Royal Marine deployment to Gallipoli

Introduction

The move of the Royal Marines to Gallipoli and their early actions there are complex and confusing. This timeline should help anyone wishing to understand the movements of a given unit.

February 1915

6 February: Plymouth and Chatham Battalions entrain at Shillingstone near Blandford and move to Devonport.
They are temporarily known as the “Royal Marine Special Service Force”.
Portsmouth and Deal Battalions remain at Blandford.
About 6pm Plymouth Battalion and the headquarters of the Royal Marine Brigade sail on “Braemar Castle”.
Chatham Battalion sails on “Cawdor Castle”.
Both arrive St Paul’s Bay (Malta) 14 February 1915, sailed 8am on 19 February.
Arrive Tenedos 3.15pm on 21 February, Lemnos 4pm on 24 February, returned to Tenedos next day.
Sailed at 1am on 26 February for Dardanelles, arriving 8am.
Naval bombardment of the Straits forts and emplacements is underway. Ships return to Tenedos but at 5pm ordered to Imbros.
Orders to land on Gallipoli on 28 February cancelled due to bad weather at sea.

March 1915

5am 2 March ships ordered to Tenedos. Operations once again cancelled due to weather.
Moved to Imbros 3 March.
8.30am 4 March Plymouth Battalion landed one company each at Kum Kale and Sedd-el-Bahr, to cover the demolition of Turkish guns by raiding parties.
Sedd-el-Bahr company re-embarks at 2.30pm, Kum Kale at 7.15pm. Operations successful, at cost of 22 dead and 22 wounded.
5 March ships return to Tenedos.
6 March: ships ordered at 2.30pm to Lemnos, arrived 8.30pm.
11 March: Portsmouth Battalion arrived at Lemnos from England on “Gloucester Castle” and Deal Battalion arrived on “Alnwick Castle”.
12 March: Royal Marine Brigade reorganised and “Royal Marine Special Service Force” ceases to exist. Brigade comes under orders of Royal Naval Division. Deal Battalion is placed under orders of 1st RN Brigade.
A contingent of Chatham Battalion (4 officers and 200 men) togther with 2 officers and 20 men from Australian forces boarded “Cawdor Castle” in preparation for a landing. Ship sailed to Tenedos at daylight 18 March but this force was not used and returned to units on 23 March.
18 March at 6.30pm: Royal Marine Brigade sails for a “demonstration” off Gaba Tepe, which was carried out at 5.30am next day. 1.30pm ships returned to Lemnos.
24 March: Royal Marine Brigade (now including Deal Battalion) sails for Alexandria in Egypt. Orders are modified en route and force sails instead to Port Said, arrives 26-7 March.
Machine gun detachments of Deal Battalion move to Suez Canal defences at Kantara.

April 1915

7 April: Brigade re-embarked at Alexandria. 11-12 April arrived at Lemnos.
16 April: moved to Trebuki Bay, Skyros, where Division was concentrating.
23 April: Brigade sails for Gulf of Xeros.
25 April: Division carries out feint landing at Bulair, while British 29th Division lands at Cape Helles beaches and Australian and New Zealand forces at beach near Gaba Tepe / Ari Burnu soon named Anzac cove. Plymouth Battalion makes a landing at “Y” beach in support of 29th Division.
27 April: ships carrying Brigade arrived off Cape Helles at daylight.
28 April 5pm: “Gloucester Castle” and “Cawdor Castle” ordered to move and anchor off Gaba Tepe. Chatham and Portsmouth Battalions ordered to disembark and come under orders of 1st Australian Division on arrival. On completion of disembarkation at 8pm, Brigade ordered to take over No 2 Section of defences held by Australian and New Zealand forces. This was the western edge of Lone Pine plateau.
29 April: Deal and Nelson Battalions together with Brigade Headquarters land at Anzac in the evening and move up through Shrapnel Gully to the forward defences.

Defence of the ANZAC. Scene in a trench during the period 28th April - 12th May, when the Marine and 1st Naval Brigades of the Royal Naval Division reinforced the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in the area about what were later known as Quinn's and Courtney's Posts. The Marines brought a few periscopes with them, and the Australians improvised a supply from looking-glasses sent ashore from transports. Imperial War Museum image Q13247

Defence of the ANZAC. Scene in a trench during the period 28th April – 12th May, when the Marine and 1st Naval Brigades of the Royal Naval Division reinforced the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps in the area about what were later known as Quinn’s and Courtney’s Posts. The Marines brought a few periscopes with them, and the Australians improvised a supply from looking-glasses sent ashore from transports. Imperial War Museum image Q13247

Sources

WO95/4291, war diary of Royal Marine Brigade (National Archives)
“Britain’s Sea Soldiers” by Gen. Sir. H. E. Blumberg

Links

63rd (Royal Naval) Division