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The Crisis of the
Naval War


By
ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET
VISCOUNT JELLICOE OF SCAPA
G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O.


_With 8 Plates and 6 Charts_


1920




CONTENTS


CHAPTER

1. ADMIRALTY ORGANIZATION: THE CHANGES IN 1917

2. SUBMARINE CAMPAIGN IN THE EARLY PART OF 1917

3. ANTI-SUBMARINE OPERATIONS

4. THE INTRODUCTION OF THE CONVOY SYSTEM

5. THE CONVOY SYSTEM AT WORK

6. THE ENTRY OF THE UNITED STATES: OUR NAVAL POLICY EXPLAINED

7. PATROL CRAFT AND MINESWEEPING SERVICES

8. THE DOVER PATROL AND THE HARWICH FORCES

9. THE SEQUEL

10. "PRODUCTION" AT THE ADMIRALTY DURING 1917

11. NAVAL WORK

12. THE FUTURE

INDEX




LIST OF PLATES


A Mine Exploding

A German Submarine of the U-C Type

A German Submarine of the later Cruiser Class

A Smoke Screen for a Convoy

The Dummy Deck-house of a Decoy Ship

A Convoy Zigzagging

A Convoy with an Airship

Drifters at Sea

A Paddle Minesweeper

A German Mine on the Surface

Two Depth Charges after Explosion

The Tell-tale Oil Patch

A Submarine Submerging

Periscope of Submerged Submarine Travelling at Slow Speed

A Submarine Submerged




LIST OF CHARTS


(CONTAINED IN THE POCKET AT THE END OF THE BOOK)

A. Approach Areas and Typical Routes.

B. Typical Approach Lines.

C. Barred Zones Proclaimed by the Germans.

D. Patrol Areas, British Isles.

E. Patrol and Minesweeping Zones in the Mediterranean.

F. Showing French and British Ports within Range of the
German Bases at Ostend and Zeebrugge.




To

The Officers and Men
of our
Convoy, Escort, Patrol and Minesweeping Vessels
and their
Comrades of the Mercantile Marine

by whose splendid gallantry, heroic self-sacrifice, and
unflinching endurance the submarine
danger was defeated



INTRODUCTION


Owing to the peculiar nature and demands of naval warfare, but few
dispatches, corresponding to those describing the work and achievements
of our great armies, were issued during the progress of the war. In a
former volume I attempted to supply this defect in the historical
records, which will be available for future generations, so far as the
Grand Fleet was concerned, during my period as its Commander-in-Chief.
The present volume, which was commenced and nearly completed in 1918,
was to have been published at the same time. My departure on a Naval
mission early in 1919 prevented me, however, from putting the finishing
touches to the manuscript until my return this spring.

I hesitated as to the publication of this portion of what is in effect
one complete narrative, but eventually decided not to depart from my
original purpose. There is some reason to believe that the account of
the work of the Grand Fleet gave the nation a fuller conception of the
services which the officers and men of that force rendered in
circumstances which were necessarily not easily appreciated by landsmen.

This second volume, dealing with the defeat of the enemy's submarine
campaign, the gravest peril which ever threatened the population of this
country, as well as of the whole Empire, may not be unwelcome as a
statement of facts. They have been set down in order that the sequence
and significance of events may be understood, and that the nation may
appreciate the debt which it owes, in particular, to the seamen of the
Royal Navy and the Mercantile Marine, who kept the seas during the
unforgettable days of the intensive campaign.

This book, therefore, gives the outline of the work accomplished by the
Navy in combating the unrestricted submarine warfare instituted by the
Central Powers in February, 1917. It would have been a labour of love to
tell at greater length and in more detail how the menace was gradually
overcome by the gallantry, endurance and strenuous work of those serving
afloat in ships flying the White or the Red Ensigns, but I had not the
necessary materials at my disposal for such an exhaustive record.

The volume is consequently largely concerned with the successive steps
taken at the Admiralty to deal with a situation which was always
serious, and which at times assumed a very grave aspect. The ultimate
result of all Naval warfare must naturally rest with those who are
serving afloat, but it is only just to the Naval officers and others who
did such fine work at the Admiralty in preparing for the sea effort,
that their share in the Navy's final triumph should be known. The
writing of this book appeared also to be the only way in which I could
show my keen appreciation of the loyalty and devotion to duty of the
Naval Staff, of the many clever, ingenious and audacious schemes
developed and carried through for the destruction of submarines and the
safeguarding of ocean-borne trade, and of the skilful organization which
brought into being, and managed with such success, that great network of
convoys by which the sea communications of the Allies were kept open.
The volume shows how the officers who accompanied me to the Admiralty
from the Grand Fleet at the end of 1916, in association with those
already serving in Whitehall and others who joined in 1917, with the
necessary and valuable assistance of our comrades of the Mercantile
Marine, gradually produced the measures by which the Sea Service
conquered the gravest danger which has ever faced the Empire.

There were at times inevitable set-backs as the enemy gained experience
of our methods, and new ones had then to be devised, and we were always
most seriously handicapped by the strain imposed upon the Fleet by our
numerous military and other commitments overseas, and by the difficulty
of obtaining supplies of material, owing to the pre-occupation of our
industries in meeting the needs of our Armies in equipment and
munitions; but, generally speaking, it may be said that in April, 1917,
the losses reached their maximum, and that from the following month and
onwards the battle was being slowly but gradually won. By the end of the
year it was becoming apparent that success was assured.

The volume describes the changes carried out in the Admiralty Staff
organization; the position of affairs in regard to submarine warfare in
the early part of 1917; and the numerous anti-submarine measures which
were devised and brought into operation during the year. The
introduction and working of the convoy system is also dealt with. The
entry of the United States of America into the war marked the opening of
a new phase of the operations by sea, and it has been a pleasure to give
particulars of our cordial co-operation with the United States Navy. The
splendid work of the patrol craft and minesweepers is described all too
briefly, and I have had to be content to give only a brief summary of
the great services of the Dover and Harwich forces.

Finally, an effort has been made to suggest the range and character of
the work of the Production Departments at the Admiralty. It is
impossible to tell this part of the story without conveying some
suggestion of criticism since the output never satisfied our
requirements. I have endeavoured also to indicate where it seemed to me
that changes in organization were not justified by results, so that in
future years we may benefit by the experience gained. But I would not
like it to be thought that I did not, and do not, realize the
difficulties which handicapped production, or that I did not appreciate
to the full the work done by all concerned.

It is unfortunate that attempts to draw attention to the lessons taught
us by the war are regarded by many people either as complaints of lack
of devotion to the country's interests on the part of some, or as
criticisms of others who, in the years before the war or during the war,
were responsible for the administration of the Navy. In anticipation of
such an attitude, I wish to state emphatically that, where mention is
made of apparent shortcomings or of action which, judged by results, did
not seem, to meet a particular situation, this is done solely in order
that on any future occasion of a similar character--and may the day be
long postponed--the nation may profit by experience.

Those who are inclined to indulge in criticism should ever bear in mind
that the Navy was faced with problems which were never foreseen, and
could not have been foreseen, by anyone in this country. Who, for
instance, would have ever had the temerity to predict that the Navy,
confronted by the second greatest Naval Power in the world, would be
called upon to maintain free communications across the Channel for many
months until the months became years, in face of the naval forces of the
enemy established on the Belgian coast, passing millions of men across
in safety, as well as vast quantities of stores and munitions? Who would
have prophesied that the Navy would have to safeguard the passage of
hundreds of thousands of troops from the Dominions to Europe, as well as
the movement of tens of thousands of labourers from China and elsewhere?
Or who, moreover, would have been believed had he stated that the Navy
would be required to keep open the sea communications of huge armies in
Macedonia, Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia and East Africa, against attack
by surface vessels, submarines and mines, whilst at the same time
protecting the merchant shipping of ourselves, our Allies, and neutral
Powers against similar perils, and assisting to ensure the safety of the
troops of the United States when they, in due course, were brought
across the Atlantic? Compare those varied tasks with the comparatively
modest duties which in pre-war days were generally assigned to the Navy,
and it will be seen how much there may be to learn of the lessons of
experience, and how sparing we should be of criticism. Wisdom distilled
from events which were unforeseeable should find expression not in
criticisms of those who did their duty to the best of their ability, but
in the taking of wise precautions for the future.

Little mention is made in this volume of the work of the Grand Fleet
during the year 1917, but, although that Fleet had no opportunity of
showing its fighting power, it must never be forgotten that without the
Grand Fleet, under the distinguished officer who succeeded me as
Commander-in-Chief at the end of 1916, all effort would have been of no
avail, since every operation by sea, as well as by land, was carried out
under the sure protecting shield of that Fleet, which the enemy could
not face.

I am conscious of many shortcomings in the book, but it may prove of
interest to those who desire to know something of the measures which
gradually wore down the German submarine effort, and, at any rate, it is
the only record likely to be available in the near future of the work of
fighting the submarines in 1917.

June, 1920.




CHAPTER I

ADMIRALTY ORGANIZATION; THE CHANGES IN 1917


It is perhaps as well that the nation generally remained to a great
extent unconscious of the extreme gravity of the situation which
developed during the Great War, when the Germans were sinking an
increasing volume of merchant tonnage week by week.



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