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Shore Party during the Greek Intervention

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

In August 1916, a pro-Allied group launched a coup against the monarchy in the Noemvriana, which the Allies sought to support. HMS Exmouth participated in the seizure of the Greek fleet at Salamis and landed Royal Marines at Athens on 1 December 1916. The British and French troops were defeated by the Greek Army and armed civilians and were forced to withdraw to their ships, after which the British and French fleet imposed a blockade of the royalist-controlled parts of the country.

6 Royal Marines from Exeter were Killed in Action.

The Noemvriana (Greek: Νοεμβριανά, "November Events") of December 1916, was a political dispute which led to an armed confrontation in Athens between the royalist government of Greece and the forces of the Allies over the issue of Greece's neutrality during World War I.

Bird's-eye view of Athens and Piraeus during the w:Noemvriana clashes between Greek and Allied troop

Friction existed between the two sides from the beginning of World War I. The unconditional surrender of the border fortress of Roupel in May 1916 to the Central Powers' forces, mainly composed of Bulgarian troops, was the first event that led to the Noemvriana. The Allies feared the possibility of a secret pact between the Greek royalist government and the Central Powers. Such an alliance would endanger the Allied army in Macedonia bivouacking around Thessaloniki since the end of 1915.

Intensive diplomatic negotiations between King Constantine I and Allied diplomats took place throughout the summer. The king wanted Greece to maintain her neutrality, a position that would favor the Central Powers plans in the Balkans while the Allies wanted demobilization of the Hellenic army and the surrender of war materiel equivalent to what was lost at Fort Roupel as a guarantee of Greece's neutrality.

By the end of the summer of 1916, the failure of negotiations, along with the Bulgarian Army's advance in eastern Macedonia and the Greek government's orders for the Hellenic army not to offer resistance, led to a military coup by Venizelist military officers in Thessaloniki with the support of the Allies. The former Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who from the very beginning supported the Allies, established a provisional government in northern Greece. He began forming an army to liberate areas lost to Bulgaria, but this effectively split Greece into two entities.

The inclusion of the Hellenic army along with Allied forces, as well as the division of Greece, sparked several anti-Allied demonstrations in Athens. In late October, a secret agreement was reached between the king and the Allied diplomats. The pressure from the military advisers forced the king to abandon this agreement. In an attempt to enforce their demands, the Allies landed a small contingent in Athens on 1 December [O.S. 18 November] 1916.

However, it met organized resistance and an armed confrontation took place until a compromise was reached at the end of the day. The day after the Allied contingent evacuated from Athens, a royalist mob began rioting throughout the city, targeting supporters of Venizelos. The rioting continued for three days, and the incident became known as the Noemvriana in Greece, which in the Old Style calendar occurred during the month of November. The incident drove a deep wedge between the Venizelists and the royalists, bringing closer what would become known as the National Schism.

Following the Noemvriana, the Allies, determined to remove Constantine I, established a naval blockade to isolate areas which supported the king. After the resignation of the king on 15 June 1917, Greece unified under a new king, Alexander, Constantine I's son, and the leadership of Eleftherios Venizelos. It joined World War I on the side of the Allies. By 1918, the mobilized Hellenic Army provided the numerical superiority the Allies needed on the Macedonian front. The Allied army shortly thereafter defeated the Central Powers forces in the Balkans, followed by the liberation of Serbia and the conclusion of World War I. [1]

HMS Exmouth

Pendant Nos. 12 (1914), 63 (1.18), N.44 (4.18). Launched 31.8.01 Laird. 14,000 tons, 432(oa), 405(pp)x75x27ft. TE 18000ihp, 19kts. Armament: 4-12in, 12-6in, 12-12pdr, 4-18in tt. Armour: 7in sides, 2.5in deck, 11in guns.

Complement: 750. 3rd BS 8.14, later 6th BS at the Nore, few months in Mediterranean, harbour service from 1917. Battle Honours (and links to despatches, casualties, awards) Belgian Coast 1914, Dardanelles 1915. Sold 15.1.20 Forth S. Bkg. Co. Bo'ness, resold and BU in Holland. (British Warships 1914-1919)

Battleship HMS Exmouth - IWM Q 75243.jpg

HMS Exmouth Log

29 November 1916

At sea and at Salamis

Lat 37.5, Long 23.7

2.30am: Passing through Anti Kithera Channel.

6.15am: HMS Redpole took station ahead.

6.40am: Commenced zigzag.

8.30am: Hauled in patent log.

1.00pm: Course as requisite for swept channel.

1.15pm: Course as requisite for entering Salamis Bay.

2.20pm: Passed through net defence.

2.35pm: Came to with starboard anchor in 15 fathoms. Veered to 5 shackles.

3.50pm: Collier SS Newfield secured alongside.

30 November 1916


Lat 38.00, Long 23.58

6.50am: Commenced coaling.

11.25am: Finished coaling. Received 570 tons.

1.15pm: Collier cast off.

1.30pm: Hands cleaning ship. Nos 1 and 2 Landing parties assembling in marching order.

1 December 1916


Lat 38.00, Long 23.58

Number on sick list: 13

2.30am: Landed Royal Marines and small arm Company

8.00am: Hauled flag of Rear Admiral Hayes-Sadler.

11.15am: Rear Admiral Hayes-Sadler and staff joined ship.

Killed in action:

Colour Sergeant William Cartlidge Plymth 10333

Private Albert Davenport Plymth 16047

Private Albert Falloon Plymth 16053

Private Frank Thorpe Plymth 16054

Private William Bremma Plymth 16018

This Private is listed as ‘Wilfred Bremma’ at xDKCas1916-12Dec.htm .

Corporal James Ellis Plymth 15223

Corporal Ellis was injured on 1 December (this day in the log), but died on 4 December.

Able Seaman Thomas W Martin Chatham 170379

Seaman RNR Timothy Driscoll A2412

2 December 1916


Lat 38.00, Long 23.58

8.55am: 26 Marines returned on board.

10.00am: Exercised General Quarters.

10.20am: Secured.

1.00pm: Paid monthly allowance. Hands make and mend clothes.

7.40pm: Small arm Company returned.

3 December 1916


Lat 38.00, Long 23.58

9.50am: Divisions. Held Divine Service.

1.20pm: Landed Funeral Party.

2.40pm: Landed 1 NCO and 24 privates on Lipso Island.

6.10pm: Funeral Party returned.

Ships log from Navy Net

Search for these casualties on the Royal Marines Roll of Honour Data Base

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