[GALLIPOLI] Log of H.M.S. Albion, August 1914 – March 1915, containing a record of the ship’s involvement in the Dardanelles Campaign.
Red cloth-bound manuscript book, 230 x 155 mm, water-damaged and lacking the backstrip although the binding is intact, pp 48 + blanks; manuscript entries in pencil, written in an easily legible hand (note: a full typed transcript accompanies the journal); on the front paste-down Tom Houghton, a sailor who grew up on the Lancashire coastline, records ‘T Houghton…. Log of HMS Albion’ with a preliminary page which lists dates and locations visited by the pre-dreadnought battleship between August 1914 and April 1916; the diary proper commences at the outbreak of the First World War in August 1914, and continues with entries for most days up until 27 March 1915; the diary breaks off after this date with a few pages that follow this torn out leaving only their stubs – possibly through censorship since it was in the following month that HMS Albion beached on a sandbank and had to be towed clear with significant injuries and damage to the vessel; however, there are are detailed and vivid descriptions of the ship’s involvement in actions in the Dardanelles in February and March 1915.
A unique and unpublished Dardanelles campaign diary.
Houghton departed Devonport in HMS Albion in August 1914, sailing first to South Africa where the ship supported the action against German South West Africa. The vessel was then transferred to the Mediterranean where Houghton had his first taste of hostilities in the Dardanelles on 19 February 1915: ‘The hands called this morning at 5.30am and went to breakfast at 6.45 ship cleared for action… proceeded to sweep the Bay of Giata Pete from where it is intended to bombard the forts of the narrows overland, action sounded off at 10am the first shot fired at 10.20am, the object being a signal station which was believed to be fortified in all we fired 8 rounds of ammunition.’ The bombardment of 25 February is dealt with in great detail as ‘Six ships in pairs, made an attack on the forts, engaging 4 and 6, on the way in, closing to 3000 yards then turning and engaging 1 and 3 on the way out: The “Vengeance” and “Cornwallis” were the first pair … There was plenty of shells flying about and it was not known until after the engagement that a mine thrown up too soon from the shore, had saved, as it was only 50 yards away…. ammunition used by us, 286 rounds of 6’. The bombardment of 26 February is also described: ‘The Captain told us were were going to take part in the forcing of the Dardenelles … a real hot time, shells dropping all round us and going “plonk” against the ships side…’.
Houghton certainly survived the war since a newspaper clipping laid in records his death in the 1960s. Also loosely enclosed in his journal are a World War II, 7th Armoured division Desert Rat badge and some photographs of post-war bridge building on the Elbe in Germany.