The ‘Dubsters’— V Beach, 25 April 1915

Published in Artefacts, Issue 2 (March/April 2015), Volume 23

The Royal Munster Fusiliers on parade in Rangoon in 1912. (NMI)

The Royal Munster Fusiliers on parade in Rangoon in 1912. (NMI)

The regular units of the British Army were unable to meet the demands of the war. New divisions of volunteers were raised in 1914, including three Irish divisions—the 10th (Irish), 36th (Ulster) and 16th (Irish). It was, however, two battalions of Irish regulars who were chosen to be part of the hazardous first landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. Soldiers of the Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers were packed onto a converted collier, the River Clyde, and into open boats rowed by sailors. Both units were serving in India when the war started.

The wheel and light of the River Clyde, presented to the Royal Munster Fusiliers by the Royal Navy after the battle of Gallipoli. (National Army Museum, Imperial War Museum)

The wheel and light of the River Clyde, presented to the Royal Munster Fusiliers by the Royal Navy after the battle of Gallipoli. (National Army Museum, Imperial War Museum)

As they tried to land on the tip of Gallipoli (at a place designated V Beach), the soldiers were slaughtered by the fire of the Turks manning the high ground. Their casualties were so great that the two reduced battalions were amalgamated and became known as the ‘Dubsters’.

Shown here are the wheel and lamp of the River Clyde, the key to the landing on V Beach at Cape Helles. Packed with c. 2,000 soldiers (including Munster and Dublin Fusiliers), the ship was supposed to bring them close enough to shore that they could overwhelm the Turkish defenders. Well-trained and equipped Turkish soldiers exposed the assaulting troops to intense fire—several hundred were shot down or drowned trying to reach the beach. Out of the 987 Royal Dublin Fusiliers and 25 officers only one officer and 374 men made it to shore.

The Royal Navy presented parts of the ship to the two Irish regiments and this wheel and light were presented to the Royal Munster Fusiliers. Later the ship itself was refloated and survived until 1966, when she was scrapped despite efforts to preserve her. The crew of the ship received a Victoria Cross for their bravery during the battle.

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