The allies commenced their landing on the Turkish positions in the Dardanelles today. The role of the aircraft was mainly to spot for the naval bombardment. 3 Squadron RNAS covered the landings at Cape Helles and Kum Kale, whilst the Ark Royal and Manica were stationed off Gaba Tepe to support the Australian and New Zealand forces.
No 3 Squadron RNAS aircraft were in the air almost continuously. Unfortunately the naval ships were too overwhelmed with the targets they could spot themselves to pay any attention to the wireless messages from above. Nevertheless the aircraft got a good view of the assault. Commander Charles Samson reported on the situation at W beach:
“Just before the tows were slipped the Turks started firing and I saw Hell let loose. The sea was literally whipped into a foam by the hail of bullets and small shells, It seemed practically impossible that the boats could get in through that tornado of fire; but still they came on and we saw the troops jump out and reach the beach. I saw the men fall the moment they reached the shore ; but others charged, some going straight ahead up the slope, others making for the cliffs on the left flank. I didn’t see much more, as our principal job was to find the Turks in order to signal their position to the ships. They were not easy to find; but we located some Turks and guns quite close to the beach. Osmond [His observer] signalled their position; but the ships disregarded our message and kept their fire to far inland…. My next glance at the beach showed it covered with bodies of our dead; but I could see that the landing had been made good.
Shortly after he returned to the airfield at Tenedos, passing above V Beach:
“I could see the landing was held up. The River Clyde was fast ashore; but the lighters ahead of her were not in the right position, apparently and gaps occurred. These lighters were full of corpses; the beach and the water close to the shore were strewn with bodies. It was an appalling sight for us to look down at from our safe position in the air. … The sea for a distance of about 50 yards from the beach was absolutely red with blood, a horrible sight to see.”
Over at Gaba Tepe, HMS Manica’s balloon, with its two observers, was in the air from 0521 to 1405, constantly reporting on the activities there. Early on, one of the observers sighted the Turkish battleship Turgud Reis in the Narrows and HMS Triumph was contacted by wireless. The balloon then directed fire, forcing the Turkish warship to withdraw. Soon after 0900 hours a similar engagement occurred, but this time the TURGUD REIS got under way and began to fire on the transport ships, while the troops were still taking to the boats. Disembarkation was disrupted until the balloon-Triumph combination again went into action. The Turgud Reis then steamed out of range of Triumph’s guns, but returned in the afternoon to be chased away for the third time.