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3503 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR.

bombs dropped from Zeppelins, they could

so reduce the strength of their enemy that

a naval battle could be fought on more

nearly equal terms.

The opening weeks of this campaign

of whittling were somewhat encouraging.

The waters of the North Sea were strewn

with mines, while the German submarines

sallied forth in secret prepared to strike

whenever opportunity should offer. A

few days after the war with Great Britain

began, according to Captain 1. Persius,

a German naval expert, "the minelayer

Koenigin Luise planted mines at the mouth

of the Thames, one of which destroyed

the cruiser Amphion." The Koenigin Luise

was sunk for her pains, but other German

vessels, indeed sometimes neutral vessels

in German pay, strewed the North Sea

with mines. The Allies and some of the

neutral powers protested, but the British

presently found it necessary to follow the

German example. Literally scores of neutral merchant vessels were sunk by these

mines, as well as a few British and German

warships.

The greatest loss attributed to the work

of a mine was that of the British dreadnought Audacious. This vessel, which

was completed in 1913, had a tonnage

of 23,000, and was one of the real first

line units of the British fleet. The facts

about the disaster that befell her were

kept from the public, but it is now known

that she struck a mine off the northeast

coast of Ireland on October 27, 1914.

The fleet, which at this time was based

at Lough Swilly, was at sea preparing

for target practice when an explosion

beneath the Audacious resulted in the

flooding of the port engine room and the

partial flooding of the center engine room.

At the time, it was not known whether

she had been mined or torpedoed, but

subsequently it was learned that she had

struck a mine. Says Admiral Jellicoe

in his book:

"Shortly after the Audacious struck

the mine, the S.S. Olympic, on passage

from the United States to Liverpool,

closed the ship on learning of the disaster,

and at once volunteered to help in any way