Book: The World Crisis, Vol. 2: 1915

Previous: XI. The 18th of March
Next: XIII. The Case for Perseverance and Decision

CHAPTER XII
ADMIRAL DE ROBECK’S CHANGE OF PLAN

The Arrival of the Army—Sir Ian Hamilton’s Problem—A Choice of Evils—The Change of Base—Admiral de Robeck’s Intentions of March 20—The Conference of March 22—Far-reaching Decisions—The Sacred Ships—Admiral de Robeck’s Reasons—A Discrepancy—General Liman von Sanders in Command of the Turks—Lord Kitchener Assumes the Burden—His Ideas about the Date of a Military Attack—Sir Ian Hamilton’s Reply—My Endeavours to secure the Sweeping of the Minefield—Complete Cessation of the Naval Offensive—The Wall of Crystal.

What had happened at the Dardanelles? The Army had arrived. From the earliest moment permitted to them the Admiralty had carried all the troops to the point of concentration with punctuality. Sir Ian Hamilton had reached the Dardanelles on the eve of the naval attack on the Narrows, and had witnessed from the bridge of the Phaeton its closing scenes. The impression of the sinking of the battleships, the spectacle of the crippled Inflexible listed and slowly steaming out of the Straits, the destroyers crowded with the rescued crews, was strong in his mind. These appearances aroused, in a nature chivalrous to a fault, an intense desire to come to the aid and rescue of the sister Service. It was in this mood that he addressed himself to the problem with which he was immediately confronted.

That problem was indeed grave and perplexing in an extreme degree. If the Navy asked for help, Sir Ian Hamilton was resolved to give it to the utmost of his power. If a landing on the tip of the Peninsula and the capture of the Kilid Bahr Plateau would largely solve the naval difficulties, he would attempt it. But obviously then there was not a moment to lose. Every day, every hour, the Turkish defences and preparations would improve and their forces accumulate. A fortnight before, the disembarkation of 40,000 men on the Peninsula might have been effected without great difficulty. But now sharp fighting must be expected. Still, General Birdwood, who had been watching events on the spot since the beginning of March, was eager to land then and there, and confident that the opposition would be overcome by a prompt attack.

But now, for the first time in these military operations, the General Staff were allowed to have their say. They unfolded to their Commander a massive and overwhelming case. The preparations for the landing under fire required an intense degree of organization. No preparations had been made. To carry out such an enterprise required, above all, a proportion at least of most highly-trained troops. None were available. The Australians, however brave and ardent, were, like the Royal Naval Division, only partly trained. The 29th Division had just sailed from England, and would not arrive before the first week in April. But how would it then arrive? It had been embarked in twenty-two transports without any idea of having to fight immediately. The ammunition was in one ship, the transport in another, the harness in a third, the machine guns at the bottom of the hold, and so on. Before these trained and excellent troops could go into action, they would have to be disembarked either by small boats in still water or upon a quay, and then completely re-sorted, and organized in fighting trim. Mudros harbour (in Lemnos) offered neither facility. Moreover, although nearly 60,000 men were now available within striking distance of the Gallipoli Peninsula, the supplies were scattered throughout the Mediterranean, the hospitals were not prepared, the staff had never come together. We have seen how Ludendorff, recalled from Liège to restore the situation in East Prussia, telegraphed his preliminary dispositions from Berlin and ran his train literally on to the field of Tannenberg. But he was dealing with the highly-trained staff and large formations of the German Army, already actively in contact with the enemy. He was free from all those complications which are inseparable from amphibious action and from the combination of the separate services of the sea and land. No such commanding gesture was possible at the Dardanelles.

Sir Ian Hamilton has recorded his plight in pungent sentences:—

‘Here am I still minus my Adjutant-General, my Quartermaster-General and my Medical Chief, charged with settling the basic question of whether the Army should push off from Lemnos or from Alexandria. Nothing in the world to guide me beyond my own experience and that of my Chief of the General Staff, whose sphere of work and experience lies quite outside these administrative matters. I can see that Lemnos is practically impossible; I fix on Alexandria in the light of Braithwaite’s advice and my own hasty study of the map. Almost incredible really, we should have to decide so tremendous an administrative problem off the reel and without any Administrative Staff…

‘We might sup to-morrow night on Achi Baba. With luck we really might. Had I been here for ten days instead of five, and had I had any time to draft out any sort of scheme, I might have had a dart…

‘I must wait for the 29th Division. By the time they come I can get things straight for a smashing simultaneous blow, and I am resolved that, so far as in me lies, the orders and preparations will then be so thoroughly worked out, so carefully rehearsed as to give every chance to my men.

‘If the 29th Division were here… Could I hope for the 29th Division within a week… had my staff and self been here ten days ago… Then, the moment the Fleet cried off, we might have had a dash in, right away, with what we have here.’

In the choice of evils which now alone was open to Sir Ian Hamilton, his staff pronounced that whatever were the risks of delay, they were less than those of a precipitate and unorganized assault. The General therefore determined to transfer his base and his Army from Lemnos to Alexandria, leaving only sufficient troops at the Dardanelles for minor enterprises, and to organize from Egypt any large military operation which the Navy might require.

General Sir Ian Hamilton to Vice-Admiral de Robeck.

March 20, 1915.

From every point of view I consider change of military base to Alexandria and Port Said advisable. I can bring you military help from there quickly and in better shape than from here, where there are no facilities. Propose therefore to transfer base and troops to Alexandria and Port Said, leaving 4,000 Australian infantry at Lemnos at your disposal. I hope that you will agree. Presume you wish to retain marines now in Cawdor Castle and Braemar Castle at Tenedos, otherwise they might accompany remainder of naval division to Port Said.

Admiral de Robeck had come out of action on March 18 with every intention of resuming the attack at the earliest opportunity. To Admiral Wemyss at Mudros he telegraphed on the evening of the 18th:—

‘We have had disastrous day owing either to floating mines or torpedoes from shore tubes fired at long range. H.M.S. Irresistible and Bouvet sunk. H.M.S. Ocean still afloat, but probably lost. H.M.S. Inflexible damaged by mine. Gaulois badly damaged by gunfire. Other ships all right, and we had much the best of the Forts’

On the 19th he wrote to Sir Ian Hamilton:—

‘Our men were splendid and thank heaven our loss of life was quite small, though the French lost over 100 (?600) men when Bouvet struck a mine.

‘How our ships struck mines in an area that was reported clear and swept the previous night I do not know, unless they were floating mines started from the Narrows.

‘I was sad to lose ships and my heart aches when one thinks of it; one must do what one is told and take risks or otherwise we cannot win. We are all getting ready for another go and not in the least beaten or downhearted. The big forts were silenced for a long time and everything was going well, until Bouvet struck a mine. It is hard to say what amount of damage we did, I don’t know—there were big explosions in the Forts!’

We have seen the telegrams which he sent to the Admiralty on the 20th. Sir Ian Hamilton’s intimation that a change of base and consequent delay were inevitable did not affect the Admiral’s intention to renew the naval attack. On the contrary, by revealing how long an interval must intervene before a general military attack, it might well have been expected to strengthen his resolve. His answer to Sir Ian Hamilton on the evening of the 20th shows that this was apparently the case.

Vice-Admiral de Robeck to Sir Ian Hamilton.

As a military measure I concur with your proposal to make Egypt the headquarters, but submit political result of withdrawal of troops from Mudros at the moment requires the gravest consideration. If Governments of Balkan States take it to mean failure or abandonment of attack on the Dardanelles, result might be far-reaching. To prevent wrong interpretation being placed on the movements of the troops, I suggest their departure be delayed until our attack is renewed in a few days’ time. Meantime, feint of landing on a large scale on several points of the coast of Gallipoli might tend to draw off field-guns from the general action when they are likely to seriously hamper our sweeping operations.

Such was his state of mind on the 21st.

But now occurred the sudden and extraordinary change, the repercussion of which we have witnessed at the Admiralty. On the 22nd a Conference was held on board the Queen Elizabeth. There were present Admiral de Robeck, Admiral Wemyss, Sir Ian Hamilton, General Birdwood, General Braithwaite and Captain Pollen. Sir Ian Hamilton has recorded of this Conference:—

‘The moment we sat down de Robeck told us he was now quite clear he could not get through without the help of all my troops.

‘Before ever we went aboard, Braithwaite, Birdwood and I had agreed that, whatever we landsmen might think, we must leave the seamen to settle their own job, saying nothing for or against land operations or amphibious operations until the sailors themselves turned to us and said they had abandoned the idea of forcing the passage by naval operations alone.

‘They have done so…

‘So there was no discussion. At once we turned our faces to the land scheme.’

It is clear that Admiral de Robeck came to his decision during the afternoon or night of the 21st. It was a far-reaching decision. It put aside altogether the policy of the Government and of the Admiralty, with which, up to this, the Admiral had declared himself in full accord. The plans which had emanated from the Fleet, on which both Admiral and Admiralty had been agreed, were cast to the winds. It withdrew the Fleet from the struggle, and laid the responsibilities of the Navy upon the Army. It committed the Army in the most unfavourable conditions to an enterprise of extreme hazard and of first magnitude. It was a decision entirely contrary to the whole spirit, and indeed to the explicit terms, of the latest messages Admiral de Robeck had received from the Admiralty after the news of the action of March 18. It was outside the scope of the orders with which, on accepting the command, the Admiral had stated he was in full agreement. It is true that the Admiralty Telegram, No. 109, of March 15, had said: ‘You must concert any military operations on a large scale which you consider necessary with General Hamilton when he arrives.’ But this was not intended to cover, nor did it from its context cover, the total abandonment of the naval attack and the substitution of a purely military effort.

Thus at this Conference on the 22nd two grave decisions became operative: first, that the naval attack should be abandoned in favour of a general assault by the Army; and secondly, that the Army should go back to Alexandria to organize and prepare for this attack, although this process would involve at least three weeks’ delay. The Army had in fact arrived too late and too ill-organized to deliver its own surprise attack, but in plenty of time by its very presence to tempt the Navy to desist from theirs.

One must, however, make great allowances for the Admiral and for the naval point of view which he represented. To statesmen or soldiers, ships in time of war possess no sentimental value. They are engines of war to be used, risked, and if necessary expended in the common cause and for the general policy of the State. To such minds the life of a soldier was every whit as precious as that of a sailor, and an old battleship marked for the scrap-heap was an instrument of war to be expended in a good cause as readily as artillery ammunition is fired to shelter and support a struggling infantry attack. But to an Admiral of this standing and upbringing, these old ships were sacred. They had been the finest ships afloat in the days when he as a young officer had first set foot upon their decks. The discredit and even disgrace of casting away a ship was ingrained deeply by years of mental training and outlook. The spectacle of this noble structure on which so many loyalties centred, which was the floating foothold of daily life, foundering miserably beneath the waves, appeared as an event shocking and unnatural in its character. Whereas a layman or soldier might have rejoiced that so important an action as that of March 18 could have been fought with a loss of less than thirty British lives and two or three worthless ships, and that so many valuable conclusions had been attained at such a slender cost, Admiral de Robeck was saddened and consternated to the foundations of his being. These emotions were also present around the Admiralty table in Whitehall.

Full weight must be attached to Admiral de Robeck’s reasons for not renewing the attack.

Vice-Admiral de Robeck to Admiralty. Sent March 27, 1915, 1.30 a.m. Received 4.7 a.m.

First Lord. Secret.

I do not consider check on 18th was decisive, and am still of opinion that a portion of fleet would succeed in entering Sea of Marmora. Nothing has occurred since 21st to alter my intention to press enemy hard until I am in a position to deliver a decisive attack. On 21st I was prepared to go forward irrespective of the Army, as I fully realized that this matter must be carried through to a successful issue regardless of cost, and also because, in view of the military opinion expressed in your 70, and which if persisted in, would in no wise assist the Navy in their task, I did not anticipate the possibility of military co-operation in the forcing of the Straits, though I have always been of opinion that decisive result would be best obtained by a combined operation rather than by either a naval or military force acting alone.

On 22nd, having conferred with General and heard his proposals, I learned that the co-operation of the Army and Navy was considered by him a sound operation of war, and that he was fully prepared to work with the Navy in the forcing of the Dardanelles, but that he could not act before April 14. The plan discussed with General Hamilton, and now in the course of preparation pending your approval of my 256, will effect, in my opinion, decisive and overwhelming results. The original approved plan for forcing the Dardanelles by ships was drawn up on the assumption that gunfire alone was capable of destroying forts. This assumption has been conclusively proved to be wrong when applied to the attacking of open forts by high-velocity guns; for instance, Fort 8 has been frequently bombarded at distant and close ranges, the damage caused is possibly one gun disabled. Shells which hit either expended their destructive power uselessly on the parapet or destroyed some unimportant building in the background of the fort; to obtain direct hits on each gun has been found impracticable, even at ranges of 700 to 800 yards, as was attempted in the case of Forts 3 and 6. One gun in Fort 4 was found loaded and fit for service on February 26, although the fort had been heavily bombarded for two days at long range and at short range. The utmost that can be expected of ships is to dominate the forts to such an extent that gun crews cannot fight the guns; any more permanent disablement could only be carried out with an excessive expenditure of ammunition at point-blank range, the report of operations carried out against Tsing Tau recently received strengthens this opinion. Conclusions drawn from the attack on the cupola forts at Antwerp by heavy howitzers are quite misleading when applied to the case described above. To engage Forts 7 and 8 at close range entails ships coming under fire of forts at the Narrows, these have therefore to be silenced with consequent heavy expenditure of ammunition which cannot be spared. Further, wear of the old guns is causing me some anxiety; on the 18th there were several premature bursts of common shell, and guns were out of action from time to time. It would be the worst policy to carry out bombardment which could not be brought to a decisive result. To destroy forts, therefore, it is necessary to land demolishing parties. To cover these parties at the Narrows is a task General Hamilton is not prepared to undertake, and I fully concur in his view. To carry the demolition out by surprise is impracticable. The mine menace being even greater than anticipated, the number of torpedo tubes, by all reports, having been added to, combined with the fact that they cannot be destroyed, materially increases the difficulties of clearing passage for the Fleet, which has to be carried out while the forts are kept silenced by gunfire. The result of naval action alone might, in my opinion, be a brilliant success or quite indecisive. Success depends largely on the effect that the appearance of the Fleet off Constantinople would produce on the Turkish army, which appears to control the situation in Turkey at present, and which is itself dominated by the Germans, but if the Turkish army is undismayed by the advent of the Fleet into the Sea of Marmora and the Straits are closed behind it, the length of time which ships can operate, as indicated in your 86 and 88, and maintain themselves in that sea depends almost entirely on the number of colliers and ammunition which can accompany the Fleet, and as the passage will be contested, the percentage of large unprotected ships which can be expected to get through is small. The passage of supply ships for the Fleet through the Dardanelles with the forts still intact is a problem to which I can see no practical solution. In such a case it would be vital for the Army to occupy the Peninsula, which would open the Strait, as guns on Asiatic side can be dominated from the European shore sufficiently to permit ships to pass through. The landing of an army of the size contemplated in the face of strenuous opposition is, in my opinion, an operation requiring the assistance of all naval forces available. A landing at Bulair would not necessarily cause Turks to abandon Peninsula, and there could be no two opinions that a Fleet intact outside the Dardanelles can do this better than the remains of a Fleet inside with little ammunition. With Gallipoli Peninsula held by our Army, and Squadron through Dardanelles, our success would be assured. The delay possibly of a fortnight will allow co-operation, which would really prove factor that will reduce length of time necessary to complete the campaign in Sea of Marmora and occupy Constantinople.

It will be seen that there is a distinct discrepancy between the statements of Admiral de Robeck and Sir Ian Hamilton. The Admiral represents that his change of mind was the result of ‘proposals’ made to him by the General, whereas the General states explicitly, ‘The moment we sat down de Robeck told us he was now quite clear he could not get through without the help of all my troops.’ The probable explanation is as follows: Until the evening of the 21st the Admiral thought that the Army were not authorized to storm any part of the Peninsula, but only to occupy the Bulair lines after the Fleet had forced the passage. As soon as he learned that the Army were free to act in any direction, and that Sir Ian Hamilton was ready, if called on by him, to descend in full force upon the Southern end of the Peninsula, he immediately abandoned the naval attack, and invited the Army to open the passage.

Whatever may be the explanation, the arguments of Admiral de Robeck’s telegram were decisive. At the Admiralty they consolidated all the oppositions to action. At the front they paralysed the Fleet. Some days later, after Sir Ian Hamilton had received a copy of my long telegram of January 24 and others from Lord Kitchener, he sent the following message to the Admiral:—

March 30.

I had already communicated outline of our plan to Lord Kitchener, and am pushing on preparations as fast as possible. War Office still seems to cherish the hope that you may break through without landing troops. Therefore as regards yourself I think wisest procedure will be to push on systematically though not recklessly in attack on Forts. It is always possible that opposition may suddenly crumple up. If you did succeed be sure to have light cruisers enough to see me through by military attack, in the event of that being after all necessary. If you do not succeed then I think we quite understand one another.

The Admiral, however, remained immovable.

On the 24th Sir Ian Hamilton and his staff sailed for Alexandria, whither all the transports carrying troops through the Mediterranean were directed. On this day also on the enemy’s side an important step was taken. General Liman von Sanders had hitherto been the head of the German military mission to Turkey, but had not exercised any executive command. The distress and the apprehensions of the Turks, and the crisis of the operations, induced Enver Pasha on March 24 to summon General Liman von Sanders to Constantinople and to place in his hands the entire control of the Turkish forces available for the defence of the Peninsula. General von Sanders assumed the command on the 26th. ‘The distribution,’ he writes, ‘of the available five divisions for both sides of the Marmora which had obtained until the 26th March had to be completely altered. They had stood until this according to quite other principles, scattered along the whole coast like the frontier guards of the good old times. The enemy on landing would have found resistance everywhere, but no forces or reserves to make a strong and energetic counter attack.’

It was with grief that I announced to the Cabinet on the 23rd the refusal of the Admiral and the Admiralty to continue the naval attack, and that it must, at any rate for the time being, be abandoned. Since the crisis of August, 1914, many undertakings had been given on behalf of the Royal Navy, and hitherto all had been made good. It was now again open to the Prime Minister, to Lord Kitchener, to the Cabinet, if they wished, to withdraw from the whole enterprise and to cover the failure by the seizure of Alexandretta. We had lost fewer men killed and wounded than were often incurred in a trench raid on the Western Front, and no vessel of the slightest value had been sunk. I could not have complained of such a decision, however strongly I might have argued against it. But there was no necessity to argue. Lord Kitchener was always splendid when things went wrong. Confident, commanding, magnanimous, he made no reproaches. In a few brief sentences he assumed the burden and declared he would carry the operations through by military force. So here again there was no discussion: the agreement of the Admiral and the General on the spot, and the declaration of Lord Kitchener, carried all before them. No formal decision to make a land attack was even noted in the records of the Cabinet or the War Council. When we remember the prolonged discussions and study which had preceded the resolve to make the naval attack, with its limited risk and cost, the silent plunge into this vast military adventure must be regarded as an extraordinary episode. Three months before how safe, how sound, how sure would this decision have been. But now!

When Lord Kitchener undertook to storm the Gallipoli Peninsula with the Army, he was under the impression that a week would suffice to prepare and begin the operation, and that meanwhile Admiral de Robeck would continue a steady naval pressure upon the Turks which might reveal at any moment the weakness of their marine defences. He suggested the following telegram being sent to the Admiral, which he wrote out for me:—

‘Undoubtedly silenced guns should be destroyed and the forts demolished, and for this purpose the Admiral should call upon the army authorities to provide landing parties of considerable force whenever necessary for the purpose. It is important to keep up the bombardment, and all attempts to pass the Narrows by ships. Once ships are through, the Gallipoli military position ceases to be of importance.

He was astonished at the date of the military attack having to be put off so late as April 14, and he sent there and then from the Cabinet room the following telegram to Sir Ian Hamilton:—

March 23.

I am informed you consider the 14th April as about date for commencing military operations if fleet have not forced the Dardanelles by then. I think you had better know at once that I consider any such postponement as far too long, and should like to know how soon you will act on shore.

The General’s reply was unanswerable.

Sir Ian Hamilton to Lord Kitchener.

I have not yet named any date, as I considered that this mainly depended on the arrival of the 29th Division (see paragraph 2 of your formal instructions to me). The foresight of your instructions appeals to me with double force now that I am at close quarters with the problem….

Paragraph 2 ran as follows:—

‘2. Before any serious undertaking is carried out in the Gallipoli Peninsula, all the British forces detailed for the expedition should be assembled, so that their full weight can be thrown in.’

There was no more to be said. When Lord Kitchener had reversed the decision of February 16 to send the 29th Division, when he had countermanded and consequently dispersed its transports, when he had deliberately left the issue in suspense until March 10, when he had allowed the division to be embarked otherwise than in order for battle, he had tied his own hands inextricably. He had no choice now but to wait for weeks in the face of ever-accumulating dangers and difficulties, or to abandon the enterprise. This latter solution, however, he at no time entertained. On the contrary he braced himself resolutely for the effort, and events continued to drift steadily forward.

He wrote to me on the 5th:—

‘As Fitzgerald explained, we are pushing on preparations for land operations. In the meantime I hope the Navy will continue to engage the forts as vigorously as possible, and thus induce the Turks to expend their ammunition.’

A further telegram was also received from the Admiral on the 25th, in which he said:—

‘In preparing the decisive effort in conjunction with Army… it is proposed to resume a vigorous offensive as soon as weather permits, having following objects:

‘Firstly, completely clearing the area in which squadron must manœuvre in order to cover the mine-sweeping vessels operating in Kephez minefield.

‘Secondly, with the assistance of aeroplanes, systematic reconnoitring both shores in order to locate and destroy gunfire of howitzers and other concealed guns and carry out indirect attack on Chanak Forts by Queen Elizabeth, with aeroplanes spotting.

‘In Gulf of Xeros French squadron will endeavour to attack Gallipoli and camps near Bulair with their aircraft.’

I still hoped that the continuance of the naval pressure, even within the limits now prescribed, would yield results which would encourage the Admiral to renew his attack, and thus perhaps spare the Army the dreaded ordeal.

Armed with Lord Kitchener’s letter and this telegram, I wrote again to Fisher.

Mr. Churchill to Lord Fisher.

March 25, 1915.

The Prime Minister seemed disappointed last night that we had not sent de Robeck a definite order to go on with his attack at the first opportunity, and he expressed his agreement with the telegram to that effect which I drafted yesterday morning. I explained that the gale was rendering all operations impracticable, and that nothing would be lost by a full interchange of views, such as would be effected by my ‘Personal and Secret’ of yesterday afternoon.

Mr. Balfour also pointed out to me that de Robeck’s 818 shows that he anticipates getting through if he tries, and that his anxiety now is for his communications after he has got through. This anxiety I am convinced is not well founded. The arrival of four or five ships in the Marmora would decide the issue.

My own feeling is that de Robeck should try to clear the Kephez minefield and to smash the forts at the Narrows, according to our plans, and that any question of going further could only arise after very marked success had been achieved in the above task.

This is not a very great extension of what he proposes in this telegram, just received; but it means that we have not abandoned our undertaking, or set definite limits to our efforts, and that we shall press on methodically but resolutely with it, and hold ourselves free and ready to profit by any success that may be reaped.

Meanwhile the Army will go ahead with their preparations to begin at the earliest moment.

I hope we shall be together in this. There is no need for any action till we hear further.

On March 27 I telegraphed approving the course which Admiral de Robeck had determined to adopt. However, he did not in the event pursue even the limited operations of which he had spoken in his telegram of the 25th. His energies and those of his staff soon became absorbed in the preparation of the comprehensive and complicated plans necessary for the landing of the army. The Queen Elizabeth never fired a gun, and all ships remained inactive against the enemy for another month. From this slough I was not able to lift the operations. All the negative forces began to band themselves together.

Henceforward the defences of the Dardanelles were to be reinforced by an insurmountable mental barrier. A wall of crystal, utterly immovable, began to tower up in the Narrows, and against this wall of inhibition no weapon could be employed. The ‘No’ principle had become established in men’s minds, and nothing could ever eradicate it. Never again could I marshal the Admiralty War Group and the War Council in favour of resolute action. Never again could I move the First Sea Lord. ‘No’ had settled down for ever on our councils, crushing with its deadening weight what I shall ever believe was the hope of the world. Vain was it for Admiral de Robeck a month later, inspired by the ardent Keyes, to offer to renew the naval attack. His hour had passed. I could never lift the ‘No’ that had descended, and soon I was myself to succumb. Still vainer was it for Admiral Wemyss, when he succeeded de Robeck, to submit the Keyes plans and his own resolute convictions to the new Board of Admiralty. Vain was it for Keyes in October to resign his appointment as Chief of the Staff and hasten personally to London to plead with Lord Kitchener and my successor for permission to attack. ‘No’ had won, with general assent and measureless ruin. Never again did the British Fleet renew the attack upon the Narrows which in pursuance of their orders they had begun on March 18, and which they then confidently expected to continue after a brief interval. Instead, they waited for nine months the spectators of the sufferings, the immense losses and imperishable glories of the Army, always hoping that their hour of intervention would come, always hoping for their turn to run every risk and make every sacrifice, until in the end they had the sorrow and mortification of taking the remains of the Army off and steaming away under the cloak of darkness from the scene of irretrievable failure.

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