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Remembered Today:

RNAS Armoured Cars at Gallipoli


Neil Clark

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I was wondering if someone could point me in the right direction regarding the RNAS Armoured Cars???

What were the Royal Naval Air Service doing getting involved in cars?

Are there any helpful publications concerning this most unusual of units?

VC Citation

7th November 1917

“For most conspicuous gallantry and leadership. Under the most difficult conditions in darkness and in an unknown country, he deployed his battalion for attack, and at dawn led his attacking companies against a strongly held position. When the leading waves were checked by a withering machine gun fire, Lieutenant Colonel Borton showed an contempt of danger, and moved freely up and down his lines under heavy fire. Reorganising his command, he led his men forward, and captured the position. At a later stage of the fight he led a party of volunteers against a battery of field guns in action at point blank range, capturing the guns and detatchments. His fearless leadership was an inspiring example to the whole brigade”.

Arthur Drummond (Bosky) Borton was born 1st July 1883 at Cheveney, Yalding near Maidstone Kent (Cheveney was the family residence). Arthur was the eldest son of Colonel A.C Borton DL,JP. Educated at Eton and at the Royal Miltary Academy Sandhurst. Arthur was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Kings Royal Rifle Corps (60th Rifles) in 1902. He served in the last few months of the Boer War and took part in operations in the Tranvaal. On 9th May 1906 Arthur was promoted to Lieutenant but two years later was invalided from the army unfit for further active service. Arthur returned to England in 1910 with the Queen’s South Africa Medal with 3 clasps. Arthur emigrated to the USA where he tried his hand at fruit farming.

Upon the outbreak of war Arthur answered the call of his mother country and immediately returned home to Cheveney. On 22nd October 1914 Arthur re-enlisted in his old regiment the Kings Royal Rifle Corps. At some stage Arthur threw in his army commission and joined the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) as an Observer. In January 1915 Arthur left for France with No 3 Squadron RFC a Lieutenant. On 3rd March 1915 Arthur was involved in a serious flying accident resulting in him breaking his neck in 2 places! For a second time Arthur was invalided unfit for further active service.

Somehow Arthur then obtained a commission in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve! He was immediately sent to Gallipoli as a Lieutenant Commander where he commanded two squadrons of Motor Machine Gun Armoured Cars (Royal Naval Air Service). Arthur took part in the Suvla Bay landings of 7th August 1915. It was at this stage in his military career that Arthur won his DSO.

Distinguished Service Order (DSO)

London Gazette 31st May 1916

“In recognition of most valuble services whilst in command of a detachment of Royal Marine Motor Machine Guns in difficult and dangerous parts of the line on the Gallipoli Peninsular”.

Arthur remained in Gallipoli until January 1916 - he was one of the last to be evacuated to Egypt (via Mudros).

In June 1916 Lieutenant Commander Arthur Drummond Borton DSO, RNVR somehow managed to obtain a commission in the army once more (Arthur was indeed a remarkable man)! Arthur was promoted Major and was appointed secon in command of the 2/22nd London Regiment. In July 1916 Athur was in France with his battalion. In November 1916 his battalion was sent to Salonika (Greece). Arthur served continuously at the front and was eventually given command of the battalion. This was without doubt the happiest time of Arthur’s life, he was absolutely elated to have been given the honour of commanding his own battalion.

In June 1917 Arthur and his battalion left Salonika for Egypt. Upon arriving in Egypt the 2/22nd London’s were rested for a short while before moving to the Palestine theatre (where Arthur was to win the VC).

After the war Arthurs life was virtually downhill all the way. He was unable to hold down a job and ran up large debts. Athur started to drink heavily. It was this state of affairs that led his father to change his will. Arthur although the eldest son, was not given Cheveney the family residence. Arthur took this very badly and decided to move to 3 Park Lane, Southwold in Suffolk with his wife Lorna. They lived here on a private income. Arthur’s father died in 1927. By this time the drink had well and truly taken hold of poor Arthur. On 5th January 1933 Arthur became ill and was taken to the cottage hospital in Southwold. At some stage he had a stroke. Athur died later that day never having regained conciousness (the drink had finally got him)!

On 9th January 1933 Arthur’s body was returned to Cheveney in Kent for burial in the Hunton parish burial ground. The army provided a guard of honour from 2nd London Regiment who also supplied 2 buglers to sound Reville and the Last Post. Arthur’s coffin was draped in the Union flag and then placed in the grave. His headstone read –

Arthur Drummond Borton VC, CMG, DSO

Lieutenant Colonel 60th Rifles

2/22nd London Regiment (The Queen’s)

Son of the late Colonel A.D Borton DL, JP

of Cheveney, Yalding, Kent

Herewith photo of brave Arthur wearing what appears to be the uniform of the RND! But obviously RNAS Armoured Cars.

Thanks

Neil

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What an outstanding story and what a man.

Rob

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Quite....

It's a pity the local inhabitants in and around Hunton/Yalding don't give a toss about his forgotten grave and decayed headstone...

We have had a go at cleaning it up as best we can. Herewith a photo AFTER doing so. You should have seen the state of it before!!!!!!!

post-2961-1175177393.jpg

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Neil,

Thanks for brining up this subject

Churchill's Admiralty was technically very go ahead compared with the WO; there were RN armoured trains, as well the aircraft of the RNAS.

At the time of the landing at 'V' Beach the RNAS machine gunners provided vital close support for those who landed there on the 25th April,

firing from prepared positions in the bows of the River Clyde.

Once on Gallipoli however, they found that it lacked the roads of western Europe and at Helles the attempts to use the RNAS's armoured cars were not a success. Thereafter they operated 'dismounted' as machine gunners and in that capacity they were at Suvla where they get a couple of very brief mentions in the OH, which also lists them as GHQ Troops. If I have read it correctly then 9, 10 & 11 Squadrons were on the peninsula while 3, 4 & 12 Squadrons were in Egypt.

Regards

Michael

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Thanks for that Michael.

Arthur Borton served in the RNAS Machine Guns alongside RM personnel. His DSO papers clearly mention the Royal Marines Machine Guns...

Anyone else able to help out?

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I don't think the info is classified (yet) but our forum expert on the RNAS Armoured Cars at Gallipoli is Steve (Krithia) and the records man is probably Horatio2. I also think that a search of the forum will also put up ten or more previous refs to the RNAS cars

I regret that I have been unable to find anything on your chap;

shame really. Like you, I hope to learn more

regards

Michael

PS: the ref to the Marines is a mistake, as is the other common error lumping them together with the RND. The RNAS Armoured Cars were a separate unit, strictly speaking not under either the RM or the RND.

At Suvla there was [as well as the RNAS Armoured Cars' machine gunners] a RND medical unit and the Anson Battalion, but as far as I know the RM were not involved on that front.

Edited by michaeldr
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I don't think the info is classified (yet) but our forum expert on the RNAS Armoured Cars at Gallipoli is Steve (Krithia) and the records man is probably Horatio2. I also think that a search of the forum will also put up ten or more previous refs to the RNAS cars

I regret that I have been unable to find anything on your chap;

shame really. Like you, I hope to learn more

regards

Michael

PS: the ref to the Marines is a mistake, as is the other common error lumping them together with the RND. The RNAS Armoured Cars were a separate unit, strictly speaking not under either the RM or the RND.

At Suvla there was [as well as the RNAS Armoured Cars' machine gunners] a RND medical unit and the Anson Battalion, but as far as I know the RM were not involved on that front.

The Fleet Air Arm Museum doed not hold RNVR officers' service records but he should appear in the Appointing/pay ledgers, which the FAAM does hold. Worth asking there. 'Manicafan' on thsi forum may also help from the RNAS perspective.

If you can get hold of Len Sellers' "RND", there is a long article on the Armoured Cars Division at Gallipoli by Steve Chambers in Issue No.4. There appear to have been two armoured car and four motorcycle squadrons in all.

I agree with Michael but would just point out that the men of the RND medical units were, in fact, RM - the RM Medical Unit of the RND.

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Horatio,

Thanks for the correction on the Med Unit

I see from Steve's article that Squadrons 9, 10 and 11 were in fact supplied with Scott motorcylces as opposed to the RR (Silver Ghost) Armoured Cars.

If the award was for action at Suvla, then as I mentioned earlier, the OH has these units as GHQ Troops and I wonder if it was their Army overlords who decided that they were Marines rather than RNAS for the purposes of the citation

from the LG

"Lieut.-Cdr. Arthur Drummond Borton,

R.N.V.R.

In recognition of most valuable services in

command of a detachment of R.M. machine

guns in difficult and dangerous parts of the

line in the Gallipoli Peninsula."

regards

Michael

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It helped that CR Samson was the senior officer of the RNAS, in ‘Fights and Flights,’ he mentions having a car fitted “with a Maxim for anti-aircraft purposes” before 25 August 1914 and it arrived in France on 28/8/14: modified so that the Maxim could also hit ground targets. Ideas for armouring the cars that they had taken across were discussed on 29/8/14. The Maxim armed car first went into action on 4th September 1914. The RNAS were also involved in the development of tanks (landships)!

The best book is: David Fletcher. 'War Cars' HMSO 198; some of the motor machine gun vehicles are described on this thread:

 

Distinguished Service Order (DSO) London Gazette 31st May 1916 “In recognition ... of Royal Marine Motor Machine Guns ...”. As it was a detachment it could be anywhere! In 1914 the Armoured Car Section was manned by the Royal Marines (see the 1914 Star medal roll); as were the Machine Gun Parties and Motor Owners and Drivers.

Service records: WO 374/7727 BORTON, Lieut Col A D Covering dates 1916-1919; 1933;

RNVR Officers' records in ADM 337 (card index in the microfilm reading room Kew), RND officers service cards are in ADM/339/3 (alphabetical order), ADM 340 has RNVR Officers' Service Record Cards and some Service Files (alphabetical order)

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PerApMpT

the LG does not mention 'Motor' but does mention 'Gallipoli'

see here

I think that it is clear that we are talking about 1915 here not 1914; do you agree?

regards

Michael

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That will teach me to copy the wrong post and go on someone elses look up. Sorry for any confusion caused.

The topic began with several questions including 'What were the Royal Naval Air Service doing getting involved in cars?' My contributions were to show some of the early development of these bikes/cars and also to indicate that the RM had been associated with the armoured car machine guns and what are later called motorbike MG combinations from the earliest days of the war. That would make it easier for the staff of the 'London Gazette' and even the Admiralty clerks to make mistakes. Sorry for trying to answer the question posed. The 1914 Starr roll is the only list I know of for armoured car personnel, (other that the unit that ended up in Russia) one day I'll check through it to see how many went to Gallipoli

The Admiralty file giving the background to his DSO can probably be found using the ADM 12 indexes. See this thread

 

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PerApMpT,

No harm done really.

After much scratching around here I have found one ref to Commander Borton

It appears in 'The War in the Air - Vol. II' by H. A. Jones

"On the 9th a new air service maxim squadron went into action on the Suvla front. This squadron, No.11, under Lieutenant-Commander J. W. Stocks, had arrived at Mudros together with No.9 Armoured Car Squadron (Lieutenant-Commander A. D. Borton) at the end of July. No.9 Squadron was also sent to Suvla, where it was landed on the morning of 16th and went into position with its machine-guns along the front of the 10th Division."

The above quote is from page 61 and is followed on that page and the next (62) by a very, very brief description of actions and the hand over (subsequent to Churchill's departure from the Admiralty) of this asset to the army. Special pleading by Hamilton who badly needed the machine-guns, meant that the units on Gallipoli were not in fact given over to the army right away; "Not before December 1915 had the naval squadrons on the peninsula handed over the last of their maxims to the infantry. The remainder, especially those with technical knowledge, were attached to the aeroplane units or were sent home for flying duties."

regards

Michael

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For more information on both Biffy and Bosky Borton, see Guy Slater's My Warrior Sons, published by Peter Davies in 1973. It's the edited diaries of the Colonel Arthur Close Borton, the father of the two Great War personalities.

Gareth

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Herewith a photo of Biffy Borton Bosky's brother. Also their father a former Colonel in the Somerset Light Infantry. During the Great War the father was the commanding officer of the local Royal West Kent Regiment Volunteer Battalion who were based in Maidstone -

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  • 9 years later...

Seeking Reginald Hope Young, PO Motor Mechanic RNAS Armoured Car Division. Born Sydney, Australia 1896-7, served Gallipoli, dd 27 Jan 1916, buried Haslar RN Cemetery (grave ref E24 12). Does anyone have a photo of this young man or any information about his life, service etc? V grateful for any pointers.

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Many thanks. GWF people are so incredibly helpful! I started off looking for information on RNAS Lee-on-the-Solent (still looking) and have already strayed into armoured cars and Gallipoli. Along the way I read about nurse Violetta Thurstan meeting armoured car men in Russia - so many interesting tangents to investigate...

13 minutes ago, notme said:

Many thanks. GWF people are so incredibly helpful! I started off looking for information on RNAS Lee-on-the-Solent (still looking) and have already strayed into armoured cars and Gallipoli. Along the way I read about nurse Violetta Thurstan meeting armoured car men in Russia - so many interesting tangents to investigate...

 

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On 20/06/2016 at 10:16, notme said:

Seeking Reginald Hope Young, PO Motor Mechanic RNAS Armoured Car Division. Born Sydney, Australia 1896-7, served Gallipoli, dd 27 Jan 1916, buried Haslar RN Cemetery (grave ref E24 12). Does anyone have a photo of this young man or any information about his life, service etc? V grateful for any pointers.

 

Can probably get you a photograph of the grave if you don't already have one? It's not far from here.

 

sJ

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  • That's very kind but I live about 10 minutes walk from Haslar. The bit that interests me is the armoured car / Gallipoli connection and I think I'm slowly sorting this out, although RH Young is a bit of a mystery. I like your librarian logo!
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 Thank you!

 

If you're in Alverstoke I've probably nearly run you over several times :o;)

 

If you're still looking for RNAS Lee-on-Solent material it might be worth contacting Lorna at the Local History & Naval Collection in the Gosport Discovery Centre - lorna.richmond @ hants . gov . uk without the spaces.

 

sJ

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F. 728 Petty Officer Mechanic Gerald Turpin Crook, RNAS was posted to the Royal Naval Air Service Armoured Car Division as a Petty Officer Mechanic serving with No. 3 Squadron at Gallipoli and in Egypt for 14 weeks from 4 March 1915 to 15 January 1916.  In April 1915 50 men from No. 3 Squadron were attached to the River Clyde with the task of firing their maxims to provide covering fire for the troops during the landing which took place on the morning of 25 April 1915. For bravery during the landing two men of the squadron received the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal and on officer the Distinguished Service Order.  No. 3 Squadron also took part in the First and Second Battles of Krighia from 28 April to 7 May 1915 with the squadron suffering almost 50 percent casualties. During the Third Battle of Krithia on 4 June 1915 four armoured cars of the squadron supported the attack by attempting a break through the Turkish wire entanglements. On 1 February 1916 on the disbandment of the Armoured Car Division he was discharged from the Royal Naval Air Service receiving a war gratuity ‘for service in land operations.’

He attested as 141644 Gunner, RFA on 28 April 1916 and after completing a course at the RFA Officer Cadet School at Exeter he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, RFA on 21 August 1916. Posted to D Battery, 235th Brigade RFA he received the Military Cross in the London Gazette of 26 September 1917. The naming on hiis 1914-15 Star is shown below:

Crook.jpg

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The Spring 2001 issue of The Gallipolian pages 42-54 has an article titled 'Royal Naval Armoured Car Division at Gallipoli' and War Cars: British Armoured Cars in the First World War also has some information on the RNAS Armoured Cars.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/29/2007 at 15:27, Neil Clark said:

Arthur Drummond Borton VC, CMG, DSO

 

Neil's thread on Borton having been recently revived allows me to add a link to The Naval Review and an article where he gets three mentions regarding his time with the (dismounted) machine-guns of the RNAS Armoured Cars at Suvla, Gallipoli; http://www.naval-review.com/issues/1910s/1916-2.pdf

 

see page 264: “I heard about this time that the officer who runs the machine guns at Jephson's post, which belong to the armoured car section of the R.N.A.S., is Arthur Borton, from Cheveney. Extraordinary running up against him out here. He is doing very good work there, and has a lively time; the enemy shell the place all day.”

 

see page 267/268 (from “6th.-A planned attack on the Pimple. .. ...”)

 

and at the foot of the latter page - “Borton came off for another bath on the 12th. He gave me a shell that had exploded inside Jephson's Post, an old powder-filled A.P. it looked like. The effect of the explosion was only to blow a small chunk out of the head”

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