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Aegean Air War: Gunners over Gallipoli

Gunners over Gallipoli

We’re familiar with Gallipoli seen from the ground: the crowded beach, sandbagged shelters dug from steep gully sides and periscope rifles peeping over trench parapets. For those confined within the narrow beachheads, views back over an open Aegean must’ve offered some relief, but for a few the perspective was much more expansive. High above the Dardanelles flew the men of the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS).

Looking back on it now, it was really great fun. One could sit over the peninsula at an altitude of about 10,000 feet and control the fire of two battleships. Up there, one had a splendid view; and the clear atmosphere enabled one to see the effect of the ships’ guns distinctly.1

Three Anzac gunners had a seat in that gallery.

Left: Arthur Harold Keith Jopp. (The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 May 1917) Right: Detail from a 1911 photograph of Duntroon staff and cadets in sports attire. Shirley Goodwin stands centre, back row. (Duntroon Society)

Each had been a professional soldier in Australia.

Charles George Norman Miles2, 30 years of age, a captain in the Australian Field Artillery (AFA), had more than 10 years’ service with the Royal Australian Artillery (RAA) when he applied for a commission in the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) in September 1914.

Arthur Harold Keith Jopp3, 25 years, was also a serving officer, with more than six years’ service with the RAA.

Shirley Thomas William Goodwin4, 21 years, was a staff cadet in the first class to enter Royal Military College, Duntroon, in 1911. He was discharged after 18 months for unsatisfactory progress in his studies and physical exercises5 but, like others who did not graduate from this class, he went on to be a brave and efficient officer. Goodwin was serving in the Australian Field Artillery as a second lieutenant when he joined the AIF in August 1914.

Watercolour by British observer William Pollard. A composite view showing a Nieuport and Farman in flight over Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula, while HMS Cornwallis shells Ottoman positions on Achi Baba. The mountains of the Asiatic shore rise in the distance beyond the narrow waters of the Dardanelles. (Cross & Cockade International 38/2 2007)

The need for aerial observation in forcing the Narrows had been recognised early enough. The seaplane carrier HMS Ark Royal with six aircraft supported the navy’s bombardment of the Dardanelles forts in February and March 1915. When a land force was being assembled, Lieutenant General Sir John Maxwell cabled Lord Kitchener: “Will any aeroplanes be sent for Birdwood’s force? They are very necessary.”6 Despatched was No. 3 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service with its charismatic commander Charles Rumney Samson.

The landplanes of 3 Squadron were more effective than the seaplanes of Ark Royal but shared many of their difficulties: an ill-matched assortment of aircraft types and engines, much affected by the local conditions, with primitive wireless and photographic capability. The air arm also lacked trained observers, a specialist role for which the RNAS only began formal instruction in late 1915. To make up the deficit they looked to the army and its artillerymen. Squadron Commander Richard Bell Davies, awarded the Victoria Cross in this campaign, thought an experienced gunner officer much more valuable than a newly trained Flight Sub-Lieutenant.7

The Australian gunners who would fly with the RNAS were at Gallipoli from the start. Captain Jopp, adjutant, 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) and Lieutenant Goodwin, 2nd FAB, landed at Anzac with the covering force on 25 April 1915, getting ashore about 7.30am to spot for the floating batteries of the Royal Navy. Captain Miles, adjutant, 2nd FAB, reached Anzac Cove later that day.

“Sketch plan showing results of aeroplane reconnaissances to 18-4-15” – Australian Imperial Force unit war diary, Headquarters, 1st Australian Divisional Artillery, April 1915. (AWM4 13/10/8)

When the guns came into action, the difficulty observing fire in the broken topography of Anzac soon became apparent. Only with aerial observation could they silence the Ottoman batteries hidden inland of Kabatepe and behind Third Ridge.

0735. Enemy fire came from various points in rear of crest of SCRUBBY KNOLL and GUN RIDGE. It is practically hopeless to silence enemy’s guns firing from these and other concealed positions, such as OLIVE GROVE group of guns, unless the assistance of aircraft, for spotting our fire, is obtained.8

Miles – now a Major – was the first of the three Australian gunners to go aloft.

Major Charles Miles (centre) with (from left) Lt William Wallis (2nd FAB), Major John Lucas (Divisional Ammunition Column), Lt-Col Alfred Bessell-Browne (2nd FAB) and Major Thomas Blamey (intelligence officer, 1st Australian Division), December 1915. (Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company, Hector Caddy collection, published in Charles Bean's Gallipoli Illustrated, edited by Philip Bradley, Sydney 2014)

On 6 June, he had been given command of 1st Battery AFA temporarily attached to the British 29th Division at Helles. Less than a fortnight later, Miles was sent to Tenedos (Bozcaada), an island some 17.5 miles (28 kilometres) south of the peninsula and 31 miles (50 kilometres) from Anzac. From there he made six service flights as an observer with the RNAS.

On 30 June he was spotting for the 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade. Captain Charles Herbert Collet was the pilot, the machine a Maurice Farman M.11.

Aeroplane series in the morning, Major Miles observing OLIVE GROVE batteries. He had one shot fired at him.9

On 10 and 11 July, in a Henry Farman F.27 piloted by Flight Lieutenant Edward Thomas Newton-Clare, he took aerial photographs.

On 12 July, he flew with Canadian-born Flight Sub-Lieutenant Harold Spencer Kerby as VIII Corps made one last attempt to capture its first day objectives, Krithia and Achi Baba (Alçıtepe). The full weight of the artillery at Helles was lent in turn to each of the two attacking brigades, with bombardment from land, sea and air.

A Voisin aeroplane of 3 Wing RNAS on Imbros. (IWM Q 44287)

Kerby and Miles took off at 2.15pm in a Voisin III LAS. It was the Canadian’s first big mission over the front.

My orders were to take up Major Miles as observer and two bombs which were to be dropped on Sogun Dere [Soğanlidere], so off we pushed and arrived off Cape Helles at about 8,000 feet thanks to a head wind and an engine running well. I flew over Krithia and then altered course to the right to get over my destination. Hardly had I done so when I noticed what looked to be a line up of carts going along the road towards Krithia. I called the Major’s attention and through his glasses saw that they were a Turkish supply column coming up. So I got directly in line and when I thought it about right pulled the lever and plumb goes a bomb. I turned the machine so I could see the result but the nacelle insisted in getting in the way so I did not see it fall but the Major followed it all the way and said while not a direct hit it did do some damage as they scattered in all directions. I went on to Sogun Dere and saw a likely looking storehouse. I let off my other bomb which by good luck went right through the roof and blew the thing to bits. I only hope it was full of Turks.

We then went back to a position above our own lines and the Major signalled by our wireless we were ready to spot and for the next hour I kept going about in a big circle or figure of eight while the Major signalled to our battery on the ground whether their shells were hitting or falling short.10 We were fired at quite a bit while doing this job but I only saw one very close, and that certainly did give the machine a bump but it was only 20 yards under us. [11]

From daybreak to sunset, at least one RNAS machine was in the air over Helles, but the gallant efforts of the air service had little bearing on the outcome of the battle.

A few days later Miles was put in command of a heavy battery to be formed at Anzac. His place in the observer’s seat was taken by Jopp who left on 16 July for the aerodrome at Tenedos.

No. 3 Squadron was situated on an L-shaped aerodrome about 550 metres in length fashioned from a vineyard. Accommodation was in bell tents and repurposed aeroplane packing cases. The men were accustomed to improvisation. When deployed as Samson’s Aeroplane Party to France in the early days of the war, they had operated as an almost independent force, aggressively patrolling in motorcars they armoured themselves – the first British armoured vehicles to see action – while their aircraft bombed the Zeppelin sheds at Düsseldorf and Cologne.

Their commander was short in stature but big in presence. Samson was one of the great characters of the war. He and the Australian must have hit it off. Jopp, wrote Samson, ‘was a great fellow, and usually came with me.’12

As well as Helles and the Fleet, we now had Anzac to look after; and we did a lot of artillery co-operation for the Australians, registering their heavy batteries on to the Turks’ guns. Some of the latter wanted a lot of locating, as did some guns that fired from about a mile inland from Gaba Tepe. Jopp, who was an Australian, was the observer whom I detailed to specialise on Anzac; he had an eye like a hawk, and it wasn’t long before he had discovered most of the guns that were causing trouble.13

The war diary for Headquarters, 3rd Australian FAB, records five shoots observed by aircraft in the second half of July.14

18 July. Adjutant [Jopp] overhead conducting aeroplane series with 5 Howitzer Battery.15
19 July. 5 Howitzer fired an aeroplane series.
21 July. Aeroplane series this afternoon.
22 July. Aeroplane series during afternoon. About 50 shells and plenty of machine gun fire directed at it.
25 July. Another aeroplane series this evening.

North Anzac, South Suvla area, photographed from about 7,000 feet on 4 October 1915. (AWM RC04266)

At Gallipoli the observer’s job was a challenging one.

Although the atmosphere was wonderfully clear and visibility excellent, the rugged nature of the ground and the deep ravines and gullies which were a feature of the peninsula made the observation of shell bursts extremely difficult, except at an hour when the sun was immediately overhead. Further, very little high-explosive ammunition was available and most of the ranging, at any rate, was carried out with shrapnel.16

Just finding your target was difficult enough.

The dominating features in the southern part of the peninsula are the hill-mass of Sari Bair, with its culminating peak nearly 1,000 feet above the level of the sea; the Kilid Bahr plateau, 700 feet high; and Achi Baba, a bare, lonely lump, 600 feet high, commanding the extreme south of the peninsula, near Cape Helles. Each of these main features rises above a stretch of difficult country with a confusion of nullahs which will require many hours of study from the air before any human being may come above them with a pretence at picking out one gully from another.17

The peninsula from 7,000 feet, seen from its Aegean shore. The valley of Soğanlidere (centre left) opens onto the straits with the hills of Asia beyond. (Photo E C Cramp, Ark Royal, collection of Serpil and Bill Sellars)

For the men on the ground, an aeroplane overhead was reward enough. This note from Samson dates from May 1915.

Aeroplane spotting I really consider has helped a devil of a lot, as now we can get batteries silenced right away. Practically always now the batteries cease fire when an aeroplane gets over the top of them. I honestly believe that our aeroplanes have given the Turks a healthy feeling of dread.18

With the failure to break out at Helles, attention turned to Anzac in August. A three-pronged assault on Chunuk Bair, the Q hills and Hill 971 would be supported by a landing at Suvla.

No. 3 Squadron, now designated No. 3 Wing, moved from Tenedos to a new aerodrome on Imbros (Gökçeada) that was better sited to assist the attack. Where that island is closest to the peninsula, a long, flat-topped headland with a lighthouse at its point shelters Kephalo Bay (Aydıncık). Atop the headland was Samson’s aerodrome. Again there was little in the way of facilities and a landing strip had to be cleared and barracks and messes built.

I started to collect animals, and got from the Army two horses, eight mules, and eight donkeys, for all of which we built splendid stables in a gulley. The horses had seen better days; but they provided us with exercise, as did some of the mules, as Jopp found to his misery when he tried to ride one over to G.H.Q. It absolutely refused to answer either to its helm or telegraphs.19

Jopp is second from left in this photograph that appears in Samson’s memoir Fights and Flights. From left to right are Captain Edwards, also a gunner, Jopp, Lt R Bell Davies RN, Lt W L Samson RNVR and Flight-Lt G L Thomson.

On 6 August, a reconnaissance of the Anzac objectives was ordered, and Bell Davies took Jopp. They made two flights over the battlefront in a Henry Farman. That night, Suvla was landed and the break out from Anzac began.

On 7 August, Jopp again made two reconnaissance flights, one at 4.45am, the second in the early afternoon. One wonders if he looked for the Nek or saw the assaults on Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair.

In these and the days following, the airmen lent their weight to the push, observing for the guns and bombing Ottoman reserves as they were brought up to the battlefield. Jopp alone made a remarkable 26 flights during the month of August, clocking up 46 hours 20 minutes in the air.

On one of these flights, on the morning of 19 August, Ottoman artillery brought down Samson and Jopp.

We hadn’t been over there for more than half an hour when we got hit in the engine by a piece of shrapnel, which stopped it completely. I had to make a landing on the only patch of good ground I could discover, just south of the Salt Lake, and well within our lines. The ground was fairly steep, and as soon as we came to rest the aeroplane ran backwards downhill again; but finally came to rest quite undamaged. On examination I found that the magneto was completely smashed up.20

A downed Farman of Escadrille MF 98 T at Suvla on 3 September 1915. (IWM Q 25125)

The Henry Farman, numbered HF24, came down alongside Lala Baba. Few spots at Suvla were hidden from enemy observation and the machine was soon targeted.

Within two minutes of our landing the enemy guns started on us, and Jopp and I had to make for cover in a small gulley.

After about ten minutes’ bombardment they ceased fire, and we went back to see what the damage was. It was surprisingly little considering the number of shells that had burst all round her; but she was certainly out of action for some time, especially the engine, which had two cylinders hit by fragments.

I obtained a couple of horses […] and we rode round to the landing pier at Kura Chesme. We had quite an eventful ride, as we seemed to be constantly under shell-fire, and I for one was very glad to get into the shelter of a stone sangar well lined with sandbags.

After signalling to Imbros telling them to get a new engine ready, and also the requisite material for repairing the aeroplane, Jopp and I squatted under protection awaiting the arrival of the Mail Trawler. It was quite a thrilling sight watching the beach parties unloading lighters absolutely unperturbed by the spasms of shelling they had to undergo about every quarter of an hour…

When the trawler arrived at last Jopp and I were the only passengers. Before we had gone half-way it began to blow, and as it was very wet on deck, and the air of the after-cabin was like an old-time gun-room after three days at sea, we ensconced ourselves in the dinghy, which was lying in crutches right aft amidships. Fortunately, as it proved, the slings were hooked on to the derrick purchase, which was hauled taut.

Night fell, and we got damper and damper, and the sea got rougher and rougher, and Jopp got sicker and sicker, until he turned from a six-foot Australian into a mere helpless invalid.

All of a sudden the trawler shipped a real snorter, and the dinghy was torn from its crutches, and with us inside swung out over the raging sea. The next few minutes we spent swinging from side to side of the trawler as she rolled, with every now and then a good crash into the after-companionway, which threatened soon to reduce us to splinters. Luckily the crew, proper North Sea fishermen, were equal to the occasion, and timing the evolution to a split second, they let go the purchase with a run and landed us, dinghy and all, safely inboard.

Thank the Lord for the British deep-sea fishermen. I don’t think anybody else could have done it.

Jopp and I spent the rest of the voyage below.21

The Ottoman lines of communication presented an attractive target to the navy and its air service. A single road funneled supplies and reinforcements down the peninsula while seaborne traffic docked in the narrow straits.

On 30 August, shipping in the harbour across the peninsula from Anzac Cove was subject to a long distance aerial shoot by Samson and Jopp.

In Ak Bashi Liman [Akbaş Limanı] were lying two steamers alongside each other, both about 200 feet long, three or four tugs and about twenty dhows busily unloading. I got up to 6,000 feet where I could get a good view both of [the monitor] M.15 and Ak Bashi Liman. I took care to keep about four miles away from Ak Bashi in order not to arouse their suspicions. When ready I ordered fire. The first shot fell about 800 yards short fortunately behind the hills so that no notice was taken by the Turks. The next shot fell on the beach and killed some Turks. The third shot fell into the sea. We now had got the range. A terrible panic occurred. The tugs that had got dhows in tow cut them off and steamed for the Asiatic shore. The gangs on the beach who were by now well used to aeroplane bombs, dropped everything and fled to the hills. I was trying to get a hit on the two steamers which were still at anchor. The eighth shot hit one. Jopp said, “What correction must I signal?” I said, “Report O.K.” (hit). The ninth shell hit the second steamer. When it is remembered that these two ships were lying alongside each other, the range was 18,000 yards [16.5 kilometres], that hills 800 to 1,000 feet [245 to 305 metres] were intervening, and that M.15 was just lying with her bows up against a little mark buoy and rolling in the swell, this shooting is really wonderful.22

Shipping now avoided this harbour by day.

Monitor M.15 at Mudros showing her 9.2 inch gun with 12 pounder aft. (IWM SP 891)

While the RNAS enjoyed air superiority over the peninsula, the aircraft of both sides were limited in number and performance. Until the arrival of more modern types of aircraft later in the campaign, combat in the air was restricted mostly to pot shots with small arms.

On 10 August, when flying the first of the new [140 horsepower] Henri Farmans with Jupp as observer, we met a German Ettrich Taube over Anzac. The pilot did not see us and I was able to come close behind him. Jupp, who had a rifle, started shooting and must have made good practice for at about the fifth shot I saw the pilot’s face as he turned to look behind before going into a vertical dive. We heard afterwards that the Australians had a full view of the encounter from their trenches. Convinced that we had shot down the German, they had all started cheering.23

The enemy aircraft – a Rumpler B.I of 1nci Tayyare Bölük (1st aircraft company) – made it safely back to its base at nearby Galata.

Samson records ‘another good scrap’ on 2 December when Jopp flew with Flight Commander Hans Acworth Busk in Henry Farman H7. They were spotting HMS Earl of Peterborough onto Galata aerodrome when an enemy aeroplane attacked the monitor.

A Taube was sighted after third round at aerodrome and it appeared to drop two bombs at the monitor, one of which fell directly against her port bow and the second astern of her and was blind… We proceeded to attack and owing to our height (9,000 feet) got over the Taube at KARNABILI [Karainebeyli] as it was making home.

We dived, reaching its level (6,000 feet). When about 40 or 50 yards astern of it we opened fire with our machine gun. The Taube also dived, turned broadside and opened fire with a machine gun on us.

We pursued it to a height of 1,000 feet maintaining the same range slightly below it in height. After firing about 70 or 80 rounds the gun jambed and we were unable to return his fire. He continued to dive and we abandoned pursuit.24

Samson reported this ‘very gallant fight’ to his superiors.25 It clearly made an impression on him for he later described the fight in his memoir.

Jopp said that the German observer looked round and saw them right on his tail. He flung his arms round the pilot’s head, and shoved the stick forward, and the German dived nearly vertically. Busk followed down, but the German could dive quicker than the Henri. They got the German right down to 20 feet or so of the ground, and chivvied him at that height, firing all the time, until they got to Galata aerodrome. They failed to score a bull’s-eye, unfortunately; and they had a rotten time from “Archie” and machine guns while flying back to Suvla at a very low altitude. Meanwhile, the monitor was rather angry at the shoot being spoilt, and not knowing what had happened to its aeroplane.26

Air superiority had begun to swing in favour of the defenders when Bulgaria entered the war in October 1915. With the collapse of Serbia, an uninterrupted railway now connected Istanbul with Berlin. From Germany the Ottoman army received the Albatros C.I armed with a rear-firing ring-mounted machine gun and later the deadly Fokker Eindecker with its synchronised machine gun firing through the propeller arc. Busk would fall to the guns of Fokker ace Hauptmann Buddecke on 6 January 1916.

To stem the flow of German materiel heading south, the RNAS attacked the Berlin-Istanbul railway where it bridged the river Maritza near the Bulgarian border town of Kuleli Burgas (Pythion). Between 8 and 24 November, 3 Wing and seaplanes from Ben-My-Chree made at least seven attacks on the bridge and railway. For the landplanes, it was a 180 mile (290 kilometre) round trip from Imbros.

Samson spotted several camps in the area and dispatched Jopp with Flight Lieutenant Gordon Lindsay Thomson27 on 10 November to ‘give them a taste of what they could expect when they got to the Peninsula.’28

The pair took off at 10.25am in Maurice Farman MF5 carrying four 20lb, two 100lb and two 112lb bombs. At Kara Bunar, from 1,800 feet, they attacked a large camp.

Right thoroughly they stirred things up … As they approached, the Turks began to stream out of the tents; but some were too late. One 112-lb. fell amongst the tents and demolished three of them, the second one fell amongst a large body of men running to seek shelter in a gulley.29

The flying report, signed by Jopp, says ‘both these bombs must have inflicted severe damage.’ Then, on the road to Keshan, they hit a supply column.

There were about 500 transport wagons in convoys of 8, between 30 and 50 each. On one of these convoys four bombs were dropped, two of which probably did damage; two went wide. Considerable agitation was observed in all the convoys on our approach. The majority of these vehicles were bullock wagons, and were moving south.30

Thomson and Jopp landed back at Kephalo aerodrome at 1.35pm.

The railway junction at Ferejik (Feres) on the Salonika-Istanbul line was also attacked in November, the airmen destroying station buildings, rolling stock and sections of the permanent way.

On December 1st Vernon, a new pilot, carrying Jopp, was sent to Ferejik junction just to let them see we were still alive.31

Leaving Imbros at 10.10am in a Maurice Farman, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Theophilus Chater Vernon and Jopp flew north, reaching the Bulgarian coast 4 miles east of Dede-Agach (Alexandroupoli). They soon came across the branch line to Ferejik and followed it to the junction. Two 100lb bombs were dropped from 3,500 feet, two 20lb bombs from 2,000 feet. At least one hit the line, the others within five and ten yards.32

In six months with the RNAS, Jopp had made 69 service flights for 137 hours 20 minutes in the air. His experience spanned reconnaissance and spotting to bomb attacks33 and aerial combat. Among his pilots were distinguished figures like Air Vice Marshal Reginald Leonard George Marix CB DSO, Vice Admiral Richard Bell Davies VC CB DSO AFC and of course Air Commodore Charles Rumney Samson CMG DSO AFC. Of 3 Wing’s observers, only Knatchbull-Hugessen34 (91), Walser (80), St Aubyn35 (73) and Hogg36 (72) made more flights than him. Clearly Jopp can be considered in the first rank of airmen at Gallipoli.

Our third gunner had less chance to make his mark in the air war.

Goodwin is named in this photograph taken at Anzac by Phillip Schuler. He is most likely the man standing far right, but could also be the man second from right. (AWM PS1634)

On 19 November, Lieutenant Shirl Goodwin had been detached from 6th Battery, 2nd FAB, for duty as an observer with No. 2 Wing RNAS. This unit, bringing much needed reinforcements in men and machines, had reached Imbros on 31 August. Its aerodrome bordered the salt lake south of Kephalo Bay.

The campaign was now limping towards its inevitable conclusion and the army was being taken off the peninsula. Patrols went up continuously to deny the enemy observation of the beaches. On 17, 18 and 19 December, Goodwin scouted Anzac for hostile aircraft. None were seen.37

On 20 December, the morning following the evacuation of Anzac and Suvla, Goodwin and pilot Flight Sub-Lieutenant Frank Besson made again for the peninsula to look for Ottoman troop movements.

Owing to heavy low clouds, we were unable to proceed over the lines and had to reconnoitre from the sea. At a distance of about a mile from the shore the engine failed at a height of well under 2,000 feet (probably about 1,500 feet). The pilot immediately turned towards Imbros, but we had not made more than a mile before we struck the water. We both had air belts, but that of my pilot deflated soon after descent. The aeroplane sank after about ten minutes. Though I had wirelessed for help none appeared.

We made for the Turkish shore, hoping to be able to work down behind our lines at Helles. I soon found that as far as I was concerned, that course was impossible, and made for the nearest land. I then became unconscious. When I regained consciousness I found that I was being carefully tended by a Bavarian officer. He stated that on hearing of the fall of the aeroplane, he hurried to the nearest point on the land, as the Turks were sometimes dangerous to their prisoners; that he had organised a rescue party which swam out and brought me in, but were unable to find my pilot; that I had been six hours in the water and that when rescued I was absolutely stiff; that after two hours, by means of hypodermic injections and brandy, he had restored me to consciousness.

The German officer could not have treated me with more kindness if I had been one of his comrades.38

The next morning Goodwin was taken to Ottoman army headquarters, well concealed in wooded country off the Bigalı-Yalova road. The observer’s impotent presence was remembered with some pleasure by Prussian general Hans Kannengiesser.

I could see nothing of this small settlement even when I was close to it … A few steps led into a small valley which was almost hidden by the foliage of firs and other trees. The tents were pitched under these trees. The whole position had been selected in a masterly fashion. No stranger could possibly imagine that at this point were collected the many threads which controlled this mighty battle and which made possible a well-considered common leadership during a period of three-quarters of a year and on two continents.

The best evidence of this was that of the English flying officer who was taken prisoner towards the end of the campaign and brought to the spot. He could scarcely believe that he stood before the so long-sought-for quarters of the Marshal. This piece of country had actually lain in his observation area. How gladly would the English have concentrated the whole of their artillery on this point!39

Goodwin was kept four days at headquarters for questioning. Liman von Sanders was keen to learn more about the evacuation of Anzac and Suvla and the British plans for Helles, but the Australian was snubbed by Esad Pasha, the senior Ottoman commander.

[He] refused to see me on the ground that I belonged to the air service which had just dropped a bomb on a hospital and killed the wife of the Surgeon General.40

On 17 December 1915, the German-born wife of doctor Hasan Ragıp (Erensel) Bey was killed when the hospital in which she was a volunteer nurse was bombed. Madame Erica’s grave lies in the village of Yalova, just north of Akbaş Limanı.

Goodwin remained a prisoner for the duration of the war.

Lieutenant Colonel C G N Miles CMG DSO. (IWM HU 125626)

Major Miles served in France, was three times mentioned in despatches, awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and made a Companion in the Order of St Michael and St George. His rank at war’s end was Lieutenant-Colonel. In the years that followed Miles was commandant of Royal Military College, Duntroon, Adjutant-General of the Australian Army, Director of Military Training at Army Headquarters, Melbourne, and, in 1937, aide-de-camp to the King. From 1940 to 1941 Lieutenant-General Miles was General Officer Commanding Eastern Command.

Major Arthur Harold Keith Jopp DSO, c 1917. (National Archives of Australia)

Captain Jopp also served in France. He achieved the rank of major, was twice mentioned in despatches and was awarded the DSO. At the end of 1917, a general debility, exacerbated by bouts of malaria, saw him returned to Australia. Jopp was an estate owner in South Africa in 1927 when Samson met him in Durban, Natal. During WWII, Jopp, now a colonel, commanded coast and anti-aircraft artillery at Durban and Cape Town.41

Senior officers of the 26th Brigade. Lieutenant Colonel S T W Goodwin, Commanding Officer 2/12th Field Regiment, is second from left. Syria, 11 September 1942. (AWM P02242.013)

Lieutenant Goodwin held a number of staff appointments upon his return to Australia. In the Second World War he commanded the 2/12th Field Regiment in North Africa and fought at the Battle of El Alamein. He was awarded the DSO. Promoted to colonel and then brigadier, he was killed in action serving with the artillery in New Guinea in 1943.

While a number of Australians flew with the RNAS over the Aegean, Miles, Jopp and Goodwin share a unique distinction: they were the only Anzac gunners at Gallipoli to fight from the sky.

Table: Flights by Jopp

Date Machine Pilot Time Description
1915-07-18 MF2 Samson 02:25 Reconnaissance and bomb attack.
1915-07-19 MF2 Samson 02:20 Spotting and bomb attack.
1915-07-20 MF2 Samson 01:45 Reconnaissance and spotting.
1915-07-21 MF2 Collet 02:30 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-07-22 MF2 Marix 02:30 Spotting.
1915-07-23 MF2 Marix 02:10 Reconnaissance and bomb attack.
1915-07-24 MF2 Bell Davies 02:15 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-07-25 MF2 Marix 02:15 Reconnaissance and bomb attack.
1915-07-26 MF2 Marix 02:45 Spotting, reconnaissance and bomb attack.
1915-07-29 MF2 Marix 02:50 Spotting.
1915-07-31 MF2 Marix 02:45 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-01 French MF Newton-Clare 02:20 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-05 (Possibly HF22) Marix 01:30 Bomb attack and reconnaissance.
1915-08-06 HF23 Bell Davies 02:00 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-06 HF23 Bell Davies 01:15 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-07 MF23 Marix 02:35 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-07 MF2 Dawson 01:20 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-08 HF23 Bell Davies 01:50 Reconnaissance and bomb attack.
1915-08-08 HF24 Bell Davies 01:30 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-09 HF24 Bell Davies 02:30 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-10 HF24 Bell Davies 01:55 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-11 MF25 Newton-Clare 02:35 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-12 HF24 Samson 00:50 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-13 29 Samson 01:30 Reconnaissance and bomb attack.
1915-08-13 (Blank, possibly HF22) Collet 02:15 Spotting.
1915-08-16 HF23 Samson 01:40 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-18 2 Collet 01:00 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-18 HF24 Samson 01:55 Spotting and reconnaissance
1915-08-19 24 Samson 01:00 Spotting and reconnaissance. Came down Suvla.
1915-08-21 MF2 Samson 02:30 Reconnaissance.
1915-08-23 French MF Samson 02:25 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-25 HF23 Samson 02:35 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-26 23 Samson 01:20 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-28 HF23 Samson 02:00 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-29 HF23 Samson 02:00 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-08-30 HF23 Samson 02:00 Spotting M.15 on shipping at Ak Bashi Liman and reconnaissance.
1915-09-25 BE50 Marix 01:25 Reconnaissance.
1915-09-26 HF24 Butler 02:10 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-09-27 HF24 Butler 02:20 Spotting and reconnaissance.
1915-09-28 MF25 Thomson 01:25 Bomb attack.
1915-09-30 HF24 Butler 01:55 Reconnaissance, spotting and bomb attack.
1915-10-02 M1 Morrison 01:00 Reconnaissance.
1915-10-04 M1 Young 02:15 Spotting.
1915-10-06 M1 Young 01:25 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-10-08 M2 Young 01:15 Spotting for IX Corps, Suvla.
1915-10-10 M2 Morrison 01:35 Reconnaissance of Anzac.
1915-10-12 (2 Wing) 02:45
1915-10-13 (2 Wing) 01:20
1915-10-25 Savoury (2 Wing) 02:15 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-10-30 (2 Wing) 02:35 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-11-01 H5 Heriot 01:40 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-11-02 H6 Busk 01:45 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-11-03 H6 Nicholson 02:00 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-11-07 H4 Busk 02:05 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-11-08 H4 Heriot 03:10 Spotting at Anzac.
1915-11-10 M5 Thomson 03:10 Bomb attack on camp at Kara Bunar and reconnaissance of roads between Kara Bunar and Keshan.
1915-11-13 H4 Barnato 01:45 Spotting at Suvla.
1915-11-18 M3 Newton-Clare 03:50 Reconnoitre through Kavak, Sakli to Ainadjik, west along Malgara then through Derejik-Keui and Almali. Bomb attack on camp at Kalekeui [south of Keshan].
1915-11-20 M5 Busk 02:20 Spot for M.9 [probably Raglan] onto camps at 180 A8-G1 and 107 D8-F7.
1915-11-24 H4 Busk 00:35 Spot on Ungerdere. Flight abandoned owing to dense clouds at 4,000 feet.
1915-11-26 M5 Busk 02:35 Spot for M.9 on Ungerdere. Unsuccessful owing to cloud.
1915-11-30 M5 Heriot 01:10 Reconnaisance of shipping in the straits. [46 ships noted as well as condition of submarine net.]
1915-12-01 M3 Vernon 02:10 Bomb attack on Ferejik.
1915-12-02 H7 Busk 02:20 Spotting for M.9 on Bair Keui, Galata aerodrome (two machines on the aerodrome in the open) and Uzundere. Hostile aircraft attack. Reconnaissance of shipping in the straits.
1915-12-04 M5 Barnato 00:45 Spot on Ak Bashi Liman, Kilia Liman and Yalova. Abandoned owing to dense cloud from 700 to 2,000 feet.
1915-12-08 M5 Vernon 01:45 Spot for M.9 onto Forts 19, 7 and 8. One round observed, no more seen fired despite constant signals to open fire. Owing to a strut burning through, the machine then had to return.
1915-12-12 H7 Barnato 02:15 Bomb attack on shipping at Bergaz. One 20lb bomb fell directly alongside 100 foot sailing ship. One 100lb bomb possibly did damage to small craft alongside pier. Reconnoitre Kavak Tepe.
1915-12-17 M3 Busk 02:55 Spot for M.9 onto 137 M3 and 119 C8. Bomb attack on largest camp SW of Turshen Keui. First 100lb bomb 25 yards short with possible effect. Second 100lb bomb in centre of camp, on tents, must have done considerable damage.

Source: Private Papers of Air Commodore C R Samson CMG DSO AFC, Documents.12080, Imperial War Museum, London. Additional information from RNAS reconnaissance reports (AIR 1/2284/209/75/11-12) and Samson’s memoir.

1 Captain A A Walser, Royal Flying Corps, attached 3 Wing RNAS, ‘Memories of Gallipoli 1915’, Cross & Cockade International, Vol 45 Winter 2014, p 233. Later Air Commodore André (Andrew) Adolphus Walser MC DFC.

2 Charles George Norman Miles. Born Brisbane 10 November 1884. Died Sydney 19 February 1958. Survived by his wife and two children (a son and a daughter). A summary of his war service can be found in Reveille, 1 March 1935 (

3 Arthur Harold Keith Jopp. Born Brisbane 1 May 1890. Brisbane Grammar School. Brother-in-law of General Sir Henry ‘Harry’ George Chauvel GCMG KCB. Married Mabel E Clare in London. Married Vera Platt in Durban in 1952. His surname is variously given as Keith Jopp, Keith-Jopp and Jopp (even Jupp, Joppe and Topp!) but there is no doubt about his ability. This story comes from Colonel A C Fergusson who commanded 21 (Kohat) Mountain Battery during the Gallipoli campaign: “At a later period [about 26 May] when Thorn and Rawson were both wounded by one shell, I had to get an Australian gunner officer to run Thorn’s section, which he did with great success though he knew no word of Hindustani. Of course all words of command are always given in English. I told him he had only to stick absolutely to the drill book orders and he would be all right. By the third day he was taking on unregistered targets of his own, and before he left I had to give him a very close shooting job about 10 yards from our firing line in enfilade, which he carried out with conspicuous success. His name was Jopp or Jupp.” Gallipolian: the journal of the Gallipoli Association, No 85, Winter 1997.

4 Shirley Thomas William Goodwin. Born Ballarat 6 February 1894. Camberwell Grammar School. Killed in action New Guinea 25 October 1943. Survived by his wife and two children (a son and a daughter).

5 Harding, Ross and Gordon, Ken ‘The First Class’, The Duntroon Society Newsletter, December 2011.

6 Cablegram from Lieutenant General Sir John Maxwell, General Officer Commanding British Troops in Egypt, to Lord Kitchener, 26 February 1915. Australian War Memorial 3DRL/3376 11/14.

7 Bell Davies, Richard 1967, Sailor in the air : the memoirs of Vice-Admiral Richard Bell Davies, Peter Davies, London, p 134.

8 AIF unit war diary, Headquarters, 1st Australian Divisional Artillery, October 1915, AWM 13/10/14 Part 1.

9 AIF unit war diary, Headquarters, 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade, June 1915, AWM4 13/31/11. The shoot is also mentioned in unit war diary for 5th Battery, 2nd Australian Field Artillery Brigade (AWM4 13/67/3) – “ANZAC 1600. Fired spotting series at C – for Major Miles who is carrying out aeroplane observation.”

10 The British observer Walser writes: “When I arrived in Gallipoli, observation for the artillery, both naval and military, was still being carried out by means of the old method – ‘short’ and ‘over’ – ‘left’; ‘right’; but we gradually evolved a kind of grid system similar to the one in use by the French artillery, which gave good results. The clock code, which was beginning to make its appearance in France, only reached us towards the end of 1915.” Walser, ‘Memories of Gallipoli 1915’, p 233.

11 Quoted in Dolan, Hugh 2013, Gallipoli air war : the unknown story of the fight for the skies over Gallipoli, Sydney, Pan Macmillan Australia, pp 221-222.

12 Samson, Charles Rumney 1930, Fights and flights, Ernest Benn, London, p 225. Almost a quarter of Jopp’s 69 service flights were with Samson (see Table).

13 Samson, p 250.

14 AIF unit war diary, Headquarters, 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade, July 1915, AWM4 13/31/12. Jopp flew on each of these days but he was not necessarily spotting for each of these shoots.

15 1st/5th City of Glasgow (Howitzer) Battery, Royal Field Artillery (Territorial Force).

16 Walser, ‘Memories of Gallipoli 1915’ p 232.

17 Jones, H A 1922, The war in the air : being the story of the part played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force, Oxford Clarendon Press, Volume 2, pp 1-2.

18 Letter from Wing Commander C R Samson to Commodore M F Sueter, dated 2 May 1915. AIR 1/361/15/228/50, The National Archives, Kew.

19 Samson, p 265.

20 Samson, pp 259-262.

21 Ibid.

22 Jones, pp 68-69.

23 Bell Davies, p 129.

24 Reconnaissance reports by 2 and 3 Wings RNAS, Nov-Dec 1915, AIR 1/2284/209/75/12, The National Archives, Kew.

25 Letter from Wing Commander C R Samson dated 2 December 1915, AIR 1/361/15/228/50, The National Archives, Kew.

26 Samson, pp 283-284.

27 Thomson would be awarded the DSC and DFC. He rowed in the 1908 Summer Olympics for Great Britain.

28 Samson, pp 273-274.

29 Samson, p 276.

30 Reconnaissance reports by 2 and 3 Wings RNAS, Oct-Nov 1915, AIR 1/2284/209/75/11, The National Archives, Kew.

31 Samson, p 283. Squadron Commander Richard Bell Davies was awarded the Victoria Cross for his daring rescue of a fellow pilot who was downed in the 19 November attack on Ferejik.

32 Reconnaissance reports by 2 and 3 Wings RNAS, Nov-Dec 1915, AIR 1/2284/209/75/12, The National Archives, Kew.

33 Jopp dropped some 1.5 tons (1,165 kilograms) of aerial bombs.

34 Michael Herbert Rudolf Knatchbull, 5th Baron Brabourne GCSI GCIE MC.

35 Commander Erskine Knollys Heveningham St. Aubyn DSC.

36 Brigadier General Rudolph Edward Trower Hogg CMG CIE.

37 Reconnaissance reports by 2 and 3 Wings RNAS, Nov-Dec 1915, AIR 1/2284/209/75/12, The National Archives, Kew.

38 ‘Despatch from AIF HQ, London’, Cannonball, Journal of the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company, No 59, September 2005.

39 Kannengiesser, Hans 1927, The campaign in Gallipoli, Hutchinson, London, p 196.

40 ‘Despatch from AIF HQ, London’, Cannonball, No 59, September 2005.

41 Weideman, Marinda 1998 ‘Robben Island Coastal Defence 1931-1960’ MA Research Report, University of the Witwatersrand. Additional detail was received from Keith Glyde in an email to the author. Jopp was OC 4 Heavy Battery at Durban (a role and unit that did not exist prior to the outbreak of the Second World War) before taking temporary command of Cape Fortress Command between 7 August and 5 October 1942.

This article originally submitted to Cannonball, the journal of the Royal Australian Artillery Historical Company. Updated 24 June 2018.