- Wakely, G.A.
- Ship histories and stories, History - Between the wars
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1981 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
17th April 1908: Ship ordered to sea daybreak 18th.
18th April 1908: Sailed from Malta at 0400 and made speed of 12 knots but were soon ordered to increase to 15 knots, as the situation in Asia Minor was very critical. On the way we were being overhauled by the French Cruiser Squadron, but as our skipper wanted to be first in we put on full speed and arrived at Mersyna (Syria) on the morning of the 21st, six hours ahead of the Frenchmen.
By this time several thousands of Armenians had been massacred and the people were in a panic-stricken state. A British steamer was there with over 2,000 refugees on board and her captain was very glad when we came in. One village, about six miles from Mersyna, had been plundered and with the exception of one baby, discovered under a table, all its inhabitants murdered. The Turks had threatened another general massacre just before our arrival, but order was restored to a certain extent. The outlook became a trifle brighter for the Armenians. The Turks, however, grew bold on account of our inaction and on the evening of the 23rd April 15 passengers by a train to Adaua were murdered at the station. By midnight an awful massacre was in full swing and thousands of Armenians were murdered. Men, women and children were all treated alike, and no mercy to the Christians, who were in a state of semi-starvation and many of them practically homeless. 2,000 women and children took refuge in a chapel, but the place was fired, and every soul perished, either by being burned or shot down as they attempted escape.
By this time many of the powers were represented in the affected districts by Swiftsure, Triumph, Dianna, Minerva, Medea, Barham, Angler, Stag and Bruizer (British), Hamburg, Lubeck and Lorely (German), Francosio Ferruccio, Granatiere (Italian), Abdul Hamid and Tajjar (Turkish), Victor Hugo, Jules Michelat and Julesferry (French), Uraetz (Russian), Zenta (Austrian), North Carolina and Montana (United States). All these ships were prepared to land men and guns, but by International Law, made out for the good (?) of the world, could not help their religionists, as to have landed men would have been a declaration of war. Communication with the shore was made by landing three signalmen, who made a signal station on the roof of a conveniently situated house near the British Consulate.
By the 10th May order was pretty well restored in Asia Minor so we decided to carry out our annual gunlayers’ test and went to the firing ground. Afterwards we heard that our departure caused a panic amongst the Christians in the neighbourhood. We completed our firings and were about to sail for Malta when the disquieting news was heard from the American cruiser Montana that the Turks threatened that as soon as the foreign warships left, they would massacre all the Christians in the vicinity of Alexandretta. We returned to Mersyna on 25th May and waited until relieved by the cruiser Medea. We then sailed and reached Malta on the 30th May.