|This picture taken fairly early in the action: |
Georgios Averof using its extra speed to try and
'cross the T', and the Turcowaz fleet in the process of
turning in succession into a course nor'west by north.
|Fleets on converging courses, the Hellenic |
nor'west by north; the Turcowaz, due west.
For their part, the immediate Hellenic reaction was to place one of Hydra's sister ships, HNS Psara, to maintain watch over the exit of the Dardanelles. The main body of the Blockade Fleet would remain at the island of Lemnos, close enough to support Psara in the event of a breakout.
|Turcowaz breakout attempt.|
As promised, the 25th October proved as fair and tranquil as could be wished of a late autumn morning. Weighing anchor just after midnight in the darkness of a moon two days new, the breakout squadron began a leisurely journey down the Dardanelles Straight, arriving at its mouth shortly after first light. As the morning brightened, just as the battle line turned onto a course due west towards the northern edge of Lemnos island, the lookouts spied smoke far to the south: HNS Psara, on patrol.
For its part, Psara spotted the Turcowaz squadron as distant pale ghosts against the loom of the Gelibolu Peninsula. At once that vessel turned its course to parallel the enemy. Meanwhile, anticipating the breakout move - apparently Hellenic agents in Ionople had got the word out betimes - the main body of the blockading squadron had stood out from Lemnos Harbour at about the time the Turcowaz fleet was exiting the Dardanelles. Discovering that the enemy was not attempting to break out to the south but instead to the west, the Hellenic fleet turned onto a northwest by north heading, hoping to intercept. As the courses converged, Psara joined the squadron and took up its station at the rear of the battle line.
|Hellenic battle line.|
- Georgios Averof, Armoured Cruiser, 10,000 tons, 4 x 9.2-inch; 8 x 7.5-inch; F/P=12 C/P=3
- Lemnos, Modern Pre-Dreadnought Battleship, 13,000 tons, 4 x 12", 8 x 8"; F/P=20 C/P=5
- Psara, Coastal Battleship, 5,000 tons, 3 x 10.8"; 5 x 5.9"; F/P=12 C/P=3
- Ierax, Destroyer/ Torpedo boat, 1000 tons, 4 x 4"; torpedoes; F/P=5 C/P=1
- Panthir, Destroyer/ Torpedo boat, 1000 tons, 4 x 4"; torpedoes; F/P=5 C/P=1
Converging upon the Hellenic line, the Turcowaz fleet came on undaunted, still on its course due west. The two most powerful warships led, the second of which, Hayreddin Barbarossa, carried the flag of Admiral Basmati Reis. The breakout squadron comprised:
- Turgut Reis, Older Pre-Dreadnought Battleship, 10,000 tons; 6 x 11", 8 x 4.1"; F/P=15 C/P=4
- Hayreddin Barbarossa, Older Pre-Dreadnought Battleship, 10,000 tons; 6 x 11", 8 x 4.1"; F/P=15 C/P=4
- Muhtesem, Coastal Battleship, 9000 tons; 2 x 9", 12 x 5.9"; F/P=12 C/P=3
- Hamidiye, Protected Cruiser, 4000 tons; 2 x 5.9", 8 x 4.7"; F/P=10 C/P=2
- S165, S166, Destroyer/ Torpedo boats, 665 tons; 2 x 8.8cm, 2 x 37mm, torpedoes; F/P=5 C/P=1
F/P=Flotation Points; C/P=Critical Point
|Trying the range: Battleship Lemnos lets fly.|
As the courses converged and the ranges closed, Lemnos, with its longer ranged 12-inch guns, opened fire on the leading Turcowaz vessel. Continuing on through the ineffective fire, Turgut Reis led the battle line until well within range of its own main battery, turned onto a course parallel with the Hellenic, and let loose its first salvo against Georgios Averof.
|Near miss from HNS Lemnos - not yet in range |
of Turcowaz guns.
|Telling exchange of salvos begin the action.|
|TNS Turgut Reis taking some stick at the beginning|
of the change of course to parallel the Hellenic battle line.
|HNS Psara in action.|
|The Turcowaz battle line having almost completed |
its change of course.
|Georgios Averof at full speed, planning to cross |
the 'T' of the slower moving Turcowaz line.
|Both sides scoring damaging hits.|
|As Georgios Averof staggers out of the fight,|
Psara and the destroyers are signalled: 'Engage
the enemy more closely'.
|Turcowaz destroyers go in.|
|The battle lines aflame!|
The other Hellenic destroyer was scarcely luckier. Taking a hit from an enemy destroyer, and several from the powerful secondary armament of Muhtesem, Panthir was forced, without ever releasing its torpedoes, to limp off, still under way, but otherwise reduced to a wreck.
Nor was the destroyer S165 able to complete an attack before taking hits from Lemnos, Psara and a near miss from Panthir. Lucky to remain afloat, S165 made off , passing across the wake of S166 as that destroyer pressed on to release its torpedoes against Psara's stern.
A further aside, here. In the above picture, the green and big white dice are the main gun salvos; the small white and coloured dice, the secondary armaments. It appears that before taking this picture I had removed the 'misses' from Lemnos's main guns, but all the remaining rolls are there. Now, at this point so exciting was the action I simply forgot to take pictures for a short while. Ierax was sunk, and Psara crippled, and about to try and break off the action. So I had perforce to substitute the following diagram of the action.
|In lieu of pictures, a diagram. The action was |
getting pretty lively hereabouts!
|Two telling hits from Hamidiye, and a torpedo |
strike from a Turcowaz destroyer sends
Psara to the bottom of the sea.
That was the end of the action, pretty much. Shorn of its supports, the Hellenic battleship could scarcely make head alone against what remained of the Turcowaz squadron. Reluctantly, Rear Admiral Poliomyelitis called upon the retreat, following and protecting Georgios Averof and Panthir. Both were crippled but at least afloat, making off to the west, and the safe anchorage of Lemnos Island. For their part, the Turcowaz fleet, relieved perhaps at not having to fight Lemnos to a finish, also made off to the northeast, later on shifting course for the entrance to the Dardanelles. The battle was over.
|The battle over, the wreckage of two Hellenic vessels|
burn as the fleets disappear over the horizon.
For the time being, the protected cruiser, Hamidiye was being hastily provisioned for a commerce raiding cruise into the Mesogesean Sea...
An addendum to the Admiral's report and the Hayreddin Barbarossa ship's log has come to light concerning the outcome of the battle:
|Battle log recovered from |
Much to my surprise, not having played out a fleet action using the Bob Cordery set (really only the stats were modified, and they only slightly), the Turcowaz fleet performed very well - far better than the Ottoman historically. It appears that in my world, the Turcowaz gun crews received as much instruction upon gunnery as they did upon gun drills. Georgios Averof received so much punishment so quickly, it was out of the action all too soon after it began, and lucky to get off still afloat.
The whole action went very quickly; I doubt it took an hour. In fact, this action, together with the battle of Klyutch played earlier, was finished the same morning. Left as is, one could comfortably fight a fleet action with many more vessels than the eleven engaged in this one. Mind you, my game board is no great size for this kind of battle: I had to 'scroll' the action at least every other turn - not that that presented any real problem. From my perspective that would tend to limit the battles to not much more than what I have now available.
I have a feeling that the next time these squadrons are engaged in battle, I'll be introducing a little bit of extra detail, hit 'sixes' having some effect upon motive power, steering or gunnery, say - just to add a little 'colour' to the battle narratives.
For all that, there was plenty of excitement to be had, to the point that at its climax, I simply forgot to take pictures, whilst imagining I was still doing so!
To be continued: what happens during the Fourth Week of the First Blacklands War.