National Geographic : 1920 Feb
VOL. XXXVII, No. 2 WASHINGTON FEBRUARY, 1920 THE REMOVAL OF THE NORTH SEA MINE BARRAGE BY LIEUTENANT-COMMANDER NOEL DAVIS, U. S. NAVY Photographs from the U. S. Navy Department For an account of the extraordinary feat of the U. S. Navy in planting 56,611 mines in the North Sea, the reader is referred to "The North Sea Mine Barrage," printed in THE GEOGRAPHIC, February, 99rp. The removal of the mines was perhaps an even more remarkable achievement, and was under the direct command of Rear-Admiral Joseph Strauss, who also had command of the expe dition that laid the mines.-THE EDITOR. W HEN time and study have en abled an accurate history of the World War to be written, it is not at all unlikely we shall read that the North Sea Mine Barrage was primarily responsible for the collapse of Germany. The inconceivably great task of closing the exits of the North Sea had been ac complished; an impregnable wall of mines stretching from Scotland to Norway, a distance of 240 miles, had become a re ality, and that deadly weapon, the sub marine, which had daily brought us nearer to inevitable defeat, regardless of the gallant efforts on the battlefields of France, at last was bottled up within the North Sea, no longer free to carry on its depredations. The construction of the barrage was a magnificent achievement, typically Amer ican, demanding the concentrated efforts of many of our largest manufacturing establishments to produce the countless complicated parts which make a mine; the building of huge assembly plants in Scotland; a special fleet of mine-layers; and then, in the face of the enemy, the laying of these thousands upon thousands of delicately adjusted spheres, one at a time, each in its predetermined position in the North Sea. The hitherto intrepid submarines were conquered, because they would not risk a passage across the barrage. Several tried and were destroyed; others, critically damaged, managed to reach port and told of this new danger which confronted them. And here it was that the barrage became most fruitful. As long as the submarines had an even chance in battle, they were willing to con tinue. Now the realization was forced upon them that they faced an intangible foe, an ever-present foe, always waiting and ready to explode upon the slightest contact. Realization grew into fear, the fear to mutiny; new crews could not be mustered, and so the U-boat menace was ended. WHEN GERMANY'S ONLY CHANCE OF VICTORY FADED With the collapse of the submarine campaign, Germany's only chance of vic- GEOGRAPHI E IC SMAGAZnIEHI "COPYRIGHT.1920.BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON.D. C.