Beginning of The War
On 6 August 1914, an Anglo-French naval agreement was signed, giving France the leadership of naval operations in the Mediterranean. The remaining British Mediterranean forces, one armored cruiser, four light cruisers, and 16 destroyers were placed under the control of the French Mediterranean Fleet and both Gibraltar and Malta would be open as bases to the French.
One day after the French declaration of war against Austria-Hungary on 11 August, the French fleet—under Admiral Augustin Boué de Lapeyrère—entered Malta. He had orders to sail with all available French and British ships, pass into the Adriatic Sea and undertake whatever operation he thought best against an Austrian port. Lapeyrère decided to surprise the Austrian vessels enforcing a blockade of Montenegro. The main Allied force comprised the French battleships Courbet, Jean Bart, and the cruiser Julien De La Graviere. Two French squadrons of pre-dreadnoughts, two squadrons of cruisers, and five destroyer squadrons were held back in support. The British support group comprised two armored cruisers and three destroyer divisions. The Anglo-French force succeeded in cutting off and sinking the Austro-Hungarian light cruiser SMS Zenta off Bar on 16 August.
Throughout most of late August most of the action was simple bombardment of Serbian and Montenegrin troops by Austrian ships. On 9 August, the pre-dreadnought SMS Monarch shelled the French radio station at Budva, while the destroyer SMS Panther shelled Mount Lovcen. On 17 August, Monarch shelled a Montenegrin radio station off Bar, then another station off Volovica Point on 19 August. Meanwhile, a French squadron shelled Austrian troops on Prevlaka.
Both the French and the Austrians spent much of this time laying extensive minefields throughout the shallow waters of the Adriatic. Mostly this was done by destroyers, and at night. Several steamships ran afoul of these mines and either sunk or were damaged.
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