Tuesday 25th May 1915- Diary of HV Reynolds
Diary of an ANZAC
Please note: Care has been taken to transcribe these entries without alteration to preserve the original language of Herbert Vincent Reynolds.
‘At about midday all the transports weighed anchor and steamed off towards the island of Imbros and the battleships all got the move when the T.B.Ds repeated their performance of a few days ago and steamed here and there at top speed. We did not take very much notice of all the activity, knowing that it was caused by the presence of an enemy submarine and the movement of the vessels was necessary for their own safety. However when all the T.B.Destroyers, mine sweepers and other small craft suddenly all headed in one direction, that being from Anzac in the direction of Cape Helles we realized that something unusual was happening in that direction and immediately climbed the few yards up on to the ridge above our bivouac where an excellent view of the whole sea could be obtained right from Cape Helles on out tight Suvla point on our left.
Much to our dismay we found that about 1 ½ miles away towards Cape Helles lay the battleship Triumph with a slight list to starboard, it was evident that she had been torpedoed by an enemy submarine and while we watched she rapidly listed more and more till she reached an angle of about 40 degrees when she then very suddenly went with a sweep and as her decks reached the perpendicular her port torpedo nets, which were out swing over with a crash. A few seconds later all that was to be seen of the big vessel was the swirl of disturbed water and her rusty upturned keel. Only 8 minuted elapsed from the time to torpedo struck to the time the vessel turned completely upside down and for 15 minutes the exposed keel was visible before the vessel made her final plunge to the bottom. On receiving the signal for help boats of every description made for the triumph at full speed, one mine sweeper with 4 horse boats containing mule carts in tow cast them adrift and made off full speed with the rest. There were only 2 vessels, a T.B.D and a mine sweeper reasonably close to the Triumph when she was hit, they picked up as many of the crew as they could possibly do while the other boats were coming on the scene which they were doing at to speed from every direction. From the direction of Cape Helles 6 T.B.Ds came tearing through the water at a terrible speed. The scene they presented is one never to be forgotten, their smoke stacks belching forth great columns of dense black smoke, their bows cleaving the water causing a great white frothing trail in their wake. They came along a the greatest speed their engines could attain and after collecting around the Triumph for a very short time they all set out from the vessel as she made the final plunge in the form of spokes of a wheel to search for the enemy craft. They were assisted by a seaplane but as far as we know their search was fruitless.
We had witnessed the last incident in the life of the Triumph, a sad and to all who saw it a terribly weird ending to the glorious record of one of Britain’s most notable war boats. Sudden as the disaster took place and the vessel went to her doom it was one pleasant thing to know that most of the crew got clear and were picked up safely. The whole affair, though naturally what one must expect to take place when the circumstances offer nevertheless caused an uneasy feeling in our minds. The thoughts of our loss and the enemies success were not so much the cause of it but the weird methods of attack so successfully launched against the Triumph and the helplessness of the big vessel to defend herself against an unseen enemy lurking on wait beneath the waves, gave us all who witnesses it as no description ever could the full realization of what a hideous type of warfare submarines have made in naval actions. Much to our regret the assistance we had grown so used to receiving from the Triumph when she used to take up her usual position off Kaba Tepe point and harass the enemy with her 10 inch and 7.5 inch guns, would no longer be obtained from her now she is lying on the bed of the Aegean sea where there is no hope of ever recovering her.
The Triumph was a sister ship to the Swiftsure, both being built for the Chilean government but later on were taken over and became units of the British fleet/ She was launched in 1903 and her armourment consisted of four 10 inch guns and fourteen 7.5 inch guns, her tonnage was 11,800 tons and she carried a crew of 700. The Triumph has taken part in more actions than any other vessel in the navy, having won battle honours at Tsisg-Tau. About 1pm an extremely heavy rainstorm passed over and most of the dugouts and trenches were flooded, fortunately our dugout kept the water out and we were able to keep nice and dry.’