All members and supporters of our Committee are encouraged to attend this service.
The 1st Royal Australian Naval Bridging Train, Gallipoli and Lemnos
This unit played a significant and essential role in the Gallipoli campaign as well as serving on Lemnos in 1915.
The unit was formed in February 1915, with its troops assembling at its camp at the Domain (the site of the Shrine of Remembrance) throughout March and April. Over 360 officers and men would join the unit at its formation - more would serve as reinforcements arrived overseas.
Originally intended for service on the Western Front with the British Royal naval Division, the unit was diverted to the Gallipoli campaign in July 1915 after its arrival in Egypt.
The unit arrived at Lemnos on the 21st July before proceeding to Imbros for training on the 24th. The unit then proceeded to Suvla Bay on the 7th August, where they remained until mid to late December 1915. The soldiers of the unit were the last Australians to evacuate the Peninsula on 20th December 1915, leaving after 4.20am.
After the evacuation of the Peninsula, the unit came to Lemnos and remained there until the 17th January 1916, when they sailed for Alexandria.
At Suvla the unit had been engaged in the construction and maintenance of piers and jetties, the landing of supplies and the evacuation of troops. Their tasks required specialist naval engineering and construction skills. And all of this was done under the constant reality of enemy shelling. One pier was constructed under fire within 20 minutes and operational soon after.
A RAN Sapper Buried on Lemnos
One of its members died and is buried at East Mudros Military Cemetery on Lemnos - Petty Officer Philip Clement Le Sueur. A sailor by profession, Philip was from Jersey in the Channel Islands. He contracted gastroenteritis while at Suvla Bay in August 1915 and died on a hospital ship on the way to the hospitals on Lemnos.
He is buried in plot 2, Row E, Grave 83 at East Mudros Cemetery. He was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
|Grave of Petty Officer Philip Clement Le Sueur, East Mudros Military Cemetery. Photo Jim Claven 2015|
Their dedication and service was commended by Allied commanders.
They became one of the most decorated units in the Royal Australian Navy in the First World War, its members receiving twenty honours and awards, including the Distinguished Service Order.
As the Australian official war correspondent and later official historian wrote in October 1915:
"There they are today in charge of the landing of a great part of the stores of British Arms. ... If you want to see their work you only have to go to Kangaroo Beach, Suvla Bay, and look around you. They have made a harbour"
We should commemorate this important and often overlooked component of Australia's Gallipoli story - the role of the Australian Navy in the campaign and especially its Bridging Train engineers.
|Source Monuments Australia website. Photographs supplied by Kent Watson/Graeme Saunders|
- T.R. Frame and G.J Swinden, First in, last out: The Navy at Gallipoli, Kangaroo Press, 1990.
- David Stevens, In All Respects Ready: Australia's Navy in World War One, Oxford UP, 2014 Greg Swinden, "A Short History of the RAN Bridging Train (1915-17)", Naval Historical Review, September 2007.
- Tom Frame, The Shore of Gallipoli: Naval Aspects of the Anzac Campaign, Hale and Iremonger, 2000.
- Tom Frame and Kevin Baker, Mutiny! Naval Insurrections in Australian and New Zealand, Allen and Unwin, 2000.
Lemnos Gallipoli Commemorative Committee