Battle of the Strait of Otranto, Raid on the Drifters 14–15 May 1917

Battle of the Strait of Otranto, Raid on the Drifters 14–15 May 1917

The 1917 Battle of the Strait of Otranto was the result of an Austro-Hungarian raid on the Otranto Barrage, an Allied naval blockade of the Strait of Otranto. The blockade was conducted by lightly armed former fishing drifters laying and monitoring submarine nets with larger Allied Naval ships in support. The Austro-Hungarian Navy raided the Otranto Barrage with a force of three light cruisers, plus diversionary forces and submarines in support. It was an attempt to break the barrier to allow U-boats freer access to the Mediterranean, and Allied shipping. The three Austro-Hungarian cruisers: Novara, Saida, and Helgoland, modified to resemble large British destroyers, were to attack the drifters on the night of 14 May and attempt to destroy as many as possible before daybreak. Three Allied Navies were operating in the area, the Italian, French and British, an Italian convoy was sunk by the diversionary destroyers and the cruisers at 03:30 began attacking the small barrage ships. The Austro-Hungarians frequently gave the drifter crews warning to abandon ship before opening fire. In some instances, the drifter crews chose to fight, the "Gowan Lee" returned fire on the Austo-Hungarian ships. The ship was heavily damaged, but remained afloat; her skipper, Joseph Watt, was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the battle. There were 47 drifters in Barrage on the night of 14 May; the Austro-Hungarians managed to sink 14 drifters and damage four more. After the raid the Austro-Hungarian Cruisers were pursued by the Allies, HMS Dartmouth traded shots and caused damage but was torpedoed by a U-boat. The French destroyer Boutefeu was sunk by a mine while in pursuit. This community is an attempt to identify as many members of the Navy, mainly of the Royal Naval Reserve who were involved in the Otranto Barrage. I have complied it from those listed as killed, injured or captured as well as those awarded gallantry medals or mentioned in dispatches.

Created by: Fife3190

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  • Born 1893

    Royal Navy Clyde Z/2874 Ordinary Seaman Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

    Royal Navy 2413/TS Engineman Royal Naval Reserve

    Royal Navy Z/2874 Ordinary Seaman Royal Naval Division

  • Born 1894

    Died 1917

    Royal Navy ES 2923 Engineman Royal Naval Reserve

    Royal Navy 2923ES Engineman Royal Naval Reserve - H.M. Drifter "Quarry Knowe."

  • Born 1888

    Died 1917

    Royal Navy DA 6102 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

    Royal Navy 6102/DA Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve - H.M. Drifter "Transit."

  • Born 1890

    Royal Navy SD 3338 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1892

    Royal Navy SA 1165 Second Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1875

    Royal Navy DA 5523 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1886

    Royal Navy DA 9082 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1896

    Royal Navy ES 2033 Engineman Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1897

    Royal Navy SD 3227 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Profile picture for Alexander Stables

    Born 1886

    Died 1954

    Royal Navy TS 4200 Engineman Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1891

    Royal Navy DA 3980 Second Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1887

    Royal Navy TS 2039 Engineman Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1881

    Royal Navy SA 2273 Second Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1897

    Royal Navy DA 8637 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1888

    Royal Navy DA 873 Engineman Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1888

    Royal Navy SA 1818 Second Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1890

    Royal Navy SA 1614 Second Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1898

    Royal Navy DA 11945 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1896

    Royal Navy DA 6657 Deck Hand Royal Naval Reserve

  • Born 1888

    Royal Navy SA 1627 Second Hand Royal Naval Reserve