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16 March 1916. Imbros.

20/03/2016

10 March.

Dickinson. One inch of rain fell last night. Submarine reported off helles at 10.30. went to beach with Belton and Kinkhead after tea and bought some stuff at the canteen. Turks evidently hard at work exploding the mines in the Straits and we are expecting the Goeben and Breslau at almost any moment. Barnato and Oxley hit the Mendere Bridge this morning with a 65lb.

This is a rather surprising reference to the Goeben and Breslau – two German battle cruisers which had managed to evade the British Mediterranean fleet in August 1914 and sail to Constantinople where they were handed over to the Turks, and were renamed Yavuz Sultan Selim and Midilli. At this time they were committed to operations in the Black Sea in support of an attack by Turkish troops, but perhaps there was a rumour that they would break out into the Mediterranean.

Mendere Bridge is on the Asiatic side of the Dardanelles, crossing the Mendere river and providing an essential link to the coastal defences.

11 March.

Bunnie in 1264. Hun reported coming from Dede Agach so Bet. in Little W and I went out. Never saw any sign of him. Heard afterwards that he turned back just after we left. Glorious day up. Saw Mudros, Mytelene, Greece, Dede Agach Gallipoli all from same spot near Samothrace. Came down in S turns and need not have used engine at all but gave her one or two touches. Nearly made a good landing but touched lightly by accident. Did not use engine and landed well and slowly after that; fair N. Breeze. Engine better.

‘Bet.’ is clearly the Bettington who got so wound up about the alcohol ban. Presumably Little W was his personal aircraft, but I don’t know which it would have been.

Dickinson. Finished indexing the gramophone records during the morning. Out for two hours with Davey looking for mines. Very unpleasant as I had to keep under 2,000ft and most of the time was between 1,000 and 1,500ft. Too much wind on the surface to see anything. Bloggs came to dinner with the others, but I had to go to the Russell. Excellent dinner and two rubbers, both of which I won! Result 3/7d in pocket. Oh monstrous! Came back about 11.00pm to find half the station in dugouts as the sentry had sounded the klaxon on hearing a submarine in the harbour charging her batteries (we think) thinking it was hostile aircraft! Arrived to find everyone just returning to bed very bored. So funny!

12 March.

Dickinson. Lovely day though north wind still quite cold. Spent the morning mending two pairs of shoes greatly to the detriment of my fingers. Went to tea with Bloggs, watched the Abercrombie fire two shots at Helles from the harbour, stayed to service, back to dinner at 7.30. big strafe at Helles about 9.00pm. most interesting watching tremendous flashes as the gun is fired and then a much duller and slower flash of the explosion.

Bunnie used to tell the story of how the monitors – such as HMS Abercrombie – used to fire at the peninsula while at anchor in Imbros harbour. Apparently they used to flood some of the rear compartments in order to increase the elevation sufficiently to get additional range, and on one occasion the shell took the roof off the petty officer’s mess on its way to Gallipoli!

13 March.

Dickinson. Was going to do evening reconnaissance to Gallipoli but wind was too strong so played soccer, officers versus the Wing and won one nil. For the second time deserted Bloggs and Dr Adams whom I had asked to tea. However, they looked around and we had some tea after the game and then went to HQ to see Helles as seen from above, to the doctor’s intense delight as he was on the peninsula from July 6 to the end and was fearfully pleased to be able to pick out all the trenches, his dugout, and a hundred other places which I suppose he will never forget. Bath and cooked some duck and green peas for dinner as I was too late for that meal. Very good and piping hot.

14 March.

Bunnie in 1264. Morning reconnaissance of straits. Fair, northerly breeze, very few bumps. Did not hold her off long enough on landing, so I bounced a bit.

Dickinson in HF3904. Much colder, still blowing from the north. Bettington came back late last night from his submarine trip having spent an hour and a half with the hydroplanes jammed by a mine rope just as she dived off Helles going up to inspect the net! Played dominoes and lost 17/6d after lunch: very little amusement. I don’t think gambling alppeals to me.

Off on an evening reconnaissance trip up to Gallipoli in HF 3904, sky having cleared. Unfortunately all north of Gallipoli was cloud covered – a glorious white feather bed stretching as far as we could see. Curious, this cloudbank: it was laid clean cut and as straight as an arrow between Enos and Imbros where it came to a point like a wedge, the other side running back just off Suvla and the east side of the Gulf of Saros, though less evenly, and spreading out into the great mass of cloud that hid the all the sea of Marmara and everything north of Gallipoli. As there was a strong northerly wind I was rather afraid that all this would drift over Imbros and make coming down difficult, but on return we found only a few clouds round Imbros and nothing between about Eski Tugla and the island. The whole cloudbank had disappeared. After missing a ship off Ak Bashi Leman by many yards we rose to 10,200ft over Helles and, when clear of the peninsula, I shut off my engine hoping to make the aerodrome without using it again. As the sea seemed calmer, I thought the wind must have gone down so crossed the sand spit at 1,000 only to find that I could only get about halfway across the salt lake, so was disappointed and had to use a little engine to get in. up 100 minutes. Played three quick rubbers of bridge with Barrington, Sassoon and Reid as Sassoon leaves probably tomorrow and they couldn’t find a fourth. Won 3d!

2016-03-19 View from 10000ft

This is the view Dickinson would have had from 10,200ft over Helles, looking towards Imbros, with the island of Samothrace in the background.

15 March.

Dickinson. Fine but strong north wind still blowing. HF3904 with Besscoe, Oxley and Sassoon, HF3909 with Maitland-Herriott, Adams and Bettington in Bluebird. (Bluebird was the single-seat Nieuport 11 painted pale blue by Savory, who normally flew her). Left for Mitylene at 1415, with stra hats, boots and paper bundles hanging about everywhere. Everyone down to see them off. Most entertaining. Took eight photographs which I hope will come out well. Very late in.

It appears there may have been three people in HF3904. I’m not quite sure how.

16 March.

Dickinson. Hauled out to do rounds at 9.15. wrote a long letter to mother and a few more to catch the mail. Nicholson and Portal came back from evening reconnaissance after being attacked by a Fokker which got a dozen bullets through planes, struts and carburetor! Thorold the escort had lost sight of the Henry and so failed to attack.

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