Lutonians at Sevastopol

Following a previous letter from two Lutonians serving on HMS Agamemnon about the British Fleet's entry into the Dardanelles, a second letter dated January 13, 1919, described their visit to Constantinople and Sevastopol. Signed by L. B. Briars, It read:

“The first two ships to pass through the Bosphorus on November 21st were HMS Liverpool (cruiser) and HMS Shark (destroyer). On November 25th HMS Superb (flagship), HMS Temeraire, two Italians and two French battleships and several Allied destroyers passed through the Bosphorus, the destination being Sevastopol to take over the Russian ships then manned by Germans, according to the terms of the Armistice.

“On November 30th HMS Agamemnon lift Ismid for Sevastopol. We steamed through the Bosphorus during the afternoon, and it was a fine sight; very pretty, and hundreds of mosques dotted all over Constantinople.

“At a place called Stenia we saw our old enemy ship, the Goeben, but she looked very badly damaged. She is now manned by Turks. Though here are the guns of large calibre on both sides, so it was impossible for the Russian ships to dash through. Also the tide is very strong, and always flows the same way all the year round.

“Next day, steaming through the Black Sea, we passed the heights of Alma and also the Valley of Death, where the famous charge of the Light Brigade took place in 1854.

“We arrived at Sevastopol on December 1st. The Russian ship we had to take over was a battleship of 2,700 tons named the Volya, and she was ready for steaming.

“On December 19th HMS Agamemnon left Sevastopol with the Russian ship Volya, and proceeded to Ismid. All the Russian ships taken over by the Allies are being interned at Ismid until Russia forms a settled Government.”

The publication of the previous letter brought one from another Lutonian, A. C. Payne, who is in the R.M.L.I. And has been serving in Turkish waters on one of the monitor ships. He wrote:

“I also was at the entering of the Dardanelles and Constantinople. Being a Luton lad I was glad to see that there were other Luton lads at that grand spectacle.

“In stating the order of the line the two lads overlooked the three monitors that took part. I am aboard one of them, and I think they should be mentioned, as they are the ships that have been doing the work in the war, bombarding and repelling air raids by the Turks and Bulgars.

“I might also mention that we fired the last angry shot at the Bulgars before the armistice between that country and ourselves., and I am also proud that I am one of the gun's crew (a 9.2) that fired the last shot.

“I have done service in German East Africa, where I got hit, and am now still at the Dardanelles. Our entry into Constantinople can only be described as one of the bis spectacles of the war. All of us Marines, together with a detachment from the Superb, landed with our band, and had a hearty welcome by the Turks. They were waving flags and cheering, and it could be seen what a great relief it was to them to see the gold old White Ensign flying over Constantinople.

“We proceeded up the Black Sea to Sevastopol, and on returning to Constantinople ties up alongside the Goeben. She is a fine ship, and we saw her surrendered and dismantled.

“During my two years in foreign waters I have seen as much as, if not more than, I want to see of the war. I was in close proximity at the sinking of the monitor Raglan, and it was a pitiful sight.

“Leaving Constantinople, we came through the Sea of Marmora into Chanak, and then to Sedhul Bahr. There we went on board HMS Clyde and the French floating fortress Massena, the two ships of such notability in the Dardanelles campaign.

“We spent a day or two at Suvla Bay souvenir-collecting, and I don't know how I am going to get my enormous amount back to Blighty. It was the realisation of our hopes, to get into Turkey after three years of hard fighting.”