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Battle of Antivari 1914

16th August 1914 Battle of Antivari 1914  The Battle of Antivari was a naval engagement between the French, British and Austro-Hungarian navies at the start of World War I. The Austrian light cruiser SMS Zenta and the destroyer SMS Ulan were bombarding the town of Antivari, today known as Bar, when on 16 August 1914 they were cut off by a large Franco-British force that had sortied into the Adriatic. It was an attempt to bring the Austro-Hungarians into a fleet action. The two Austrian vessels at Antivari were cut off and forced to fight an engagement in order to attempt to free themselves. Although Zenta was destroyed, Ulan escaped and the Austrian fleet did not come out of port to meet the Allied fleet. After blockading the Adriatic for a while the French were forced to withdraw due to lack of supplies.


When war broke out between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Montenegro, the Austro-Hungarians began a blockade of the Montenegrin coast as well as several bombardments of the various towns and cities there. The French Navy had decided to try to force the Austro-Hungarian Navy into a decisive fleet action by making a sortie into the Adriatic and bait the Austrians into engaging them. The Allied force consisted of three dreadnought battleships, 10 pre-dreadnought battleships, four armoured cruisers, one protected cruiser and more than 20 destroyers.


The Allied Fleet managed to cut off Zenta and Ulan from escaping back to the main Austro-Hungarian fleet. Hopelessly outnumbered, the commander of Zenta decided to attempt to fight his way out and cover Ulan's escape. Zenta also had serious disadvantage as the range of her 120 mm cannons was too short, so they were not able to reach the enemy ships. The French battleships significantly outranged Zenta and so were able to score large numbers of hits without taking any damage themselves. Eventually, Zenta was sunk with 173 men killed and over 50 wounded, but allowing enough time for Ulan to make good her escape.


Despite Zenta being cut off, the main body of the Austro-Hungarian fleet did not sortie out to do battle as the French had hoped. The French fleet did not have the logistical support to remain in the Adriatic for very long and so were forced to return to Malta periodically to resupply.

Order of Battle

    French Navy
  • Courbet, dreadnought battleship, flagship
  • Jean Bart, dreadnought battleship
  • 1st Battle squadron Voltaire, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Vergniaud, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Diderot, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Danton, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Condorcet, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Vérité, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Justice, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Démocratie, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Patrie, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • République, pre-dreadnought battleship
  • Victor Hugo, armoured cruiser
  • Jules Ferry, armoured cruiser
  • Jurien de la Gravière, protected cruiser
  • 5 destroyer squadrons Royal Navy
  • HMS Warrior, armoured cruiser
  • HMS Defence, armoured cruiser
  • 3 destroyer divisions Austro-Hungarian Navy
  • SMS Zenta, light cruiser, flagship
  • SMS Ulan, destroyer

John Doran

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