The Great War Part 241, March 29th 1919

562 The Great l/V(ir EARLY AND LATE IN THE WAR :TWO BRITISH WAR SHIPS LOST BY MINE AND TORPEDO .Sinking ol H.M.S Audacious after striking amine off the North Coast of blow which the Germans succeeded in inflicting upon the British Nav> Ireland on October 27th 1914 with beats engaged in rescue work. The by means of the mine. In circle: H.M.S. Britannia sinking after being loss of this Dreadnought (only made public four years later) was the heaviest torpedoed off Gibraltar November 9th 1918 two days before the armistice. of shells land.on The output of both was enormously increased the efficiency of depth charges was singularly improved. These underwater bombs a t first were dropped in waters where submarines were located and then afterwards were fired b y a species of gun alike trench-m ortar from destroyers armed trawlers or merchantmen. They were steadily increased in power until towards the end of the war they carried charges of 300 lb. of high explosive and could beset b y a hydrostatic valve worked b they pressure of the water to explode at various depths. The detonation of a depth charge within fifty feet of a submarine was fatal cases were known of U boats being sunk at distance of seventy-five feet and even atone hundred feet a depth charge was apt to cause leaks damage the machinery or demoralise the crew. As with depth charges so with mines. In the earlier period of the war the British type of mine was too weak and too uncertain in its action. The Navy complained that it failed to blowup German vessels but b y some odd freak of chance was usually effective against British vessels if b y any accident they happened to enter a British mine-field. All these defects were removed with time. The British mines and British mine was perfected the charge mine-fields carried in it was increased the supply was enormously augmented. Two distinct varie­ties of mine-field were employed against the Germans. The first variety had mines anchored near the surface— usually at a depth of eight to fifteen feet— so as to render the area com­prised in it dangerous both to surface ships and to submarines. This kind of mine-field was publicly notified to neutrals and belligerents alike in order that neutral shipping might not be destroyed. A second kind of mine-field was laid below the surface a t such depths that there would be no danger to neutral shipping or surface vessels but only to submarines navigated below the surface. This was not publicly an­nounced. The mines in such fields were placed at a depth of thirty feet or more so that the largest surface ship with an extreme draught of water of about twenty-seven feet would be safe. The German Admiralty with characteristic disregard for truth and for the safety of shipping laid surface mine­fields in all directions without any notice and attempted to place the odium of this practice on the British Government b y pretending that the British Navy had created these mine­fields. 'Thus in the summer of 1918 German vessels laid a surface mine-field in the Cattegat in which various Swedish merchant vessels or fishing craft and one Swedish warship were destroyed and then when complaint was made denied that the mines were German. Towards the close of the war the British Navy was laying mines at the rate of 10000 a month and that rate would have been rapidly increased but for the German collapse. Another method of defence adopted b they British Navy and carried outwith great success was the construction of barrages or surface barriers supplemented b y mines at some depth. Such a barrage was constructed across the Strait of Dover early in the year. A similar barrage in the summer of 1918 was carried across the Strait of Otranto closing it to submarines. The Dover barrage was of immense importance because it prevented German surface craft or submarines from breaching they shortest and easiest route the Channel or the waters across which lay the mainlines of communication with the British armies in France. It was composed of a double series of obstructions. -One series consisted of specially-built vessels which could ride out the heaviest gale a t anchor. It ran from Folkestone to Cape
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