Battleships Canopus, Canopus-class, 14,300t, 4-12in/12-6in, Cornwallis, Duncan-class, c15,000t, 4-12in/12-6in and Swiftsure, Swiftsure-class, 11,800, 4-10in/14-7.5in, taking part in third attack within the Straits. Opened fire on Fort Dardanos at 1420 which did not reply until 1615 but immediately straddled the ships. Canopus hit on quarter-deck wrecking wardroom, another shell carried away main topmast, and a third went through after funnel and wrecked two boats, all ships received minor damage; one man slightly wounded.
To make matters worse, the morning (March 2) was as tempestuous as ever, and once more the landing operations had to be postponed. One new development, however, was possible. Now that Admiral Carden had with his flag the whole of the ships allotted to the enterprise, he was able to extend his operations.
(The battleships now numbered eighteen, and the organisation he was using, known as "The Third," was as under: —
2nd Sub-Division – Agamemnon (Capt. H. A. S. Fyler), Lord Nelson (Capt. J. W. L. McClintock)
3rd Sub-Division – Ocean (Capt. A. Hayes-Sadler), Irresistible (Capt. D. L. Dent), Majestic (Capt. H. F. G. Talbot).
4th Sub-Division – Canopus (Capt. Heathcoat S. Grant), Cornwallis (Capt. A. P. Davidson), Swiftsure (Capt. C. Maxwell-Lefroy)
5th Sub-Division – Albion (Capt. A. W. Heneage), Triumph (Capt M. S. FitzMaurice), Prince George (Capt. A. V. Campbell)
There were also four light cruisers – Dublin (Capt. John D. Kelly), Sapphire (Capt. P. W. E. Hill), Minerva (Capt. P. H. Warleigh), Amethyst (Commander G. J. Todd).)
For the rest nothing could be done but to make another attempt on the intermediate area. This time the operations were carried out by the 4th Sub-Division under Captain Heathcoat Grant of the Canopus, glad enough, after her experiences as a battery at the Falklands, to become an active ship again. The plan of the runs was changed. It had been found that close in along the European shore the water was dead for the guns and howitzers on that side up to 7,000 yards from Fort Dardanos, and, moreover, that a ship hugging the shore could not be reached from Eren Keui.
This line the Canapus was to take, supported by the Swiftsure. The Cornwallis was to devote herself to subduing minor batteries, beginning with In Tepe, with its four 6” howitzers just inside the entrance, and having disposed of it, to carry on and engage Eren Keui at 7,000 yards.
Entering the Dardanelles about 1.30, the Canopus and Swiftsure kept along the north shore till they were at the limit of the dead water nearly due west of Dardanos. There they stopped within 1,000 yards of the shore, and at 2.20 began a deliberate fire on the battery across the Straits at a range of 7,500 yards. Almost immediately what was thought to be an observation mine exploded just ahead of the Canopus (the Turks state that no observation or electric contact mines were used during the war) but it did no harm, nor for a time was there any interference, except from a small field-gun battery close by, which could not be accurately located. Dardanos did not reply, and for nearly two hours the ships kept up their deliberate fire, disturbed only by a howitzer battery above Messudieh, whenever their movements took them out of the dead water.
But at 4.15 Dardanos suddenly opened in earnest, and so accurate was the fire that the ships were straddled at once, and the Canopus had a shell on her quarter-deck which wrecked the ward-room; another carried away her main topmast, and a third went through her after funnel and riddled two of her boats. Captain Grant, in accordance with instructions, immediately ordered the range to be opened out, and fell back to a position further out in the Straits, where he could make things more difficult for the Turkish gunlayers. This movement, however, brought him within the fire area of Eren Keui. The Cornwallis, having quickly disposed of In Tepe, was now engaging the barrage batteries in that quarter, but without much effect, and the other two found themselves under a heavy and accurate fire, not only from Dardanos, which was still straddling them, but also from the howitzers on both sides. By keeping in motion, however, and turning at different points they avoided any direct hits, while at the same time they were able to develop so accurate a fire on Dardanos that by 4.40 it was silent, and they could see that one gun had been knocked over.
The Swiftsure was then ordered to help the Cornwallis with Eren Keui, while the Canopus put a few more shells into Dardanos. It was still silent, and the Eren Keui area was soon so quiet that the Cornwallis joined her consorts and put two more shells into the fort. Then, as there was no reply, the ships were withdrawn, having suffered some minor damage, but no casualties beyond one man slightly wounded.
Of the actual damage done to the enemy little was known, for the weather was still too bad for the seaplanes. Of the guns at Dardanos only one was seen to be dismounted, (the Turkish official reports state that no gun was injured) and, as with the entrance forts, although the effect of the fire seemed to render the working of the guns impossible, it certainly failed to destroy them. As for the mobile and concealed guns and howitzers on both shores, they proved quite as formidable as on the previous day. While they had done a good deal of minor damage to the ships, they seemed to have suffered little themselves. The minefield defence, moreover, was still intact, and when that night the destroyers and minesweepers attempted once more to attack the Kephez field, the fire that greeted them was so severe that no progress could be made.
In the Gulf of Xeros Admiral Guepratte had carried out his mission with good results. While the Suffren engaged Fort Sultan, and the Gaulois Fort Napoleon on the Bulair neck and set the barracks on fire, the Bouvet attacked the Kavak bridge, but though badly damaged it was not destroyed. The minesweepers which accompanied the division found no mines, and two landing-places were reported, one at the Kara Dere (marked on Plan No, 4 as Kara Georgi Leitunlik Dere), between Gaba Tepe and Suvla Bay, and the other about seven miles from the Bulair lines.
Впрочем, как показали дальнейшие события, правдой в этом сигнале была только последняя фраза. Утром 2 марта начался очередной шторм, и высадку десанта пришлось отменить. Но теперь Карден получил подкрепления и мог увеличить масштаб операции. Адмиралу Гепратту было приказано обстрелять укрепления Булаирского перешейка и уничтожить мост на дороге из Адрианополя в Галлиполли. Силы Кардена были организованы следующим образом:
2-я бригада «Агамемнон», «Лорд Нельсон»
3-я бригада «Оушен», «Иррезистебл», «Маджестик»
4-я бригада «Канопус», «Корнуоллис», «Свифтшур»
5-я бригада «Альбион», «Принс Георг», «Трайэмф»
Лёгкие крейсера «Дублин», «Сапфир», «Минерва», «Аметист»
Сам Карден решил снова обстрелять промежуточные укрепления. Атаку должны были возглавить корабли 4-й бригады. В 13.30 «Канопус» и «Свифтшур» вошли в пролив и открыли огонь по форту Дарданос. Сначала турки не отвечали, но в 16.15 дали несколько очень метких залпов. «Канопус» получил ряд попаданий. На броненосце была снесена грот-мачта, пробита задняя труба, разрушена кают-компания. «Канопус» отошёл, но при этом попал под огонь Эрен-Кёя. Всё это время «Корнуоллис» безуспешно обстреливал мелкие батареи, разбросанные по берегу. В 16.40 Дарданос прекратил огонь. Действия французской эскадры в Ксеросском заливе были более успешны. «Сюффрен» и «Голуа» обстреляли форты на Булаирском перешейке, а «Буве» сильно повредил Кавакский мост. Сопровождавшие эскадру тральщики мин не обнаружили.
В конце февраля я направил Кардену телеграфный запрос – сколько погожих дней, по его мнению, необходимо для прорыва. Адмирал ответил 2 марта: «Четырнадцать». Казалось, что флот нашёл действенный способ помочь армии на новом и очень перспективном направлении.