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Steam Pinnaces/Picket Boats on 25th April 1915

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Rob L. View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 Feb 2013 at 18:36
Hi all, i'm currently looking at building a model diorama showing the 25th April Landings, and am struggling to work out how to build one of the steam picket boat/pinnaces as used to tow the oar powered landing boats closer to shore, and then give fire support.

"Dardanelles - a Midshipman's diary" by HM Denham gives more details on the configuration for the Suvla Bay Landings, a photo supposedly showing a visit by important Bulgarians to HMS Agamemnon shows an armoured superstructure around the boat's wheel, but no view of the forward armament - a photo earlier in the book but with no date, shows the armoured superstructure and a 3 pounder. By Suvla the picket boat of HMS Agamemnon had the armoured superstructure and a Maxim.

This GWF thread mentions Maxims fitted to the boats used at ANZAC beach - http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=127084&hl=+picket%20+boat#entry1212286

However this quote from 'Gallipoli' by Peter Hart mentions the boats at Y Beach having the three pounder still fitted;

"Each naval boat was ready with its machine gun, the picket boats with 3-pounders. 
Our battleships were now pounding away at the enemy – we were to 
advance no more, so they were able to fire without fear of hitting us."

Private Daniel Joiner, 1st KOSB, 87th Brigade, 29th Division

I'm especially interested as to the configuration of those at V Beach - I haven't been able to find any clear photographs of these from any beach on 25th April so far, even a relatively far away one should be able to tell whether the boat has the 3 pounder or Maxim, and any armour sheeting or not. I know films aren't a great source of historical material, but 'Tell England' has the boats with Maxim guns when by peacetime surely they'd have the 3 pounder back, and no armour sheeting (but this could have proved too much for the film makers) - in all other respects, apart from the Turkish machine guns, it's a highly accurate film and the most accurate WW1 film i'm aware of.

Many thanks, Rob


Edited by Rob L. - 05 Feb 2013 at 18:37
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John Mules View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Mules Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb 2013 at 15:42
Rob,
I have no specific knowledge here, but can possibly add a (current) Senior Service take on the likely fit out and capability of the boats referred to.
As is so often the case with the Senior Service, I think that some of the subtle differences in our internal, technical terminology may cause confusion to our associated branches and sister services; the description of steam pinnaces and picket boats is, I think, a case in point.
As you probably know, the vulnerability of coal-fired capital ships at anchor (and not 'in steam') led to steam pinnaces being carried to provide local defence, if required, using small arms whilst the ship renewed it's head of steam and her manoeuvrability. As I understand it, in more formal anchorage areas where defensive booms and regular defence patrols were in place, steam pinnaces were fitted with larger (3pdr) guns and ran regular patrols to defend against attacks by torpedo boats and were known as Picket Boats because of the nature of their task.
Thus the formal difference between a steam pinnace and a Picket Boat is relatively subtle and, in true naval fashion, the 2 types of boat may have frequently been interchanged - even now senior naval officers like to go one better than their compatriots if they can and especially in the display/possession of equipment/capability - 'mine's bigger than yours'! Wink 
Slightly more seriously, I would expect that all the boats in the tows used for the landings would have been armed to some extent and that the tows were constructed such that each group could provide mutual support to all its constituent parts whilst providing a coherent and layered fire plan for the whole force; given that the PBs were not beached, I would expect that, having cast off their tow, they would stand off and be ready to provide support from longer range with their heavier 3Pdrs whilst each of the cutters, launches and lifeboats would have been given Maxims (if available) and their crews armed to cover the landing troops whilst crossing the beach.
As far as armour around the steering position goes and presuming it to be a lesson identified during the campaign leading to a local retro-fit, I would suspect that it is likely to be a case that some may have been fitted and some not. I do think that it would be unlikely for there to have been any such armour around the 3Pdr as this would have needed changes to the gun itself in order to be effective.
In case it helps, I am attaching will post - when I have re-sized it to a suitable density to upload - a picture of a Picket Boat taken from my grand-mother's album which clearly shows the basic layout and 3Pdr; I cannot be sure of where this was taken, but suspect that it is from the Grand Fleet ('16/17) rather than the Med Fleet ('14/15) as the picture is later in the book.
John
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John Mules View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Mules Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb 2013 at 15:57
Herewith promised picture of the Picket Boat which has been fairly quickly 'tidied up'; the original is available to view in this post: http://forum.gallipoli-association.org/forum_posts.asp?TID=1419&title=photo-album-recording-ww1-qarnns-service  (the picture is on the first page of Pt2)
John
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Mal Murray View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mal Murray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb 2013 at 18:17
Fantastic photo John, many thanks for posting it.

Mal
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Peter Trounson View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Trounson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb 2013 at 20:55
The boat must have rocked when the gun was fired!
ANZACPRIDE
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Mal Murray View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mal Murray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Feb 2013 at 21:17
Hi again John,

Having now read your post regarding the tows and the possibility of them being equipped with some form of armament which would have acted in a mutually supportive way.

I have never read anything that reported that there was any such type of armament on the boats other than the personal weapons (rifles) carried by the troops being carried in them. Nor would the photos of V beach show such weapons on the boats.

The research I have done would indicate that the machine gun teams from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Royal Munster Fusilers were landed direct from the River Clyde, it also shows that there were machine guns from the R.N. Armoured Car section mounted on the fo'castle of the River Clyde to act in a fire support role.

it would appear that we modern soldiers have learnt a lot from the service of our forefathers.

Regards

Mal



Edited by Peter Trounson - 21 Feb 2013 at 05:09
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John Mules View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote John Mules Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 10:23
Mal,
My reference to the possibility of the tows make-up including a modicum of fire support capability was based on the OP's quotes and links as I will readily admit that my knowledge of the detail is scant!
However, accepting that Maxims may have been in short supply in the Army, I would presume that it was more likely for the Navy to hold a higher proportion of fire support type weapons than the poor old foot-sloggers (because of the necessity to be able to provide local defence to vulnerable ships at anchor when not in steam).
Also that, whatever the Staff plans may have been, individual Captains would have considered the arming of their boats in a cutting out expedition (which this effectively was, although somewhat larger than most!) to be entirely normal practice. Whilst not considered doctrine back then, structured fire support activity which we now consider routine would have been an almost instinctive thought process for Naval Officers and Senior Rates brought up to the Gunboat Diplomacy activity of the turn of the 19th Century!
 
All the above comes with the large proviso that I do not consider myself to be an even remotely knowledgeable exponent of 19/20th Century Naval Doctrine or of the details of the Gallipoli Campaign but do have a basic understanding of the history and a knowledge of modern amphibious doctrine allied with some routine data analysis skils.
 
BTW, glad you liked the pic - the cleaning is a little rough and ready as I am still learning that skillsetEmbarrassed but future efforts will hopefully improve.
John
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Mal Murray View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mal Murray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 10:26
Hi John,
 
Thanks for this post and your other excellent posts, it is only by these posts and similar that we can all learn more about the acutual events. Hopefully someone can clarify the points so that we can all learn.
 
Regards,
 
 
Mal
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Rob L. View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Rob L. Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Feb 2013 at 20:06
Very nice image - i've been contacted on other sites, and what I can gather is;

Most had Maxims fitted but some still retained the 3 pounder, and the armoured screens around the helm were fitted pre-landings, for use on operations away from the ship during the naval operations in the Dardanelles. I do not know if this would apply to all ships as not all of those at Gallipoli would have served in the naval operations beforehand, for example, HMS Chatham.

From what i've gathered, maxims and armoured helm position are the configuration most pinnaces were in, but 3 pounders were still seen and possibly non-armoured helm positions still seen, so will require a good look at photographs to see if they have the distinctive screen (three sided with a roof)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Peter Trounson Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Mar 2013 at 01:32
I have seen a drawing of a steam picket boat at the Dardanelles with a heavy machine gun positioned towards the bow. The boat seems to be a little bit smaller than the one in Johns photo.
ANZACPRIDE
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