

Also, can someone confirm the location of the aircraft repair base? If the airfield was North of the rest camp at Sarpi and near the modern airfield, then 3 kilometres of track (about 2 miles) wouldn’t have reached to the existing deep water piers.

I hope this information helps shed some light on the railways at Mudros. I have some information on the tramways at Gallipoli but will save that for a subsequent post

Iain

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Iain,

Welcome to the GWF and very many thanks for your above post which adds so much valuable information.

The British Library website provides a map of Mudros which was published in 1920, but based on a Royal Navy survey of 1916

It can be seen here as an Interactive zoomable image which needs Flash

http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/maps/europe/zoomify138333.html

Zooming in on the West Mudros peninsula reveals the route of the railway which you describe

the original line ran from Railway Pier, with its adjacent Locomotive Shed, to the South towards the Ordnance Pier. The route therefore ran through the Supply and Ordnance Depots being laid out there and could have served the Electricity Generating Station that was planned but not built near the Ordnance Pier. The Savage images ‘Inspection of Transport’ and ‘3rd AGH Motor Launch’ therefore illustrate the Southern section of railway in late October 1915

A short line was then laid across the headland so coal could be supplied to the Water Condensing Plant* beside Water Pier. The Savage image ‘Arrival of Troops from Gallipoli’ shows this part of the railway and Image C01165 from the Australian War Memorial (AWM) also shows a loco and train on this part of the line.

The railway was then extended to its Northern terminus which was at the RE Pier**. The Royal Engineers had to undertake the heavy rock work but there are various Savage images of Egyptian Labourers preparing the track-bed. The RE Pier could accommodate ships drawing up to 25 feet of water and it had a steam-powered dock crane so it was potentially the pier where the largest ships and heaviest items could be unloaded. Nearby were the RE Field Park and Workshops and looking at the items being stored in the image of the rail crane, AWM C01170, I think that photo may have been taken in the Engineer’s Park as the Railway Pier was short and only went out into 7 feet of water.

In November 1915, a branch was built to serve the Turks Head Causeway and then, on 9 November 1915, the 117th Company began the construction of a new Supply Pier which was 100 metres long and had double track laid upon it. AWM image PS1620 seems to show track on the Supply Pier whilst Savage’s later photographs from the Gallipoli evacuation show general views of these deeper water piers.

* Probably the Distillery shown on the 1916 map

**The 1916 map suggests that by that time 'RE Pier' was known as Oil Jetty

I regret that so far I've not yet been able to spot the RNAS airfield or any suggestion as to where their line may have been. A more precise date for the RN survey of 1916 would also have helped.

I look forward to seeing your contribution regarding the Gallipoli tramways

best regards

Michael

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Iain,

Like Michael, welcome to the GWF and thank you for such a detailed and interesting explanation of the railway operations on Lemnos. You have added much to the understanding of this little known or understood subject.

Cheers,

Hendo

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Michael,

Thank you so much for the link to the interactive map. I had seen a low resolution jpeg image of this chart but it was so compressed that it was almost unreadable. Now I shall merge the contours and route information from the chart with the War Office Plans of Mudros that are available on the Through these Lines website.

Gents,

First, thanks for the welcome. I'm primarily a narrow gauge railway enthusiast but I have been trying to research the 2' 6" gauge railways that the Army built in Egypt during the Great War and Mudros was, of course, part of the Egyptian LofC

I am due to visit the RE Museum in Chatham mid-January to try to find out more about the engineering works on Lemnos and to learn more about a larger but equally obscure military light railway to Bahariya in the Western Desert of Egypt. Your information has been very useful and if I learn more in January then I shall add it to this thread.

Now, I promised you some information on tramways at Gallipoli so here it is:

GALLIPOLI TRAMWAYS

SUVLA BAY – ANZAC

A good source of information on the Suvla – Anzac tramways is a magazine article in ‘Light Railways’ published by the Light Railway Research Association of Australia – see

http://www.lrrsa.org.au/Lrr_LRi.html Issue 206 (April 2009) includes a lengthy article on Australian Light Railways of the Gallipoli Campaign with photos and graphics and I have access to a copy. There is a more recent article in Issue 245 but I haven’t yet seen a copy as this was only published in October 2015.

If necessary, I can also suggest good images mainly from the AWM collection.

CAPE HELLES

The war diary of the 117th Railway Company RE includes two references to Cape Helles.

On 7 October 1915, officers visited Gallipolli where they ‘inspected prospects for 2’ 6” line at Helles and reported adversely as a 2’ already there. Met Gen Gibbon & Gen Williams CE VIII Corps and Eng-in-Chief GHQ.’

On 5 November, Lt. J M Cooper and 10 men were sent from Mudros to work on the 2’ gauge tramways at Cape Helles under CE VIII Corps. They returned on 2 December and Cooper then submitted a detailed report that I have summarised below:-

The sappers were attached to the ‘VIIIth Army Corps Railway Company’ which had an establishment of 2 officers and 175 men drawn from infantry battalions within the Corps.

The sappers were split into two parties:

  • Four fitters assisted by 10 other soldiers overhauled about 50 tip and flat-decked wagons of the 100 wagons then in use. Mainly this involved cleaning and lubricating axle bearings and adjusting brakes but timber was also renewed on the wooden flat-beds.
  • The other six sappers joined the soldiers operating the tramway and trained them in the proper use of handbrakes, in hand signalling and in how to slip the mules from wagons as they reached downward slopes so the wagons could run by gravity.

Lt. Cooper explains that there were three miles of track radiating from the top of an incline up from W Beach, to the South Quarry and to the depots of the RN, 42nd and 52nd Divisions.

‘The tramway was used to supply the RN Division and half the 52nd Division with their rations. This was accomplished by the use of a few mules (only) and 24 wagons which made a double trip daily and altogether occupied about 3 hours in the morning.’

‘The tramway was also used for the conveyance of stone from South Quarry to the beach daily in connection with the construction of piers, as many as 40 wagon loads being delivered per day and this would be increased as wagons became available.’

I assume that the incline worked on a counter-balance system with loaded stone wagons heading for the beach pulling up wagons loaded with stores or empty tip wagons.

I hope this short account is of interest. My main interest was in the 2' 6" gauge railways in Lemnos, Egypt and Palestine; finding Lt Cooper's report was just an unexpected bonus for me.

Iain

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A very helpful thread, thanks all.

Iain, I may have misunderstood your post, but the Savage images ‘Inspection of Transport’ and ‘3rd AGH Motor Launch’ were taken near Railway Pier. The first (taken from north of Railway Pier, looking south) I had with me standing in that location, and the backgrounds matched up. The second is captioned in one nurse's album 'the hospital is seen in the distance' and I think it's safe to assume she means the 3rd AGH. Didn't get a photograph but we did swim out a bit and look back, seemed to match up.

Will go through some more photographs, and Google Earth views, to help narrow down the airmen's base. I think it's north of Mudros town (Ormano Bay), rather than north of Sarpi (present airport).

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Gents,

First, can I thank michaeldr for sending me a scan of the photo from the RNAS Mudros Railway. From that image I can confirm that the line was of 2’ 6” gauge. The locomotive may be a converted lorry but the wagon behind it is a standard War Office 5-ton open wagon of 2’ 6” gauge. Wagons of this type were also used by the 117 Company RE on Mudros – for example, see http://collections.slsa.sa.gov.au/resource/B+45342/21.

Based upon this information, I think that the earlier railway may have provided the wagons and probably some track for the RNAS line. The 117 Company war diary simply talks about ‘parking up’ and about ‘draining lines’ not about actually removing their railway. I’m fairly certain most or all of the locomotives later went to Egypt but the wagons and track could have been left at Mudros just-in-case they were needed by the remaining troops.

I’ve then compared the maritime chart from 1916 with the map on the Through these Lines webpage at http://throughtheselines.com.au/research/?c=places and with engineering plans from Mudros, also I have re-read the 117 Company RE war diary; I’d make the following comments:

The Through these Lines map describes the southern terminus of the railway as ‘Ordnance Pier’ and built in August/September 1915 but the maritime chart names it as ‘Supply Pier’ which the war diary says they only completed on 18 December 1915.

B3m – I agree that the ‘3rd AGH Motor Launch’ picture was taken from the Railway Pier and that the launch is moored to the pier. I think that the ‘Inspection of Transport’ photo is taken from the tented ridge but slightly further South; my logic is that it that the stone built farm buildings that are central to the first image are not visible on the second, nor is the Railway Pier itself

.

What I struggle to place are the photographs of the Egyptians constructing the railway. The position of the coast and the large ships moored beyond suggest that these photos are on the South side of the headland, perhaps near the site of the RE Pier, but the maritime chart shows the railway running further inland. Perhaps the railway was later cut back as the maritime chart fails to show the RE Pier. That pier had been constructed by sinking a small ship then using the upper works as the pier-head but the ship didn’t settle properly and additional work was needed to prevent it slipping. Perhaps they re-floated the vessel as they did the River Clyde at Gallipoli.

The ‘distillery’ on the maritime chart is indeed the water condensing plant which was erected by the Navy on 19th October 1915 and which produced about 33,000 gallons a day. Engineering plans show the water mains through which water was pumped to a reservoir on the hill and then distributed by pipe to the hospitals. The Navy also provided a small fleet of 14 X-lighters with ‘L’ pennant numbers that had been converted to carry and pump water; these ferried water to Gallipoli, hence the ‘Water Pier’ near the plant where the lighters could be refilled.

The water condensing plant was still in place but unused in Autumn 1916 when the EEF made enquiries about moving it to one of the small ports on the Sinai coast to supplement water being pumped along the pipeline from Kantara.

Hope that helps. The more I learn about Mudros, the more that I realise its importance has been under-stated, especially in the UK.

Iain

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Iain, regarding the water main from the condensing plant – do you have a plan of these?

We came across these works in 2011: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thrutheselines/7724070574

Later we came across this photo https://www.flickr.com/photos/thrutheselines/7715847210 and figured the remains were the footings for the water tanks.

A plan of the water mains would confirm that.

The 1916 survey doesn't show these tanks, but it does show a 'Water Tower' along the main road, further west. It's in the same spot as a structure that hasn't been positively identified (as far as I know). "MO" has a photo here:

Was it connected to the condenser?

P.S. the Through These Lines Google map is my working map. I used the Royal Engineers map (earlier in this thread) for the naming of the piers but will go back over it now that we have a lot more information. Might have to split it into layers, based on the sources. The new maps interface is a bit more sophisticated now.

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What I struggle to place are the photographs of the Egyptians constructing the railway. The position of the coast and the large ships moored beyond suggest that these photos are on the South side of the headland, perhaps near the site of the RE Pier, but the maritime chart shows the railway running further inland. Perhaps the railway was later cut back as the maritime chart fails to show the RE Pier. That pier had been constructed by sinking a small ship then using the upper works as the pier-head but the ship didn’t settle properly and additional work was needed to prevent it slipping. Perhaps they re-floated the vessel as they did the River Clyde at Gallipoli.

The 1916 survey does show RE Pier. As Michael notes, the Admiralty chart names it Oil Jetty.

Have to check my photos but I think I scrambled around that point, but it was only a brief recce as Cheryl and our daughter were waiting in the car near the church. I didn't see any obvious jetty works but I'm not the best eyes in the family. Would be a good place for a snorkel. It was quite broken, so you'd need to be in the water or on a boat.

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  • 2 months later...
IainAlexander
Earlier discussions on the Light Railway(s) at Lemnos left a number of unanswered questions but I can now add a little information obtained from the war diary for the 1/2 West Lancs Field Company covering their time at Lemnos between June 1916 to May 1917.


To set the scene, most of the Army left Lemnos between December 1915 and early February 1916. This left the Royal Naval Division as a garrison for the Aegean islands of Lemnos, Imbros and Tenedos and there were also Royal Garrison Artillery and RE searchlight units manning the harbour and anti-aircraft defences at Mudros on behalf of the Royal Navy.


The Royal Naval Division was then directed to France in May 1916 and was replaced by a Composite Infantry Brigade, consisting of a couple of infantry battalions plus the 1/2 West Lancashire Field Company Royal Engineers. The Composite Brigade remained at Lemnos until May 1917 when the Army units were withdrawn and replaced by Royal Marines (3rd RMLI Battalion), leaving Lemnos purely as a Royal Navy location (until the RAF was created in 1918).


The 1/2 West Lancs Field Company diary states that it was headquartered at Mudros West 1916-17 but with detachments at Mudros East, Imbros, Tenedos and later at Stavros; its duties includes:


- maintenance of 13 piers at Mudros, including re-constructing the RE Pier in August 1916 by driving in 18 piles to hold the pierhead in place, rebuilding the North Pier (aka Pioneer Pier) and dismantling the small Ordnance Pier. B3m and michaeldr both noted above that the RE Pier is referred to on an Admiralty Chart of 1916 as an oil jetty but is still clearly named as RE Pier in the war diary.


- maintenance on remaining hutting but also dismantling many huts for re-use at Salonika (the RN Division had begun this dismantling process)


- maintenance of the military cemetries on Mudros


- road construction, notably in November 1916 from the Egyptian Pier at Mudros East to the RNAS Airship Shed.



- railway construction - there is reference in the war diary for August 1916 to the Field Company starting to build a new 2' 6" gauge railway 2 miles (say 3 km) long from Mudros East (Australian Pier) to the RNAS Airship Shed on behalf of the RNAS. This is obviously the railway referred to in the telegram that I have referred to earlier in this thread. Construction of this railway continued into November 1916, which links well to the Bill Pollard article in Cross & Cockade that celebrates the opening of the RNAS Mudros Light Railway in December 1916, which was operated by the RNAS and not by the RE.


Egyptian Pier and Australian Pier were very close to each other at Mudros East so the road and railway were probably part of the wider RNAS Repair Base project.


- railway operation: the war diary also notes that the 1/2 West Lancs Field Company was maintaining the railway built in 1915 by 117 Railway Company at Mudros West and that they had 2 locomotives 'in constant use' in July 1916. This means that both the RE and RNAS 2' 6" gauge railways must have operated at about the same time and so the source of the track for the RNAS Light Railway still remains a mystery but I think its wagons are likely to have come from Egypt as military traffic on their 2' 6" gauge lines declined late in 1916 as the EEF advanced across Sinai and as the Senussi campaign wound down.

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Iain,

Thank you very much. This is most informative and counters my suggestion that the track, in particular the points/switches, were recovered for use elsewhere. I would suggest the track for the RNAS was simply reuse of the existing track, relaid for their needs.

Cheers,

Hendo

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi all,

I was pointed in this direction re 117th R.E.

My other half's GG Grandfather served with them. It was only the other day I remembered we had a photo of a relation in uniform and through some quick research found that Daniel Conner served in the R.E 117th Railway Co.

Luckily his service papers survived and he landed in Mudros in Sep 15. I have noticed the digitized war diary only goes to Dec 15. On 05/02/1916 he is admitted to hospital with a fracture R Fibula severe, transported to Malta then invalided back to U.K. Couple months convalescence then back into action. He was eventually invalided back to the U.K suffering debility.

Are there any digitised diaries available for the period after Dec 15? Would be interested to see if any notation was made on or around the day he broke his leg and what they were doing at the time.

Regards

Paul

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  • 4 months later...


 


 

Monuryural,

Good to hear from you again.

 

The tramway and the bridge can be clearly seen in the sketch map in post No.5 above

I'll give it again here with the bridge indicated.

40c7164d-f53c-46e4-88dc-3b469fb824ff_zps

I don't recollect having seen your photograph before, but I would guess that the camera man was standing with his back to the sea, looking inland, as the line gently bends away to the right.

 

Thanks for adding that.

 

Best regards

Michael

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Mate,

 

Numbers of Australian LH men were attached to this on Anzac;

 

BALDWIN Alan 1082 Pte 02 LHR 7R tos A Sqn 10-15 att (Rlwy) tram sect 11-15 (G) att WFF to Sig 10-16 recom MID - for his actions at Romani 4-8-16 & Bir El Abd 9-8-16 DCM - for his actions at Abu Tellul 14-7-18 to L/Cpl 10-18 to Cpl/Sig B Sqn? 11-18

BURSLEM Ronald Henry 100 Pte 11 LHR A Sqn att DSqn/02 LHR 8-15 att Rlwy & tramway sect 11-15 (G) to L/Cpl 4-16 WIA 19-4-17 chest shot at 2nd Gaza revert 6-17 later WWII brother Kenneth 11 LHR
CARRINGTON Douglas 121 Pte 11 LHR A Sqn D Troop att DSqn/02 LHR 8-15 att Rlwy & tramway sect 11-15 (G) to Dvr 3-16 revert 3-16 killed at 2nd Gaza buried Gaza War Cemetery Palestine brothers Gordon 5 Pnr Bn and John 3Bn both KIA
EDWARDS William 1017 Pte 02 LHR 6R tos B Sqn 10-15 att tram sect 11-15 (G) att WFF to 1 LH Bde HQ 3-16 to 4 Sect/1 LH MGS 10-16 WIA 19-4-17 R/shoulder shot reported one officer and 7 men wounded holding Turkish advance near Hareira at 2nd Gaza to 6 Sect 11-17 rtn 02 LHR 10-18 to NME UK poultry farming (Boer War British Imperial Light Infantry and 1st Kitchener's Fighting Scouts (1862)
JOYCE Herbert Norman 165 S/Smith 11 LHR A Sqn att DSqn/02 LHR 10-15 att Rlwy & tramway duty 11-15 (G) rtn 2-16 to 34Co AASC Anzac MDT 8-17 to T/Far/Cpl 12-17 revert 2-18 RTA family reasons later WWII brothers Horace 52Bn KIA and Clarence 25Bn KIA
KELLY Francis Edward 771 Pte 11 LHR 1R tos A Sqn att DSqn/02 LHR 8-15 att tramway duty 11-15 WIA 10-11-15 frost bite at Anzac (G) to 12Co/3Bn ICC 9-16 rtn Sad ASqn/11 LHR B Troop 11-16 to Sad/Sgt 8-18
McKENNY Charles Clement Neil 782 Pte 11 LHR 1R tos A Sqn att DSqn/02 LHR 8-15 att Anzac Tramway 11-15 (G) to Dvr 4 LH MGS 2-17 att 4 LH Field Troop AE 4-17 rtn 7-17 (B) later WWII
McLAREN Robert Saunders 1036 Pte 02 LHR 6R tos A Sqn 10-15 att Rlwy sect 11-15 att Tram sect 12-15 (G) att WFF att 6 MVS 8-16 disch 10-10-17 MU cardiac
McLEAN Henry Abraham 1105 Pte 02 LHR 7R tos A Sqn 10-15 att tram sect 11-15 (G) died dysentery on HS "'Glenart Castle" 'NKG listed on Lone Pine Memorial Gallipoli
McLEAN Henry Weston 1106 Pte 02 LHR 7R Tos 10-15 att tram sect 11-15 (G) to Dvr 12-15 att WFF to Dvr 1 DAC 5-16 to 4Bty/2 FAB 8-17 to A/Bdr 10-18 F&B RTA MU appendix
MILLS Charles Harold 540 Pte 02 LHR C Sqn att Tramway sect 12-15 (G) att WFF to 1 LH Bde HQ 9-16 to AProvC 12-16 to MMP Anzac MD HQ 4-17 to T/Cpl 3-18 shown mentioned for his actions with Pte Donnolly with 1 LH Bde HQ when pack horse went into Jordan river during crossing 23-3-18 revert to Pte 10-18
MURRAY Charles 443 Sgt 7 LHR B Sqn revert Pte 2-15 to L/Cpl 5-15 reduced 7-15 reported deserted at Anzac 22-8-15 att tramway sect 11-15 (G) to A/SSM 2-16 revert 3-16 to AProvC Anzac Police Cairo 4-16 to Troop Sgt 4-16 to SSM 6-16 reduced to Cpl 2 LHTR 11-16 to ADS (443a) 9-17 (British Seaforth Mounted Infantry possibly Boer War)
SOUL Allan William Hone 890 Pte 02 LHR 4R tos 5-15 tos A Sqn 8-15 att Tram sect 11-15 (G) att WFF WIA 9-1-17 arm at Rafa to L/Cpl 6-17 to AProvC Cairo 9-18 to ER 2/Cpl 2-19 to NME UK Motor engineering
WEEDMAN George Henry 1128 A/Sgt 02 LHR 7R tos B Sqn 10-15 att Rlwy sect 11-15 att tram sect 12-15 (G) att WFF to Sgt HQ/1 LH FSE 5-16 prom 2/Lt A Troop 12-16 WIA 22-12-17 L/hip shot reported lead engineer sect with Maj Derrington's B Sqn 03 LHR in raid on Hill 265 Bald Hill
WELLS Robert Isaac Howard 1052 Pte 02 LHR 6R Tos C Sqn? 10-15 att Rlwy sect 11-15 att Tram sect 12-15 (G) att WFF to batman to Lt Weller 1 LH Bde HQ 4-17 rtn 7-17 (CMF 2 years later WWII )
 

Most of these came from the 2 LHR and its attached Sqn from the 11 LHR. Where they were worked goes unrecorded.

 

S.B

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Monuryural,

 

Thank you very much for posting that image, it tells us a lot. Though only used as a man/animal powered tramway, it clearly shows that the system was built for the future, to railway standards, and that they had prepared for expansion. Clearly, the cutting under the bridge is wide enough for two tracks and the bridge has been built wide enough between the piers for another track to be laid.

 

Noting that this 2'6" tram/railway system was in use in Egypt and Gallipoli over twelve months before a light railway system was instituted by the BEF in France, one can only speculate on the poor decision by the BEF, in refusing to deploy the 2'6" railway equipment to France in 1914/15. Though operationally understandable, because of the existing French and German systems, the later decision by the BEF in 1916, to use a 60cm light railway system in France meant a much lower amount/tonnage of supplies could be moved, due to the lower axle load that could be carried by the 60 cm track and the lower stability of the track and rolling stock.

 

 

Cheers,

Hendo

 

 

Edited by green_acorn
Fix up some of my obvious grammatical errors
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For comparison with the sketch map showing the light railway at Suvla Point

below is the Turkish post-evacuation map indicating the railway as they found it

37ca8e9f-11df-42c9-8b40-1d3224aa25d5_zps

It is interesting to compare the two (English sketch & Turkish map) with the satellite view provided by Google. Either the sea has risen, or the coastline has sunk, but anyone going over that ground today should note the differences

 

regards

Michael

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On 8/10/2016 at 11:56, green_acorn said:

it clearly shows that the system was built for the future, to railway standards, and that they had prepared for expansion. Clearly, the cutting under the bridge is wide enough for two tracks and the bridge has been built wide enough between the piers for another track to be laid.

 

Hendo,

Looking at the seaward end of the track at the time of the evacuation, as given in the plan in Naval Operations Vol.III by Sir Julian S. Corbett (facing page 237) the the track was indeed double, at least at that point at that time.

[Link below is via the Naval History Net]

WW1Book-RN3-237.jpg

 

 

regards

Michael

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