The Middle Sea view

Incessant procession of ships

Reality of our sea power

General Headquarters, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, December 28: This corner of the Mediterranean has long been familiar with the sight of warships.

For centuries the Fleets of the Great Powers have swept it at intervals and Mudros Bay was a mustering place for our Mediterranean Fleet in the days when no one dreamt of using it as a base of operations against the Turks.

But merchant ships in such numbers have surely never seen since the balmy days of the Eastern Empire, and ships of such size never in its history. A month spent in these waters will teach more of the externals at least of our merchant marine than one could learn in the same time in a great harbour at home, for here the ships stand out and one can see them.

Every one of our shipping lines is represented in the great procession of merchantmen flying the Red Ensign which incessantly passes up and down the Mediterranean, east and west and north and south, carrying reinforcements, food and ammunition for our armies or bearing away the wounded and sick to Alexandria or Malta.

We see here the newest and swiftest giants of the Cunard, White Star and Royal Mail Fleets; swift French Translantiques with tapering lines, Bibby, Blue Funnel, and Anchor Boats, British India and “Baron” steamers, and whole squadrons of smaller cargo ships.

We have passenger steamers that used to ply between our East Coast and the Continent and between the West Coast and Ireland serving as “Fleet sweepers” or conveying wounded.

They are useful boats for carrying wounded, being designed for the accommodation of seasick landsmen and have wide stairways down to the lower deck, down which stretchers can be carried without inconvenience.

We have a great fleet of North Sea trawlers which have been used for every purpose from sweeping for mines under fire in the Dardanelles and landing troops on the beaches to carrying parcels.

We have little old paddle steamers built to ply their trade in home harbours, tank steamers and tugs that have snorted up and down the Cyde and Mersey for years and we have the “Hun” Line composed of captured German steamers all of which have been rechristened with names beginning “Hun” – the “Hunstanton” the “Huntsbridge” the “Hungerford,” etc.

The scene on April 25.

No one who saw the Transport Fleet as assembled in Mudros Bay just before we sailed out for the landing of April 25 will ever forget the sight. One could count a hundred great ships and behind every headland there was assemblages of masts, telling of still more ships invisible.

At night when the long tiers of light stabbed the black depths of the bay to radiance, the sight was wonderful.

From the bleak hills above, it must have been like looking down upon the lights of a considerable town.

Kephalo Bay, before the Sulva landing, presented much the same spectacle on a smaller scale.