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Eyewitness accounts of the outbreak of war in the Black Sea, 1914

Posted by Toby Ewin, on March 20th, 2018



  • Engineer Lieutenant George Le Page was attached to the Russian Black Sea Fleet from September 1914, and in his report to the Admiralty described the attack on Sebastopol by the Turkish navy, which consisted of ships given to Turkey by the Germans. He describes the use of Russian mines to protect the mouth of the Bosphorus.  Having cleared the mines, the Russian fleet destroyed four ships which turned out to be Turkish transports, before returning to Sebastopol.
  • Rear Admiral Richard Phillimore reported that if he had been able to persuade the Russian headquarters to activate their minefield, the Turkish Goeben might have been sunk. If the Goeben had been taken out of the Turkish navy at that point, the course of the naval war would have been significantly different.  This tiny incident underlined the difficulties of military control of sea defences.
  • A third eyewitness account of this opening day of the war in the Black Sea is preserved in the National Archives in ADM 137.

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