The Great War, I was there - Part 9

penetrated inland. By Sedd el Bahr, where we hove to about (j.45, the light was very baffling land wrapped in haze, sun full in our eyes. Here we watched as best we could over the fight being put up by the Turks against our forlorn hope on the River Clyde. Very soon it became clear that we were being held. Through our glasses we could quite clearly watch the sea being whipped up all along the beach and about the River Clyde by a pelting storm of rifle bullets. \Y/e could see also how a number of our dare-devils were up to their necks in this tormented water trying to struggle onto land from the barges linking the River Clyde to the shore. There was aline of men lying fiat down undercover of a little sandbank in the centre of the beach. They were so held under by fire they dared not, evidently, stir. Watching these gallant souls from the safety of a battleship gave me a hateful feeling Roger Keyes said tome he simply could not bear it. Often a commander may have to watch tragedies from a post of safety. That is all right. I have had my share of the hair’s-breadth business and now it becomes the turn of the youngsters. But, from the battleship, you are outside the frame of the picture. The thing becomes monstrous too cold-blooded like onlooking at gladiators from the dress circle. GUN SAND RIFLES NEVER CEASED Co soon as we saw that none of our men had made their way farther than a few feet above sea level, the Queen [Elizabeth] opened a heavy fire from her 6-inch batteries upon the Castle, the village and the high steep ground ringing round the beach in a semicircle. The enemy lay low. At times the River Clyde signalled that the worst fire came from the old Fort and Sedd el Bahr at times that these bullets were outpouring from about the second highest rung of seats on the west of that amphitheatre in which we were striving to take our places. Ashore, the machine-guns and rifles never ceased—tic, tac,tic, tac, brrrr— tic, tac,tic, tac, brrrrrr ...drowned every few seconds by our tremendous salvos, this more nervous noise kept creeping back insistently into our ears. When we saw our “covering party ”hung up between the Castle and the deep sea, we had to issue fresh orders to the main body. Useless to throw them ashore to increase the number of targets on the beach. Roger Keyes started the notion that these troops might well be diverted to“Y ,”where they could land unopposed, and whence, by threatening the Turkish line of retreat, they might help their advance guard Vat“ ”more effectively than by direct reinforcement. The suggestion seemed simple commonsense. II it did not suit Hunter-West oil’s book (General Sir Aylmer Hunter-Wcston, command­ing the 29th Division] lie had only to say so. Certainly lie was in closer touch with all these landings than we were it was not for tome force his hands—there was no question of that: so at 9.15 I wirelessed as follows:“ G.O.C. inC. to G.O.C. Euryalus. “Would you like to got some more men ashore Yon‘ ’beach ?If so, trawlers are available.” Three-quarters of an hour passed the state of affairs at Sedd el Bahr was no better, and in an attack if you don’t get better you get worse the supports were not being landed no answer had come to hand. So I repeated my signal to Hunter-Weston, making it this time personal from tome him and ordering him to acknowledge receipt (Lord Bobs’ wrinkle) :“General Hamilton to General Hunter- Weston, Euryalus. “Do you want anymore men landed at‘ Y '?There are trawlers available. Ac­knowledge the signal.” At 11 a.m. 1 got this answer :“From General Hunter-Weston to G.O.C., Queen Elizabeth. “Admiral Wemyss and Principal Naval Transport OtTiccr state that to interfere with present arrangements and try to land men at‘ Y ’Beach would delay disembarkation.” II.M.S. Cornwallis ought to have been back from Morto Bay long ago. All sorts of surmises. Now we hear she has landed our right flank attack very dashingly, and that we have stormed de Tott’s Battery. How I wish we had left“ V ”Beach severely alone 1 Big flanking attacks at“ S”and“Y ”might have converged on Sedd el Bahr and carried it from the rear, when none of the garrison could have escaped. TURKS WERE DECEIVED D u t then, until we tried, we were afraid fire from Asia might defeat the de Tott’s Battery attack, and that the" Y ”party might not scale the cliffs. I should doubt if the Turks are in any great force quite clearly the bulk of them have been led astray by our feints and false rumours. About noon, a naval officer (Lieu­tenant Smith), a fine fellow, came off to get some more small arm ammunition for the machine-guns on the River Clyde. He said the state of things on and around that ship was “awful ”:spoken by a youth now on his mettle to speak with calm, one felt he meant 339 CAPTAIN O F THE RIVER CLYDE During the “forlorn hope of the River Clyde,” as Sir HamiltonIan calls it, Commander Edward Unwin washer captain and was awarded the V.C. for his heroic exertions during the landing. He is here seen later on when he was Beach Master at Suvla. Imperial War Museum “bloody.” The whole landing-place Vat“ ”Beach is ringed round with fire. The shots from our naval guns, smashing as their impact appears, m ignt as well be confetti for all the effect they have upon the trenches. The River Clyde is commanded and swept by rifles at 100 yards’ range. Her own double battery of machine- guns, mounted in a sandbag revetment in her bows, is preventing the enemy from actually rushing the little party of our men crouching behind the sand­bank, but the sea at Sedd el Bahr has turned tAred. 1.30 heard that d’Amade [the French commander] holds Kum Kale. De Robeck had already heard independently by wireless that the French (the 6th Colonials under Nogues) had carried the village by a bayonet charge at 9.35 a.m. On the Asiatic side, then, all’s well. The Russian Askold and the Jeanne d’Arc are supporting our Allies in their attack. Have told d’Amade that he will not be able to disembark Vat“ ”as arranged, but that he will have to take his troops round to “W”and march them across. At two o’clock a large number of our wounded who had taken refuge under the base of the arches of the old fort at Sedd el Bahr began to signal for help. The Queen Elizabeth sent away a picket boat which passed through the bullet so i2
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