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  • Writer's pictureShaun Lewis

Martin Nasmith VC - Running Amuck in the Sea of Marmara

Mention the word 'Gallipoli' in the context of WW1 and most people think of a disaster on the beaches and the Allies' failure to force a passage through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara. Few people have heard of the outstanding submarine campaign that came to within a week of forcing the Turks to run out of ammunition. In the course of the campaign, four submarine VCs were won.

One recipient of these VCs was Lieutenant Commander Martin Nasmith, commanding officer of HMS/M E11 and on whose story I have based the actions of Richard Miller in my novel, The Custom of the Trade. Nasmith was not just one of the first COs to find a way through the Dardanelles, despite the patrol boats, mine fields, shore-side batteries and search lights, but he went on to sink several Turkish ships, including one in Constantinople harbour. Once he and his fellow courageous COs had cleared the shipping lanes of shipping (the main supply route for the defenders of the Gallipoli beaches) he shelled the coastal railways and even troops ashore. He pioneered commando raids by allowing his second-in-command, Lieutenant D'Oyly Hughes, to swim ashore with a raft of gun cotton to destroy a railway viaduct. These actions forced the Turkish troops to march on foot to reinforce the trenches and forts of Gallipoli, and starved them of ammunition.

For a full account of the actions of such men as Nasmith, I recommend the book, Dardanelles Patrol by Peter Shankland and Anthony Hunter.

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