Brit battle cruisers Inflexible & Irresistible hit mines in Dardanelle
На следующий день специалист с Харли-стрит, служивший на флоте, осмотрел Кардена и объявил, что тот находится на грани нервного истощения, ему необходимо немедленно отправляться домой.
Атака должна была начаться в течение сорока восьми часов, а нового командующего ещё предстояло спешно найти. Старшим по званию был адмирал Вемисс, командир базы на острове Лемнос, но он сразу же отказался от назначения в пользу де Робека, который участвовал в боях с самого начала.
Отдавая дань Кардену, возможно, следует вспомнить, что лишь случайно он вообще оказался в Дарданеллах, этот пост должен бы занимать адмирал Лимпус, глава бывшей британской морской миссии в Турции, человек, который знал всё о Дарданеллах. Но когда Лимпус покидал Константинополь, Турция всё ещё сохраняла нейтральный статус, и британцам не хотелось раздражать турок, сознательно посылая блокировать Дарданеллы человека, знавшего все их секреты. Поэтому Карден был повышен со своей должности начальника верфи на Мальте, и до начала операции он уже успел провести долгую зиму на море у пролива. Нельзя сказать, что операция давила на него — в действительности он сам предложил метод наступления, — но, соглашаясь с этим на первом месте, можно представить, что на него давило осознание того, что он идёт тем путём, которого и ожидал от него молодой первый лорд. А сейчас эта крайне опасная операция оборачивалась для него в потрясающе страшную вещь. С самого начала она приобрела импульс выше всего разумного, и, поскольку он ещё не провёл ни одного крупного боя, не потерял ни одного корабля и всего лишь несколько моряков, он понимал, что надо продолжать операцию. Но он её страшился.
By March 16 Admiral Carden had with his flag the whole force with which the great attack on the Narrows was to be made on the lines the Admiralty had suggested, and in which he concurred. With regard to his suggestion that military operations on a large scale should begin at once, he was told he must concert measures with General Hamilton when he arrived, and meanwhile they had asked the War Office to send the rest of the Australasian force to Mudros at once. The Royal Naval Division had now joined, and the French division, after concentrating at Bizerta, had been coming in by groups since March 11, and the last of them was due at Mudros on the 17th. This, with the Anzacs, would give some 60,000 men on the spot by the 18th. The troops would thus be well in time, as the Admiralty understood the sweeping operations would probably take several days.
To make matters quite clear they informed the Admiral that his plan, as they conceived it, was in the first place to clear a passage through the minefields so as to enable the forts to be engaged eventually at close range, the work of sweeping to be covered by the battle fleet, which would engage the forts and the mobile guns. He would then attack the forts in the Narrows at close range, and when they were destroyed would pass on to deal with those beyond. They further understood that no premature attempt to rush the passage was to be made, and at any rate, before such desperate measures were resorted to, they expected him to consult them as to whether a combined operation for the capture of the Kilid Bahr plateau would not be a less costly method.
The Admiral replied that they had expressed his intention exactly, and that he proposed to begin on March 17 if the weather was favourable, that is, in two days’ time. In the meanwhile he was busy clearing mines from the area in which the ships were to manoeuvre. It was a necessary precaution, for the last attack on the minefield had broken it up and the seaplanes had been able to report that a number of mines had been dragged into shallow water. As their position could be clearly indicated by the airmen, such good progress was made that it was expected to begin the grand attack on the day fixed. But now a sudden and unlooked-for hitch occurred.
For some time Admiral Carden’s health had been giving cause for anxiety, and on the 16th a Medical Board pronounced it imperative that he should relinquish the command and go on leave. There was nothing for it but to obey. It must always be a serious loss to an enterprise, particularly to one so original in conception, that the mind that designed it should not be able to see it through to completion. Unfortunate as his breakdown was, it did not mean a complete rupture of continuity.
Admiral de Robeck, who was next in command of the fleet, had had immediate charge of most of the direct operations, and had been intimately associated with his chief in preparing the plan for the grand attack. The only difficulty in passing the command to him was that Admiral Wemyss was his senior, but this was easily overcome.
Admiral Wemyss, who was already absorbed in the intricate work of establishing a base at Mudros, felt that with the Allied troops arriving he was more than ever required for the work for which he had been specially selected. It was proving to be a task of the most arduous and exacting nature. He had been sent out without a staff to establish a base for the fleet and a small auxiliary force of troops in what was de facto a neutral island, with a motley Levantine population of dubious character and sympathies, for whose behaviour he was responsible as Acting Governor. He had, in fact, to create a base out of nothing and with wholly inadequate assistance; and when it is considered that, in addition to the delicate administrative and police duties, the work had to be done and its infinite difficulties overcome without offence to neutral or allied susceptibilities, it will be obvious that even for the comparatively small and simple force originally contemplated it required tact, resource, and organising ability of a high order.
Now that it was a question of a base for a large Allied army, as well as an Allied fleet, and to the former difficulties were to be added all the complexities of a large combined operation, the labour promised to be beyond the power of any one coming fresh to the task. With all the existing threads in his hands. Admiral Wemyss might hope to succeed when a newcomer could scarcely escape failure. He was therefore of opinion he ought to stay where he was, and in intimating this he expressed his perfect readiness to serve under Admiral de Robeck. So the change was smoothly effected.