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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Naval History of the War

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"NAVAL HISTORY OF THE WAR. - The tornado of war which broke upon the world in 191 4 found the British navy at its post and ready for action. A review of all the seaworthy vessels of the fleet had taken the place of the customary annual manoeuvres, and by July 23 the ships had already begun to disperse. By the 26th the whole outlook had grown dark. The German Emperor was hastening back to Berlin, and Admiralty orders were sent by the First Sea Lord (Adml. Prince Louis of Battenberg') to Adml. Sir George Callaghan to remain with his First Fleet at Portland, and to the ships of the Second Fleet to be ready near their crews at their home ports. Squadrons abroad were warned of the political tension, and on the 27th the commander-in-chief Mediterranean was told to concentrate at Malta. On the 28th Austria issued her declaration of war, and orders went out at S P.M. for the First Fleet to leave for its war base at Scapa Flow. It sailed at 7 A.M. on the 29th.

The British fleet at the time consisted of the Home Fleet and the squadrons on the various stations abroad (Mediterranean, East Indies, China, Australia, Cape, N. America and West Indies and S.E. coast of America), but the bulk of it was to be found in the Home Fleet. This fleet was divided into three categories in three successive stages of efficiency. The First Fleet (to be designated the Grand Fleet) comprised all the newest ships fully manned, and in permanent commission. The Second Fleet consisted of older but still efficient battleships and cruisers with nucleus crews amounting to two-fifths of their complement aboard. Last of all came the Third Fleet, a rather motley collection of obsolescent but serviceable ships in the basins of our naval ports with only a small " care and maintenance " party aboard. The constitution of these fleets is summarized in Table A, and it will be seen that practically the whole of the " dreadnought " strength of the fleet was concentrated in Home Waters.

Tables A and B shown in terms of units were the two forces 1 Later created Marquess of Milford Haven (d. 1921). This last service to Great Britain by one who had always been a fine naval officer was never forgotten, although he retired soon after rather than allow his German origin to compromise his position.

-

Dr,

Pre-Dr.

B.Cs.

Cr.

L.Cs.

T.B.D.

T B l Bs

S/ms.

Fleet

Sweep-

ers

First Fleet.

Adml. Sir George Callaghan, then Adml. Sir John

Jellicoe. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th B.S.

19

8

..

4

9

1st B.C.S., 2nd C.S., 3rd C.S., 1st L.C.S.

..

4

8

6

Loth C.S. (from Third Fleet) .

..

8

Flotillas 2nd and 4th

2

40

16

Harwich Force.

Commodore (T) Reginald Tyrwhitt .

Flotillas 1st and 3r

..

..

2

40

*

Second Fleet (Channel).

Vice-Adml. Sir C. Burney

5th B.S., 6th B.S.. ... .

..

1

..

3

2

..

(5th C.S. to Trade Routes

..

. .

(6th C.S. to First Fleet)

Third Fleet.

Vice-Adml. Sir A. Bethel

..

..

..

..

..

7th and 8th B.S

. .

(6th, 7th, 9th, nth, 12th C.S. to Trade

Routes)

1

(loth C.S. to First Fleet). ... .

.

(8th C.S. not constituted

. .

Patrol Flotillas.

(Coastal Areas)

Admiral Patrols.

Rear-Adml. Ballard

Flotillas 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th. ... .

.

..

..

..

8

73

23


S/m Flotillas Commodore (S

..

Roger Keyes 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9t

..

old 31

S/m Flotillas 6th and 8t

..

..

new 23

C. in C. Home Ports

78

Cruiser Squadrons (Trade).

5th (Cruiser Force D) (South Atlantic) Rear-

Adml. A. P. Stoddar

..

4

6th (Escorts various

..

4

7th (Cruiser Force C) (Narrows) Rear-Adml.

A. H. Christian

5

..

..

..

9th (Cruiser Force I) (Finisterre) Rear-Adml.

J. M. De Robeck .

.

..

..

6

..

..

..

11th (Cruiser Force E) (West of Ireland) Rear-

Adml. R. S. P. Hornby .

.

..

..

5

..

..

..

12th (Cruiser Force G) (Soundings) Rear-Adml.

Rosslyn Wemyss

4

Squadrons Abroad.

Mediterranean (Vice-Adml. Sir Berkeley Milne)

2nd B.C.S., 1st C.S., 5th Flotilla .

..

..

3

4

4

16

..

. .

North America and West Indies (Rear-Adml. Sir

Chris. Cradock) 4th C.S. (Cruiser Force H) .

.

..

..

4

I

..

..


China (Vice-Adml. Sir Thos. Jerram). .

..

..

2

2

8

..

.

East Indies (Rear-Adml. R. H. Peirse) .

..

..

2

I

..

..

..

..

Cape (Rear-Adml. H. G. King-Hall)

3

..

..

..

Australia (Rear-Adml. Sir G. Patey). .

.

..

1

I

2

3

..

..

S.E. Coast America

1

..

Table A. Disposition of British Fleet, Aug. 1914. *Three battleships to Grand Fleet as " Minebumpers ' on 7/8/17.6th B.S. ceased to exist 8/8/17, and 7th was merged with 8th, leaving Channel Fleet composed of 5th and 8th B.S.

Dr. Pre-Dr. B.Cs. Cr. L.Cs. D. S/ms.

thigh Sea Fleet.

Adml. von Ingenohl

1st, 2nd, 3rd Squadrons 13 8. .

1st Scouting Group 3... .

Cruisers.. .. .. ... .. .. .. .. 7

Flotillas I to 7. .. .. .. .. .. ..




77

Submarines. .. .. .. .. ... .. ...

.

,

old 18

new Io

Reserve.. .. .. .. .. .. .. 14 I 5 20 86 ..

Mediterranean

(Adml. Souchon). .. .. .. .. ... .. I .. I .. ..

Ost Asiatische

(Adml. von Spee). .. .. .. .. ... .. .. 2 3 ..

West Indies. .2

.. ... .... .. .. ..

Table B. Disposition of German Fleet. ranged against one another across the North Sea. In terms of gun-power the British fleet was decidedly superior; 13 of the British dreadnoughts were armed with 13.5 guns and the others with 12 in., while the Germans had 12-in. guns in only nine of their ships and II in. in the remainder.

On July 29, the day that the British Home (or First) Fleet left for the north, the First Lord (Mr. Winston Churchill) pressed the Cabinet for the initiation of the Precautionary Period, and the warning telegram went out to all squadrons abroad. By Aug. 1 the tension had increased. Germany had issued her ultimatum to Russia and had declared Kriegsgefahr. In Hamburg British ships were being detained. Immediately this news arrived the Admiralty issued orders at 2:15 P.M. to act on the instructions for mobilization, but the reserves were not yet called out. Late that night the news came in that Germany had declared war on Russia, and at 1:25 A.M. on Aug. 2 the Admiralty issued the order to mobilize. By 4 A.M. on Aug. 3 the whole fleet stood mobilized and ready for action.

The German mobilization had taken a somewhat different course. Arrangements had been made for the fleet' to visit various ports in Norway, but on July 15, when the cruise commenced, the German Admiral Staff was already beginning to doubt the wisdom of its continuance. By July 23 the Kaiser had adopted the view that the fleet should be recalled, but the Chancellor was 10th to do anything to aggravate the current tension and proposed to wait and see what England did. But no sooner had Adml. von Ingenohl anchored in Sogniefiord on July 25 and opened his mails than he became deeply impressed with the gravity of the situation. He went straight to the Kaiser and persuaded him to let the fleet sail for its home ports. It got under way on the 26th, and at 7 P.M. on July 27 had assembled off Stavanger. On the 30th the German ambassador at St. James's sent word that Sir Edward Grey had told him that the British fleet had sailed for the north of Scotland. Strained relations were notified to all commanders-in-chief that day, and on the 3 ist at 5 P.M. the telegram for Kriegsgefahr (Precautionary Period) went out. Everything was now hastening downhill. War was declared with Russia on Aug. 1. The 2nd and 3rd Squadrons came round from Kiel to the North Sea the same day and at 8 P.M. that evening the order to mobilize went out.

One important step had not been taken. The German Admiral Staff had asked for orders to be issued for armed merchantmen to proceed to the trade routes, but the Chancellor had demurred and only one proceeded to sea. Before any more could sail the British Grand Fleet was at its post and actually put to sea on the morning of Aug. 4 to circumvent movements of this sort.

Its old commander, Adml. Sir George Callaghan, was no longer with it. It was thought that a younger commander was required to face the heavy responsibilities of war. By 8:30 A.M. Sir George Callaghan had struck his flag, and the fleet put to sea on Aug. 4 under its new commander, Sir John Jellicoe. That night at II P.M. the eventful order went out to all ships and squadrons " Commence hostilities at once against Germany." The Grand Fleet, for so it was to be designated, was already at sea engaged in a sweep to the south-east. These sweeps were an essential feature of the British war plans, which were primarily based on the concentration of the main fleet in the north to guard the northern exit of the North Sea. The closure of the southern exit was to be effected by flotillas supported by older squadrons and by the use of mines.

By its mere concentration at the outlets of the North Sea the British fleet performed all its principal tasks. It covered the trade routes, cut off Germany from the ocean, protected the coast line against invasion and secured the transport of the army. Further afield the focal and terminal areas of trade were guarded by cruiser squadrons. The protection of the coast was entrusted to patrol flotillas, under the Admiral of Patrols (8th Flotilla in Forth, 9th Flotilla in Tyne, 7th Flotilla in Humber, 6th Flotilla at Dover). This strategy was simple and effective. It offered ample opportunities for offensive tactics, survived the whole war, and was justified by the course of events.

The plans embodying it were only prepared in the latter part of 1913, and differed materially from those of the previous decade, which had favoured large landing operations on the German coast. The whole coastline of Great Britain stood behind the British plans, stretching like a colossal breakwater across Germany's path to the sea, and reproducing the geo graphical conditions of the Dutch wars.

This breakwater was 500 m. long. From the Shetlands to Norway (Sumburgh Head to Udsire) was 190 m., a distance well within the compass of a strong fleet. Dover Straits was only 21 m. wide, and though the concentration of the main fleet at Scapa 500 m. away left it exposed to attack, any British force south of 56° (i.e. the latitude of the Forth) threatened the flank of a force attacking the Channel, and Germany never actually took the risk of such a venture with any of her big ships.

So long as the enemy refrained from an attack in force, the dispatch of British troops across the Channel was almost as easy as sending them to Ireland or across the Thames. The length of the principal route from Southampton to Havre was only 100 m., and the average time of transport only 13 hours. No transport was, therefore, ever more than seven hours from port. The route was over loo m. west of Dover Straits, and in these circumstances the whole transport system could be quickly and rapidly controlled.

But Dover remained the weak point of the war plans, and all the more so as the actual organization of the southern area was defective. In the north there was one command. In the south there were five, namely, the Channel Fleet, the Dover Patrol, Cruiser Force C, the Harwich flotillas and Commodore (S). There can be little doubt that a determined attack in this area at the beginning of the war would have severely shaken the whole fabric of British strategy, but the enemy never attempted it. British troops poured in a continuous procession across the Channel. With the exception of the " Goeben " and " Breslau " in the Mediterranean there was nothing to threaten the safety of the Channel to the westward, and on Aug. 10 this anxiety was removed by the news that the " Goeben," after a strange chapter of accidents, had entered the Dardanelles the evening before. (See Goeben And Breslau.) Germany's strategy was defensive. This was forced on her by her inferior strength and unfavourable position. It was based on the idea that the British fleet would enter the Bight, where it was hoped to wear it down by ruthless minelaying and submarine warfare. Then when the British fleet had been reduced to reasonable proportions and when an equilibrium of strength (the greatly desired Krditeausgleich ) had been attained, a decisive battle would he dared. First a policy of waiting, of sorties and attrition, then a decisive action. This was the substance of the German operation orders for the North Sea.

1 1914

2 Operations in 1915

3 Operations in 1916

4 Operations in 1917

5 Mediterranean

6 Mesopotamia, Archangel, Cameroon, British East Africa

7 Conclusion

1914

In pursuance of these aims, at 8:30 P.M. on Aug. 4, an hour after orders to prepare for war with England went out, the " KOnigin Luise " of the Hamburg American Line was despatched to lay mines off the Thames. She fulfilled her task but never returned. While Jellicoe was carrying out his sweep in the north Comm. Tyrwhitt with the " Amethyst " and " Amphion " and the Harwich flotillas carried out a similar operation in the south. About 10 A.M. on the 5th the " KOnigin Luise " was sighted on her way back, and the " Lance " and " Landrail " followed hot on her trail. She could go only 21 knots, and was quickly overhauled and sunk about 50 m. east (true) from Lowestoft. But she had laid her mines off Aldeburgh, and the " Amphion " returning ran on one of them and went down in a few minutes with a loss of 150 men. This threat to the North Sea routes emphasized the necessity of minesweeping, and started the enormous expansion of that important service which became one of the principal features of the war (see Minelaying).

Meanwhile the Germans had seen nothing of the British fleet, and on Aug. 6 to German submarines, escorted for 100 m. by the " Hamburg " and " Stettin," went off into the North Sea to look for it, with orders to remain on the line between Stavanger and Scapa Flow till 6 P.M. on the loth. Their first cruise was not particularly successful. A torpedo was fired at the " Monarch " and missed, U15 was rammed by the " Birmingham" (58° 26' N. 1°58'. E.), and Uri never returned. But the operation had an important bearing, for though reassuring enough from one point of view it gave the British commanderin-chief a sense of insecurity, and he asked permission to take the fleet to the west of the Orkneys as soon as the Expeditionary Force was across. That night (at io P.M. on the 6th) he received orders to take his whole force north-west of the Orkneys. The menace of the submarine was already working when the transports were assembling to take British troops over to France.

On Aug. 5 the British Government had decided to send the Expeditionary Force across the Channel, and Aug. 9 was finally fixed as the first day of passage. The question of transporting a British Expeditionary Force across the sea had been a subject of study for some years. Southampton to Havre was the principal route for troops, Newhaven to Boulogne for stores, and transports were already assembling at Southampton. It had been part of the war plans that, in the event of troops being sent to France, the Grand Fleet was to come down to a position south of the Forth (latitude 56° N.). But it was now to westward of the Orkneys, and remained north of Cromarty (58° N.) till Aug. 15, sometimes west of the Orkneys and sometimes east. The task of immediate protection fell therefore to the Channel Fleet. By Aug. 9 its 18 ships had assembled off Portland and were covering the lines of passage in the Channel. In the Narrows between Holland and Harwich, Tyrwhitt had a watching patrol of 12 to 18 destroyers on a 30-m. front. The " Bacchante," " Cressy," " Hogue," and " Aboukir " of Cruiser Force C were behind him in the Downs or off Dungeness keeping touch with the Channel Fleet. In the Straits were five destroyers of the Dover Patrol (increased to 12 at night) assisted by three light cruisers, and supported by io submarines of Comm. Keyes' force posted between the Goodwins and Ruytingen (near Calais). French submarines were on watch between Gris Nez and the Varne, and far to the westward cruising from Ushant to Land's End was Rear-Adml. Rouyer's force of 14 old French cruisers in touch with Wemyss' squadron of four " Talbots." This was a respectable force, and was in position by the 9th when the troops began to cross,-and for a fortnight remained on the alert. A steady stream of transports passed across the Channel, sailing as soon as they were ready and waiting only for the tide. Their numbers rose to 44 on the 14th, and remained well over 30 per day up to Aug. 18. On Aug. 12 the Admiralty suggested to the commander-in-chief that the fleet should return to the eastward of the Orkneys, and it came back just when the flow of troops was at its height, and sweeping down to the latitude of the Forth (56° N.) on the 16th joined hands with the southern forces, and for a few hours made a complete ring round the German Bight. But nothing was seen of the enemy and the Grand Fleet returned to Scapa. It arrived there on the 8th, and the enemy for the first time ventured out a little way. Two light German cruisers, the " Stralsund " and " Strassburg," pushed into the Narrows that day. There they were sighted at 6:30 A.M. by the " Fearless," which gave chase and opened fire on the " Strassburg " (thought to be the " Rostock "). Tyrwhitt came hurrying to the scene followed by Cruiser Force C, and the enemy quickly decamped.

By the 10th four British divisions had crossed, but the news from France was bad and another division was hurried over. By Aug. 23 the movement was complete. Out of 240 transports employed not one had been lost by accident or enemy attack.

A hundred thousand men were in France, and British divisions were already fighting against heavy odds at Mons.

In order to secure the position in the south and on the east coast, a squadron (Cruiser Force K) of two battle-cruisers, the " New Zealand " and " Invincible," under Rear-Adml. Sir Archibald Moore, was now stationed in the Humber and remained there for a time. Hardly had the passage been accomplished and the Watching Patrol been withdrawn for a short time than news came of a severe check in France, and the Admiralty was faced with the possibility of having to abandon the French Channel ports. So far did matters go that Boulogne was closed down on Aug. 24 and the army base was shifted to St. Naza.ire. This would have meant a serious dislocation of British naval strategy, but before it reached a critical stage the German advance had been checked.

The retention of Ostend and the Belgian coast was now engaging naval attention. Marines were being hurried over there, and for nearly two days (from Aug. 26-28) the Channel Fleet and Cruiser Force C were carrying them and their stores across, and were lying off Ostend to support their landing. The operation was entirely abortive. No sooner had they been landed than they were reembarked. The landing offered an excellent opening for the German High Sea Fleet to attack, but for a time at least its attention was riveted to the Bight.

Commodore Keyes' submarines had been watching the German patrols round Heligoland for some time, and on the strength of their observations he had suggested a plan for cutting them off. The original orders provided only for a concerted operation by six of Comm. Keyes' submarines, and Tyrwhitt's flotillas supported by the five " Bacchantes " of Cruiser Force C and the " Invincible " and " New Zealand." But at the last moment Beatty and his battle-cruiser squadron were fortunately allowed to join in, and there followed on Aug. 28 Beatty and Tyrwhitt's dramatic swoop into the Bight (see Heligoland Bight). The German patrols were driven in, the big ships failed to support them, and three light cruisers, the " Mainz," " Ariadne " and " Coln " were sunk.

The action had an important ulterior effect. It confirmed: the Kaiser, probably influenced at the time by the situation. in E. Prussia and the Baltic, in his determination to follow a strictly defensive naval policy, though Tirpitz fought strenuously for an increased offensive.

German strategy now settled down to the two-fold form of submarine activity against ships-of-war and minelaying, varied by occasional raids against the English coast. The activity of the German submarines (or " U-boats ") soon began to be felt. On Sept. 5 U2r entered the Forth and sank the " Path-. finder," a light cruiser patrolling outside, the first ship to fall a victim to an enemy submarine. Scapa's defenceless state became a source of acute anxiety to .the British commander-in-chief, and the Grand Fleet itself was not immune from false alarms, which in the circumstances had to be taken seriously enough. On Sept. r the " Falmouth " thought she saw a submarine, and. there ensued a feverish commotion in the Flow, which culminated in the battle-fleets weighing in thick weather and putting to sea at night. It anchored in Loch Ewe and was there on Sept. 7 when it was recalled to the North Sea to screen the passage of the 7th Division. Again Beatty's squadron and Tyrwhitt's flotillas swept the Bight from east to .west on Sept. r0 with the. battle-fleet behind them, but this time it was bare.

A week later (Sept. r7) an important conference assembled in the " Iron Duke's " cabin at Loch Ewe. The First Lord (Mr. Winston Churchill) was there with the chief of the war staff (Rear-Adml. Doveton Sturdee) and the Director of the Intelligence Division. Weighty matters were discussed, and the remains of the old war plans emerged in the form of .a proposal to attack Heligoland and to enter the Baltic. It was decided that the former project offered no advantage, for when it was taken it could not be held, and that no operation on a large scale could be attempted in the Baltic without endangering British supremacy in the North Sea.

When the First Lord returned he found the German threat to the Belgian and French Channel ports beginning to develop, and orders went out on Sept. 19 for the Marine Brigade to be landed at Dunkirk as the nucleus of a larger force. The task of screening their passage fell on the southern forces. This was one of the functions specially allotted to them in the war plans, and it came as a severe shock to the Admiralty to find Cruiser Force C, one of its component squadrons, suddenly swept off the board. On Sept. 22, while patrolling at io knots off the Dutch coast, the " Cressy," " Hogue " and " Aboukir " were torpedoed between 6:25 and 7:30 A.M. by U9, and disappeared beneath the waves with a loss of 60 officers and some. 1,400. men. This.

exploit produced a profound impression on both sides of the North Sea. It was the first striking success of the German submarine. For the moment something had to be found to cover the proposed operations on the Belgian coast, and it was decided to lay mines in the Narrows. The idea was no new one. It had been part of the British war plans in 1913, but the plans had outrun the performance, for the mines available at the outbreak of war required new pistols and new mooring-ropes, and could not be laid in the positions indicated on account of the tide. This had been pointed out in May 1914, and the work was now taken seriously in hand. A large area was notified on Oct. 2, and three lines of mines were laid between the Downs and Holland, but unfortunately the design of the mines was defective and their real utility small.

The commander-in-chief had hardly been informed of this new policy when on Oct. 2 he was ordered to take special measures to ensure the safety of the Canadian convoy, which was on its way across. For eight days a special watch was established, with the whole fleet stretching right across the waters between Fair I. and Norway. The convoy consisted of 31 ships, escorted by Adml. Wemyss and Cruiser Force G right across the Atlantic. The battle-cruiser " Princess Royal " went out into the Atlantic to meet it, and she and the old battleship " Majestic " brought it safely in to Plymouth on Oct. 14. The battle-fleet had retired, but the 10th Cruiser Squadron was still patrolling the next day at io A.M. on a line between Peterhead and the Naze 10 m. apart, when the " Hawke," which had stopped to get her mails from the " Endymion," and was going on again at 12 or 13 knots, was struck by a torpedo from U9. There was only time to lower two seaboats, and Soo lives were lost as she sank.

The losses were not all on the British side. The British submarine E9 (Lt.-Comm. Max Horton), lying off Heligoland, had sunk the small cruiser " Hela " on Sept. 12, and now one of the German minelaying enterprises came to a sudden and disastrous end. Four German destroyers of the 7th Torpedo Half Flotilla (5115, 5116, S117, Sr19) left the Ems in the morning of Oct. 17 to lay mines off the North Foreland, but the " Undaunted " with some of the British 3rd Flotilla (" Lennox," " Lance," " Legion," and " Loyal ") was waiting for them in the Narrows, and after a chase and sharp fight the last German boat sank off the Texel at 4:30 P.M. The success came very happily, for the guns were again busy on the Belgian coast. Dover had now became a separate command under Rear-Adml. the Hon. Horace Hood. A great German attack was gathering against Nieuport, and Joffre had asked on Oct. 16 for naval guns to act against the German right. Hood's light craft hurried across, followed by the monitors, and for nearly a week they maintained a heavy fire over the sand dunes against the German flank.

While the " Lennox " and " Lance " were sending their last shots into the German boats the British destroyers in the north were again engaged in a feverish hunt over the Flow. In the afternoon of Oct. 16 a German submarine was reported close to Switha Sound on the west side of the main entrance. Again the fleet had to raise steam and get to sea that night. There can be little doubt that these alarms were false, but they serve as a reminder that the British preparations for war were far from complete. The menace of the submarine had been recognized in 1912, and arrangements could have been devised for rapidly defending harbours by means of mines and booms. But the British mines were defective, and no suitable booms had been designed. The commander-in-chief proceeded to sea, and in view of the defenceless state of Scapa decided to take the fleet to Lough Swilly. Its arrival there on Oct. 22 meant a serious dislocation of the war plans, which were beginning to give way both in the north and south through the pressure of the German submarine. The proper reply, booms and a supply of efficient mines, had not been foreseen and was not forthcoming.

Oct. 1914 saw the sudden dispatch of the R.N. Division to Antwerp, and the landing of forces at Dunkirk and on the Belgian coast. The defence of Antwerp was a military and not a naval problem, but the extension of the transport routes to the Belgian coast and the landing of the 7th Division at Zeebrugge on Oct. 7 represented a considerable expansion of the original war plans, and brought a heavy strain on the Dover Patrol. The old battleship " Venerable " joined Rear-Adml. Hood's force, and lent the Belgian army the support of her guns in the German attack on Nieuport, which culminated on Nov. 2, when they fell back from the Yser as the waters rose.

On Oct. 27, when the Nieuport sluices were being opened, a bad piece of news arrived. The move to Lough Swilly had proved singularly unfortunate. Two days before the battlefleet left Scapa, the " Berlin," a large Norddeutscher Lloyd of 17,000 tons, had left on a minelaying cruise, and laid mines on Oct. 23 some 26 m. north-west of Lough Swilly in the north of Ireland. On the 27th the " Audacious " going out to battle practice struck one of them, though she remained afloat for some hours. The White Star liner " Olympic," outward bound full of passengers, came up and tried to tow her, but found her unmanageable. At 9 P.M. she was still 15 m. from Lough Swilly when she settled, sank and blew up. With the Grand Fleet 300 m. from the North Sea, the whole groundwork of the British war plans was giving way, and the commander-in-chief left to confer with the Admiralty. It was a new board he met. Prince Louis of Battenberg (Marquess of Milford Haven) had resigned, and Lord Fisher had stepped into his place.

It was decided that the 3rd Battle Squadron of King Edward's should leave the Grand Fleet and reinforce the Channel Fleet, thus securing the situation in the south. Nowhere did naval activity on the part of the enemy seem so likely as off the Belgian coast, where a small number of old British ships were fighting, 1,000 m. from the Grand Fleet at Lough Swilly, and barely 300 m. from the Bight. To secure the approach to Dover and the Belgian coast it was decided to lay mines in the North Sea, which was declared a military area on Nov. 2. The notification was hardly issued when news came in on Nov. 3 of a German raid on the east coast. This was made by the battle-cruisers " Seydlitz " " Moltke," " Von der Tann " " Blucher," the armoured cruiser " Yorck," and three light cruisers, with the object of covering the light cruiser " Kolberg " in laying a minefield some 15 m. from Yarmouth. Commodore (T), whose flotillas were patrolling in the Narrows, sent them off in chase. The Admiralty thought the raid was a prelude to something bigger, and ordered the Grand Fleet to proceed to Scapa and Beatty to put to sea, but by 4 P.M. the Germans were well on their way home and the orders to the Grand Fleet and Beatty were cancelled. The Germans did not get home scot-free. The " Yorck" struck a mine off the Jade and sank.

The commotion had barely died down when early in the morning of Nov. 4 a telegram arrived from the British consulgeneral at Valparaiso with news of Coronel (see Coronel). Cradock's squadron had been wiped off the board, and the whole system of trade defence began to tremble under the menace of von Spee's approach. This marks a milestone in the war. Steps were instantly taken to retrieve the situation; but to understand it we must leave home waters for a time.

Cruiser Warfare, 1914. - Outside home waters the principal task of the British navy was the protection of trade, and cruiser squadrons were stationed for this purpose at the focal points of maritime traffic, a system which may be termed the " Squadron " or " Patrol " system as compared with the " Convoy " system adopted later against the submarine. The number of German cruisers abroad was comparatively small. The largest squadron was von Spee's, consisting of the armoured cruisers " Scharnhorst " and " Gneisenau " (each 8 8.2-in., 8 5.9-in., 20 l i knots), and the light cruisers " Emden," " Nurnberg " and " Leipzig," which threatened China, Australia and the East Indies, and gave rise to reactions which were felt over the whole world. In the East Indies was the " Konigsberg," a German light cruiser with io 4

r-in. guns, able to steam 22 or 23 knots, and in the Atlantic the " Dresden " and " Karlsruhe," armed with 12 4.1-in., and with a full seagoing speed of 25 to 26 knots. This completes the tale of German cruisers abroad.

I

As soon as war broke out the introduction of a Government Insurance Scheme had a great steadying influence on British trade, but over all the four seas the Admiralty was confronted with the problem of reconciling the squadron system, which was intended to hunt down enemy cruisers, with insistent demands for convoy which could not be denied. These demands arose all over the world, for a great imperial concentration was bringing the legions of the Dominions home at the very time when an attack on the German oversea possessions was sending them farther afield. In the east the convoys from India absorbed the whole of the East Indies Squadron; in the west the Canadian convoy in Oct. 1914 took away Rear-Adml. Wemyss and all his four cruisers (Force G) from the mouth of the English Channel. The expeditions to New Guinea and Samoa monopolized the whole Australian Squadron for a time. The Cape, Cameroon, and British East Africa all made similar demands on the squadrons, and the system was constantly threatening to break down.

When war broke out the " Karlsruhe " had just relieved the " Dresden," and both were still in the West Indies. In New York, too, were several fast German merchant cruisers, but the " Kronprinz Wilhelm " was the only one which actually put to sea. On Aug. 6 the " Suffolk " (Cradock's flagship) came suddenly on the " Karlsruhe " arming the " Kronprinz Wilhelm," some 120 m. N.E. of Watling I. (off Cuba), but after a long chase and an action in the moonlight with the " Bristol " the " Karlsruhe " got away. Then came news of her and the " Dresden " to the southward, and on Aug. 22 Cradock, who had transferred his flag to the " Good Hope," went off after them and began his fateful journey to the south. The " Karlsruhe " remained in the West Indies and South Atlantic. The " Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse," which had succeeded in slipping out of the North Sea on Aug. 5, was trying to get in touch with her, but on Aug. 26 was caught by the British cruiser " Highflyer" (Capt. Henry T. Buller), coaling at Rio del Ore, a desolate anchorage on the Sahara coast, and after a short action was sunk. The " Karlsruhe " (Capt. Kohler) continued to disturb British trade for some months, and had sunk 15 ships up to Nov. 4, when she suddenly blew up in the West Indies, leaving the survivors to get home to Kiel in the " Rio Negro." The depredations of the " Karlsruhe " and " Dresden " led to Rear-Adml. Sir Christopher Cradock being appointed in command on the south-east coast of America on Sept. 3. He was given the three armoured cruisers " Good Hope," " Monmouth," and " Berwick," the light cruisers " Glasgow " and Bristol," and the armed merchantmen " Otranto," " Carmania " and " Macedonia." Then ensued a hunt down the coast for the " Dresden." The "Carmania " (Capt. Noel Grant) went off to Trinidada, a tiny islet 600 m. out in the South Atlantic, and, though she did not find the " Dresden," she came upon an armed merchantman, the " Cap Trafalgar," coaling there on Sept. 14. An action ensued, the " Cap Trafalgar " was sunk and the " Carmania " limped back to Gibraltar to repair damages. Meanwhile the " Dresden " (Capt. Liidecke) had been joined by the German s.s. " Baden " with 13,000 tons of English coal, and had coaled at the Rocas Is. and Trinidada. Then with the " Baden " and " Santa Isabel " she sped southward to a little harbour, Orange Bay, hidden among the glaciers of Hoste I. in the vicinity of Cape Horn. There she lay from Sept. 5-16 before she ventured into the Pacific. In the Atlantic she had sunk only two ships, and allowed five to go on. Cradock was still on the south-east coast. The menace of von Spee had begun to loom in the west, and the British armoured cruiser " Defence " (Troubridge's late flagship) had been ordered to join him from the Mediterranean, but was detained there with defects.

Von Spee had been last located at Ponape in the Carolines on Aug. 9, and on Sept. 15 a message arrived from the Admiralty definitely informing Cradock, then at Santa Caterina (Brazil), that there was strong probability of the German squadron proceeding to Magellan, and that the " Defence " and " Canopus " were being sent to him. He was to concentrate a squadron strong enough to meet von Spee, then search Magellan Straits, break up German trade and destroy the German cruisers. The fact that his force could only muster 2 9.2-in. against von Spee's 16 8.2-in. was apparently lost sight of. Hardly had the telegram been sent than another followed on Sept. 16 to say that von Spee had appeared off Samoa on Sept. 14, that the situation had changed, Cradock need no longer concentrate his cruisers, and German trade on the W. coast was to be attacked at once. This second telegram was the beginning of a chapter of misfortunes, and its motives remain obscure. The situation had indeed changed, but in a sense precisely opposite to that intended. Concentration and reenforcement were more necessary than ever, but someone had apparently become obsessed with the idea that von Spee was making for North America (apparently on the sole ground of his very commonplace ruse of steering N.W. when he left Samoa), and the Admiralty abandoned their original opinion that he was making for Magellan. The order for the " Defence " to proceed to the S.E. coast was cancelled, though Cradock was not even informed of this, and remained under the impression that she was on her way out to reinforce him. For another reason Sept. 15 is a red-letter day in the story of cruiser warfare, for on it the news arrived of the German cruiser " Emden's " incursion into the Bay of Bengal, which immediately reacted on the China and Australian squadrons.

Von Spec's memorable journey can only be described here in the briefest terms of place and time. When war broke out he was at Ponape, the German capital of the western Carolinas. Thence he went to Pagan in the Mariana Is., where he was met by the " Emden " and a dozen supply ships, the latter leaving for her great venture in the East Indies on Aug. 14. Thence the squadron proceeded eastward to Enivetok, another atoll in the Marshall Is.; then on to Majuro in the same group, arriving on Aug. 26. There von Spec had heard (probably by wireless via Honolulu and Nauru) of Japan's entry into the war, and abandoned all thought of return. His next port of call was Christmas I., a small islet right in the middle of the Pacific, where he arrived on Sept. 7. On his way he had heard of the capture of Samoa, and after coaling at Christmas I., proceeded on Sept. 9 straight to Samoa, where he arrived at 3 A.M. on Sept. 14, hoping to surprise a British naval force there, but found the harbour empty. A landing was out of the question, and he withdrew. The report of his visit went out by wireless to Suva in Fiji, and thence by cable to New Zealand and London. The squadrons directly and immediately affected by the news, besides Cradock's, were the China and Australian, for in China it left Adml. Jerram free to hunt the " Emden " down, and in Australia it relieved Ad ml. Patey's mind as to the expedition to New Guinea and the homeward-bound Australian convoy.

A short survey of events on these two stations will now be given. In China Rear-Adml. Jerram's effective force consisted of the old battleship " Triumph," the armoured cruisers " Minotaur " (4 9.2-in., 10 7.5-in.) and "Hampshire" (4 7.5-in., 6 6-in.), and the light cruiser " Yarmouth " (8 6-in.). Japan's entry into the war on Aug. 23 secured the China seas, and RearAdml. Jerram took his force south, to bar any attempt on the part of von Spee to break back into the East Indies. The Admiralty ordered him on Aug. 23 to proceed in search of the " Scharnhorst " and " Gneisenau," and keep in touch with Rear-Adml. Patey in Australia, but there was no news of von Spec, and accordingly on his arrival at Singapore on Aug. 30 the British admiral sent his cruisers to search the Dutch East Indies, where 22 German merchant ships had taken refuge. This search lasted till Sept. 13, but already demands for convoys were beginning to dislocate his plans. On Sept. 8 the Admiralty ordered him to send the " Minotaur " and " Hampshire " to meet the Australian convoy, due to leave Fremantle for Europe on Oct. 3. The commander-in-chief decided to send the " Minotaur " in the meantime with two Japanese ships, the " Ibuki " (4 12-in., 8 8-in.) and " Chikama" (8 6-in.), to Rabaul in New Britain, to cover Australia, when suddenly the situation was changed on Sept. 15 by the news of von Spee's appearance at Samoa, and more imperatively by the simultaneous appearance of the.". Emden " in. the Bay of Bengal. Till the Emden " was finally run down by ,the ", Sydney " at Cocos I. on Nov. 9 the China Squadron was almost wholly engaged in her pursuit in the East Indies. The station boundaries had entirely broken down under the stress of war.

In Australia the same influences had been at work. At the outbreak of war Rear-Adml. Patey had decided to take up a position at Port Moresby in the Gulf of Papua, covering Australian waters and not too far from the enemy's two principal harbours, Rabaul (or Simpsonhafen) in New Britain and Friedrich Wilhelmshaven in New Guinea. Like the commanderin-chief on the China station he thought rightly that it was useless to search in the spaces of the Pacific for an unlocated enemy, but in his case demands for convoy began even sooner to dislocate his plans. New Zealand's expedition to Samoa was ready on Aug. 18 and the Admiralty approved of its starting, telling Patey on Aug. 13 to give it naval support. But he was at sea at the time with poor wireless connexion, and only received news of the expedition on Aug. 16. No sooner had he arranged to meet it with the battle-cruiser " Australia " and the cruiser " Melbourne " 450 m. south of Fiji on Aug. 24, than the Australia Navy Board complicated matters by asking that their New Guinea expedition should be taken first. Finally it was decided to take it second, and that the " Sydney " in the meantime should take the New Guinea force as far as the Barrier Reef and then wait for the " Australia " and " Melbourne " to return from Samoa. The " Australia " arrived at Samoa on Aug. 29, the force was landed, the British flag hoisted and she left the next day to join the New Guinea force. But now the demands of the European convoy came cranking in and upset Patey's plans. On Sept. 3 the Admiralty ordered the " Melbourne " and " Sydney " to be detached for it, and on Sept. 10 asked for the " Australia " as well. She was then engaged with Patey in the New Guinea operations. Rabaul was occupied on Sept. 13 but German forces still remained active, and Patey, not liking to leave, suggested that the China squadron should help in a search for von Spee. Then on Sept. 15 came the important news of von Spee's appearance at Samoa, clearing up the situation. The " Australia " and " Montcalm " were left to cover the New Guinea operations while the " Sydney " joined the " Minotaur " and " Ibuki " to escort the Australian troops to Europe and to cause the " Emden's " destruction.

While these events were happening in Australia and the East Indies, Cradock had gone on to the southward, and by Sept. 28 his ships were in the Magellan Straits, searching the gorges of Tierra del Fuego. On Oct. 3 the " Glasgow " and " Monmouth " went on to the W. coast in accordance with the Admiralty telegram of Sept. 16, but the " Good Hope " remained in the Falklands area, waiting for the " Canopus." Von Spee had been reported off Tahiti in the Society Is. on Sept. 22, and on Oct. 5 was again located by an intercepted wireless to the " Dresden," which stated that he was on the way to Easter Island. No shadow of doubt could remain that he was on his way across, and the Admiralty sent word to Cradock to be prepared to meet him, adding that the " Canopus " should accompany the " Glasgow " and " Monmouth " and " Otranto " in their search. It was not a practicable idea. The " Canopus " could go only 12 knots, and the conception of a cruiser squadron relying for its safety on a slow old battleship was both tactically and strategically unsound.

Cradock received the message on Oct. 7 1914, and on the 8th sent a message to say he was concentrating at the Falklands, and suggesting the formation of a strong second squadron on the E. coast to intercept the German squadron if it should succeed in evading him. The telegram reached the Admiralty on the 11th, and steps were immediately taken to carry out the Admiral's proposal by the dispatch of the " Defence " and " Kent " to reinforce Adml. Stoddart on the E. coast. The First Lord (Mr. Winston Churchill) was also in favour of postponing Cradock's cruise to the W. coast, but the reply actually sent to him merely took the form of a concurrence in the " concentration " of his vessels " for combined operations." The concentration at the Falklands never materialized. The " Good Hope " left for the W. coast (via Cape Horn) on Oct. 22, leaving the " Canopus " to follow with her colliers (via Magellan). Cradock's intentions will never be precisely known. He probably felt it incumbent on him to support the " Glasgow " and " Monmouth." There was a vagueness at both ends of the wire. Cradock spoke of concentrating at the Falklands when half his squadron had already been sent to the W. coast. The Admiralty expressed their concurrence in his concentration there for combined operations (whatever that might mean). But their readiness to reinforce Stoddart at Cradock's suggestion indicates that they would have been equally ready to reinforce Cradock himself if he had pressed for it. But neither in his telegrams nor in his letter of Oct. 12 did he suggest, much less definitely state, that his squadron was too weak to face the foe. There was one vessel which could have saved the situation, namely the " Australia," if Cradock had been told to wait for her, but she had been retained off Fiji to guard against von Spee's possible return, and was left there straining on her leash.

Von Spee was now at Mas-a-fuera (Oct. 18-26), a small island 450 m. from the coast of Chile, and the two squadrons were approaching one another, for Cradock had joined the " Glasgow," " Monmouth " and " Otranto " at Vallenar in the Chonos Archipelago on Oct. 27. The two forces met off Coronel towards evening on Nov. i. The battle had been von Spee's for over a month. Cradock's flag, still flying gloriously, went down into the Pacific. The " Monmouth " sank with the " Good Hope." The " Glasgow " and " Otranto " got away. The " Canopus " was 300 m. off, toiling northward at 12 knots (see Coronel).

The news arrived in England in the morning of Nov. 4, and fell on the country like a thunderclap. Lord Fisher was now First Sea Lord and every effort was made to redeem the situation. The battle-cruisers " Invincible " and " Inflexible " were taken from the Grand Fleet, and sailed on Nov. ii, with Vice-Adml. Sir Doveton Sturdee, late chief of the war staff, in command. Rear-Adml. Stoddart waited for him at Abrolhos Rocks with the " Carnarvon," " Cornwall," " Defence," and " Kent." The West Indies Squadron went off to watch the Panama Canal. Von Spee meanwhile had visited Valparaiso, and, unaware of the thunderbolt launched at him, was on his way southward. The " Canopus " had returned to the Falklands and was organizing the defences there.

Adml. Sturdee coaled at Abrolhos Rocks, and rushed on with his ships (" Inflexible," " Invincible," " Carnarvon," " Cornwall," " Kent," " Glasgow," " Bristol," and " Orama ") to the south, arriving at Port Stanley, Falklands, in the forenoon of Dec. 7. Meanwhile the " Australia " had been unleashed, and was speeding across the Pacific, and a Japanese squadron had moved down to Fiji to take her place. Von Spee had passed the Horn in bad weather at midnight on Dec. i. The next day his squadron met a three-masted Scottish barque, the " Drummuir," with 2,800 tons of coal on board, and put back into Picton I., near Beagle Channel, to transfer her coal. On Dec. 6 the work was finished. The " Drummuir " was sunk, and with her sank von Spee's hopes of getting home. He had decided at Picton I. to make a raid on the Falklands. On Dec. 8 1914 at dawn the islands were in sight, and the " Gneisenau " and " Nurnberg " were sent in towards Port Stanley. In the battle which followed (see Falkland Islands Battle) the " Scharnhorst," " Gneisenau," " Leipzig " and " Nurnberg " were sunk, and von Spee and his two sons perished. The battle stands out as one of the great beacons of the war at sea, for it marked the collapse of German naval power beyond the seas.


The " Emden's " career in the East Indies had already come to an end, with a tale of 15 ships. She had ranged the Bay of Bengal from Sept. 7-25, bombarded Madras on Sept. 22, worked in the approaches to Colombo till Oct. 21, coaling in the Maldives and at Diego Garcia, and raided Penang on Oct. 28. The " Hampshire " and " Chikuma," " Empress of Asia " and " Yarmouth," had searched for her in vain, though the latter on Oct. 9 had sunk her two supply ships at Pulo Tapak on the west coast of Sumatra. At dawn on Nov. 9 she appeared off the cable station at Cocos Keeling I., and the operator flashed t


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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Naval History of the War'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/n/naval-history-of-the-war.html. 1910.

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