With my father's passing, the relatives have been writing and phoning each other. One of the interesting things was a story about my great grandfather on my mother's side. His name was William Bennetts, who served aboard the HMS Goliath in WWI.
I had no idea that my family was connected to the Dardanelles campaign (aka the Battle of Gallipoli).
The Goliath was torpedoed and sank by an Ottoman Empire ship, the torpedo boat Muâvenet-i Millîyeon, on 13 May 1915. Of the 750 aboard, 570 died, including my great grandfather.
What I found fascinating was reading several general accounts of the sinking, scattered around the web. I also saw some pictures. Briefly, this is what happened.
At 01:00, on the line astern of Muâvenet-i-Millîye (the Ottoman torpedo boat), two destroyers were seen, on the forehead was Goliath. Goliath asked the password and Muâvenet-i-Millîye, without losing time, responded with three torpedoes. The first torpedo hit the bridge, the second hit the funnel and the third the stern. The battleship capsized almost immediately taking 570 of the over 700 crew to the bottom, including her captain.
The sinking of Goliath led to direct and drastic upheaval for the British Navy top command and strategy. Two days after the loss of the Goliath, on 15 May 1915, the First Sea Lord Admiral Fisher resigned amidst bitter arguments with the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, causing, on 17 May, Churchill's resignation too.
But hearing and reading the story only generated more questions. W.H. Bennetts was 45 years old when he died. He would have been at his battle station when the ship was attacked. What rank and trade was he? They never found his body, so I can only guess what happened, but since I did not know what his job and rank were, why not ask the UK archives people? At the very least, they could answer some basic questions. His years of service. The ships he served on. etc.
So that brings me to here. I am waiting for a response from the UK govt. According to the archive website, it will be about two weeks.
Gallipoli was a lesson in how not to do things. The results were Anzac Day. The aims were excellent, knock the Turkish Empire out of the war and open up a supply route to the Russian Empire. Obsolete ships were used as the French and British were afraid of mines and shore batteries.
This short video is narrated by an Irish fellow. It tells a brief story of the Goliath and the 85 Irish volunteers that served. My great grandfather was Cornish, not Irish. Born in Penzance, and worked in a stone quarry before the war broke out.
In the same 1911 census referred to in this video, my grandfather was listed as a labourer. He had a wife, Sarah, and four children - Laura (14), Mary (11), William Jr. (9) and my grandfather, George, who was 5. My grandfather died in 1943 at 37, on my mother's 5th birthday, from a burst appendix.
Laura, the oldest daughter, was listed as a "general servant". Like many children of the day, she was working, but lived at home. One out of every seven employed persons was a domestic servant, according to the census. My mother was named after her.
According to the Victorian author Mrs Beeton, in The Book of Household Management, the "maid of all work" was to be pitied.
"The general servant or maid of all work is perhaps the only one of her class deserving of commiseration. Her life is a solitary one and in some places her work is never done."
I have a copy of my grandfathers diary from when he fought at Gallipoli. Makes for succinct and sobering reading.
At the front line he did a lot of ‘bombing’ ( digging in and blowing up) of Turkish trenches etc. they also went down to the beach a lot, sometimes being hit by Turkish artillery. I was discussing this with someone who said they would have done that to get rid of the lice. It was very hot when they got there and in November had 6” of snow. He was on one of the last boats out of there, setting up drip rifles etc. so the Turks would still think they had a force there.
He never talked about it and I heard more after he died.