HMHS BRITANNIC SINKS – REAL TIME DOCUMENTARY

HMHS BRITANNIC SINKS – REAL TIME DOCUMENTARY


8:07 am. 21st of November, 1916. His Majesty’s
Hospital Ship Britannic is sailing to the British sea base of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea,
where it would take on board thousands of wounded soldiers from the allied campaigns
against Turkey in the First World War. She sails from Naples, Italy, on a scheduled round
trip of two weeks from Southampton. The Britannic is the third and final ship of the Olympic
class; the youngest sister of the RMS Olympic and the infamous RMS Titanic. Increased competition among transatlantic
liners and great expectations from passengers, led designers to make significant changes
to her accommodations. This would set Britannic’s design apart from her two older sisters. Third
Class was given new entrances. Second Class would be given the luxury of their very own
gymnasium. First Class passengers would enjoy many new improvements. These included a larger
A La Carte Restaurant and new Reception Room on B Deck, where the elite passengers would
dine in unparalleled style. A Playroom, where children could play instead of using one of
the Palm Courts like on Olympic and Titanic. A lady’s hair dresser salon, in addition
to the barber shop. New sitting rooms were added on C-Deck, as a result of the Parlor
Suites having proved so popular on Olympic and Titanic. Keeping up with transient expectations,
First Class would see the addition of many private bathrooms and washrooms for cabins.
Although basic on Olympic and Titanic, the swimming pool on Britannic was to be completely
redecorated to keep up with the trend of sumptuous swimming baths on German liners. Even the
already luxurious spaces such as the Grand Staircase were also improved. The Boat and
A Deck Entrances were modified to accommodate a Welt Pipe Organ. Ultimately, this musical
instrument was never installed, but it still survives today. The decorated wrought iron
panels designed to conceal the pipes on the organ were eventually auctioned off in London
after the war. Many of Britannic’s luxurious fittings were never installed due to the conversion
to a hospital ship in 1915. These were sold off in three separate auctions in London and
Belfast in 1919. When the First World War broke out, construction
of the Britannic was placed on the backburner. Harland and Wolff, the builders, shifted their
work towards the war effort. The allied invasion of Gallipoli showed that the British Admiralty
would need larger ships to transport their wounded home from the far off battlefields
of the Mediterranean. The Cunard ocean liners Mauritania and Aquitania were requisitioned
into troop ships. This was also done with the White Star Liner Olympic, the first sister
of the Britannic. Finally, the war office decided to pay for the finalization of White
Star’s Britannic under the condition that it would be used as a hospital ship for the
duration of the war. After the war ends, the ship would be scheduled to return to the hands
of the White Star Line. Over 3,300 bunks were installed on Britannic
to accommodate the patients. The ship was painted white with a green band broken by
red crosses: the internationally recognized designation for a hospital ship. Both sides
of the war had hospital ships under these markings, and both sides of the war agreed
to care for whatever wounded they could. Therefore, it was understood that neither side should
attack a hospital ship of any nationality. Prior to Britannic’s voyage, the German
submarine U-73 had laid two mine barriers in the Kea Channel, totaling approximately
12 mines. Now, mines are indiscriminate killers. Mines were not meant to target a hospital
ship like Britannic, but rather it was laid where the Germans thought they would interdict
British naval traffic going into and out of Greek ports. “My name is Cpl. Jack Waugh, of the Royal
Army Medical Corps. I had just finished breakfast and had come up on deck. I sat down on the
hatchway while one of our chaplains with his map out was showing us different places of
interest on the nearby shorelines.” When Britannic hit one of the contact fuses
on the mine, the mine detonated. The resulting explosion created an expanding
gas bubble, lifting Britannic’s bow with it. It twisted Britannic’s hull a bit; slightly
warped her frame, which resulted in the Watertight Doors in Boiler Room 6 and 5 becoming jammed
in their tracks in the full open position. “At breakfast, a muffled explosion rang
out from the lower decks. The ship vibrated more than it shook. The vibrations passed
us, smashing the furniture and windows and echoed off into the distance. Moments later,
the vibrations echoed back, smashing more glass and crockery around us. These vibrations
reverberated from one end of the ship to the other for over a full minute. Nurse Ada Garland, Voluntary Aid Detachment.” “I had just had my bath and was now shaving
in my cabin – which was about 10 yards distant from the point of contact. I was thrown very
forcibly across the cabin with sundry articles of gear on top of me. The boat lifted twice
and everything seemed to dance, and the fumes from the explosions temporarily blinded me. Fifth Officer Gordon Fielding.” “Some were killed by the explosion itself.
In the stewards’ quarters, the bunks fell down on top of the men, and everything collapsed,
while I believe the emergency stairs were blown away. The water ran in in great volumes
in the forward compartments. The fumes in the alleyways were something stifling- not
sulfurous, but something poisonous and unearthy. Assistant Chief Engineer Joseph Wolfe.” “My first impression was that we had hit
a mine and that would probably be safe. I gave orders to clear the lifeboats and have
them made ready to be sent away should it necessitate. Captain Charles Bartlett. 21st of November,
1916” Captain Charles Bartlett came onto the bridge
still wearing his pajamas. His first orders were to sound the emergency quarters alarm
and to close the watertight doors. He wasn’t aware at that point that the forward
doors were jammed in the open position. He ordered the engines to stop and the lifeboats
be swung out and readied for lowering. At the same time, he gave the order to the wireless
telegraph operators to send out an SOS call for distress. “I ordered the sending out of the SOS signal
by wireless, but we were not receiving any replies whatsoever. We were for a while under
the impression that the apparatus was down all-together, but they continued sending the
messages out regardless of response.” What the wireless operator didn’t know was
that the explosion had caused Britannic’s hull to flex a bit, whipping the foremast,
and breaking some of the connections to the wireless aerial strung between the masts and
the transmitter in the ship’s silent room. What this meant was that Britannic could still
send out and SOS message, but she could not receive any reply. “I was on the bridge waiting for orders.
My heart was in my mouth, but when I saw the captain standing there, cool and quiet, I
thought to myself it’s all right, and felt a deal more comfortable, and I went to the
locker and got out the captain’s megaphone according to orders, and I stood alongside
the captain on the bridge to see if he had any orders for me. The ship seemed to be leaning
a bit to the starboard side and she still seemed to be going ahead a little. Second Freemantle Scout Troop Patrol Leader
James Vickers.” “I permitted my staff to return to their
cabins, so long as it was done with haste. We’re all too familiar with the dangers
of ships sinking; the Lusitania was only a year ago and the Titanic was only three years
ago. Nurse Matron of the HMHS Britannic Miss Elizabeth
Anne Dowse.” “As we were walking out of the saloon the
signal went and blasts rang out from the siren; not until then would I believe that there
was any danger. I distinctly remember, as we quietly walked down the beautiful marble
staircase and along the long corridor; where the sun streamed in the portholes lighting
up all our lovely cabins, this was goodbye to everything. Our ship was sinking. How fast,
we didn’t know. Nurse Ada Garland, Voluntary Aid Detachment.” As the conditions of the situation continue
to deteriorate, the captain realizes that his ship is in serious trouble. The Greek
Island of Kea looms only a couple of miles in the distance. Captain Bartlett orders a
turn towards it in an effort to beach the ship. If the Britannic can be beached, a dangerous
evacuation would be avoided and the ship could possibly be salvaged. The crew immediately began to uncover and
swing out the boats. Britannic’s 55 lifeboats were arranged on the deck and numbered much
differently than on Titanic. On the forward starboard side were boats 1A through 1C, consisting
of large 34 foot rowboats. Amidships in single-acting davits, were twelve 30-foot boats, as well
as 12 collapsible boats similar to those found on Titanic. These were numbered 2 to 2a thru
13 to 13a respectively. The middle set of gantry davits held 12 more
34 foot boats: 14a thru 14f and 15a thru 15f. The after-most gantry davits held 10 34 foot
boats and two 34′ thornycraft motorboats. These were numbered 16a thru 16f and 17a thru
17f. Aft on the Shade Deck, where originally two
more gantry davits were designed to be installed, here Welin davits held 2 30 foot boats and
2 collapsibles, 18, 18a, 19 and 19a. At the end of the sinking, of the 55 boats on board,
only 35 boats would be launched. The
first boat to leave the Britannic left at 8:20 am. A group of frightened firemen swung
the boat out and climbed aboard themselves, lowering the boat with only a handful on board,
despite its capacity of around 65. However, Assistant Commander to the Britannic Captain
Dyke ordered the boat to rescue people as they jumped overboard, so these seats were
not entirely wasted. “Immediately I swung out two boats which
we promptly rushed by the stewards followed by my working crew of about a dozen sailors.
As this was only a sudden panic, I was able to persuade them to get back to their positions.
I must say that my sailors were wonderful after this first panic, and not one offered
to leave the ship before receiving his orders. Fifth Officer Gordon Fielding.”
“After a certain interval, the steering gear having apparently failed, I turned the
ship to port to head for land under her own steam. I had tried compensating for our jammed
rudder by running the engines on one side of the ship harder than the other.” The ship begins to lose control as the helmsman
reports steering failure. For one reason or another, the steering gears no longer respond.
The captain tries to use the propellers to steer the ship; using higher power on the
port side that would turn the ship slowly to starboard: towards Kea. “I snatched up my coat, rug, and lifebelt
and commenced along the corridor to the wards to see if help was needed with the patients.
It was a terrible sight, men who could barely walk struggling to climb the stairs. The screams
and shouts could be heard all over the ship as the badly injured were being moved. We
all helped until the very last minute when we heard the cry of our dear brave matron
saying, ‘hurry up, my dear children!’ Nurse Ada Garland.” “I broke off from the group and entered
my cabin. I indulged in a few bites as I pocketed my possessions. A ring my friend had given
me and my clock, of course. This clock was the most precious gift a friend had given
me. Then there was my prayer book and my toothbrush. The latter was because I complained about
not being able to acquire a toothbrush while on board the Carpathia after the sinking of
the Titanic. I was now experienced with surviving shipwrecks. One might even call me an expert.
I was advising people that they should wear their coats over their lifejackets and not
the other way around. Should they find themselves in the water, they will need to drop off their
coats, which becomes harder when the lifebelt is over it. Despite my frequent advice, I
found myself having accidentally done the opposite.” “Most of us put on our coats and all took
our lifejackets and started for the boat deck, when part way up the emergency exit, an officer
hailed us with “you better hurry up ladies”. Then we knew there was more cause to hurry
than we thought and as soon as we got on top we realized that something dreadful had happened.” Panic was beginning to spread around the people
idling on the decks. Fresh in their minds were the sinkings of Titanic and Lusitania.
Within only the first few minutes of the explosion, the ship took on a noticeable slant towards
the bow and a list to starboard. This only increased the panic. Instead of waiting for
orders, a handful of lifeboats were launched without authorization from the overseeing
officer. Some of the boats cleared the sinking ship, but not all. “The ship had taken on a heavy list to starboard;
then she began to dip heavily forward. The RAMC were paraded on deck and I am proud to
say that anyone would have taken it for an ordinary everyday parade; everyone was as
calm and as collected as it was possible to be. I never thought for a moment that she
would go down as sharp as she did. Cpl. Jack Waugh. Royal Army Medical Corps.” The first ship to receive Britannic’s distress
calls was the destroyer HMS Scourge. The Naval Auxiliary HMS Heroic also received Britannic’s
distress call. The responded to it, saying that they were steaming to the rescue, but
Britannic’s wireless operator never received the message. “And as we were being lowered we were almost
thrown out by the boat catching the side. However, we eventually reached the water. The propellers were now on water level, and
several of the boats were drawn in the whirlpool. The boat I was in, directly the pulleys were
taken off, was drawn right to the propellers, and then came the decisive moment of my life. I could not swim, yet as I looked and saw
men being cut up by those terrible blades, I made a quick decision. My chum could swim,
so he dived over the side. I looked after him; we were now almost to the blades, so
I jumped into the sea as well. The blades were beating the boats down, and
the wreckage was keeping me under and I could not rise, try as I would. How long this went
on I don’t know, but to me it was terribly long; and I had ceased to struggle, never
expecting to come out alive, as I was almost gone. I remember my thoughts then were these: his
is the end. What a death. I saw my dear wife and dear little children as plainly as if
they were standing before me. Then, as if by magic, I caugh a breath of fresh air. Cpl. Jack Waugh. Royal Army Medical Corps.” “My name is Henry Pope; I’m a 15-year-old
sea scout. There wasn’t any excitement, as everyone knew their boat stations and went
to them without stopping to look for their kits. The sea scouts on the lifts worked them
for as long as they could, but the ship soon listed so much to starboard that they had
to give up and go up to the boats.” “I had lowered two of them down to about
6 feet above the waterline. In spite of the curses of the men in the boats, I kept them
there until definite orders from the bridge to launch the boats. Fifth Officer Gordon Fielding” “We didn’t have much success getting away
from the ship’s side. The Britannic was still pushing forward under her own steam. Suddenly, all the men in the boats began leaping
into the sea. No shouts- just splashes as they leapt for it. Within moments, I found
myself to be the only occupant of these lifeboats, but it didn’t take me long to find out the
reason. Britannic’s huge propellers were churning
and mincing up everything near them- men, boats, and everything were just one ghastly
whirl. I turned to leap into the sea, but I hesitated.
I forced myself into the water, but was unable to swim. Then hit on the head repeatedly by something
solid. I believe it was either a piece of a boat or the propeller itself. It hit me
three times on the head. Terrible blows that made my brain rattle, but fortunately it hit
me where my hair was the thickest. An arm grabbed me and pulled me to the surface.
It gripped me and moved as mine did. I grabbed it back as I surfaced, but to my horror found
that it was merely a severed arm and part of a torso. As the great white liner steamed
away from me, I saw to my horror a severed head to my left, floating, despite having
been cracked open like a sheep’s head severed by a butcher. Wreckage of every sort was everywhere
as the ship slowly ploughed into the distance.” “The men in my boats, still hanging on the
falls 6 feet above the water witnessed this disaster, and I must say they ceased cursing
about not being released.“ “I saw that boat with its poor, pathetic
crew get dragged into the churning propellers. I suppose I was shaken to the core, but I
could not show this. If I dared reveal fear, it would spread like a brush fire on the veldt.
I sat there, emotionless, for what emotion could I have expressed if not fear and sorrow? Nurse Matron Miss Elizabeth Anne Dowse.” “Water began flooding the forward holds
rapidly and water was reported in the Numbers 5 and 6 boiler rooms, so I stopped the engines
and ordered all boats possible to be sent away, but to stand by close to the ship.” “Two lifeboats were smashed to splinters
by the propeller blades, but the blades stopped briefly just before a third boat came into
their death grip. Three men stayed in the boat and pushed against the blades to move
the boat away. Lt. Col. Henry Stewart Anderson, Royal Army
Medical Corps.” “Having climbed into our lifeboat we were
lowered away only to discover halfway down that the plug wasn’t in the bottom of our
boat. There we were suspended in mid air whilst that important item was found. Down we were
lowered again. It took some time before we managed to get away from the tremendous structure
of the boat.” “I know that women can be brave, but I never
dreamed they could rise to such heights of cool, unflinching courage as those nurses
did when under Miss Dowse, the matron, they lined up on deck like so many soldiers, and
unconcernedly and calmly waited their turn to enter the boats. We men are proud of them,
and we can only hope England will hear of their courage. They were magnificent.” Britannic glided to a stop with the propellers
lifting out of the water as the bow sank deeper into the sea. The forward port lifeboat davit,
a standard Welin davit, became inoperable due to increasing starboard list. 3 boats
are launched in quick succession from the aft port gantry davit, which could accommodate
more of a list than the standard Welin davits. “With the forward lifeboat gantries out
of commission, I moved aft and successfully launched another fully loaded boat. I then
hooked on the five-ton motor launch when the First Officer came up saying he had orders
from the Captain to leave in this boat and to take charge and pick up any survivors from
the smashed boats. As this officer had been nearly drowned in the wreck of the Arabic,
he was somewhat excited and urgent.” “The second alarm was sounded and Captain
Bartlett told me to go and get into my boat. I walked along the boat deck to my boat and
the first officer told me to get into the motor launch, which was soon being lowered.
I got in and in doing so, my foot got jammed between the side of the ship and the motor
launch.” “I filled the motor launch with thirty RAMC
and two or three sailors and launched it under the charge of the First Officer.” “My boat was lowered to the water. 4 oars
and four men to each oar. We pulled for our lives to clear the suction. While pulling
away something hit me on my left eye; but did not take much notice at the time. Blood
began running down my face. After we got clear of the danger of the ship, we started to rescue
our comrades that was in the water. We had no one to man our boats, so we carried on
ourselves. We had pulled one out of the water and giving
him treatment, we saw another that was nearly dead, so we pulled towards him. On reaching
him, we tried to pull him into our boat. But we failed as our boat had so many people in
it; it overturned and we were in distress. Pvt. Samuel Edwin Williams. Royal Army Medical
Corps” Because of the heat of a buttoned up steamship,
even in November, the medical staff, against all operating procedures in a war zone, opened
the portholes to allow ventilation; to get some fresh air to circulate throughout the
ship before the wounded were brought on board. But this meant that as the water reached the
portholes of E Deck, those portholes now gave the water multiple entries into the hull.
The flooding of the ship now intensifies. “I rounded up another boat with 75 men,
mostly RAMC’s. As the Britannic was now very badly listing to starboard and we were
on the high side, we had much difficulty in getting this boat away. She nearly capsized
a few times before she cleared the ship. It was now impossible to launch any more boats
from the port side.” “The ship seemed to stop settling a little;
she gave me hope that she had stabilized herself. I passed word to stop lowering the boats as
we again attempted to work the ship towards land.” “At this point, I had about six sailors
and 30 RAMC’s who were said in the next boat calmly waiting for me to put them in
the water. They didn’t realize it was impossible. With this crowd, I went to Britannic’s midship
island and we threw overboard to starboard all the collapsible rafts and deck chairs
we could find. This was the first time I had thought I might have a chance at saving my
own life. A little bit of hope that I felt. I can’t explain it.” When the starboard list reached 10 degrees,
launching of port boats from even the gantry davits was no longer possible. Crews on that
side gave up trying to lower boats and began throwing deck chairs and liferafts into the
water below. And despite the growing list, it seemed to the crew on board that the rate
at which Britannic was sinking had slowed, so Captain Bartlett ordered the lifeboat launching
to be paused and the engines started again in attempt to reach Kea Island. “I saw the Sixth Officer struggling to get
his boat in the water at one of the lower points of the ship. I got some rather nasty
rope burn as we tried maneuvering this boat by the ropes. We almost lifted this boat over
the side. I put in all the remaining men with the Sixth Officer and kept two or three with
me to manage the control breaks during launching. Once the boat was in the water, the two men
and I slithered ourselves down the rope and into the boat.” The forward motion of the ship only dug the
bow deeper under water. Water was reported to be flooding the vessel at a record rate,
so the captain ordered the Britannic to stop for one final time. “I gave the order for all to leave the ship,
passing word to the engine room and blowing the whistle for the last alarm; the abandon
ship signal. Two long blasts of the whistle.” “She seemed just like a pitiful, dumb animal
tortured, her sirens blasting for help up to the last.” “Captain C. A. Bartlett, the commander of
the Britannic, stayed on the bridge giving orders to the officers through his speaking
megaphone as the ship was going down under his feet. He’d not leave until the water
lapped over him.” “The ship was sinking very quickly then,
going by the head and listing to starboard and soon the water came to the bridge. Assistant
Commander Dyke having reported to me that all had left the ship. I told him to leave,
and shortly after I followed him. We barely left the bridge; walking into the water by
the forward boat gantry on the starboard side. The funnels fell just moments later.” “One of the Quartermasters had gone below
early in the sinking to find supplies of bread from the ship’s pantries to stock the lifeboats.
He came out onto the deck to find the bridge submerged and the ship rapidly dropping in
the water. He dropped the bread and leapt into the sea, with mere seconds to spare before
the vessel had disappeared.” “When we reached the deck, the foremost
of the four funnels was touching the water and the bows were completely submerged. We jumped eighty feet into the sea from the
Second Class quarters on C Deck and after swimming clear, we watched the awesome sight
of the mighty liner sinking. Assistant Chief Engineer Joseph Wolfe.” “It was indeed sad to watch our ship, slowly
but surely sinking. We could hear her boilers rumbling off like thunder under the water
and her immense funnels, through which one could have driven a coach-and-four, were ripped
up with as little difficulty as we should have in tearing a piece of paper.” “As she sank in only 480 feet of water and
the ship sank almost vertical and was 890 feet long, she touched the bottom.” “I had supervised over the construction
and launch of the Britannic; I skippered her, and I watched her founder. To have been able
to witness a vessel her whole life from birth to death is surely a unique circumstance. Captain Charles Bartlett, HMHS Britannic.
21st of November, 1916.” His Majesty’s Hospital Ship Britannic sank
in 55 minutes; three times the time it took for the Lusitania to sink, but one third of
the time it took the Titanic to go down. Out of 1,066 souls on board, there were only 30
casualties in the sinking; far fewer than most other shipwrecks of this size. 21 were
members of the crew, and 9 were members of the Royal Army Medical Corps. Britannic remains
the largest passenger shipwreck on the ocean floor.

98 thoughts on “HMHS BRITANNIC SINKS – REAL TIME DOCUMENTARY

  1. So the Germans didn’t want to sink the Britannic.The captain ran into their mine. I hope the Germans apologized. Who’s fault?
    Germans = like
    Britannic’s captain = comment.
    I’m not begging. This is YouTube’s vote system.

  2. Hey @titanic honor and glory. Are these the real people on the britannic? By now they would be pretty old, or are they voice actors.

  3. I watched this guy's Titanic Sinking in Real Time vid without skipping to the end, now i'm going to watch this whole vid without skipping to the end.

  4. Honestly, knowing they were sailing through enemy waters in a time of war, why were the watertight doors not already closed in case of just this scenario or torpedo attack?

  5. Wait. WHAT? The britannic was supposed to have a 2nd class gym, a 1st class playroom, a new reception room on B deck beside a larger a la carte restaurant and a woman's hairdresser salon? where were these places supposed to be?!? (I also heard there was a new millionaire's suite on A deck and the lounge and the smoking rooms were reversed, as in the bookcase in the lounge was now in the front of it and the painting in the smoking room was now in front of it and that the britannic had a pipe organ in the grand staircase. are these also true?)

  6. Obviously I wasn’t there, clearly, nor a naval captain, but why would you just not point the ship towards shore from the very beginning?

  7. I swear people on ships are retarded in this case I would have turned the ship at once towards the island in reverse . then I would have started dropping life rafts with a couple crew members to row as the ship is sinking I am sure you could drift a couple miles to beach the pig.

  8. Well as orderly as this was compared to the Titanic, the effects of not following orders can still be seen in this wreck. First before impact, the nurses had left ward portholes to ventilate the rooms despite standing orders not to do so which resulted in flooding of those rooms when the explosion occurred. Second they lowered the life boats before given orders to do so and folks were chopped up in the propellers as a result. Hopefully navy folks have been taught/disciplined better since then.

    Thanks for the video. It was neat hearing the testimonies alongside the animation.

  9. Imagine getting treated on a hospital ship after barely escaping combat with your life only to just get blown up inside a hospital

  10. So near and yet so far from the safety of beaching her in shallow water. This was pure bad luck: everything went wrong and capt bartlett was literally between a rock and a hard place. So harrowing to watch her founder helplessly within sight of land

  11. i like how this one has a more realistic feel, such as the water reactions to the crashing. but it doesn’t give off the horrific feel that the titanic one had

  12. No wrong after the titanic sunk in 1912 Britanic was put into service and before both ships were build the Olympic was built and called the Olympic class liners and titanic sunk first the Britanic second and the rms Olympic survived 24 years and was the last Olympic class liner then sunk by a u bout or something Idk.

  13. So awkward to read English comments where people are referring to the Olympic, Britannic, and Titanic as She, and not as He. LOL.

  14. Hospital powww papaw deck deck doctor deck dog howl awwo fox bark bark stern yaaayaaayaayayayayaya gun pow pow pow

  15. 9:15 I swear to god that is spammals, please correct me if I’m wrong but I watch spammals and I know he like honour and glory

  16. I am interested in the upcoming game, but can’t help but worry about the voice acting on the basis of this video. Couldn’t you have found any actual Brits to do the voiceover? It seems odd that you would go to the lengths you have to produce these incredible animations and then shatter that realism by casting people with atrocious accents. Hopefully this is not the case with the final game.

  17. Why is the 4th funnel stained with smoke given that it was (if I'm not wrong) just for looks and ventilation?

  18. My granduncle was on the white star line ship the RMS Adriatic in 1908 emigrating to America, that ship was the last ship commissioned before Britannic I believe. Captain Smith was the Adriatic's captain up until a few years before that, he went down with the Titanic.

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