Personal info

  • Name: Edward UNWIN
  • D.O.B: 17th March, 1864
  • D.O.A: 25th April, 1915
  • D.O.D: 19th April, 1950
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Commander, SS River Clyde, Royal Navy

V Beach, Sedd-el-Bahr, Gallipoli, Turkey 25 April 1915

25 April 1915

More details about:
The Gallipoli Campaign 25 April 1915–9 January 1916 

V Beach was three hundred yards long and dominated by the old fort at Sedd-el-Bahr at its eastern end. On 25 April 1915 it was the landing place allotted to the Dublin Fusiliers and the Munster Fusiliers. Once the initial landing had taken place, the plan devised by Commander E Unwin, RN was to bring in further troops on board a specially modified collier, SS River Clyde, which was to be run aground just offshore. The gap between the River Clyde and the shore was to be bridged by a small flat-bottomed steamboat the Argyll, augmented if need be by three lighters. In fact, the initial landings were met by devastating Turkish fire, while the steamboat grounded too far from the River Clyde to be of immediate use. Unwin, accompanied by Able Seaman W C Williams, leapt into the water and dragged the lighters forward to form a bridge to the shore via a shoal of rocks which jutted out into the sea under the fort. There was nothing to which mooring ropes could be attached so Unwin and Williams had to stand in the water holding them to keep the boats in place. The Munsters then began to land, though cut to pieces by a hail of Turkish bullets and Williams was eventually mortally wounded by a Turkish shell. This effectively cut the link to the shore. It was finally restored by Midshipmen G L Drewry and W St A Malleson, and Seaman G McK Samson amongst others, who managed to form a bridge of lighters between the River Clyde and the Argyll, which lay on the port side of the collier. However, all attempts to land further troops proved abortive, resulting only in carnage. The troops on the beach and those still on the River Clyde had no option but to stay where they were until nightfall. Attempts were made to rescue at least a few of the many wounded and in these Commander Unwin, Sub-Lieutenant A W St C Tisdall and Able Seaman Samson particularly distinguished themselves. All these men were awarded the VC, though Tisdall’s award was not gazetted until 31 March 1916.

Citation

 While in “River Clyde”, observing that the lighters which were to form the bridge to the shore had broken adrift, Commander Unwin left the ship and under a murderous fire attempted to get the lighters into position. He worked on until, suffering from the effects of cold and immersion, he was obliged to return to the ship, where he was wrapped up in blankets. Having in some degree recovered, he returned to his work against the doctor’s order and completed it. He was later again attended by the doctor for three abrasions caused by bullets, after which he once more left the ship, this time in a lifeboat, to save some wounded men who were lying in shallow water near the beach. He continued at this heroic labour under continuous fire until forced to stop through pure physical exhaustion. 

Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 13 August 1915. 16 August 1915, Numb. 29264 , p. 8129

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