W BEACH - LANCASHIRE LANDING
W Beach - 'Lancashire Landing' May 2000
W Beach was one of the three allocated to 29th Division on 25th April 1915, and is arguably the most famous of them all. It was here the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers came ashore, and won ‘six VCs before breakfast’.
W Beach differed from the other beaches used that day, in that it was almost a cove, with an ark of high ground and a long, open beach. German advisors attached to the Turks had helped in the defence of this position, and redoubts had been placed on the heights with inter-locking fields of fire, wire in the shallow water and mines. They considered it almost impregnable from any sort of landing by small boats.
1st Lancashire Fusiliers, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel, came ashore in companies. One came from HMS Implacable, the rest being brought in by naval personnel from HMS Euryalus. One platoon of the Anson Battalion was attached to them, and 1st Essex Regiment was to follow.
About 50 yards from the beach, the boats were unhitched from the tows and they were rowed in. As the boats got nearer to the shore a tremendous fire was laid down by the Turks, causing heavy casualties. Men jumped out into the water, some drowning under the weight of their gear, others getting caught on the wire. Despite this some men beat their way through the wire and assaulted the trenches in the area of the beach itself. Meanwhile a second force had landed a little to the north and found part of the beach here sheltered from the devastating fire. Captain Thomas Frankland then took his men forward to the Turkish positions here, and this flank was eliminated.
Friendly fire from Euryalus had knocked out one part of LFs which had got ashore, but another group had fought their way through the defences and met up with the 2nd Royal Fusiliers on Hill 114. The beach was now carried, and a line established inland. Late in the afternoon the Anson platoon and 1st Essex landed to reinforce the dilapidated ranks of 1st LFs.
Because of the gallantry of the battalion here on 25th April, W Beach was renamed ‘Lancashire Landing’ in their honour, and was thereafter referred to by this name. Much later a ballot took place for gallantry awards, and six men were awarded the Victoria Cross:
Captain Cuthbert Bromley
Corporal John Grimshaw
Private William Kenealy
Sergeant Alfred Richards
Sergeant Frank Stubbs
Captain Richard Willis
Following the initial landings, Lancashire Landing was turned into a small port with piers going out to receive boats travelling to and from the fleet. Troops for the Helles front were brought in here, as were supplies and equipment. Wounded were taken out from the beach, and there were several Advanced Dressing Stations nearby. The banks of the cliffs were terraced, and there were command centres and dugouts here. It was used until the evacuation on 9th January 1916.
W Beach Today
For many years it was impossible to visit W Beach as it was part of a local Turkish military base. This was closed in the 1990s, and there is no problem with access now. To reach it from Seddul Bahir follow the signs for Lancashire Landing Cemetery, and at a fork in the road, go left (the cemetery is right). Follow this downhill, passing the remains of the barrier gate to the camp and an ancient civil cemetery. The road is poor, and although you can normally drive almost to the beach, in certain weather conditions this may be difficult. The track is also bordered by sharp bushes which can scratch your hire-car, as we found out! At the beach, park in the area just before the sand starts and you won’t block anyone else’s access.
You can walk around the beach here. There are the remains of at least one pier, trenches are visible and caves used as shelters can also be entered. It is clear what an advantage the defenders had when you view the ground from one of the bluffs.
W Beach looking north. The remains of one of the piers is just visible in the water.
©PAUL REED 2001-2006