|Launch of one of the twelve x-lighters built by Irvine Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, West Hartlepool, in 1915. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bert Spaldin. (http://www.teesbuiltships.co.uk/irvine/aalist.htm)|
The Gallipoli peninsula is in modern-day Turkey but in 1915 it was part of the Ottoman Empire – and the Ottomans were fighting alongside Germany. The Allied plan was to land forces at Gallipoli, move inland to take the capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) and take control the Dardenelles, a vital sea route into the Black Sea for their ally Russia. The rugged terrain and small number of suitable landing beaches created logistical problems. However, in February 1915, James Pollock & Son were asked on behalf of the Admiralty to design and oversee the construction of 200 motor landing craft. Twenty-seven shipyards in the northeast England and three on the Clyde were subsequently appointed to construct these X-lighters.
The Gallipoli landings followed a naval assault and began on 25 April 1915 at six beaches. The ground forces included the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), regular British 29th Division, and the French Oriental Expeditionary Corps. The Ottoman troops occupied good defensive positions and inflicted many casualties. Fifteen awards of the Victoria Cross were made amongst the Allied infantry and sailors in the first two days. So began a terrible eight-month ordeal. The X-lighters were eventually used to withdraw all Allied troops on 7-9 January 1916.
Later in 1916, a further 25 X-lighters were ordered by the Admiralty. The RIVER LOYNE was one of these - designated X 215 and built by J T Eltringham & Co Ltd, Willington Quay, North Tyneside.
|X30, X31 and X32 being completed in dry dock of the Irvine Shipbuilding Company. Reproduced with the kind permission of Bert Spaldin. (http://www.teesbuiltships.co.uk/irvine/x301915.htm)|
After the war, many lighters were sold off. This is how X 215 eventually ended up in the ownership of R Gardener of Lancaster, carrying stone from the Penmaenmawr quarry to Liverpool. On 8 December 1948, the vessel foundered off Puffin Island with the tragic loss of all its crew.
Although the RIVER LOYNE/ X215’s wartime history is still being researched, we’d like to take this opportunity to recognise the sacrifices made by people from so many countries and the bravery shown on all sides during one of the most iconic and controversial campaigns of the Great War.
Remembering all who gave their lives for their country but who have no grave but the sea.
Follow this link to discover first-hand accounts of Welsh soldier who took part:
By Deanna Groom, Maritime Officer, RCAHMW