As the French squadron, which had engaged the forts in the most brilliant fashion was passing out, Bouvet was blown up by a drifting mine and sank in thirty-six fathoms north Erenkeui Village in less than three minutes.
At 2:36 P.M., the relief battleships renewed the attack on the forts, which again opened fire. The attack on the forts was maintained while the operations of the mine-sweepers continued. At 4:09 Irresistible quitted the line, listing heavily; and at 5:50 she sank, having probably struck a drifting mine. At 6:05, Ocean, also having struck a mine, both vessels sank in deep water, practically the whole of the crews having been removed safely under a hot fire.
[Illustration: QUEEN MARY
Wife of George V., King of Great Britain and Ireland.
(Photo from Underwood & Underwood.)]
[Illustration: THE RIGHT HON. DAVID LLOYD GEORGE
The radical Chancellor of the British Exchequer, upon whom has devolved the task of financing the great war.
(Photo by A. & R. Annan & Sons.)]
The Gaulois was damaged by gun fire.
Inflexible had her forward control position hit by a heavy shell, and requires repair.
The bombardment of the forts and the mine-sweeping operations terminated when darkness fell. The damage to the forts effected by the prolonged direct fire of the very powerful forces employed cannot yet be estimated, and a further report will follow.
The losses of ships were caused by mines drifting with the current which were encountered in areas hitherto swept clear, and this danger will require special treatment.
The British casualties in personnel are not heavy, considering the scale of the operations; but practically the whole of the crew of the Bouvet were lost with the ship, an internal explosion having apparently supervened on the explosion of the mine.
The Queen and Implacable, which were dispatched from England to replace ships’ casualties in anticipation of this operation, are due to arrive immediately, thus bringing the British fleet up to its original strength.
The operations are continuing, ample naval and military forces being available on the spot.
On the 16th inst., Vice Admiral Carden, who has been incapacitated by illness, was succeeded in the chief command by Rear Admiral John Michael de Robeck, with acting rank of Vice Admiral.
The London Times publishes this story of an eyewitness:
TENEDOS, (Aegina,) March 18.
This is not so much an account of the five hours’ heavy engagement between the Turkish forts and the allied ships which has been fought actually within the Dardanelles today as an impression of the bombardment as seen at a distance of fifteen miles or so from the top of a high, steep hill called Mount St. Elias, at the northern end of Tenedos.