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JohnPJones

Lessons of 1915 for the modern day

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An analysis of the mining of the Dardanelles to learn about how a significant mining of the SoH might look and turn out.

 

https://www.history.navy.mil/research/library/online-reading-room/title-list-alphabetically/s/strait-comparison-lessons-learned-from-1915-dardanelles-campaign.html#dardanelles

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Funny how Churchill went from being an utter military failure to the man who helped to guide the free world through its darkest hour (no pun intended).

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2 minutes ago, 1Sherman said:

Funny how Churchill went from being an utter military failure to the man who helped to guide the free world through its darkest hour (no pun intended).

swings and roundabouts, he was a politician, let's not forget.

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28 minutes ago, 1Sherman said:

Funny how Churchill went from being an utter military failure to the man who helped to guide the free world through its darkest hour (no pun intended).

Take a look at his early career as a cavalry officer. Start in Cuba, where he covered the insurrection againt Spanish rule in early 1890s, to the Malakand Field Force, where he managed to get in the action despite his supernumary officer status, go through Omdurman, where he charged with the 23rd Lancers in the last real classic cavalry charge in 19th century, to the Boer War, where he escaped from a prison camp, to his post-Gallipoli stint commanding a battalion in the muck of the trenches of the Western Front for almost a year after he resigned as First Lord. The man never lacked physical or moral courage, nor was he afraid to make decisions, and accept responsability for his mistakes. That is the mark of his greatness as a leader in a democracy. While he was ever the elitist and a man of his times, he always held that the Commons (the electorate) reigned supreme, and accepted the verdict of the polls without rancor when Labour won the 1945 general election. A superb communicator and writer, he won the Nobel Prize with his writing, as good as any in the English language. Only JRR Tolkein was superior in written prose in the 20th century. Imperfect, yes, but aren't we all?

Edited by GrandAdmiral_2016
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On 4/17/2018 at 7:46 PM, 1Sherman said:

Funny how Churchill went from being an utter military failure to the man who helped to guide the free world through its darkest hour (no pun intended).

No.

Churchill remained an utter military failure.

He was good at politics and keeping the populace motivated, and was personally courageous and bold. The problem is that bold, brave leaders need people sitting on them to prune down their bad ideas, and Churchill didn't get sat on nearly well enough.

 

If not for Churchill's switching units out to East Africa ("Prestige" of the Empire) and shipping the would-be reinforcements to Greece (holding Crete would have been far more practical as a bulwark of the Eastern Mediterranean and be more than enough to satisfy honour a la "our soldiers are helping the Greeks hold onto Greek soil") General O'Connor could very well have smashed the Afrika Korps before Rommel and his staff (the guys who had to tidy up Rommel's lack of bothering to consider logistics nearly enough) could really do anything. Send a couple divisions to Crete and reinforce the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet to cover coastal shipping up to Benghazi and Tobruk, and O'Connor could well have overrun Rommel while still learning the value of disciplined tank columns (i.e. don't go running off into anti-tank guns you imbeciles).

Instead North Africa just dragged on and on... and resulted in the end of the British Empire at Singapore. Without North Africa being a constant black hole for tanks even just a couple divisions and a few dozen tanks could have stopped the Japanese dead in their advance into Malaya. Reinforce (read: occupy) parts of Sumatra in aid of the Dutch and the IJA/IJN could be stuck fighting in southern Sumatra for far too long to really get anywhere.

 

EDIT: And then there's what's mentioned in the article: Prior to the Dardanelles Campaign, Churchill, angry at the Turks for formally siding with Germany, ordered Admiral Carden to bombard the outer forts of the Dardanelles as a show of displeasure. The latter did so for twenty minutes, and, although some destruction was visited on the forts, this action highlighted the weakness of the Straits' defenses at that time.

Even WARGAMING gives you the hint of "Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake. It's impolite!"

Edited by Guardian54

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I don't see a parallel here.  Both sides of the Dardanelles were controlled by Turkey.  The Turks had numerous shore batteries on both sides.  The Turks had direct and unfettered access to Austria-Hungary and Germany for support and reinforcement if it came to that.  The Dardanelles are much longer and narrower than the Straight of Hormuz.

Since any attempted closure would be done by Iran, the opposite shore would be in "friendly" hands.  That means Iran can only set up shore defenses on their side of the straight.  Unlike in 1915, the advent today of smart weapons and precision guidance means any fixed batteries are vulnerable to quick destruction if the Iranians don't have credible and serious cruise missile defenses and at least air parity in place to protect those batteries.

The Iranians have no significant naval assets they can use to protect the straight.  Suicide motor boats are no answer, if anything they're practically a joke.

The US has considerable minesweeping assets in Bahrain for such an occurrence as well.  In 1915, minesweeping was an inexact science and pretty much limited to paravanes on ships.  The Iranians don't have access to really high tech mines so they'd likely be using a combination of anchored mines and ground mines that use designs dating back to the 60's and 70's.

Also the US and other nations today have a viable amphibious capability and could land and attack Iranian positions covering their mines, unlike the British / Commonwealth fiasco at Gallipoli.  

So, the best I would say the Iranians could do is close the straight for a short period of time at the cost of major air attacks on their military forces in retaliation for that mining.  This would just highlight the weakness of the Iranian military versus Western militaries and make the Mullah's look bad both at home and abroad.

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On 4/17/2018 at 8:11 PM, GrandAdmiral_2016 said:

A superb communicator and writer, he won the Nobel Prize with his writing, as good as any in the English language. Only JRR Tolkein was superior in written prose in the 20th century. Imperfect, yes, but aren't we all?

Um, what? No actual scholar of rhetoric or literature would claim Churchill or Tolkien is even in the top 100 in written prose. One of the best orators of the twentieth century, I'll give you that, and if you actually research his 1953 Nobel win, it was given largely for his oratory skills. That's not the same thing. 
 

We get it, you're a fanboy, but this is hilarious. 

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On 6/25/2018 at 10:49 AM, poeticmotion said:

Um, what? No actual scholar of rhetoric or literature would claim Churchill or Tolkien is even in the top 100 in written prose. One of the best orators of the twentieth century, I'll give you that, and if you actually research his 1953 Nobel win, it was given largely for his oratory skills. That's not the same thing.

The best Churchill oration I ever read was from IIRC the author "HMS Pinafore" on NavWeapons boards writing a Sealion timeline.

I found it totally legit that he made up a "shortest speech" for Churchill, one that was applauded many times longer than the speech itself.

Spoiler

"They came. We won."

Like holy ____ that is a better speech than IRL Churchill, and totally plausible too!

But yeah, Churchill was a great orator anyhow.

Edited by Guardian54

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Minus the neocons and people with a vested interest in the MIC ,  there is no good reason to really discuss attacking Iran other than to shoot up this paper and such a war, so here goes. 

As to mine warfare, obvious the person's  involved were looking back and not looking forward. And they are looking at a side which had a crude view of mine warfare given it was fairly new and the tactics of mine warfare were not developed .They are also looking at those mines which were covered by fire , so they caused losses being swept. God knows the USA  only can think of  wars so bogus that a few losses would shut down the whole thing here in the USA from anti-war feelings . Stand to reason a war with Iran would be that , given this worry about ANY losses which this paper even concedes. The Dardanelles campaign , those mines were laid by one side as a defensive fortification consisting of solely live mines  to sink warships , thereby prohibiting movement .  But  as such they were  "swept"  by British naval forces as they were all there was. and with minimal  losses. However it was one new line laid by one ship at night which stopped the British during their actual naval attack. It did not need to be covered because it just put there. Which then of course lead to Gallipoli. 

But here is a couple things , notice that the mines that led to losses were laid "in a day". Iran does not have to mine the straits at all, or cover their mines to protect from sweeping , the mere threat of being able to lay a strand or just let loose some tidal mines closes the straits. So it doesn't even take a war for those straits to be closed or even for Iran  launch one mine. 

Any confrontation with Iran, basically would close those strait until Iran is conquered destroyed occupied etc.  and then for however long to swept any mines launched during that whole disaster.  But it gets worse. even while  is going on , even if the US would accept casualties sweeping, because they wont get swept quickly today or in a mere postulated 3 months postwar either

Different from the Dardanelles and just one string laid one night.  There are things  far worse than just plain ol WWI mines which were nicely recognizable .  There are delayed action mines  and command mines , which don' t go live till "later' and/or don't turn on except when commanded  or whatever, there are also dummy mines , which have to be treated as live mines. and then there are just 55 gallon drums sunk or whatever hunk of metal . Is it a mine, a delayed action mine, a captor mine,  dummy mine, or just an old oil drum?  Got to find out, and find every real mine  before any 1/2 million ton oil tanker sails though there for sure.

 

All I am saying is given Iran is a country of some means and this body of water is their border for a good distance. They would only have to build/lay a few hundred mines, if that , along with 1000's of  fake mines,  along with every hunk of  junk  metal on the bottom already to close down that oil shipping for years. Better hope Israel does not attack Iran and somebody in Iran realizes what the potential is for mine warfare now, not in 1915.

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On 4/17/2018 at 4:46 PM, 1Sherman said:

Funny how Churchill went from being an utter military failure to the man who helped to guide the free world through its darkest hour (no pun intended).

He never really changed.  Churchill tried to court marshal Captain Leech because he decided to break off the action against the Bismarck due to the fact that he only had 20% of his firepower left and the Hood was destroyed.  The reason Captain Leech wasn't court marshalled was because he died when the Prince of Wales was sunk by the Japanese.  Churchill would not recognize reason sometimes, even if it were staring at him in the bloody face.

 

Churchill has been declared the greatest Briton of all time.  While I will not dispute this, his career is littered with appalling decisions and great triumphs.  His bad decisions shouldn't be forgotten and Churchill should not be deified.  He should be remembered for who he was.

Edited by Sventex

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On ‎6‎/‎29‎/‎2018 at 6:27 AM, Sventex said:

He never really changed.  Churchill tried to court marshal Captain Leech because he decided to break off the action against the Bismarck due to the fact that he only had 20% of his firepower left and the Hood was destroyed.  The reason Captain Leech wasn't court marshalled was because he died when the Prince of Wales was sunk by the Japanese.  Churchill would not recognize reason sometimes, even if it were staring at him in the bloody face.

 

Churchill has been declared the greatest Briton of all time.  While I will not dispute this, his career is littered with appalling decisions and great triumphs.  His bad decisions shouldn't be forgotten and Churchill should not be deified.  He should be remembered for who he was.

Thing is he was often correct.  He was definitely correct about trying to force the Dardanelles, victory there could have knocked out a major Ally of Germany and ended the war very much sooner and with millions less dead people around the world.  Britain and France had battleships to spare and came very close to victory as it was they could have easily afforded to lose double what they actually did lose if it meant victory there.

A similar reason exists for the court marshall of Captain Leach, you need to look at it from the perspective of Churchill at the time.  The UK was fighting a war alone, already besieged by U-Boats and under air assault.  They were rapidly running out of supplies because of massive shipping losses and there was no relief in sight, their own blockade of Germany was ineffective because the Soviet Union was supplying Germany with all the essentials they needed (and would continue to do so even the day of Barbarossa).  The Bismarck was very dangerous to Convoys as the British had no real effective counter, the Graf Spee had caused enough trouble and was nowhere near the ship the Bismarck was.  The very reason why Hood was dispatched to fight Bismarck in the first place even though it was known her armor was not really suitable for such an engagement is precisely why it became more important for PoW to continue the attack once Hood was lost.  Hood was one of very few ships capable of catching Bismarck and possessing the firepower to do something about it, as it was Bismarck almost got away.  had the Swordfish not gotten a lucky hit that destroyed Bismarck's steering she would have been able to make port and caused considerable damage.

From the Strategic point of view it was an entirely acceptable thing to lose PoW in addition to the Hood in order to sink or even damage (they did but didn't know it at the time) the Bismarck, they again had Battleships to Spare but they did not have merchant shipping to spare, it would not be until 1943 that replacement shipping would outpace losses and that was only after US involvement, which nobody expected at the time.  There was a reason they were willing to risk an untried crew and vessel along with a ship known to have armor deficiencies in the first place.

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6 hours ago, Danyir_Amore said:

Thing is he was often correct.  He was definitely correct about trying to force the Dardanelles, victory there could have knocked out a major Ally of Germany and ended the war very much sooner and with millions less dead people around the world.  Britain and France had battleships to spare and came very close to victory as it was they could have easily afforded to lose double what they actually did lose if it meant victory there.

A similar reason exists for the court marshall of Captain Leach, you need to look at it from the perspective of Churchill at the time.  The UK was fighting a war alone, already besieged by U-Boats and under air assault.  They were rapidly running out of supplies because of massive shipping losses and there was no relief in sight, their own blockade of Germany was ineffective because the Soviet Union was supplying Germany with all the essentials they needed (and would continue to do so even the day of Barbarossa).  The Bismarck was very dangerous to Convoys as the British had no real effective counter, the Graf Spee had caused enough trouble and was nowhere near the ship the Bismarck was.  The very reason why Hood was dispatched to fight Bismarck in the first place even though it was known her armor was not really suitable for such an engagement is precisely why it became more important for PoW to continue the attack once Hood was lost.  Hood was one of very few ships capable of catching Bismarck and possessing the firepower to do something about it, as it was Bismarck almost got away.  had the Swordfish not gotten a lucky hit that destroyed Bismarck's steering she would have been able to make port and caused considerable damage.

From the Strategic point of view it was an entirely acceptable thing to lose PoW in addition to the Hood in order to sink or even damage (they did but didn't know it at the time) the Bismarck, they again had Battleships to Spare but they did not have merchant shipping to spare, it would not be until 1943 that replacement shipping would outpace losses and that was only after US involvement, which nobody expected at the time.  There was a reason they were willing to risk an untried crew and vessel along with a ship known to have armor deficiencies in the first place.

Victory was not achievable at the Dardanelles in the way it was conducted.  Churchill is the blame for all that death and suffering.  Jingoist arrogance played a great role in thinking they could win against the Ottomans, the same arrogance that destroyed the British at Isandlwana.  When the time came for Operation Overlord, Churchill was viciously opposed to it, to the point it was about the create a diplomatic crisis, probably a result of his memory of  The Gallipoli Campaign.

I would argue that turning away from a fight having lost the ability to effective fight to save the lives of the crew and fight another day is the correct one.  Even Admiral Lindemann understood that the days where a ship could run loose in the Atlantic in the age of radar and aircraft were coming to an end.  Needless arrogance and pride would have kept the PoW fighting on.  The same message that John Cleese remember being taught in school.  "The moral of the tale, according to Cleese's teacher, was "if you never give up, you can't possibly lose" – a statement that, Cleese reflected, always struck him as being "philosophically unsound"

Well, this is what he thought about the message:

 

Edited by Sventex

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10 hours ago, Sventex said:

Victory was not achievable at the Dardanelles in the way it was conducted.  Churchill is the blame for all that death and suffering.  Jingoist arrogance played a great role in thinking they could win against the Ottomans, the same arrogance that destroyed the British at Isandlwana.  When the time came for Operation Overlord, Churchill was viciously opposed to it, to the point it was about the create a diplomatic crisis, probably a result of his memory of  The Gallipoli Campaign.

There was plenty of Jingoist arrogance in both battles however it was not the deciding factor in either.  Forcing the Dardanelles was stopped mostly by mines, which was the fault of the entire RN for never having developed proper minesweeping procedures and leaving it to civilians, this is hardly only Churchill's fault since Mines had been around for quite some time previous.  The gunnery of the Ottomans while good was not enough to prevent the Allies from forcing the strait, even as it was the guns were mostly suppressed.  Had the Allies methodically suppressed artillery then cleared the mines they likely would have been successful but for that they would have needed professional sailors trained to do so under fire.

Isandlwana was a fluke caused an eclipse in the middle of the battle which allowed the Zulu's to approach with far fewer casualties and disruption than they otherwise would have suffered, their attack likely would have failed without it, as it was they suffered Pyrrhic casualties and the battle broke Zulu power anyway.  At Rorke's drift there was even worse odds for the British yet they still held.  The Little Bighorn was actually a better example of Jingoist arrogance since that is what led Custer to put his own troops in a precarious situation of his own accord, while Benteen and Reno were responsible with their commands despite being in the same circumstances they survived.

10 hours ago, Sventex said:

I would argue that turning away from a fight having lost the ability to effective fight to save the lives of the crew and fight another day is the correct one.  Even Admiral Lindemann understood that the days where a ship could run loose in the Atlantic in the age of radar and aircraft were coming to an end.  Needless arrogance and pride would have kept the PoW fighting on.  The same message that John Cleese remember being taught in school.  "The moral of the tale, according to Cleese's teacher, was "if you never give up, you can't possibly lose" – a statement that, Cleese reflected, always struck him as being "philosophically unsound"

Turning away while understandable was the wrong decision for two reasons.  The first being that the Bismarck was the Objective and preventing it from commerce raiding was far more important than anything else PoW would do in the rest of the war (in fact the one hit she did score that force Bismarck to return to port was probably the single most important shell fired by a battleship in that war).  At this stage in the war German Surface raiders were still an incredible threat especially if Bismarck had been able to make Brest.

The second reason being that the PoW should not have escaped anyway, and it is again only a fluke due to strike adherence to orders that Bismarck allowed her to get away.  PoW was slower and had fewer guns to the Rear (especially since they didn't work anyway) had Bismarck given chase PoW would have been lost uselessly, they were simply lucky Bismarck didn't.

It is a bad idea to judge strategy and tactics on extraordinary circumstances because they are in fact extraordinary.

10 hours ago, Sventex said:

Well, this is what he thought about the message:

 

The never give up moral is in fact usually incorrect, and it is in these instances as well.  The moral of these examples is more about prior planning preventing piss poor performance.  Oh and don't be racist [edited] either.

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22 hours ago, Danyir_Amore said:

 Forcing the Dardanelles was stopped mostly by mines, which was the fault of the entire RN for never having developed proper minesweeping procedures and leaving it to civilians, this is hardly only Churchill's fault since Mines had been around for quite some time previous.  The gunnery of the Ottomans while good was not enough to prevent the Allies from forcing the strait, even as it was the guns were mostly suppressed.  Had the Allies methodically suppressed artillery then cleared the mines they likely would have been successful but for that they would have needed professional sailors trained to do so under fire.

 

Actually that is what they did. The "civilian" minesweepers could not sweep the mines because of Turkish mobile guns and those guys didn't want to risk getting shot/sunk, so those civ MSW ship retreated  when fired upon or when they just saw fire/splashes nearby. So they tried to get the mobile Turk guns, so the civs wouldn't run, that failed. So then the British just put a few  naval officers and sailors on those civilian minesweeper ships and the mines were swept in short order with minimal casualties (1-2 boats 10-20 casualties out of 20 or so minesweeper ships IIRC). Making the Channel/Strait cleared for attack  which the RN did the next day , however they ran out of daylight , so they put off further bombardment till the next day. And it was that interceding night of the first day to second day  when a small Turkish ship unseen/secretly laid one string of  20 mines, that the British/French blundered into the next day, losing 2 battleships (and 2? damaged IIRC). Leading them to think they could never clear the strait of all/sufficient mine danger, so making an amphibious invasion was necessary.

 

That was what I pointed out in my first post,  It was not a problem of seeping the defensive minefield or that the minefield was under fire. The British quickly cleared that  when they decided to expend an effort doing so.  But it was one new , unseen string , that stopped the British naval attack, the covered minefields had been dealt with.

Stranger still was that new secret  string was actually outside the marked lanes the BB's were suppose to use , but one went outside of the buoy, hitting a mine then another went to that ones aid hitting another. And then confusion reign accounting for rest(i could be off about damaged ships I am not going to go check, read enough and forgot enough about this battle 20+ years ago LOL)

Edited by Strachwitz666

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26 minutes ago, Strachwitz666 said:

Actually that is what they did. The "civilian" minesweepers could not sweep the mines because of Turkish mobile guns and those guys didn't want to risk getting shot/sunk, so those civ MSW ship retreated  when fired upon or when they just saw fire/splashes nearby. So they tried to get the mobile Turk guns, so the civs wouldn't run, that failed. So then the British just put a few  naval officers and sailors on those civilian minesweeper ships and the mines were swept in short order with minimal casualties (1-2 boats 10-20 casualties out of 20 or so minesweeper ships IIRC). Making the Channel/Strait cleared for attack  which the RN did the next day , however they ran out of daylight , so they put off further bombardment till the next day. And it was that interceding night of the first day to second day  when a small Turkish ship unseen/secretly laid one string of  20 mines, that the British/French blundered into the next day, losing 2 battleships (and 2? damaged IIRC). Leading them to think they could never clear the strait of all/sufficient mine danger, so making an amphibious invasion was necessary.

 

That was what I pointed out in my first post,  It was not a problem of seeping the defensive minefield or that the minefield was under fire. The British quickly cleared that  when they decided to expend an effort doing so.  But it was one new , unseen string , that stopped the British naval attack, the covered minefields had been dealt with.

Stranger still was that new secret  string was actually outside the marked lanes the BB's were suppose to use , but one went outside of the buoy, hitting a mine then another went to that ones aid hitting another. And then confusion reign accounting for rest(i could be off about damaged ships I am not going to go check, read enough and forgot enough about this battle 20+ years ago LOL)

Yes and had they done that from the beginning they would have been successful, the fact that they did not bother to continue the next day was simply another easily avoidable mistake.

Basically the Battleships were able to suppress the Turkish artillery because it was too light to have great effect on the battleships, but the Turks could damage the minesweepers.  If they had started the battle by methodically covering/clearing with their own reliable sailors and god forbid maybe practiced the crapfor a day or two prior the results would have been far different.

This is very different from the generally accepted armchair historian pov that the Dardanelles was a terrible idea, it wasn't, it was poorly executed and there is a big difference between the two.

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On 7/4/2018 at 8:17 AM, Danyir_Amore said:

Yes and had they done that from the beginning they would have been successful, the fact that they did not bother to continue the next day was simply another easily avoidable mistake.

Basically the Battleships were able to suppress the Turkish artillery because it was too light to have great effect on the battleships, but the Turks could damage the minesweepers.  If they had started the battle by methodically covering/clearing with their own reliable sailors and god forbid maybe practiced the crapfor a day or two prior the results would have been far different.

This is very different from the generally accepted armchair historian pov that the Dardanelles was a terrible idea, it wasn't, it was poorly executed and there is a big difference between the two.

A poorly planned naval invasion is as old as dirt.  History is constantly repeating itself.

As I recall, the Spanish Armada was lost because at the time, they realize they couldn't actually embark troops onto the armada to invade England.

Edited by Sventex

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I've got a Churchill anecdote which I bet No One, certainly not here, has heard of.

Some years back I read a very engaging book entitled "Captain of the Queens", written by Captain Harry Grattidge, whose ultimate seafaring achievement saw him as captain of none other than the Queen Mary.

This one sort of goes along with the tale of him inviting Roosevelt into his room in the White House wearing only a towel, if I recall correctly.

Mr Grattige says that once upon entering Churchill's storeroom aboard the QM post war, that he found him completely naked on the bed on all fours jumping up and down.  The man was known for eccentric habits certainly, and this was apparently some sort of exercise routine.  The book is available and I recommend it in general.

Another recounting in it was of the QM fouling its anchor on some either harbor defense or comms cable in Le Havre? during a storm.  Anyhow great read.

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