FIG. 3.--MAP OF DARDANELLES DEFENCES, SHOWING APPROXIMATE ARMAMENTS AND POSITION OF MINEFIELDS commence operations. Pointing out that no progress could be expected until the minesweepers and seaplanes arrived, Carden decided to bombard the outer forts on the first opportunity. Owing to bad weather this did not occur until the 19th and at ro A.M. on that day the battleship "Cornwallis" fired the first shot of the campaign at Fort Orkaniye. The forts were hit repeatedly and made no reply, but when the "Vengeance" (flying de Robeck's flag), closed to moderate range she received a hot fire from all guns. Thus early it was proved that long range bombardment of modern earthworks was ineffective unless the ships can close to decisive range and knock out each gun by direct hits. (See NAVAL STRATEGY AND TACTICS.) Carden was now informed that he was expected to force the Straits without military assistance. On February 25, after a four days gale, a bombardment, commencing at moderate range, was intensified by British and French ships closing in towards the shore. The four outer forts were silenced and the minesweepers began clearing the Straits. Next day, demolition parties, sup ported by marines landed to complete the destruction of the forts, and the fleet, going as far up the Straits as had been swept, bombarded the inner forts at long range. As before the forts made no reply when hit, but the ships were badly worried by mobile howitzers on each shore, which could not be located. Gales delayed operations for two days and on March I and 2 the Narrows were again attacked, with similar results, the ships being constantly hit by an increasing number of hidden howitzers. Each night the minesweepers were driven off by gunfire as they attempted to sweep the minefields off Kephez. On March 3 de Robeck reported that the Straits could not be forced unless one shore or the other were occupied and that no progress was possible without military assistance. This was emphasized on March 4 by the repulse of the demolition parties, showing that the time was past for employing small forces onshore.
As yet, no definite decision had been made as to the scope of any military operations. In spite of the Admiralty's reiterated de mands for troops and the doubts of General Birdwood on the spot, that the fleet could force a passage unaided, Lord Kitchener, at the War Office, in his instructions to General Sir Ian Hamilton, on the latter's appointment as commander-in-chief, only contem plated "the employment of military force on any large scale . . . at this juncture. . . . in the event of the fleet failing to get through after every effort has been exhausted." (See W. S. Churchill, The World Crisis.) Mr. Winston Churchill, as First Lord, continued to urge the fleet to new efforts and on March I1, Admiral Carden was told "the results to be gained are . . . great
enough to justify loss of ships and men if success cannot be obtained without it." A naval attack was, therefore, planned for March 18, by which time General Sir Ian Hamilton would have arrived. Meanwhile daily bombardments of the forts produced indefinite results and desperate attempts were made nightly without success to sweep up the Kephez minefields. All experience proved that until the mobile guns were suppressed they could prevent minesweeping operations, and until the minefields were cleared ships could not approach to decisive range at which alone they could destroy modern earthworks. On March 16 Admiral Carden's health broke down and he was forced to hand over his command to Admiral de Robeck, who at once proceeded to carry out the attack planned. The Naval Attack of March 18.—The plan of attack ar ranged for the four modern ships ("Inflexible," "Queen Elizabeth," "Lord Nelson" and "Agamemnon") to engage the inner forts at 14,00o yards, whilst a British and French division, of four old ships each, alternately pressed home the attack to I o,000 yards, which was the limit of the swept area. Two old battleships on each side were to attempt to keep down the fire of the small guns onshore. The action commenced at 11.3o A.M. on the i8th. Little reply came from the forts, but unseen guns opened a heavy fire. The "Agamemnon" was frequently hit and the "Inflexible" forced out of the line with her forebridge burning. At noon the French division passed through the British line, closed to io,000 yards and received a hot fire from the forts. The "Gaulois" was forced out of action and the "Bouvet" was heavily hit, but the squadron gallantly held its place and by 1.45 the fire of the forts was slack ening. De Robeck then sent the British division in to relieve the French and ordered the minesweepers up to clear the channel. At 2.0 P.M. as the French squadron was steaming out the "Bouvet," struck a mine, blew up and sank in a few minutes, with nearly all hands. The British division engaged the forts with apparent suc cess until 3.o P.M. when the "Irresistible" struck a mine and sank, her crew being saved. The fire from the forts now became inter mittent, but at 4.5 P.M. the "Inflexible" was mined and ten minutes later a similar fate befell the "Ocean." The "inflexible" reached Tenedos and was beached, but the "Ocean" was abandoned and sank. The ships withdrew just after 6 P.M. and as they did so the forts opened a heavy but inaccurate fire ; the attempt to force the Straits thus ended in failure. The forts had been damaged but were not put out of action and the minefields were still intact. The loss to the Allies had been severe : three battleships sunk, three heavy ships badly damaged and others severely handled.