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S.S. River Clyde

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Mal Murray View Drop Down
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    Posted: 30 Sep 2010 at 18:20

S.S. River Clyde

 

The SS River Clyde was a 4,000 ton collier built in Glasgow in 1905 and named after the River Clyde in Scotland. On April 25, 1915, the River Clyde was used as a Trojan horse for the landing at Cape Helles during the Battle of Gallipoli. The ship, carrying 2,000 soldiers, mainly from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers, 29th Division, and also, but often not mentioned, men from the Royal Dublin Fusiliers,[1]was beached beneath the Sedd el Bahr castle at V Beach, Cape Helles, on the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula. However, the plan failed and the River Clyde, lying under the guns of the Turkish defenders, became a death trap.

For the landing, the River Clyde was commanded by Commander Edward Unwin, a former merchant seaman and Royal Navy officer who had returned from retirement at the start of the war to command the torpedo gunboat, HMS Hussar, in the Mediterranean. The River Clyde had a battery of eleven machine guns from the Royal Naval Air Service under the command of Josiah Wedgwood mounted on the bow behind boiler plate and sandbags. Holes had been cut in the steel hull to provide sally ports from which the troops would emerge onto gangways and then to a bridge of smaller boats linking the ship to the beach. The hull was to be painted a sandy yellow as camouflage but the work was incomplete by the time of the landing.

Soldiers of the Australian 2nd Infantry Brigade disembarking from the River Clyde dock, May 6, 1915, prior to the Second Battle of Krithia. The light coloured patch on the starboard bow is part of the incompletely applied yellow camouflage paint.

Three attempts were made to get ashore by companies of the Munsters, the Royal Dublins and The Hampshire Regiment but all ended in costly failure. Further attempts to land were abandoned and the surviving soldiers waited until nightfall before trying again. The efforts of sailors to maintain the bridge from the ship to the beach, and to recover the wounded, were rewarded by six Victoria Crosses. The recipients were Commander Unwin (aged 51), Midshipmen George Drewry (20) and Wilfred Malleson (18), Able Seaman William Williams (34), Seaman George Samson (26) and Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Tisdall (24) from the Royal Naval Division (RND). Of these men, only Williams died during the landing. Samson was severely wounded the following day. On his return to Scotland he was handed a white feather while wearing civilian clothes. Tisdall was killed on May 6 when the 6th (Hood) Battalion of the RND, made its advance along Kanli Dere during the Second Battle of Krithia. Drewry, Samson and Williams had come from the Hussar along with Unwin. Malleson, who died in 1975, served on the battleship HMS Cornwallis.

After the Helles beachhead was established, V Beach became the base for the French contingent and the River Clyde remained beached as a dock and breakwater. Her condensers were used to provide fresh water and a field dressing station was established in the hull. She remained a constant target for Turkish gunners on the Asian shore.

In 1919, after the war had ended, the River Clyde was refloated and taken to Malta for repairs. As a tramp steamer, she was operated by Spanish shipping companies for another 50 years in the Mediterranean under various names, the last being Maruja y Aurora. In 1965 there was an attempt to purchase the River Clyde for preservation but in 1966 she was sold for scrap instead and broken up at Avilés, Spain.

References

  1. ^ H.C.Wylly 'Neill's Blue Caps'


Edited by Mal Murray - 30 Sep 2010 at 18:23
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mal Murray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 May 2013 at 18:06
When the River Clyde was being scrapped there were attempts to purchase her and prevent her scrapping. It was hoped that she could be preserved as a memorial, unfortunately the attempts failed.

It appears that this was NOT the first time that this suggestion had been made as the following extract from Prime Minister's Question time (House of Commons, 18 December 1919) shows.

Major Earl Winterton asked the Prime Minister if the "River Clyde" steamship can be brought home from Cape Helles, Gallipoli, and moored permanently in the Thames?

The Prime Minister. 
The vessel is lying at Malta very badly damaged, and the Ministry of Shipping have decided that they would not be justified in incurring the expense involved in bringing the vessel to the -United Kingdom and repairing her. Arrangements are, therefore, being made to sell her as she lies.

L
t. Comdr. Kenworthy.
 
Can the right lion. Gentleman give any approximation of the expense? Is he aware of the great sentiment among both naval and military men who were in the Dardanelles in regard to this vessel, and, in view of that, cannot the decision he reconsidered?

T
he Prime Minister.
 
There is no doubt great sentiment in favour of bringing this vessel back; if it could be done at anything like reasonable figures we should do it. Let me give an illustration. It would mean £20,000 for towing the vessel alone, but in addition she is so very badly damaged that I am told the cost of repair- 
ing her would be enormous, and could not be justified in the present condition of public funds.

L
t. Comdr. Kenworthy
 
Would it not be possible to preserve her at Malta as a great national relic? There would be no additional expense in keeping her there.

The Prime Minister. That may be worth considering. I quite realise the great sentiment that centres round this vessel, and I will further consider the matter.
http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1919/dec/18/ss-river-clyde

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BG2012 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 May 2013 at 22:59

Made interesting reading could you imagine walking her decks today knowing what happended to the brave men aboard.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Mal Murray Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25 Sep 2013 at 15:48
Here is some further information regarding this vessel.
 
Lloyds Registry shows three names for her.
 
S.S. River Clyde  -    1905 to 1921
 
S.S. Angela         -     1921 to 1929
 
MARUJA Y AURORA 1929 to 1966
 
 
Technical Speciafications/Service Details.
 
S.S. RIVER CLYDE built by Russell & Co Port Glasgow,
Yard No 537
Engines by J.G Kincaid & Co, Greenock
 
Last Name: MARUJA Y AURORA (1929)
Previous Names: 1905-21 RIVER CLYDE / 1921-29 ANGELA
Propulsion: Steam Triple Exp 3 Cyl (HP 25.18", IP 41", LP 67", Stroke 48")
Launched: Thursday, 23/02/1905
Built: 1905
Ship Type: Cargo Vessel
Tonnage: 3913grt
Length: 344.8 feet
Breadth: 49.8 feet
Draught: 17.9 feet
Owner History:
1905-15 River Clyde S,S Co Ltd (Ormond, Cook & Co), Glasgow
1915 Sefton S.S Co Ltd (H.E Moss & Co), Glasgow
1915-21 British Admiralty
1921-29 A Pardo, Santander
1929-48 Gumersindo Junquera Blanco, Gijon
1948-66 Gumersindo Junquera S.A, Gijon
Status: Scrapped - 15/03/1966
 

27/08/1937 Captured by Spanish Nationalists at Santander.
1966 Broken up at Aviles, Spain.


Edited by Mal Murray - 25 Sep 2013 at 15:49
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