The Landing on V Beach

From a newspaper cutting pasted in Captain Guy Nightingale's Diary - October 1915, 

The brunt of the fighting fell on the 29th Division, whose deeds in Gallipoli will assure them a place in history only equalled by the 10th Legion and Wellingtons Peninsular Veterans.

The plan for landing the 29th Division on the Gallipoli Peninsula at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915 was that five beaches were to be attacked simultaneously.

The main attack was to be on V and W beach, a subsidiary attack on X beach and flanking parties on S beach (Morto Bay) and Y beach

It was decided by the Allies to make a daylight landing because of the navy’s fears about local currents and reefs, which made them hesitant about landing a large body of men at night.

The landings were supported by 18 Battleships, 12 Cruisers, and 29 Destroyers

The landing at 'V' Beach was to be made by  The Royal Munster Fusiliers, The Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Hampshire Fusiliers, West Riding Field Royal Engineers, together with Field ambulances and Anson Battn RN Division

All the troops were under the command of Lieut-Colonel Carrington-Smith of the Hampshire Regiment

When I first read Morriarty's diary what struck me was the casual first entry which seemed to underplay the horror of that first day.
Sunday 25 April 1915
Landed on Turkish soil under a terrific fire from enemy entrenchments. Battalion lost about 17 killed and 200 wounded.
I lay in the open from 7am till 5pm and did not get a scratch. Dug ourselves in that night snipers going all night but we did not return their fire. Food for 24 hrs 2 biscuits and some water.

In fact there were very heavy casualties, on the landing and in the subsequent actions. Captain Guy Nightingale of the Munsters wrote in his diary (PRO 30/71/5) on 25 April 1915 that the Dublins lost 560 men and 21 officers in 15 minutes landing in open boats and in August 1915 he wrote  "number of men serving with the battalion (Munsters) when it left the UK was 1000 men, now there are 149, of these 149 men, 75 have been wounded and returned to the battalion 

V beach was to prove a difficult task and Sir Ian Hamilton admitted that he wished he had left it alone. 

Douglas Jerrold in the History of the RND says – V beach was, of all the landing beaches the most suitable for defence. The beach itself was no more than 10 yards wide and edged by a small but perpendicular bank of sand, not above 5 or 6 feet high. Beyond was a green amphitheatre rising over a gentle slope some 200 yards long to a height of 200 feet above the sea. It was commanded by Sed el Bahr castle and the slope was covered with trenches and dugouts invisible from the shore and deep enough to withstand the preliminary bombardment.
It remains a mystery why the Turks with their resources didn’t level the bank which would have made the landing much more difficult, even impossible.

Captain Geddes description - V Beach formed an Amphitheatre about 300X in diameter with Sed-Ell-Bahr fort on the Right, and on the Left high cliffs surmounted by Fort No.1. In no instance was the range greater than 300 yards.
There were two lines of trenches in front of each barb wire fence, the most fearsome I saw on any front. Solid metal stakes riveted to plates sunk in the ground. Each belt of wire was about 15 feet thick. 
I estimated the strength of the Turks at 400 to 500, with 2 Pom-Pom and 6 Machine Guns.
There was little or no fire from Sed-Ell-Bahr. The fire came chiefly from the high ground in enfilade from the Left. and the Village itself.

On Four Fronts with the RND - V Beach is admirably suited for defence and the enemy had taken full advantage of the lie of the land. Sedd el Bahr village although severely handled by our ships, still afforded great protection for Turkish machine gunners and snipers, and every house had been turned into a miniature fort.

Mistakenly it had been presumed that the preliminary barrage from HMS Albion would devastate the willingness of the Turkish troops to resist but it was not the case.

Part of the 29th Division was to be landed from the River Clyde on V Beach preceded by some 700 men in boat tows

Deploying about 2800 men V beach was to be the most important of the landings on Cape Helles and success depended on the forts being taken early and the troops from the other beaches being able to join up.

The River Clyde was a collier of around 2000 tons and was converted into a 'Horse of Troy' by cutting sally ports through the steel plates in her sides. She held about 2,100 troops together with the necessary crew, and had eight machine guns mounted on her decks at the bows in a protected barricade.

The orders for the day are in the Munster War diaries as follows

Operation Order no 1 by Lt Col Tizzard, commanding 1st Battn Munster Fusiliers 24 April 1915

1. Information 

Information points to a landing on Turkish territory being opposed. The detail of landing of the covering force has already been issued

2 Intention
The first objective is the village of Sed-Ell-Bahr (exclusive) and Forts 1 and 2 inclusive. This line will be attacked vigorously as soon as a landing has been effected.

3 Objectives.
Z coy will land on the starboard side of the vessel and attack the line from the village to half way between it and Fort 1. X coy will land on the port side and attack the line extending from half way between the village and fort 1 to fort 1
W coy will support Z coy
Y coy will support X coy
2 m/c guns will follow X coy and select positions to assist attack

As soon as the line allotted to the Battn has been secured the Battn will push on and effect a junction with the Dublin Fusilier’s on the right and the Lancashire Fusiliers on the left

The plan being that half an hour after the towed boats had landed the River Clyde would run aground on V beach, troops would emerge through the sally ports on to gangways running along each side towards the bows of the vessel. These gangways then led down to two barges, which were to form a gangway to shore.

The barges which would form the gangway to shore were to be towed alongside the vessel, and with the forward impetus, they would shoot forward when the vessel was beached. They could then be manoeuvred into position so that the troops could run along them to shore and so land quickly, form up, and develop the attack.

That was the plan!!!

What follows is a combination of reports from the Munster’s war diaries in PRO ref no WO 95, and the source books mentioned

Captain G W Geddes X Company Commander 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers -

Dawn broke on April 25th. a beautiful morning and not a breath of wind and a slight haze which rapidly disappeared.
At 05.00 hours the naval bombardment of the Turkish defences commenced, all troops were ordered below decks.

About this time three companies of Royal Dublin Fusiliers and one platoon of Anson Battallion RND embarked from mine sweepers into Six tows of boats, each made up of a pinnace and four cutters. They were intended to land half an hour in advance of the men from the River Clyde. Five tows onto V beach and 1 tow to Camber, a small harbour to the right of V beach.

Defeat at Gallipoli

- The boats were near to the entrance to the Dardenells, they encountered the full force of the current and their progress was delayed. When they failed to appear the naval bombardment of V beach continued until about 6:30 am

The River Clyde had begun her approach intending to beach half an hour after the boats but started to overtake them. To avoid the confusion of the second wave of troops landing before the first, Commander Unwin steered the Clyde on a circular course through the crowded water. After turning 360 degrees the River Clyde began her second approach, she was still slightly ahead but nothing could be done.

Reports talk of the many small boats that were milling about – lighters, tugs and auxiliary craft – all necessary for landing troops from open boats onto a hostile shore.

Gallipoli by Robert R James

- The Turks had been shaken but not obliterated by the naval bombardment. The interval between the shelling and the actual landing was a reprieve for them; they had time to return to their trenches to take up fighting positions again.

The River Clyde beached according to plan in water that was out of the men's depth. (And there she remained throughout the whole of the campaign.)

Captain Guy Nightingale who was on the Clyde wrote in a letter dated 1 May 1915 -  the water was shallower than they thought and the Clyde was stuck about 80 yards out.

Geddes -

None of us felt it, there was no jar. As she beached 2 Companies of the Dublins in "Tows" came up on the Port side and were met with a terrific rifle and machine gun fire. They were literally slaughtered like rats in a trap. Many men sank owing to the weight of their equipment and were drowned. The carnage on 'V' Beach was chilling, dead and wounded lay at the waters edge tinted crimson from their blood.

Gallipoli – Nigel Steel

After being set adrift by their steam pinnaces, the boats had to row the last few hundred yards to the shore. The Turks waited until the men tossed their oars and were within 20 yards of the shore and swept them with fire.

Lt Col Tizzard

said - I don’t think that out of the 240 men in the boats more than 40 got ashore without being hit – most were killed outright, many sank from exhaustion and loss of blood and were drowned, the water by this time was red with blood

Guy Nightingale – As each boat got near the shore snipers shot down the oarsmen. The boats then began to drift, and machine gun fire was turned onto them, you could see the men dropping everywhere, and of the first boat load of 40 men only 3 reached the shore, all wounded. In his diary entry for 25 April 1915 he says the Dublins lost 21 Officers and 560 men in 15 minutes.

Another source (Defeat at Gallipoli) says that there were 700 men in the boats and only 300 made the shore

The troops on the River Clyde waiting under cover to disembark watched in horror as their comrades in open boats were annihilated

Lt Col Tizzard  - As the River Clyde came inshore a very heavy fire from rifles, machine guns and pom-poms was directed at her, also at the boat tows that ran in along side soon after. This fire was so accurate that those in the boats were practically wiped out and very few got ashore. Wounded men jumped from the boats and took cover on the far side but were all eventually shot down and drowned. The lighters alongside the vessel which were to have formed a gangway to the shore went wide of the vessel and very gallant efforts were made by Commander Edward Unwin RNR – attached to the River Clyde and midshipman Drury to rectify this, which was eventually done

Defeat at Gallipoli -

In fact this was a remarkable feat, they had to connect a line to a rocky spit instead of the shore, there was nowhere to fix the boats so Unwin (who was 51 years old) submerged himself and wound the line around himself using his body as an anchor point. He was helped by Drury,

The first few men got ashore then a shell splinter hit Drury. To prevent him drowning Unwin released the line and the heavy lighter was pulled away by the current just as the second wave led by Captain Geddes was starting to emerge on the port gangway

Geddes -

The lighters swung crossways across the bows of the River CLYDE. In the meantime the Dublin’s were struggling to get ashore.

Within five minutes of the "Clyde" beaching Z Company got away on the Starboard side. The gangway on the Port-side jammed, and delayed X. Company for a few seconds. and off we went the men cheering wildly, and dashed ashore with Z. Company.

We got it like anything, man after man behind me was shot down but they never wavered. Lieut. Watts who was wounded in five places and lying on the gangway cheered the men on with cries of "follow the Captain".

Captain French of the Dublins told me afterwards that he counted the first 48 men to follow me, and they all fell. I think no finer episode could be found of the men’s bravery and discipline than this - of leaving the safety of the River Clyde to go to what was practically certain death.

Leaving the Clyde I dashed down the gangway and found the Lighters were already holding the dead and wounded from the leading platoons. I stepped on the second lighter and looked round to find myself alone, and yelled to the men following out of the Clyde to come on, but it was difficult going across the lighters then I jumped into the Sea and had to swim some dozen strokes to get ashore. There is no doubt that men were drowned owing chiefly, I think, to the great weight they were carrying - a full pack, 250 rounds of ammunition, and 3 days rations - I know I felt it. All the Officers were dressed and equipped like the men.

A photo taken from the deck of the River Clyde looking towards the shore of V beach. There are dead and wounded men in the lighter. The spit of rock can be seen on the right and the men huddled under the sand bank in the centre. The drifting lighter can be seen on the left hand side

Lt Col Tizzard says in his report - The further lighter had broken adrift and slewed round at right angles to the nearest and the men had to jump into deep water. Capt Geddes himself, who was leading his company had to swim about 20 yards. Many who followed him were drowned by the weight they carried. Capt Unwin and Midshipman Drury and the crew who had not previously been hit now went out again to get the lighter in a better position. Geddes There was a small rocky spit jutting out into the sea, which was absolutely taped down by the Turks and few, if any survived who attempted to land there.

Lt Col Tizzard

  - a gangway being made by the two lighters and a ships cutter with a plank towards a spit of rock. This place was littered with dead from the boats, which ran in at this point.

Many reports say that the intention was for the men to be able to land directly onto the beach, but because of the original problem with the lighters veering off, the spit of rocks was the only place available. This meant the troops were funnelled together even longer as they made their way over the rocks


- We all made, Dublin’s and all, for a sheltered ledge on the shore which gave us cover Here we shook ourselves out and tried to appreciate the situation, rather a sorry one. I estimated that I had lost about 70% of my Company, 2nd Lieut.’s Watts and Perkins were wounded and my C.Q.M.Sgt killed.

Lt Col Tizzard  – I saw many gallant deeds done but in most cases the men were killed. Only about half the 2 companies I had sent out were fit for work, the rest were out of action and men who left the cover of the bank were immediately hit. I saw at this time it was impossible to carry out the original scheme as to move out in any formation for the attack on to the objectives given to me meant certain death

Defeat at Gallipoli - 

There was a lull in the landing caused by the drifting lighters and the congestion of bodies.

Colonel Mahmut

commanding officer of the Turkish troops defending this area incorrectly said - The enemy troops were so frightened that they refused to disembark from the large transport. Their officers had drawn their swords and were sending the men down the ladders but they could not escape the Turkish bullets. In many cases one bullet accounted for several of the enemy

Defeat at Gallipoli - 

It has been said that the modification of the River Clyde had inadvertently created one of the most dangerous military positions, a defile that opens at close range on to an entrenched military position. The narrowness of the pontoon bridge and the rocky spit forced the disembarking soldiers to collect together at exactly the point where the enemy’s fire was strongest with the result that more than half of the troops were killed or wounded

Defeat at Gallipoli -

By this time Geddes was exhausted, most of the officers who had tried to land were dead or wounded and it was impossible to leave the cover of the bank. But he could see that his right flank was unprotected and if there was a Turkish attack from that direction there would be no warning and little they could do. So he decided to lead a party of men over to the right across a dip in the bank towards the base of the fort

7:00am Geddes

- Seeing that Sed-Ell-Bahr and the beach to our right was unoccupied, and fearing the Turks might come down I called for volunteers to make a dash for it, and make good the Right of the Beach.

Private W Flynn of the Munsters

- I heard somebody shout "Hoi Flynn" I said yes sir I knew the voice it was Capt Geddes, he was the other side of this bit of land that was jutting out. He said we’ve got orders to get round near the Fort, I said oh that’s good. He said we can get into a bit of an indent and we will be safe. I said thank the lord for that, Well as we was running around he was in front, about seven of us all told. He got hit on the epaulettes and it turned the bullet down through his shoulder. He got round all right he didn’t stop.

Defeat at Gallipoli

- Geddes confirmed in a letter 30 April that " had a button shot off and was plugged through the shoulder, the bullet coming out my back"

Lt Col Tizzard  – Capt Geddes led out 5 men towards the right to protect that flank, having to cross a short gap in the bank to do so. He himself was shot and 2 men killed out of the party. About a quarter of an hour later another platoon attempted to cross but most were hit.


- This little party attempted to get a lodgement inside the Fort but we couldn’t do it so we dug ourselves in as well as we could with our entrenching tools.

Captain and Adjutant H E Wilson RMF -

During the day those men who reached the shore dug themselves in to the best of their ability. Many of them being shot by snipers while doing so The enemy continued to fire at any wounded who moved. In spite of this several were brought back to the ship by officers and men who showed the most utter disregard for their personal safety


- Sergeant Ryan made some daring reconnaissance during the day, reporting the further side of the FORT well held.
I reported to Colonel Tizard by semaphore from the shore that I could do nothing, as I had no men left. He told me to go for my objective Fort No l. but it could not be done.
About two hours afterwards Lieut. Tomlinson and three men crawled over to me.


- At about 1100 hours? [Lt Col Tizzard says in his report – between 8:30 am and 9:00 am] Major Jarrett with half of Y Company landed and met the same fate as the rest of us, after which no further landing was attempted.

Lt Col Tizzard

  – I now sent out half of Y company under Major Jarrett. They had many casualties getting ashore. The spit of rock over which the men had to pass was now littered with dead and to my mind it appeared a veritable death trap

The Guns of H.M.S. "Albion" (and the machine guns on the River Clyde) did no material good.

10:00 am Captain and Adjutant H E Wilson RMF -

Brigadier General Napier and his staff came on board and orders were issued to send more men ashore. Two companies under Major Beckwith was ordered to make the attempt. But after the first 15 men had gone down the gangway the barge again drifted into deep water and only one or two got ashore. The remainder lay down on the barges. Brigadier Major Napier seeing this and apparently not knowing the reason, dashed down the gangway with his Brigade major. When they reached the barge they both lay down – the barge was being very heavily fired on from the shore. After 15 minutes, the major ran to the end of the barge, then came back, and lay down beside the Brigadier General. Seeing this the snipers on the cliff opened fire and both the Brigadier General and his major were shot dead

By about 9:00 am the landing had stalled with around 1000 men still inside the River Clyde – if the Turks had possessed any field artillery capable of being brought to bear on the Clyde’s un armoured hull the troops inside would have been annihilated.. As it was the sea was deep red for 50 yards out to sea.

Sir Ian Hamilton in his Gallipoli Diary

  - When we saw our party hung up between the castle and the sea we had to issue orders to the main body. (reserves waiting to land on V beach)
It was useless to throw them ashore to increase the numbers of targets on the beach. These troops might as well be diverted to Y beach to threaten the Turkish line of retreat – which may help those on V beach better than direct reinforcements.
He also said – How I wish we had left V beach alone, big flanking attacks at Y and S might have converged on Sed-el-Bahr and carried it from the rear.
The River Clyde is commanded and swept by rifle fire at 100 yards range. Her double battery of machine guns in a sand bag revetment is all that is preventing the Turks from rushing the men crouched behind the sandbank on the beach.

Sir Ian was watching this from the Battleship Queen Elizabeth as she steamed along the landing beaches

Lt Col Tizzard

  10:20 am - Lt Col Carrington Smith of the Hampshires, the overall commanding officer was killed on the lower bridge and I took over command. I had on board as far as I can remember 1 platoon Y coy RMF, all of W coy RMF, 4 m/c guns, one and a half coy of Hampshire regt, 1 coy Dublin Fusiliers, 1 Platoon Anson Battalion RND, 1 platoon Worcester Regt, 3 bearer subdivisions Ambulance corps, 1 coy West Riding Field Coy RE. I decided to wait till after dark before sending in the rest of the troops.

I had sent orders ashore earlier in the day to try to get the wire cut in front of the bank. I thought if this could be done we might get a rush from cover through it although I knew it would cost many men, Five men went forward and they had not gone more than 15 yards from the bank when they were all shot down. Four were killed and one wounded who got back to the ship after dark.. I saw to attempt this was impossible

Lt Col Tizzard

  - about 7:30 pm to 12:30 I sent the rest of the troops ashore without too much loss.

Geddes -

About 8.30 p.m. when it was quite dark Major Jarrett, Lieuts Russell, Lee & Nightingale with the remnants of W.Y.& Z. Companies came over to me without molestation. I suggested to Jarrett that the best thing was to establish oneself in the FORT and try and get the village of SED-EL-BAHR. He was killed alongside me, and shortly after Lieuts Russell and Lee were wounded.

Nightingale letter 1 May 1915 -

we had got ashore somehow with a rain of bullets all around me. I found Jarrett and a lot of men, but very few not hit. We took up an outpost line and I had just put out my sentry groups and Jarrett came up to have a look, when he was shot through the throat by my side. He died very soon after

Geddes -

Suddenly Major Williams and Beckwith appeared out of the dark with two Companies of the Hampshires from the River Clyde. Not a shot being fired as they were unobserved.

Lt Col Tizzard - at about 2:30 am I recd a message saying they had got into the fort, but were held up by snipers high up on the walls. They were eventually cleared and the attack went on.


Not being a military historian, there is little of my own original thoughts on these Gallipoli pages. I have taken the liberty of quoting from some of the books and papers I have read and have tried to acknowledge each reference.

Hand-written report of the landing by Lt Col Tizzard Royal Munsters dated April 24 to April 28 ref Battn war diaries PRO WO 95

Report of the landing by Capt G W Gedes Royal Munsters dated 25 April 1915 (written later) ref Battn war diaries PRO WO 95

Hand-written reports by various officers of the Munsters dated 24 to 26 April 1915 ref Battn war diaries PRO 95

Letters and Diary written by Captain Guy Warneford Nightingale PRO ref 30/71

Gallipoli Diary 1915 by Sir Ian Hamilton published 1930

Defeat at Gallipoli by Nigel Steel and Peter Hart published 1994

The Royal Naval Division by Douglas Jerrold published 1923

Great Battles of the Great War by Michael Stedman and Ed Skelding published 1999

Gallipoli by Robert R James, published 1965

Gallipoli by Nigel Steel published 1999

Moriarty’s Diary 25 April to 13 July 1915 from from the authors collection

On Four Fronts with the Royal Naval Division by G Sparrow MC and J Macbean Ross MC published 1918

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