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The Angel Of The Revolution George Chetwynd Griffith

The Heralds Of Disaster

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    The firing was furious and sustained from beginning to end of the rush,
    but the damage inflected by the cannonade of the Russian fleet and the
    torpedo-boats, which every now and then darted out from between the
    warships as opportunity offered to employ their silent and deadly
    weapons, was as nothing in comparison with the frightful havoc achieved
    by the air-ship.

    This extraordinary craft hovered over the attacking force, darting
    hither and thither with bewildering rapidity, and raining down shells
    charged with an unknown explosive of fearful power among the crowded
    ships of the great force which was blocking the Sound. Half a dozen of
    these shells were fired upon the seaward fortifications of Copenhagen in
    passing, and produced a perfectly paralysing effect.

    On the water the results of the airship's attack were destructive almost
    beyond description, particularly when she stationed herself over the
    Allied fleet and began firing her four guns right and left, ahead and
    astern. Every time a shell struck either a battleship or a cruiser, the
    terrific explosion which resulted either sank the ship in a few minutes,
    or so far disabled it that it fell an easy prey to the guns and rams of
    the Russians. As for the torpedo-boats which were struck, they were
    simply scattered over the water in indistinguishable fragments.

    Under these conditions maintenance of formation and effective fighting
    were practically impossible, and the huge iron wedge of the Russian
    squadron was driven almost without a check through the demoralised ranks
    of the Allied fleet. The Gut of Elsinore was reached in a little more
    than three hours after the first sounds of the cannonade were heard.
    Shortly before this the air-ship had stationed itself about a thousand
    feet above the water, and a mile from the fortifications.

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    From this position it commenced a brief, rapid cannonade from its
    smokeless and flameless guns, the effects of which on the fortress are
    said to have been indescribably awful. Great blocks of steel-sheathed
    masonry were dislodged from the ramparts and hurled bodily into the sea,
    carrying with them guns and men to irretrievable destruction. In less
    than half an hour the once impregnable fortress of Elsinore was little
    better than a heap of ruins. The last shell blew up the central
    magazine, the tremendous explosion was heard for miles along the coast,
    and proved to be the closing act of the briefest but most deadly great
    naval action in the history of war.

    The Russian fleet steamed triumphantly past the silenced Cerberus of the
    Sound with flashing searchlights, blazing rockets, and jubilant salvos
    of blank cartridge in honour of their really brilliant victory.

    The losses of the Allied fleet, so far as they are at present known, are
    distressingly heavy. We have lost the battleships Neptune, Hotspur,
    Anson, Superb, Black Prince, and Rodney, the armoured cruisers
    Narcissus, Beatrice and Mersey, the unarmoured cruisers Arethusa,
    Barossa, Clyde, Lais, Seagull, Grasshopper, and Nautilus, and not less
    than nineteen torpedo-boats of the first and second classes.

    The Germans and Danes have lost the battleships Kaiser Wilhelm,
    Friedrich der Grosse, Danzig, Viborg, and Funen, five German and three
    Danish cruisers, and about a dozen torpedo-boats.

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The Angel Of The Revolution
George Chetwynd Griffith

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