• Home • Teasers • Rides • Hollerdays • Yellowknife • Past Hats •

Cape Helles British Memorial/V Beach
Gallipoli Peninsula
20 Sept 09

Jim and I get into the Ataturk International Airport at 0230 local time. Customs and visa-getting are painlessly done...getting the utterly thrashed Renault rentaracer out of the parking garage is a nightmare, and coffee of questionable vintage poured onto the parking pass/pinball machine seems to have done the trick.  Note to self: stopping in the driveway of a heavily guarded turkey military base in the middle of the night to study the map is probably a bad thing....GPS coverage of any sort here would have helped immeasurably.

Jim does the driving chores while l navigate/examine the backs of my eyelids...much of Thrace and Marmara slide by in the darkness, not that the drive on E 84 thru Takirdag was anything remarkable. Think endlessly drab cityscape for about half the journey.

We arrive at Aceabat at first light, a small town of 5500 people located on the Dardanelles and the closest place to the battlefield that we expect to find lodging and have 'Nescafe Red' and simit...sesame encrusted bread the town square. We then head 20 km overland to the Cape Helles British Memorial, where Jim's Great Uncle's name is inscribed, along with almost 21000 other allied soldiers with no known grave.

We complete our tour here, head back to Aceabat for the evening to regroup.

Landing at Cape Helles 

The landing at Cape Helles was part of the amphibious invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula by British and French forces on April 25, 1915 during the First World War. Helles, at the foot of the peninsula, was the main landing area. With the support of the guns of the Royal Navy, a British division was to advance 10 km along the peninsula on the first day and seize the heights of Achi Baba. From there they would go on to capture the forts that guarded the straits of the Dardanelles. Another landing was made to the north by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC).

The Helles landing was mismanaged by the British commander and the two main invasion beaches became bloodbaths, despite the meagre Turkish defences, while the landings at other sites were not exploited. Although the British managed to gain a foothold ashore, their plans were in disarray. For the next two months they would stage a number of costly battles in attempt to reach the objectives that they had intended to take on the first day.

The Helles landing would be made by the British 29th Division, a regular army division that had been formed from garrison units that had be stationed throughout the British Empire prior to the outbreak of the war. This also included the Newfoundland Regiment.

The landing would be made after dawn and following a preliminary naval bombardment, starting at 5 am and lasting one hour.

Five beaches were designated for the landing.  V and W Beaches were the main landings at the very tip of the peninsula on either side of Cape Helles itself.

V Beach

V Beach was 300 yards (270 m) long with Cape Helles and Fort Etrugrul on the left and the old Sedd el Bahr castle on the right, looking from the sea.  The beach was defended by about 100 men from the 3rd Battalion of the 26th Regiment, equipped with four machine guns.

The first ashore was to be the Royal Dublin Fusiliers which landed from ships boats that were towed or rowed ashore. The rest would be landed from the SS River Clyde, a 4,000 ton converted collier.  The ship held 2,000 men; the 1st Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers plus two companies of the 2nd Battalion.

The tows containing the Dubliners came in at 6 am.  As the boats were about to land, the Turkish defenders opened up, laying down a withering fire. The guns in the fort and castle enfiladed the beach, slaughtering the men in the boats. As they came down the gangways they continued to be mown down. A few made it ashore and sought shelter under a sand bank at the edge of the beach where they remained, pinned down. Out of the 700 men who went in, only 300 survived, many of whom were wounded.

The River Clyde followed closely behind the tows. Two companies of Munsters emerged from the sally ports and tried to reach the shore but were cut to pieces, suffering 70% casualties.

Six Victoria Crosses were awarded at V Beach, all to sailors or men from the RND who had attempted to maintain the bridge of lighters and recover the wounded.

Cape Helles British Memorial

At the highest point of the cape is the Helles Memorial, a monument to those whose remains lie scattered across the 1915 battlefield. On the stone panels of its walls are the names of 20 752 British Empire servicemen who died in the Gallipoli campaign and who have no known grave.

 click on a picture to see a larger image. hit arrows at either end of the slideshow for more pictures.


Cape Helles lighthouse

• Up • CWGC Cemeteries • Sidmouth • Gallipoli Natl Park • Helles Point/V Beach • Paracentrum •