In Homer’s ‘Illiad’, Greece soldiers enter the defended city of Troy by leaving a huge wooden horse outside the walls at night. In the morning, the Trojans, thinking that it was a gift, hauled the horse inside their gates. The horse was hollow, and hidden within were Greek soldiers. Once they were inside the city, they jumped out of the horse and opened the gates to let the rest of the army in. The ancient ruins of Troy are only a short distance from Gallipoli.
At Gallipoli, Captain Unwin had a similar idea. He arranged for a ten year old coal ship called ’The River Clyde’ to be converted to carry 2000 soldiers. Hinged doors called ‘sally ports’ were cut into its side and walkways were hung from cables so that men could run down these onto barges tied to the ship’s bow.
At 0630 on the morning of Sunday 25th April 1915, the River Clyde ran gently ashore on what the British called ‘V Beach’ near the Turkish village of Seddul Bahir at Cape Helles.
It was a good idea on paper, but it meant that the troops leaving the ship all arrived at the some point in the shallow water at the bow of the ship and on the beach. The Turkish defenders simply aimed their guns at that point.
Despite the many who were killed or wounded, at nightfall hundreds did eventually get ashore, and after two days of fighting the village had been taken by the invading forces.
The River Clyde remained aground at Cape Helles for the rest of the Gallipoli campaign. A landing pier was built out to her and she was used as a store and HQ. The ship was hit by shell fire continually, but was not destroyed. In 1919, after the end of World War One, she was salvaged and continued in service with a Spanish company until 1963. An attempt was made to buy her at that time but this failed and the ship was broken up for scrap. The River Clyde has become a symbol of the British landings at Gallipoli.
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