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[Page 150]

minesweepers were replaced by volunteers from the Fleet, but nevertheless the work hung fire. The strong current, running in places at 4 knots, added enormously to the difficulties. At length the desperate experiment was decided on of endeavouring to send the destroyers and some of the trawlers above the minefield by night and then allowing them to sweep down with the current. These attempts were made on the nights of March 11th, 12th and 13th. The destroyers and trawlers came under the enemy's searchlights and were exposed to a terrible fir. They stuck to their task, but the results were small and but few mines were exposed or destroyed.

On the night of March 13th the enemy allowed the small craft to get right in the centre of the minefield before they ever turned on their searchlights and then they opened up such a terrible fire that the work had to be abandoned and a general 'sauve qui peut' ensued.

Now we come to Mr. Churchill's statement that 'across the prospect of the operations a shadow began to pass at the end of the first week in March'. What was this shadow? I will give it in Mr. Churchill's own words:
'The difficulties of sweeping up the mine fields increased, and although great success was obtained by the ships in silencing the forts, they were not able at that stage to inflict decisive and permanent damage. The mobile armament of the enemy began to develop and to become increasingly annoying'.
It is obvious that as a condition precedent before the Fleet actually attempted to force the Dardanelles a passage had to be cleared through this triple mine field below the Narrows, for no Admiral would

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