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Turkish Naval Operations at Gallipoli/Dardanelles.

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Mal Murray View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 Jan 2011 at 19:57
The following article is given from the Turkish point of view of operations at the Dardanelles during the Great War.
 
This article and further Turkish Naval articles related to the Great war may be viewed here;
 
 
Major Naval Operations
Part II: The Dardanelles

In the summer of 1914, as the clock was ticking down to war in Europe, the Dardanelles were only weakly defended. Mines that were laid during the Balkan War had been removed during the earlier months of the year and there were only a handful coastal batteries at the entrance and in the middle part of the straits. After the war broke out, the Turkish High Command ordered the partial closure of the Dardanelles as a part of the mobilization. Mines began to be laid by Samsun, Selanik and İntibah and coastal batteries began to be strengthened against possible Allied attempts to cross the straits.

These measures were not deemed enough in the face of an Allied fleet that was already patrolling off the Dardanelles since early August. The Turkish High Command and the German Military Mission decided to use an old warship as a floating battery inside the Dardanelles. The task was given to the battleship Mesudiye, which was in service since 1874, and on 16 September 1914, under the command of Major Beşiktaşlı Arif Bey (who would later be replaced by Fazıl Bey), Mesudiye arrived in the Dardanelles and anchored at Sarısığlar Bay off the Nara Point on the Asian shore.  Later on, most of the guns of Mesudiye would be dismantled to be used at coastal batteries but the ship would stay where it was.


On 2 November 1914, a few days after Goeben and Breslau have bombed the Russian Black Sea ports, bringing the Ottoman Empire officially into the war, the Allied fleet opened hostilities. The first casualty was the gunboat Burak Reis, which was sunk off İzmir. The next day, action began at the Dardanelles. Two British cruisers, Indefatigable and Indomitable bombarded Seddülbahir (where the arsenal received a direct hit) and Ertuğrul batteries on the European shore, whereas the French Suffren and Verite shelled the batteries on the Asian shore.

The Allies were planning first to cross the straits with submarines, which would make the warships’ job easier in the subsequent phases of the war. However, crossing the straits was not an easy job, not only because of the mine barrages, coastal barriers, observers and projectors, but also because of the strong currents and differences in water density. The first Allied submarine to be sighted by the Turks was the French Faradi, which, on 23 November, approached the entrance of the Dardanelles, but had to retreat as the Turkish batteries at Seddülbahir opened fire. A few days later, the British submarine B-11, commanded by Lt Cmd Norman Holbrook was given the task to attempt to force the Dardanelles.

B-11 set sail from Tenedos on the early hours of 13 December 1914. Successfully passing under five mine barrages, she arrived at the Sarısığlar Bay where she sighted Mesudiye at around 11:30 am. B-11 fired two torpedoes. Mesudiye immediately opened fire with her remaining guns, but this was to no avail. In 10 minutes the battleship capsized and sank in shallow water. In his memoirs, Captain Üsküdarlı Rıfat Bey, who was the acting commander of Mesudiye at the time of the attack, wrote about the details of the event: “There was no point in continuing to fire. I had to think about the personnel, so I ordered ceasefire to be followed by an order to leave the ship. The first torpedo of the enemy submarine hit a little above the ammunition storage of Mesudiye’s stern guns. If it were only 15-20 cm below, it would be a direct hit on the ammunition storage and the ship would blow up in the instant. We had replaced the removed guns with sand and chains in order to keep the balance. If that had not been done, the ammunition storage would be elevated and that would result in a direct hit.”1

Mesudiye firing on the submarine B11
Source: The War Illustrated, 10 April 1915



As B-11 returned to its base, the Turkish transport Bolayır rescued 48 officers and 573 men from Mesudiye. Some sailors were trapped inside the ship and it took 36 hours to release them. Total Turkish losses were 34, including 10 officers and 24 men. The guns salvaged from Mesudiye were installed at a coastal battery named after the ship itself.

The loss of Mesudiye was a psychological blow for the Turks, which forced them to strengthen the defenses of the Dardanelles. New mine barrages were erected by Samsun and Nusrat. By the end of 1914, there were 9 lines comprising of a total of 324 mines inside the Dardanelles. On the Allied side, encouraged by B-11’ssuccess, Vice Admiral Sackville Carden asked for more submarines to be deployed in the area, although his request could only be fulfilled to a limited extent by the Admiralty. Carden also decreed that no Allied submarine would sail on patrol without his express permission.

In an attempt to replicate the success of B-11, the French submarine Saphir left its base in the early hours of 15 January 1915 and to attempt to break through to the Sea of Marmara, without Carden’s permission. It managed to pass under the mine barrages, however as it surfaced off the Nara Point, close to the location where Mesudiye was sunk, it came face to face with the Turkish gunboat İsa Reis and minelayer Nusrat. Turkish ships opened fire on Saphir, which was badly damaged. The submarine hit the bottom first, then surfaced and sunk again. 14 French sailors were dead and 13 survivors were rescued from the sea by Nusrat.

At the same time when Saphir was making its final voyage,the War Council in London was debating the plan for the upcoming Allied attack to force the Dardanelles and open the way to the Sea of Marmara and eventually to Istanbul. The first phase of the plan was implemented on 19 February when 6 Allied warships opened fire on the forts at the entrance of the Dardanelles, though without much success. Six days later the Allied fleet stroke back and although at the end of the day it had to retreat after facing a serious counterattack, it still managed to destroy some Turkish guns.

March 1915 started with small-scaled attacks of the Allied fleet. Nearly every day one or two battleships entered the Dardanelles, shelled the Turkish batteries and retreated. Mine sweeping efforts of the Allied fleet did not prove to be successful due to Turkish artillery fire.


Minelayer ship Nusrat
Source: "Atatürk ve Çanakkale'nin Komutanları"



A Minelayer Writing History

18 March 1915 was the day when the Allies embarked on a disastrous attempt to cross the Dardanelles and -having failed to do so and suffering severe losses- had to completely change their war plans. On that day, a combined Allied fleet, now under the command of Admiral de Robeck tried to force the straits. However, this renewed attack by 16 Allied battleships plus many other smaller vessels proved a big failure, mainly due to the unsuspected drifting mines laid by the Turkish minelayer Nusrat, commanded by Major Tophaneli Hakkı Bey. The mines were laid there ten days ago. The diary entry of Major Nazmi Bey, Nusrat’s mining officer, for 8 March 1915, was as follows: “Upon the order received, at 05:30 in the morning Nusrat established a line of 26 carbonic mines between Paleokastro and Erenköy coast and safely returned home. No enemy was sighted. Mines are laid at a depth of 4.5 meters with intervals of 100-150 meters. There has been light bombardment from enemy fortifications.”2

Nusrat had changed the course of the war. 5 Allied warships were sunk or disabled by mines on 18 March. These were the British Inflexible, Irresistible and Ocean; and the French Bouvet and Gaulois. Furthermore, the Allies lost 2 destroyers and 7 mine sweepers. Their total human loss was 1,273 dead and 647 wounded against a Turkish casualty toll of 124 dead. After this failure, the Allies gave up the idea of forcing the Dardanelles with only a naval force. (Read more on the events of 18 March 1915 in the Gallipoli section).


Another Allied attempt to break through from beneath the sea came on 17 April, this time by the British submarine E-15. She was caught by strong currents and forced to surface as she was right off the Dardanos batteries. Turkish guns immediately opened fire as the submarine was driven on to the sand banks. The commander of the submarine and 6 men were killed and the rest of the crew was taken prisoner. In the afternoon on the same day Turks began with the salvage, however the next night a steamboat from the Majestic approached the grounded E-15 and managed to torpedo it in order to prevent the salvage.

25 April 1915 was the first day of Allied landings. British forces landed at the tip of the peninsula, Anzacs further north and the French on the Asian shore. The day was marked by a strong resistance by the Turks, unexpected by the Allied commanders. This resistance was supported by Turkish warships Turgut Reis and Barbaros Hayreddin that shelled the British landings. These two ships had been stationed at the Dardanelles for the last two months.

The Australian Submarine

What was unexpected for the Turks was, however, that as the Allied troops were landing on the shores of Gallipoli, an Australian submarine, AE-2, was making its way through the straits. Commanded by Lt Cmd. H.G. Stoker, the AE-2 left its port at Tenedos and entered the straits at 02:30 am on 25 April. She was detected by Turkish batteries, however she could evade them by submerging. Sailing through strong currents and beneath mine barrages and with mine wires scraping her body several times, AE-2 managed to pass through and around 06:00 am, as she rose to the periscope depth, she found itself off the city of Çanakkale. She could not stay surfaced for a long time, due to Turkish gunfire and tracking warships, and had to submerge again. She was grounded twice, but each time Stoker could keep his submarine going. Early the next morning, AE2 sighted Turgut Reis, she fired two torpedoes, but they passed ahead of the Turkish warship. About 07:00 am on 26 April she passed the town of Gelibolu and entered the Sea of Marmara. The Australian submarine thus became the first Allied submarine to do so during the World War. 

That day as Stoker was trying to figure out how to get the message on AE-2’s success to the Allied headquarters and what to do next, the submarine encountered Barbaros Hayreddin, fired a torpedo, but missed the warship. The next day, AE-2 sighted a transport that was escorted by the torpedo boat Sultanhisar. It was yet another miss for the submarine, which had to escape from Sultanhisar’s attack by diving away. On 28 April, this time a four-ship convoy escorted by Muavenet-i Milliye was sighted, a torpedo was fired, but it went wide.


At this time, Sultanhisar, commanded by Captain Ali Rıza Bey, was fastidiously looking for the AE-2 around the area between Maydos (TR: Eceabat) and Çanakkale when it was ordered to return to Istanbul because it would be replaced by another torpedo boat, Basra. At around 08:00 am on 30 April, as she was off the Marmara Island on her way back to Istanbul, the tide turned for Sultanhisar. The submarine she was looking for was right there. Sultanhisar immediately opened fire on AE-2’s periscope. At this point, Stoker and Ali Rıza’s accounts differ from each other. Stoker argued that he did not fire any torpedoes, whereas Ali Rıza wrote that he evaded AE-2’s torpedo.3 Meanwhile, Sultanhisar, which had two torpedoes, fired both of them. The first failed to ignite and fell overboard, whereas the second was a miss.

AE-2 was damaged and could not submerge. On the other side, Sultanhisar was out of torpedoes and its guns were ineffective. Ali Rıza Bey’s decision was to collide with the submarine for a final blow, no matter how risky it was. Later the captain wrote about this decision in his memoirs: “Collision… When this crossed my mind, I looked at my ship first and then at the opposing vessel. Next to this 800 something tons vessel, mine was looking like a small boat. Could the power of 93-ton Sultanhisar’s weak body open a wound on this giant? I stopped thinking about this. I had to resort to the last option I had, at any cost. Leaving the battlefield could be another option, but this was out of question… Maybe we would not be victorious. Maybe both Sultanhisar and AE-2 would be destroyed as a result of the collision and go down the blue waters of the Marmara. But we would collide anyway… This was the only option, the only option that could take us to death, but also to victory.” 4


One of the guns of Sultanhisar which sank the AE-2
Source: Selçuk Kolay collection

 


Sultanhisar began to move at full speed towards the AE-2, but just as she was about to hit, Ali Rıza Bey turned sharply away and aborted the attack. AE-2 was now completely surfaced, with a white flag hoisted on its tower  and the sailors were leaving the damaged submarine. Sultanhisar picked up AE-2’s crew of 3 officers and 29 men, soon after which the submarine sank to the bottom.

One day before it was sunk, AE-2 had a chance meeting with the British submarine E-14 at the Sea of Marmara. E-14, commanded by Lt Cmd E.C. Boyle, had broken through the straits two days after the AE-2 did, survived the gunfire of Aydın Reis and the torpedo boat Yunus, and attacked the warship Muavenet-i Milliye, however this one without success.

E-14 remained in the Sea of Marmara and on 10 May, she sighted the transports Patmos and Gülcemal, which were carrying troops from Istanbul to Çanakkale under the escort of the destroyer Gayret-i Vataniye, which was commanded by Kasımpaşalı Cemil Ali Bey. The  torpedo shot at Patmos was a miss, but the one fired on Gülcemal hit the transport’s bow and caused the damage. Gülcemal, however, did not sink, at the troops and materials on board were salvaged by two ferries arriving at the scene and the ship itself was taken in tow to Istanbul. After this incident, E-14 cruised the Sea of Marmara for some time without any torpedoes left and therefore being unable to attack Turkish ships, before returning to her base at Tenedos on 19 May.

Meanwhile, in those early periods of the Allied land offensive, two British warships were sailing into the Morto Bay off Cape Helles every evening, opening fire on Turkish positions with the purpose of relieving the pressure on the French units in this sector. These ships were inflicting heavy casualties and the Turkish Fifth Army asked the General Inspectorate of the Straits for assistance in this matter. First, the intention was to send three Draç-class torpedo boats to the area, however since they had only one torpedo each and there was not enough maneuvering area at the bay for three vessels, it was decided to assign this duty to the destroyer Muavenet-i Milliye, which had recently taken over the task of submarine patrolling in the Sea of Marmara from Numune-i Hamiyet.


The torpedo personnel of Muavenet-i Milliye

Source: "Birinci Dünya Savaşı'nda Türk Askeri Kıyafetleri"


Commanded by Captain Ahmet Saffet Bey and with German Captain Rudolph Firle as her liaison officer, Muavenet-i Milliye arrived in Çanakkale on 10 May and after the necessary preparations she set sail in the evening of 12 May, anchoring off Soğanlıdere where she waited for the nightfall. At that night, British warships Goliath and Cornwallis were stationed at Morto Bay, screened by five destroyers. Muavenet-i Milliye raised anchor after midnight, skipped through the European side of the straits undetected by destroyers and sighted Goliath at 01:15 am.

The torpedo officer of Muavenet-i Milliye, Ali Haydar Bey, later described the scene in his memoirs as follows: “We were approaching the ship. They must have spotted us, so they began to make some signs. Considering the possibility that this was a request for password, I went up to the bridge and began to respond to the signs with a hand lamp. But what signs! Some lines and points without any meaning whatsoever… Our intention was to gain time by forcing the enemy into hesitation and to get closer to it… We could not afford to lose more time. Our identity was fully revealed because of the flames coming out of our funnels after the engines were switched to full speed. We were 400-500 m to the enemy and we came even closer, 300 m, in order to launch the attack.”5


Muavenet-i Milliye fired three torpedoes. The first torpedo hit Goliath’s bridge, the second hit the funnel, and the third her stern. Goliath capsized immediately, taking 570 of the 750-strong crew to the bottom, including the captain T.L. Shelford. Cornwallis was left untouched, because Muavenet-i Milliye used all of its torpedoes on Goliath in order to ensure the sinking of at least one warship instead of dividing its torpedoes and risking both.
6

The success of Muavenet-i Milliye was a great morale boost for the Turkish defenders at Gallipoli and it had proven to the Allies that it was impossible to open the straits by a naval attack. However, Allied submarine operations were continuing with great enthusiasm. On 19 May 1915, the British submarine E-11, the “most diabolic of all submarines entering the Marmara”,7 launched its first operation through the Dardanelles and approached the capital of the Ottoman Empire. On 23 May, she was near the gunpowder factory at Bakırköy, a suburb of Istanbul, which was protected by the gunboat Peleng-i Derya anchored at the shore. E-11 caught the gunboat by surprise and torpedoed it. Peleng-i Derya capsized, with two sailors losing their lives, but as she was going down the gunboat managed to damage E-11’s conning tower. The next day, E-11 stopped the transport Nara off Kocaburun, ordered her crew to abandon the ship and sunk her together with her valuable cargo of gun barrels and mountings. E-11 then made it to Rodosto (modern-day Tekirdağ) and sunk the ferry Hünkar İskelesi at the pier.


On 25 May, E-11, commanded by Lt Cmd Martin Nasmith, reached Istanbul and spotted a total of 14 transports assembled at Galata and Sirkeci piers, which were being prepared to carry the Turkish 1st Army Division to Gallipoli. E-11 fired two torpedoes, one of which exploded on the pier and the other wrecked a barge that was standing in front of the transport İstanbul, which was only slightly damaged. Although the physical damage caused by E-11 was insignificant, its psychological effect was greater. The enemy was right in the heart of Istanbul and this unexpected event led to a panic among the civilian population. Furthermore, troop embarkation on ships had to be halted. It was decided to send the army division to the front overland.

E-11 remained in the waters around Bosphorus until 7 June and menaced the Turkish sea traffic in the Sea of Marmara. During this first tour of hers, she sank or disabled a total of 11 ships including the transport Bandırma, which was sunk on 28 May off the Gulf of İzmit with a total loss of 250 lives.


Turkish transport Istanbul torpedoed by E11
Source: Illustrated London News


Otto Hersing's U-21

Now, let us turn back to the early hours of that fateful day of 25 April. As Allied troops were landing on Gallipoli and AE-2 was making its way through the Dardanelles, another submarine, the German U-21 commanded by Lt Cmd Otto Hersing was leaving the German North Sea submarine base at Wilhelmshaven. She was ordered to sail to the Dardanelles to support the Turkish war efforts there. The voyage took one month and as of  the early hours 25 May 1915, she was off the Gallipoli peninsula. Around noon that day, U-21 sighted the British battleship Triumph off Kabatepe. Having her torpedo nets out, guns manned and a large destroyer screening her, she was firing on Turkish positions that were countering the Anzacs. Otto Hersing described the moment in his memoirs as follows: “I decided to attack. At that depth the destroyer could not ram me. There was no time to go further deep and since I was moving towards Triumph. I had to fire the torpedo immediately in order to avoid collision… I was 16 meters deep and the propellers of the destroyer were turning above me… Seconds were like water drops slowly falling on the ground. Nothing was happening… The sound of the propellers faded away and the bomb that would destroy the submarine did not fall. The destroyer had not recognized us! As I looked through the periscope, the battleship was 400 meters ahead. I had deviated from the target and I had to make a sharp turn. Full speed ahead. 300 meters… 200 meters… And I fired the torpedo! Right through the torpedo net!”8

There was a big explosion on Triumph, and the ship began to list to starboard. After 15 minutes she capsized, remained afloat upside down for half an hour and began to sink. 3 officers and 75 men died on board the Triumph, whereas the survivors were salvaged by the destroyer accompanying the battleship.


Another Allied battleship that was bombarding the Turkish positions was the Majestic. On 27 May, that is two days after Triumph was sunk,shewas stationed off Teke Bay (W Beach), behind a protective screen composed of destroyers and torpedo nets. Unfortunately for the Majestic, Hersing’s U-21 was there and looking for a weak point of the protective screen. The German captain wrote: “As I was moving along this bee hive, finally I spotted a hole. This hole was not too big, at most 20 meters. However I had to try. I directed my submarine towards the target. Who knows, maybe… Now I had turned the submarine to point to Majestic’s stern. I pushed the electrical button… The submarine was shaken, the torpedo was fired…”9

That single torpedo spelled the end of the 15,000-ton battleship. She began to list to port and capsized in 16 meters of water, killing 49 men. Her upturned hull remained visible for many months until it was finally submerged during a storm on the night of 17 November 1915.

British submarines continued their sorties to the Sea of Marmara during the summer of 1915. E-14 carried out its second cruise between 10 June and 3 July, E-12 had its first cruise between 19-28 June and E-7 had its first cruise between 30 June and 24 July. E-7, commanded by Lt Cmd Cochrane, even made it to Istanbul, but having found the Galata pier empty, she shelled a few munitions factories and railway lines without causing much damage.

Meanwhile, the Turkish were busy with strengthening their defenses against enemy submarines. By the end of July, the new submarine nets made of steel were ready. These nets were spanning all the way down from the surface, where they were fixed with net buoys, to the bottom. The only place where they could be passed through was the shallow waters of Nara and it was observed by gunboats and coastal batteries.

Nasmith’s E-11, newly refitted with a deck gun, launched its second sortie on 5 August. The new steel nets came as a surprise for Nasmith, but E-11 was lucky, she benefited from the damage caused by strong currents on the net and made her way through it. At around 07:00 am that morning, she sank the Turkish transport Halep off the Akbaş port and later during the day she spotted Aydın Reis, which was carrying Admiral von Usedom’s staff from Istanbul. Aydın Reis opened fire immediately and intended to ram the submarine; E-11 escaped by diving away.

The next day, E-11 met with E-14 for joint operations and their first victim was the torpedo cruiser Peyk-i Şevket, which was torpedoed and had to be grounded. The Turks managed to salvage the cruiser two days later, however it was a big disappointment for them that the new steel nets had failed to stop the enemy submarines. Gayret-i Vataniye, Yadigar-ı Millet, Yarhisar and Basra were ordered to patrol the waters around the location where Peyk-i Şevket was attacked and to find the enemy submarines.




British battleship Majestic sinking
Source: "U21 Rettet die Dardanellen"


As these efforts were underway at the northern entrance of the Dardanelles, additional British forces were landing at Suvla Bay and the Turkish troops countering them were in urgent need for naval support fire. Admiral Souchon gave this task to Barbaros Hayreddin, which was then anchored at Istanbul. The warship left Istanbul on 7 August with only one escort, the torpedo boat Sivrihisar. The next morning, as Barbaros Hayreddin was sighted by E-11 off Bolayır. It was a windy day and the sea was therefore foamy, making it impossible for Barbaros Hayreddin to see the enemy’s periscope. E-11 fired a torpedo, hit Barbaros Hayreddin, which capsized, floated bottom-up for a few minutes and went down. There were more than 700 men on board the warship. 21 officers and 237 men lost their lives and the rest were rescued by Sivrihisar and Basra.

Three days later Sivrihisar found E-11 and opened fire on her, but the submarine managed to escape by diving way. She would remain in the Sea of Marmara until 3 September, having sunk one Turkish warship, one torpedo boat, 6 transports and 23 sailing ships within 29 days. After E-11 returned to the base, E-7 departed for its second sortie into the Sea of Marmara. This time the steel nets worked. E-7 became entangled in the nets at a depth of 35 meters and the Turkish boats noticed that the net buoys were being dragged under  water. Lt Cmd Cochrane’s efforts to free the submarine were useless and to make things worse for him, the German submarine UB-14 commanded by Lt Cmd Hugo von Heimburg arrived in the scene and dropped explosives. E-7 had no option left but to surface and surrender. Her crew of 28 men was taken prisoner and the submarine was scuttled.

Another British submarine, E-2, launched two sorties into the Sea of Marmara, one between 13 August-14 September and the other between 9 December and 2 January. In her first cruise, it sank the minelayer Samsun on 14 August. Other than that, the casualties caused by E-2 were minor. Sorties of E-12 between 16 September-24 October and of H-1 between 2-31 October produced similar results.


Submarine "Müstecip Onbaşı" in Istanbul
Source: Harp Mecmuası


The only French submarine to enter the Sea of Marmara was Turquoise. She did so on 20 October, met with E-20 as planned, but, having made little contact with Turkish vessels, she decided to return to  her base. As Turquoise approached the nets off Akbaş, she was spotted by Turkish batteries, which immediately opened fire on the submarine. While maneuvering, Turquoise hit the bottom, surfaced and was hit again. The French sailors abandoned the submarine and they were taken prisoner. Turquoise was easily salvaged by the Turks and towed to Istanbul. On 10 November, the submarine was transferred to the Turkish Navy, named Müstecip Onbaşı after the artillery corporal, who first shot the submarine on 30 October.


One benefit from the capture of the French submarine was that there were secret documents about the meeting points of Allied submarines, their passwords and signs. Soon it was found out that the only submarine still operating in the Sea of Marmara was the E-20. Eventually, Von Heimburg’s UB-14 caught her by surprise at a meeting point and fired a torpedo. E-20 sunk in a few minutes and its crew was salvaged from the sea by UB-14.


This was one of the last naval actions of the war at the Dardanelles. In December 1915, the Allies began to leave the peninsula and the evacuation was completed as of 9 January 1916. After hostilities ended on the peninsula and the waters around it, what went on in this area was limited to changes in mine barrages and coastal fortifications as well as occasional engagements with enemy vessels that remained in the North Aegean waiting for Yavuz or Midilli to make a sortie, and bombing of islands held by Allies.

The End of the War

In September 1917, as naval action at the Black Sea was over as well, the new commander of the Turkish Fleet, Admiral Hubert von Rebeur-Paschwitz devised a plan an offensive against the enemy units in the North Aegean. At this time the Turkish High Command was asking for a German submarine operation against Allied troops that would leave the Macedonian front and sent to Palestine as reinforcements. Berlin rejected this demand, but Admiral von Rebeur-Paschwitz saw here a good opportunity to materialize his plan. Instead of German submarines, he would intercept the Allied transports with Yavuz and Midilli.


In the early hours of 20 January 1918, Yavuz and Midilli safely left the straits and reached a position off Seddülbahir (Cape Helles). At 06:10 am, Yavuz hit a mine, but the damage was insignificant and she sailed on to shell the radio station at Kephalo. Meanwhile Midilli continued towards Imbros. At 07:45 am Yavuz and Midilli together opened fire on two British monitors, M-28 and Reglan, and sunk them.

Around half an hour later, two British destroyers, Lizard and Tigress, and British airplanes were sighted. The first bombs fall close to Yavuz, and shortly afterwards Midilli hit a mine. The two Turkish warships had run into an enemy minefield. Yavuz hit a mine and within a period of 30 minutes Midilli was struck by four more mines. She capsized and sank at around 09:10 am, with the loss of 330 men. 172 men were salvaged by British destroyers.

Although Yavuz hit a third mine and despite the airplanes dropping bombs of her, he made it to the Dardanelles and entered the straits. However, Yavuz’s problems were not over and due to a maneuvering mistake it ran on the Nara Bank and stranded there. Salvage operations undertaken by Turgut Reis, İntibah, Giresun and Alemdar went on for six days, during which British airplanes launched 276 sorties on the stranded warship and dropped 15.4 tons of bombs. These attacks were countered by Turkish/German airplanes and the anti-aircraft guns of Yavuz and the Çanakkale Fortified Zone. Finally, on 26 January, Yavuz came free and escorted to Istanbul by Turgut Reis.


Survivors salvaged after Turks sank a British warship
Source: United Press International


One of the measures taken by the British to sink the stranded Yavuz was to take the submarine E-14 to the Dardanelles for a last mission. Since Yavuz was gone, E-14 attacked the minelayer İntibah. The torpedo missed its target, but at the same time Nusrat and the gunboat Kemal Reis joined İntibah to chase the submarine. E-14 could escape from them, but as she was leaving the straits, off Kumkale, she came under heavy artillery fire from the coastal batteries and sunk. 4 officers and 20 men died, 9 men were rescued.

This was the end of naval warfare at the Dardanelles. After the armistice, Turkish warships had their guns removed, whereas the Allied fleet sailed safely through the straits and arrived in Istanbul.


1. Otay, O., 2005. Efendi Kaptan Kurtar Bizi! Istanbul: Denizler Kitabevi, pp.217-218.
2. Mütercimler, E., 2003. İmparatorluğun Çöküşüne Denizden Bakış. Istanbul: Toplumsal Dönüşüm Yayınları, p.368.
3. Brenchley, F. and Brenchley, E., 2001. Stoker's Submarine. Sydney: Harper Collins Publishers, pp.94-95. / Ali Rıza Bey and Dülger, B., 1947. AE2 Denizaltı Gemisini Marmara'da Nasıl Batırdım? Istanbul: Akca Basımevi, pp.34-39.
4. Ali Rıza Bey, p.42.
5. Önen, Y.R., 1982. Goliath'ı Ben Batırdım! Muavenet-i Milliye Muhribinin Torpido Subayı Ali Haydar Bey'in Anıları, in Yıllar Boyu Tarih, issue April 1982.
6. Turkish General Staff, 1976. Birinci Dünya Harbi'nde Türk Harbi VIIInci Cilt: Deniz Harekatı (official history). Ankara, p.226.
7. Gülen, N., 1988. Dünden Bugüne Bahriyemiz, Istanbul: Kastaş Yayınarı, p.313.
8. Hersing, O., 1932. U21 Rettet die Dardanellen. Zürich: Amalthea Verlag.
9. Hersing.

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