Page 67 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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50
THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, I914-I9I8
the most glorious defeat that the British Army has known-glorious
from the amazing valour and endurance of the individual infantry–
man, defeat because (through no fault of the troops) the objectives
were not taken and the Gallipoli Peninsula not seized.
THE LANDING
On the evening of 24th April, I9I5, the transports steamed slowly
out of the harbour at Mudros amid the cheers of the sailors. The
29th Division was bound for Tenedos, and the troops could see Achi
Baba looming darkly on the horizon as the sun set in the cloudless
sky. During the night nearly two hundred ships covered the waters
of the Aegean. To the north were the ships bound for the Gulf of
Saros, with the Royal Naval Division, led by the
Canopus.
Near
Mudros lay the Anzac Armada, in readiness for their baptism of fire;
at Tenedos were the ships allotted to the Helles landing, and further
south again the French squadron heading for the Asiatic shore. The
plan of attack was by this time known to all ranks, and special
"Orders of the Day" and a message from His Majesty The King
were read out to
all
ranks. The battalion left the
Caledonia
in the
ship's boats and embarked on board H.M.S.
Euryalus,
sending "D"
Company to H.M.S.
Implacable.
The men were eagerly welcomed
on board by the sailors, while the officers were entertained in the
ward room. On board the
Euryalus
(Captain R. Bunnester) were
the headquarters of the 29th Division. The officers of the ships were
much impressed by the discipline and bearing of the men, and they
remember it to this day, as
will
be told later.
Till a late hour the sinister outline of Achi Baba could be seen,
and the calm of the evening could not dispel a certain feeling of
expectancy which was discernible among all ranks, now that the
battalion was to be put to the test after nearly fifty years without
active service. The fleet silently weighed anchor and through the
night the ships zigzagged on a changing course, in order to leave the
watchers on the silent peninsula in doubt till the last moment .
Before dawn the troops were roused and given a meal by the kind
and anxious sailors, while the ships took up their final stations for
the preliminary bombardment by nearly three hundred guns . The
Euryalus
lay about two thousand yards from the shore, the
Implac–
able
a little nearer in. Then came the ship's boats, in tows of six to
each company. The men embarked by the gangways, but it was a
tight fit to get them in, cumbered as they were with 70 lb. weight of
kit each. The young midshipmen in charge of steamboats came
alongside and took the boats in tow, with the calm efficiency which
they always display; and in a short time, to the cheers of the
sailors, the attack was launched. As the steamboats drew off to get
into formation the boats heeled over in what seemed a dangerous
manner, and one of the men remarked to the cox of his boat,
"I
'listed to get killed, not to get drowned." When the boats were a
safe distance from the ships the bombardment began again till it