British Consular Cemetery, Çanakkale

Running time
2 min 39 sec

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Audio transcript

One of the least-visited places associated with the Battle of Çanakkale is the British Consular Cemetery. The graves here cover a range of periods and events. For example, there are soldiers from the Crimean War (1854-1856) when the Ottoman Empire was allied with Britain and France against Russia, and British troops were stationed on Gallipoli. There is also the grave of an Australian Gallipoli veteran, Basil Wood, who died on a visit in 1965. Interestingly, there are also burials of Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the years 1918-1919. This is a reminder that the Allies occupied the Straits of the Dardanelles in the aftermath of the armistice with the Ottoman Empire (not yet the Republic of Turkey) in October 1918.

But the graves of greatest relevance to the Battle of Çanakkale are those of three young British sailors, all crewmen of the Royal Navy's submarine E15. Very early on in their efforts to destabilise the Turkish defences at Çanakkale the British began using the submarine, a weapon then in the early stages of development. On 13 December 1914, the Turkish battleship Mesudiye was sunk by the B11, commanded by Lieutenant Norman Holbrook, in Sari Sighlar Bay (SarisiÄŸlar Koyu) just off Çanakkale. As the British military invasion of Gallipoli approached in April 1915 a determined effort was made to send submarines right through the Dardanelles to wreak havoc with Turkish supply shipping in the Sea of Marmara. The first submarine to try this was the E15, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Theodore Brodie.

Brodie took the E15 submerged through the entrance to the Straits on 17 April 1915. The currents in the Dardanelles presented real problems for these early submarines and the E15 was swept across the Straits and ran aground right beneath the guns of the Dardanos Battery. Brodie was killed by a shell in his conning tower while six other crewmen died from chlorine gas. To prevent the craft from falling into enemy hands the British eventually managed to wreck the submarine with a torpedo. After burial on the beach, Brodie's body was later removed to the Consular Cemetery.

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