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Memorandum Concerning the Future of the Otranto Barrage

S E C R E T   




No. 27. Memorandum by France on No. 25 of General Agenda.

British Barrage

          The Admiralty has definitely given up the British barrage and has decided to use the 8500 meters remaining for the protection of Taranto.2

          A request for this material was made on the 8th January, 1918, for the purpose of a barrage to be established at Dukato by the French Navy, who will complete the material.

          In agreement with the British authorities, the Italian Commander-in-Chief3 asked to be authorized to deliver this material and on the 12th January permission was granted by telegrams.

French-Italian Barrage

          Experiments are to be made on a length of 2 miles; only the necessary buoys are missing, owing to delay in the production. 100 buoys have been ordered in France. The first 50 are to be delivered in February.

          Except the buoys, Italy has now the material required for about 24 kilometers, i.e., the third of the barrage.

          If experiments are satisfactory, the British Admiralty will again consider the question of supplying the remaineder of material, ropes and nets.

          France will supply 250 buoys of 750 kilograms and Italy the same number.

Mines-Towing hawser

          It is intended to have 60; 30 are ready at Taranto and the material for the 30 remaining is in store at Toulen.

          Difficulties are arising in this connection, the British not being prepared to supply the drifters, and the Italians having no drifters. The question is to be settled by the Allied Naval Council.

Barrage Fano – Corfu.

          Material is entirely ready. Shipment has begun and mooring is to begin on the 15th January.

Removal of the Stationary Otranto Barrage.

          By letter of 3rd January, 1918, the Head of the French Mission at Taranto informed me that Admiral Cerri4 has made him acquainted with a proposal he has submitted to Rome. He would like to lengthen , with the material now collected, the mine-barrage of Cape Otranto by means of mine-nets moored not continuously, with all the material available the unseen gaps would not exceed half a mile.

          When established, this barrage will be doubled by the intended barrage between Fano and Santa Maria di Ineca.

          This scheme increases the quantity of material (nets,ropes,mines) necessary for the barrage.

          The question is also to be settled by the Allied Naval Council.

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Source Note: Sn:TCy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 415. This memorandum is undated, although someone wrote “Jan. 3, 1918” in pencil at the top of the page. This cannot be the case, however, since the document references letters written on 8 and 12 January. On 16 January, Ad. Sir Somerset Arthur Gough-Calthorpe, R.N., Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, sent a letter to the Admiralty containing a number of proposals for a mine barrage to block submarine access to the Mediterranean. This letter was very probably a part of that package. See, Halpern, Royal Navy in the Mediterranean: 367-368.

Footnote 1: The Ontranto Barrage was a blockade of Austro-Hungarian ports on the Mediterranean. It stretched from Brindisi, Italy, to Corfu, Greece.

Footnote 2: Taranto was the site of an Italian naval base.

Footnote 3: Italian Adm. Paolo Camillo Thaon, Marquess of Revel, Commander of Mobilized Naval Forces.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Vittorio Cerri, Italian Navy. The senior French naval officer at Taranto is unknown.

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