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Title: The Crisis of the Naval War
Author: Jellicoe, John Rushworth, 1859-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Crisis of the Naval War" ***

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The Crisis of the
Naval War

G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O.

_With 8 Plates and 6 Charts_


















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



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.


           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


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.



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. The people of this
country as a whole rose superior to many disheartening events and never
lost their sure belief in final victory, but full knowledge of the
supreme crisis in our history might have tended to undermine in some
quarters that confidence in victory which it was essential should be
maintained, and, in any event, the facts could not be disclosed without
benefiting the enemy. But the position at times was undoubtedly
extremely serious.

At the opening of the war we possessed approximately half the merchant
tonnage of the world, but experience during the early part of the
struggle revealed that we had not a single ship too many for the great
and increasing oversea military liabilities which we were steadily
incurring, over and above the responsibility of bringing to these shores
the greater part of the food for a population of forty-five million
people, as well as nearly all the raw materials which were essential for
the manufacture of munitions. The whole of our war efforts, ashore as
well as afloat, depended first and last on an adequate volume of
merchant shipping.

It is small wonder, therefore, that those who watched from day to day
the increasing toll which the enemy took of the country's sea-carrying
power, were sometimes filled with deep concern for the future.
Particularly was this the case during the early months of unrestricted
submarine warfare in 1917. For if the menace had not been mastered to a
considerable extent, and that speedily, not only would the victory of
the Allies have been imperilled, but this country would have been
brought face to face with conditions approaching starvation. In pre-war
days the possibility of these islands being blockaded was frequently
discussed; but during the dark days of the unrestricted submarine
campaign there was ample excuse for those with imagination to picture
the implication of events which were happening from week to week. The
memories of those days are already becoming somewhat dim, and as a
matter of history and a guide to the future, it is perhaps well that
some account should be given, however inadequate, of the dangers which
confronted the country and of the means which were adopted to avert the
worst consequences of the enemy's campaign without ceasing to exert the
increasing pressure of our sea power upon his fighting efficiency, and
without diminishing our military efforts overseas.

The latter points were of great importance. It was always necessary to
keep the Grand Fleet at a strength that would ensure its instant
readiness to move in waters which might be infested by submarines in
large numbers should the Germans decide upon some operation by the High
Sea Fleet. The possibility of action between the fleets necessitated the
maintenance of very strong destroyer forces with the Grand Fleet.

Similarly our oversea military expeditions, with the consequent large
number of merchant ships in use as transports or supply ships, required
a considerable force of destroyers and other small craft. These
commitments greatly reduced the means at our disposal for dealing with
the hostile submarines that were attempting to prevent the import of
food and raw materials into the country.

Readers of books, and particularly books dealing with war, show a
natural avidity for what may be described as the human side of a contest
as well as for the dramatic events. But, whether it be prosecuted by sea
or by land, war is largely a matter of efficient and adequate
organization. It is a common saying that we muddle through our wars, but
we could not afford to muddle in face of the threat which the enemy's
unrestricted submarine campaign represented. It is impossible,
therefore, to approach the history of the successful efforts made by sea
to overcome this menace without describing in some detail the work of
organization which was carried out at the Admiralty in order to enable
the Fleet to fulfil its new mission. In effect those responsible for the
naval policy of the country conducted two wars simultaneously, the one
on the surface, and the other under the surface. The strategy, tactics
and weapons which were appropriate to the former, were to a large extent
useless in the contest against mines and submarines which the enemy
employed with the utmost persistency and no little ingenuity. Even in
the Russo-Japanese war, where the mine was little used, it exerted a
marked influence on the course of the war; the Germans based their hopes
of victory in the early days of the struggle entirely on a war of
attrition, waged against men-of-war, as well as merchant ships. The
submarine, which was thrown into the struggle in increasing numbers,
represented an entirely new development, for the submarine is a vessel
which can travel unseen beneath the water and, while still unseen,
except for a possible momentary glimpse of a few inches of periscope,
can launch a torpedo at long or short range and with deadly accuracy. In
these circumstances it became imperative to organize the Admiralty
administration to meet new needs, and to press into the service of the
central administration a large number of officers charged with the sole
duty of studying the new forms of warfare which the enemy had adopted
and of evolving with scientific assistance novel methods of defeating
his tactics.

Whilst the enemy's campaign against merchant shipping always gave rise
to anxiety, there were certain periods of greatly increased activity.
During the summer months of 1916 the losses from submarine attack and
from submarine-laid mines were comparatively slight, and, in fact, less
than during the latter half of 1915, but in the autumn of 1916 they
assumed very serious proportions. This will be seen by reference to the
following table, which gives the monthly losses in British, neutral and
Allied mercantile gross tonnage from submarine and mine attack _alone_
for the months of May to November inclusive:

May       ... 122,793
June      ... 111,719
July      ... 110,757
August    ... 160,077
September ... 229,687
October   ... 352,902
November  ... 327,245

Another disturbing feature was the knowledge that we were not sinking
enemy submarines at any appreciable rate, whilst we knew that the
Germans had under construction a very large number of these vessels, and
that they were thus rapidly adding to their fleet. It was a matter also
of common knowledge that our output of new merchant ships was
exceedingly small, and I, in common with others, had urged a policy of
greatly increased mercantile ship construction. These facts, combined
with the knowledge that our reserves of food and essential raw materials
for war purposes were very low, led me, when commanding the Grand Fleet,
to the inevitable conclusion that it was essential to concentrate all
our naval efforts so far as possible on the submarine menace, and to
adopt the most energetic measures for the protection of our sea
communications and the destruction of the enemy's submarines. Although
it was not easy to see the exact means by which this could be achieved,
it appeared necessary as a first step to form an organization having as
its sole duty the study of the question, comprising such officers as
would be most likely to deal effectively with the problem, supported by
the necessary authority to push forward their ideas. Another necessity
was the rapid production of such material as was found to be required
for anti-submarine measures.

With these ideas in my mind I had written letters to the Admiralty on
the subject, and was summoned to a conference in London on November 1 by
Mr. Balfour, the First Lord. The whole question of the submarine warfare
was fully discussed with Mr. Balfour and Sir Henry Jackson (then First
Sea Lord) during the two days spent in London. I had at that time formed
and expressed the view that there was very little probability of the
High Sea Fleet putting to sea again to risk a Fleet action until the new
submarine campaign had been given a thorough trial. With the High Sea
Fleet "in being" we could not afford to deplete the Grand Fleet of
destroyers, which could under other conditions be employed in
anti-submarine work, and therefore the probable German strategy in these
circumstances was to keep the Fleet "in being." At the same time the
situation appeared so serious that I went so far as to suggest that one
Grand Fleet flotilla of destroyers might under certain conditions be
withdrawn for anti-submarine duties in southern waters.

The misgivings which I entertained were, of course, shared by all those
in authority who were acquainted with the facts of the case, including
the Board of Admiralty.

On November 24 Mr. Balfour telegraphed offering me the post of First Sea
Lord, and in the event of acceptance requesting me to meet him in
Edinburgh to discuss matters. After consultation with Sir Charles
Madden, my Chief of Staff, I replied that I was prepared to do what was
considered best for the Service.

During the conference with Mr. Balfour in Edinburgh on November 27,
1916, and after I had agreed to go to the Admiralty, he informed me of
the consequent changes which he proposed to make in flag officers'
appointments in the Grand Fleet. Amongst the changes he included Admiral
Sir Cecil Burney, who would be relieved of his post as second in command
of the Grand Fleet and commander of the 1st Battle Squadron, as he had
practically completed his term of two years in command. I thereupon
asked that he might be offered the post of Second Sea Lord, and that
Commodore Lionel Halsey, who had been serving as Captain of the Fleet,
might be offered that of Fourth Sea Lord. In my view it was very
desirable that an officer with the great experience in command possessed
by Sir Cecil Burney should occupy the position of Second Sea Lord under
the conditions which existed, and that one who had served afloat during
the war in both an executive and administrative capacity should become
Fourth Sea Lord. I also informed Mr. Balfour of my desire to form an
Anti-Submarine Division of the War Staff at the Admiralty, and asked
that Rear-Admiral A.L. Duff, C.B., should be offered the post of
Director of the Division, with Captain F.C. Dreyer, C.B., my Flag
Captain in the _Iron Duke_, as his assistant.

All these appointments were made.

Although I arrived in London on November 29, I did not actually take
office as First Sea Lord until December 5, owing to an attack of
influenza. On that day I relieved Sir Henry Jackson, but only held
office under Mr. Balfour for two or three days, as the change of
Government took place just at this period, and Sir Edward Carson came to
the Admiralty in place of Mr. Balfour.

This book is intended to record facts, and not to touch upon personal
matters, but I cannot forbear to mention the extreme cordiality of Sir
Edward Carson's relations with the Board in general and myself in
particular. His devotion to the naval service was obvious to all, and in
him the Navy possessed indeed a true and a powerful friend.

The earliest conversations between the First Lord and myself had
relation to the submarine menace, and Sir Edward Carson threw himself
wholeheartedly into the work. This was before the days of the
unrestricted submarine campaign, and although ships were frequently
torpedoed, very large numbers were still being sunk by gun-fire. The
torpedo did not come into general use until March, 1917.

One of the most pressing needs of this period of attack by gun-fire was
consequently a great increase in the number of guns for use in
defensively armed merchant vessels, and here Sir Edward Carson's
assistance was of great value. He fully realized the urgent necessities
of the case, and was constant in his efforts to procure the necessary
guns. The work carried out in this connection is given in detail in
Chapter III (p. 68).

During Sir Edward's tenure of office the reorganization of the Naval
Staff was taken in hand. Changes from which great benefit resulted were
effected in the Staff organization. Sir Edward very quickly saw the
necessity for a considerable strengthening of the Staff. In addition to
the newly formed and rapidly expanding Anti-Submarine Division of the
Naval Staff, he realized that the Operations Division also needed
increased strength, and that it was essential to relieve the First Sea
Lord of the mass of administrative work falling upon his shoulders,
which had unfortunately been greatly magnified by the circumstances
already described.

It is as well at this point to describe the conditions in regard to
Staff organization that existed at the Admiralty at the end of 1916, and
to show how those conditions had been arrived at.

Prior to 1909 there was no real Staff, although the organization at the
Admiralty included an Intelligence Department and a Mobilization
Division. The Director of Naval Intelligence at that time acted in an
advisory capacity as Chief of the Staff. Indeed prior to 1904 there were
but few naval officers at the Admiralty at all beyond those in the
technical departments of the Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes
and the members of the Board itself. The Sea Lords were even without
Naval Assistants and depended entirely on the help of a secretary
provided by the civilian staff at the Admiralty.

In 1910 a new branch was formed termed the Mobilization and Movements
Department under a Director. This branch was a first step towards an
Operations Division.

Under Mr. Churchill's regime at the Admiralty in 1911 a more regular
Staff organization was introduced and a Chief of the War Staff, acting
under the First Sea Lord, was appointed. The organization introduced
during his term of office is thus shown graphically:

                               CHIEF OF STAFF
       |                            |                        |
  Director of                 Director of              Director of
  Operations Division.   Intelligence Division. Mobilization Division.

In addition to other duties, the Mobilization Division was charged with
the responsibility for the supply of fuel to the Fleet, from the Staff
point of view.

In the organization introduced in 1911 the duties of the Chief of the
Staff were defined as being of an advisory nature. He possessed no
executive powers. Consequently all orders affecting the movements of
ships required the approval of the First Sea Lord before issue, and the
consequence of this over-centralization was that additional work was
thrown on the First Sea Lord. The resultant inconvenience was not of
much account during peace, but became of importance in war, and as the
war progressed the Chief of the Staff gradually exercised executive
functions, orders which were not of the first importance being issued by
the Staff in accordance with the policy approved generally by the First
Sea Lord. The fault in the organization appeared to me to lie in
non-recognition of the fact that the First Sea Lord was in reality the
Chief of the Naval Staff, since he was charged with the responsibility
for the preparation and readiness of the Fleet for war and for all
movements. Another anomaly existing at the Admiralty, which was not
altered in the 1911 reorganization of the War Staff, was that the orders
to the Fleet were not drafted and issued by the War Staff, but by the
Military Branch of the Secretary's Department.

The system was only workable because the very able civil servants of the
Military Branch were possessed of wide Admiralty experience and worked
in the closest co-operation with the naval officers. Their work was of
the most strenuous nature and was carried out with the greatest
devotion, but the system was manifestly wrong in principle.

On the outbreak of war the necessity for placing the War Registry (a
part of the Military Branch) directly under the Chief of the Staff
became apparent, and this was done.

In December, 1916, when I took up the post of First Sea Lord, the
Admiralty War Staff was still being worked on the general lines of the
organization introduced by Mr. Churchill in 1911, but it had, of course,
expanded to a very considerable extent to meet war conditions, and a
most important Trade Division, which dealt with all questions connected
with the Mercantile Marine, had been formed at the outbreak of war under
the charge of Captain Richard Webb. This Division, under that very able
officer, had carried out work of the greatest national importance with
marked success.

The successive changes in the Staff organization carried out during the
year 1917 were as follows:

In December, 1916, an Anti-Submarine Division of the Staff was formed.
This Division did not, for some reason, appear in the Navy List as part
of the Staff organization until some months had elapsed, although it
started work in December, 1916. The officers who composed the Division
were shown as borne on the books of H.M.S. _President_.

The Division relieved the Operations Division of the control of all
vessels, including aircraft, which were engaged in anti-submarine
offensive and defensive work, and took over also the control of
mine-sweeping operations. The Division was also charged with the duty of
examining and perfecting all experimental devices for combating the
submarine menace and of producing fresh schemes for the destruction of
enemy submarines. This organization is open to the criticism that
matters concerning operations and material came under the same head, but
they were so closely allied at this stage that it was deemed advisable
to accept this departure from correct Staff organization. The personnel
of the Division came with me from the Grand Fleet, and at the outset
consisted of one flag officer--Rear-Admiral A.L. Duff, C.B.--two
captains, four commanders, three lieutenant-commanders, and two engineer
officers, in addition to the necessary clerical staff. The small staff
of four officers already at the Admiralty engaged in anti-submarine
experimental work, which had done much to develop this side of warfare,
was absorbed. The new Division worked directly under me, but in close
touch with the then Chief of the War Staff, Vice-Admiral Sir Henry

In the early spring of 1917 the illogical nature of the War Staff
organization became apparent, in that it had no executive functions, and
as the result of discussions between Sir Edward Carson and myself the
decision was taken that the duties of the Naval Staff (the term decided
upon in place of that of War Staff) should be made executive, and that
the First Sea Lord should assume his correct title as Chief of the Naval
Staff, as he had, in fact, already assumed the position.

At the same time the operational work of the Staff was grouped under two
heads, the first mainly concerned with operations against the enemy's
surface vessels, and the second with the protection of trade and
operations against the enemy's under-water warfare, whether the means he
employed were submarines or mines.

The officer, Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Oliver, K.C.B., charged with the
supervision of the first-named work was styled Deputy Chief of the Naval
Staff (D.C.N.S.), and the officer connected with the second,
Rear-Admiral A.L. Duff, C.B., was given the title of Assistant Chief of
the Naval Staff (A.C.N.S.).

The duties of Director of the Anti-Submarine Division of the Staff,
hitherto carried out by Admiral Duff, were at this time taken over by
Captain W.W. Fisher, C.B., who was brought down from the Grand Fleet for
the purpose. Captain Dreyer, who had been Admiral Duff's original
assistant, had in the meantime been appointed Director of Naval
Ordnance, and had been succeeded by Captain H. Walwyn, D.S.O.

The Mine-Sweeping Division of the Staff was also formed, and the
importance of the question of signal communications was recognized by
forming a Signal Section of the Staff.

The adoption of the title of Chief of the Naval Staff by the First Sea
Lord necessarily made the functions of the Staff executive instead of

The Staff organization at this period is shown graphically below.

  +--  D.C.N.S.
  |    .  |
  |    .  +-- Operations Division.
  |    .  |      |
  |    .  |      +-- Home
  |    .  |      +-- Foreign
  |    .  +-- Mobilization Division.
  |    .  +-- Signal Section.
  |    .  +-- Intelligence Division.
  |    .
  +--  A.C.N.S.
          +-- Trade Division.
          +-- Convoys Section.
          +-- Anti-Submarine Division.
          +-- Mine-Sweeping Division.

Stress was laid in a Staff memorandum issued by me on the fact that the
various divisions were on no account to work in watertight compartments,
but were to be in the closest touch with one another. The dotted line
connecting the D.C.N.S. and the A.C.N.S. in the graph was defined as
indicating that there should be the fullest co-operation between the
different portions of the Staff.

In the summer of 1917 the growth of the convoy system necessitated
further expansion of the Naval Staff, and a Mercantile Movements
Division was added. The duties of this division were to organize and
regulate the movements of convoys of merchant ships. A staff of officers
had been by this time sent abroad to the ports from which convoys were
directed to sail, and the Mercantile Movements Division, acting in close
touch with the Ministry of Shipping, arranged the assembly and movements
of the convoys and their protection.

The organization of the portion of the Staff under the A.C.N.S. at this
stage is shown below.

       |              |               |               |
 Director of     Director of     Director of     Director of
 Mercantile      Trade           Anti-Sub-       Mine-Sweeping
 Movements       Division.       marine          Division.
 Division.       (Captain R.N.)  Division.       (Captain R.N.)
 (Captain R.N.)       |          (Captain R.N.)       |
       |            Staff.            |             Staff.
 --------------                     Staff.
 |            |
Convoy      Movements
Section.     Section.

The portion of the organization under the A.C.N.S. comprised the
following numbers in December, 1917:

Mercantile Movements Division, 36 Officers, with a clerical staff.

Trade Division, 43 Officers, with a clerical staff of 10 civilians.

Anti-Submarine Division, 26 Officers, with a clerical staff.

Mine-Sweeping Division, 8 Officers, with a clerical staff.

Of this number practically the whole of the Mercantile Movements and
Anti-Submarine Divisions were added during the year 1917, whilst large
additions were also made to the Trade Division, owing to the great
increase of work.

During the first half of the year 1917 the Operations Division of the
Naval Staff received a much needed increase of strength by the
appointment of additional officers, charged, under the Director of the
Operations Division, with the detailed preparation of plans for
operations. Further additions to this branch of the Staff were made in
the latter half of the year.

Matters were in this position with the reorganization of the Naval Staff
in hand and working towards a definite conclusion when, to the intense
regret of those who had been privileged to work with him, Sir Edward
Carson left the Admiralty to become a member of the War Cabinet.

Before leaving the subject of work at the Admiralty during Sir Edward
Carson's administration, mention should be made of the progress made in
the difficult task of providing officers for the rapidly expanding
Fleet. The large programme of small craft started in the early part of
1917 involved the eventual provision of a great number of additional
officers. Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, the Second Sea Lord, took this
matter in hand with conspicuous success, and the measures which he
introduced tided us over a period of much difficulty and made provision
for many months ahead. Sir Cecil Burney, by reason of his intimate
knowledge of the personnel--the result of years of command afloat--was
able to settle also many problems relating to personnel which had been
the cause of dissatisfaction in the past.

Sir Edward Carson, on leaving the Admiralty, was succeeded by Sir Eric
Geddes as First Lord. Sir Eric had been brought into the Admiralty in
May, 1917, in circumstances which I will describe later. (_Vide_ Chapter
X.) One of his first steps as First Lord which affected Admiralty
organization was the appointment of a Deputy First Sea Lord. This
appointment was frankly made more as a matter of expediency than because
any real need had been shown for the creation of such an office. It is
unnecessary here to enter into the circumstances which led to the
appointment to which I saw objections, owing to the difficulty of
fitting into the organization an officer bearing the title of Deputy
First Sea Lord.

Vice-Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss--who had come to England for the purpose
of conferring with the Admiralty before taking up the post of British
Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean--was selected by the First Lord
as Deputy First Sea Lord.

Shortly after assuming office as First Lord, Sir Eric Geddes expressed a
wish for a further consideration of the question of Admiralty
organization. To this end he appointed a joint War Office and Admiralty
Committee to compare the two organizations.

Having received the report of the Committee, the First Lord and I both
formulated ideas for further reorganization. My proposals, so far as
they concerned the Naval Staff, were conceived on the general lines of
an extension of the organization already adopted since my arrival at the
Admiralty, but I also stated that the time had arrived when the whole
Admiralty organization should be divided more distinctly into two sides,
viz., the Operational side and the _Materiél_ or Administrative side,
and indicated that the arrangement existing in the time of the old Navy
Board might be largely followed, in order that questions of Operations
and _Materiél_ should be quite clearly separated. This, indeed, was the
principle of the Staff organization which I had adopted in the Grand
Fleet, and I was anxious to extend it to the Admiralty.

This principle was accepted--although the term "Navy Board" was not
reinstituted--the Admiralty Board being divided into two Committees, one
for _Operations_ and one for _Materiél_, the whole Board meeting at
least once a week, as required, to discuss important questions affecting
both sides. Whilst it was necessary that the Maintenance Committee
should be kept acquainted with the requirements in the shape of material
needed for operations in which the Fleet was engaged--and to the Deputy
Chief of Naval Staff was assigned this particular liaison duty--I was
not in favour of _discussing_ questions affecting ordinary operations
with the whole Board, since, in addition to the delay thereby involved,
members of the Maintenance Committee could not keep in sufficiently
intimate touch with such matters, and opinions might be formed and
conclusions expressed on an incomplete knowledge of facts. Questions of
broad policy or of proposed major operations were, of course, in a
different category, and the above objections did not apply.

The further alterations in Naval Staff organization were not adopted
without considerable discussion and some difference of opinion as to
detail, particularly on the subject of the organization of the
Operations Division of the Naval Staff, which I considered should
embrace the Plans Division as a sub-section in order to avoid
overlapping and delay. In my view it was undesirable for a body of
officers not working under the authority of those in close touch with
the daily operations of the Fleet to put forward plans for operations
which necessarily involved the use of the same vessels and material, as
such a procedure must inevitably lead to impracticable suggestions and
consequent waste of time; the system which I favoured was that in use in
the Army, where the Operations Section of the Staff dealt also with the
working out of plans.

The Admiralty Staff organization necessarily differed somewhat from that
at the War Office, because during the war the Admiralty in a sense
combined, so far as Naval operations were concerned, the functions both
of the War Office and of General Headquarters in France. This was due
primarily to the fact that intelligence was necessarily centred at the
Admiralty, and, secondly, because the Admiralty acted in a sense as
Commander-in-Chief of all the forces working in the vicinity of the
British Isles. It was not possible for the Commander-in-Chief of the
Grand Fleet to assume this function, since he could not be provided with
the necessary knowledge without great delay being caused, and, further,
when he was at sea the other commands would be without a head. The
Admiralty therefore necessarily assumed the duty, whilst supplying each
command with all the information required for operations. The general
lines of the Staff organizations at the War Office and at General
Headquarters in France are here given for the sake of comparison with
the Naval Staff organization.

1.--_The British War Office._

The approximate organization is shown as concisely as possible in the
following diagram:


     Director of Staff Duties.
          Staff duties Organization and training.
          War Organization of forces.
          General questions of training.
          Signals and communications.

     Director of Military Operations.
          Operations on all fronts.

     Director of Military Intelligence.
          The Press.

The other important departments of the War Office on the administration
side are those of the Adjutant-General and the Quartermaster-General,
the former dealing with all questions relating to the personnel of the
Army under the various headings of organization, mobilization, pay and
discipline, and the latter with all questions of supply and transport.

A Deputy Chief of the Imperial General Staff was attached to the Chief
of the Imperial General Staff. His main duty was to act as a liaison
between the General Staff and the administrative departments of the War

The whole organization of the British War Office is, of course, under
the direction and control of the Secretary of State for War.

2.--_The Staff Organization at General Headquarters in France._


     Chief of the General Staff
          G.S. (a) (Operations) Plans and Execution Intelligence.
          G.S. (b) (Staff Duties) War Organizations and
             Establishments Liason between G.S. (a) and
             Administrative Services.

     Adjutant General (Personnel, Discipline, etc.)

     Quartermaster General (Transport and Supply, etc.)

                         (BUT NOT STAFF OFFICERS.)
          |                         |                        |
  Artillery Adviser          Engineer-in-Chief.         Inspector of
  (Advises Chief of          Advises as in case of      Training.
  General Stall on           Artillery.
  Artillery matters
  and operations).
  Advises Administrative
  Departments as

N.B.--The Inspector of Training works in consultation with the Chief of
the General Staff.

It will be seen that whilst at the War Office the liaison between the
General Staff and the administrative side was maintained by a Deputy
Chief of the General Staff, in the organization in the field the same
function was performed by the Staff Officer known as G.S. (b).

It will also be seen that neither at General Headquarters nor in the
case of an Army command does the Chief of the General Staff exercise
control over the administrative side.

After some discussion the Admiralty organizations shown in the Tables A
and B on page 20 (below) were adopted, and I guarded as far as possible
against the objection to keeping the Plans Division separate from the
Operations Division by the issue of detailed orders as to the conduct of
the business of the Staff, in which directions were given that the
Director of the Plans Division should be in close touch with the
Director of the Operations Division before submitting any proposals to
the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff or myself.

During the remainder of my service at the Admiralty the organization
remained as shown in Tables A and B on p. 20 below. It was not entirely
satisfactory, for reasons already mentioned and because I did not obtain
all the relief from administrative work which was so desirable.

                 TABLE A

  First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff.

    Deputy Chief of Naval Staff.
      Director of Intelligence Division.
      Director of Signals Division.
      Director of Operations Division.
        Deputy-Director of Operations
          Operations at home.
        Assistant Director Operations Division and Staff.
          Operations abroad.
      Director of Plans Division.
        Preparation of Plans for operations at home and abroad.
        Consideration of and proposals for use of new
            weapons and material. Building programmes to
            carry out approved policy.

    Deputy First Sea Lord.
      Director of Training and Staff Duties.

    Assistant Chief of Naval Staff.
      Director of Trade Division.
      Director of Mercantile Movements.
      Director of Mine-sweeping.
      Director of Anti-Submarine Division.

                TABLE B

  Board of Admiralty.
      Operations Committee.
        Naval Staff.
      Maintenance Committee.
        Shipbuilding and Armaments.
        Personnel and Discipline, etc.

Early in 1918, after my departure from the Admiralty, the following
announcement appeared in the Press:

The _Secretary of the Admiralty makes the following announcement_:--

The Letters Patent for the new Board of Admiralty having now been
issued, it may be desirable to summarize the changes in the personnel of
the Board and to indicate briefly the alterations in organization that
have been decided upon.

Acting Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Oliver now brings to a close his long
period of valuable service on the Naval Staff and will take up a
sea-going command, being succeeded as D.C.N.S. by Rear-Admiral Sydney
Fremantle. Rear-Admiral George P.W. Hope has been selected for the
appointment of Deputy First Sea Lord, formerly held by Admiral Wemyss,
but with changed functions. Commodore Paine, Fifth Sea Lord and Chief of
Naval Air Service, leaves the Board of Admiralty in consequence of the
recent creation of the Air Council, of which he is now a member, and
formal effect is now given to the appointment of Mr. A.F. Pease as
Second Civil Lord, which was announced on Thursday last.

In view of the formal recognition now accorded, as explained by the
First Lord in his statement in the House of Commons on the 1st November,
to the principle of the division of the work of the Board under the two
heads of Operations and Maintenance, the Members of the new Board (other
than the First Lord) may be grouped as follows:--

     OPERATIONS.                             MAINTENANCE.
  First Sea Lord                      Second Sea Lord.
  and                                 (Vice-Admiral Sir H.L. Heath.)
  Chief of Naval Staff.
  (Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss.)

  Deputy Chief of Naval Staff.        Third Sea Lord.
  (Rear-Admiral S.R. Fremantle.)      (Rear-Admiral L. Halsey.)
  Assistant Chief of Naval Staff.     Fourth Sea Lord.
  (Rear-Admiral A.L. Duff.)           (Rear-Admiral H.H.D.

  Deputy First Sea Lord.              Civil Lord.
  (Rear-Admiral G.P.W. Hope.)         (Right Hon. E.G. Pretyman,

                                      (Sir A.G. Anderson.)

                                      Second Civil Lord.
                                      (Mr. A.F. Pease.)

               Financial Secretary.
               (Right Hon. T.J. Macnamara, M.P.)

               Permanent Secretary.
               (Sir O. Murray.)

The principle of isolating the work of planning and directing naval war
operations from all other work, in order that it may receive the entire
attention of the Officers selected for its performance, is now being
carried a stage further and applied systematically to the organization
of the Operations side of the Board and that of the Naval Staff.

In future the general distribution of duties between the Members of the
Board belonging to the Naval Staff will be as follows:--

  FIRST SEA LORD AND CHIEF   Naval policy and general direction
  OF NAVAL STAFF                of operations.

  DEPUTY CHIEF OF NAVAL      War operations in Home
  STAFF                         Waters.

  ASSISTANT CHIEF OF NAVAL   Trade Protection and
  STAFF                         anti-submarine operations.

  DEPUTY FIRST SEA LORD      General policy questions and
                                operations outside Home

The detailed arrangements have been carefully worked out so as to
relieve the first three of these officers of the necessity of dealing
with any questions not directly connected with the main operations of
the war, and the great mass of important paper work and administrative
detail which is inseparably and necessarily connected with Staff work,
but which has hitherto tended to compete for attention with Operations
work generally will under the new organization be diverted to the Deputy
First Sea Lord.

The grouping of the Directors of the Naval Staff Divisions will be
governed by the same principle.

The only two Directors that will work immediately under the First Sea
Lord will be the Director of Intelligence Division (Rear-Admiral Sir
Reginald Hall) and the Director of Training and Staff Duties
(Rear-Admiral J. C. Ley), whose functions obviously affect all the other
Staff Divisions alike.

Under the Deputy Chief of Naval Staff will be grouped three Directors
whose duties will relate entirely to the planning and direction of
operations in the main sphere of naval activity, viz.:--

  Director of Operations Division    Captain A.D.P. Pound.

  Director of Plans Division         Captain C.T.M. Fuller,
                                         C.M.G., D.S.O.

  Director of Air Division           Wing Captain F.R. Scarlett,

together with the Director of Signals Division, Acting-Captain R.L.
Nicholson, D.S.O., whose duties relate to the system of Fleet

Under the Assistant Chief of Naval Staff will be grouped four Directors,
whose duties relate to Trade Protection and Anti-Submarine Operations,

  Director of Anti-Submarine          Captain W.W. Fisher, C.B.
  Director  of Mine-sweeping          Captain L.G. Preston, C.B.
  Director of Mercantile Movements    Captain F.A. Whitehead.
  Director of Trade Division          Captain A.G. Hotham.

Under the Deputy First Sea Lord there will be one _Director of
Operations Division (Foreign)_--Captain C.P.R. Coode, D.S.O.

The chief change on the Maintenance side of the Board relates to the
distribution of duties amongst the Civil Members. The continuance of the
war has caused a steady increase in the number of cases in which
necessary developments of Admiralty policy due to the war, or experience
resulting from war conditions give rise to administrative problems of
great importance and complexity, of which a solution will have to be
forthcoming either immediately upon or very soon after the conclusion of
the war. The difficulty of concentrating attention on these problems of
the future in the midst of current administrative work of great urgency
may easily be appreciated, and the Civil Lord has consented to take
charge of this important matter, with suitable naval and other
assistance. He will, therefore, be relieved by the Second Civil Lord of
the administration of the programme of Naval Works, including the
questions of priority of labour and material requirements arising
therefrom and the superintendence of the Director of Works Department.

It has further been decided that the exceptional labour and other
difficulties now attending upon the execution of the very large
programme of urgent naval works in progress have so greatly transformed
the functions of the Director of Works Department of the Admiralty that
it is desirable, whilst these abnormal conditions last, to place that
Department under the charge of an expert in the rapid execution of large
engineering works.

The Army Council have consented, at the request of the First Lord of the
Admiralty, to lend for this purpose the services of Colonel Alexander
Gibb, K.B.E., C.B., R.E., Chief Engineer, Port Construction, British
Armies in France. Colonel Gibb (of the Firm of Easton, Gibb, Son and
Company, which built Rosyth Naval Base) will have the title of Civil
Engineer-in-Chief, and will be assisted by the Director of Works, who
retains his status as such, and the existing Staff of the Department,
which will be strengthened as necessary.

Another important change has reference to the organization of the
Admiralty Board of Invention and Research, and has the object at once of
securing greater concentration of effort in connection with scientific
research and experiment, and ensuring that the distinguished scientists
who are giving their assistance to the Admiralty are more constantly in
and amongst the problems upon which they are advising.

Mr. Charles H. Merz, M.Inst.C.E., the well-known Electrical Consulting
Engineer, who has been associated with the Board of Invention and
Research (B.I.R.) since its inception, has consented to serve as
Director of Experiments and Research (unpaid) at the Admiralty to direct
and supervise all the executive arrangements in connection with the
organization of scientific Research and Experiments. Mr. Merz will also
be a member of the Central Committee of the B.I.R. under the presidency
of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher. The functions of the Central
Committee will, as hitherto, be to initiate, investigate, develop and
advise generally upon proposals in respect to the application of Science
and Engineering to Naval Warfare, but the distinguished scientific
experts at present giving their services will in future work more much
closely with the Technical Departments of the Admiralty immediately
concerned with the production and use of apparatus required for specific

The general arrangements in regard to the organization of scientific
research and experiment will in future come under the direct supervision
of the First Lord.

Possibly by reason of the manner in which the announcement was made, the
Press appeared to assume that the whole of this Admiralty organization
was new. Such was not the case. Apart from the changes in the personnel
of the Board itself and a slight rearrangement of their duties and those
due to the establishment of an Air Ministry (which had been arranged by
the Cabinet before December, 1917), there were but slight alterations in
the organization shown in Table A [above], as will be seen by comparing
it with Table C on p. 27 [below], which indicates graphically the
organization given in the Admiralty communique.

              TABLE C


  Deputy Chief of Naval Staff.
      Director of Signals  Division.
      Director of Operations Division (Home).
      Director of Plans Division.
      Director of Air Division.

  Deputy First Sea Lord.
      Director of Operations Division (Foreign) and
      Administrative detail work.

  Director of Intelligence Division.
  Director of Training and Staff Duties.

  Assistant  Chief of Naval Staff.
    Director of Trade Division.
    Director of Mercantile Movements.
    Director of Mine-sweeping.
    Director of Anti-Submarine Division.

It will be seen that the alterations in Naval Staff organization were as

(a) The new Deputy First Sea Lord--Rear-Admiral Hope--who since the
spring of 1917 had been Director of the Operations Division, was given
the responsibility for operations in foreign waters, with a Director of
Operations (foreign) under him, and was also definitely charged with the
administrative detail involving technical matters. The special gifts,
experience and aptitude of this particular officer for such work enabled
him, no doubt, to relieve the pressure on the First Sea Lord for
administrative detail very materially.

(b) The Operations Division was separated into two parts (home and
foreign), with a Director for each, instead of there being a Deputy
Director for home and an Assistant Director for foreign work, both
working under the Director. This was a change in name only, as the same
officer continued the foreign work under the new arrangement.

(c) The Director of the Intelligence Division and the Director of
Training and Staff Duties were shown as working immediately under the
First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff.

(d) A Director of the Air Division was introduced as a result of the
Naval Air Service having been separated from the Admiralty and placed
under the Air Ministry. A larger Admiralty Staff organization for aerial
matters thus became necessary, since the Staff could no longer refer to
the Naval Air Service.

There were no other changes in the Staff organization. As regards the
general Admiralty organization, there was no change except that caused
by the disappearance of the separate Naval Air Service, the addition of
a Second Civil Lord, and some reorganization of the Board of Invention
and Research which had been under discussion for some months previously.

It is probable that in 1918 the Chief of the Naval Staff had more time
at his disposal than was the case in 1917, owing to the changes in
organization initiated in the later year having reached some finality
and to the fact that the numerous anti-submarine measures put in hand in
1917 had become effective in 1918.

The future Admiralty Naval Staff organization, which was in my mind at
the end of 1917, was a development of that shown in Table A, p. 20,
subject to the following remarks:

In the organization then adopted the personality and experience during
the war of many of the officers in high positions were of necessity
considered, and the organization to that extent adapted to
circumstances. This resulted in somewhat overloading the staff at the
head, and the principle on which the Board of Admiralty works, i.e.,
that its members are colleagues one of another, and seniority in rank
does not, theoretically, give greater weight in council, was not
altogether followed. Thus the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, the
Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff, and the Deputy First Sea Lord were,
by the nature of their duties, subordinate to the Chief of the Naval
Staff and yet were members of the Board. The well-known loyalty of naval
officers to one another tended to minimize any difficulties that might
have arisen from this anomaly, but the arrangement might conceivably
give rise to difficulty, and is best avoided if the Board system is to

The situation would be clearer if two of the three officers concerned
were removed altogether from the Board, viz., the Deputy First Sea Lord
and the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff, leaving only the Deputy
Chief of the Naval Staff as a member of the Board to act in the absence
of the Chief of the Naval Staff and to relieve him of the administrative
and technical work not immediately connected with operations.

The work of the two officers thus removed should, under these
conditions, be undertaken by officers who should preferably be Flag
Officers, with experience in command at sea, having the titles of
Directors of Operations, whose emoluments should be commensurate with
their position and responsibilities.

I did not consider it advisable to carry out this alteration during the
war, and it was also difficult under the hour to hour stress of war to
rearrange all the duties of the Naval Staff in the manner most
convenient to the conduct of Staff business, although its desirability
was recognized during 1917.

It may be as well to close this chapter by a few remarks on Staff work
generally in the Navy. In the first place it is necessary in the Navy to
give much weight to the opinions of specialist officers, and for this
reason it is desirable that they should be included in the Staff
organization, and not "attached" to it as was the case with our Army in
pre-war days. The reason for this is that in the Army there is, except
in regard to artillery, little "specialization." The training received
by an officer of any of the fighting branches of the Army at the Staff
College may fit him to assist in the planning and execution of
operations, provided due regard is paid to questions of supply,
transport, housing, etc.

This is not so in a navy. A ship and all that she contains is the
weapon, and very intimate knowledge of the different factors that go to
make a ship an efficient weapon is necessary if the ship is to be used
effectively and if operations in which the ship takes so prominent a
part are to be successfully planned and executed, or if a sound opinion
is to be expressed on the training necessary to produce and maintain her
as an efficient weapon.

The particular points in which this specially intimate knowledge is
required are:

(a) The science of navigation and of handling ships of all types and

(b) Gunnery.

(c) Torpedoes and mines.

It is the case at present (and the conditions are not likely to alter)
that each one of these subjects is a matter for specialist training.
Every executive officer has a general knowledge of each subject, but it
is not possible for any one officer to possess the knowledge of all
three which is gained by the specialist, and if attempts are made to
plan operations without the assistance of the specialists grave errors
may be made, and, indeed, such errors were made during the late war,
perhaps from this cause.

In my view, therefore, it is desirable that specialist officers should
be included in a Naval Staff organization and not be merely "attached"
to it. It may be said that a Staff can take the advice of specialist
officers who are _attached_ to it for that purpose. But there is a
danger that the specialist advice may never reach the heads of the
Staff. Human nature being what it is, the safest procedure is to place
the specialist officer where his voice must be heard, i.e. to give him a
position on the Staff, for one must legislate for the _average_
individual and for normal conditions of work.

The Chief of a Staff _might_ have specialist knowledge himself, or he
_might_ assure himself that due weight had been given to the opinions of
specialists attached to a Staff; but, on the other hand, it is possible
that he might not have that knowledge and that he might ignore the
opinions of the specialists. The procedure suggested is at least as
necessary when considering the question of training as it is in the case
of operations.

In passing from this point I may say that I have heard the opinion
expressed by military Staff officers that the war has shown that
artillery is so all important that it would be desirable to place the
Major-General of the Royal Artillery, now _attached_ to General
Headquarters, on the Staff for operational matters.

Finally, great care should be exercised to prevent the Staff becoming
larger than is necessary, and there is some danger that the ignorant may
gauge the value of the Staff by its size.

Von Schellendorff says on this subject:

"The principle strictly followed throughout the German Service of
reducing all Staffs to the smallest possible dimensions is moreover
vindicated by restricting every Staff to what is absolutely necessary,
and by not attaching to every Army, Army Corps and Divisional Staff
representatives of all the various branches and departments according to
any fixed rule.

"There cannot be the slightest doubt that the addition of every
individual not absolutely required on a Staff is in itself an evil. In
the first place, it unnecessarily weakens the strength of the regiment
from which an officer is taken. Again it increases the difficulty of
providing the Staff with quarters, which affects the troops that may
happen to be quartered in the same place; and these are quite ready
enough, as it is, occasionally to look with a certain amount of
dislike--though in most cases it is entirely uncalled for--on the
personnel of the higher Staffs. Finally, it should be remembered--and
this is the most weighty argument against the proceeding--that _idleness
is at the root of all mischief_. When there are too many officers on a
Staff they cannot always find the work and occupation essential for
their mental and physical welfare, and their superfluous energies soon
make themselves felt in all sorts of objectionable ways. Experience
shows that whenever a Staff is unnecessarily numerous the ambitious
before long take to intrigue, the litigious soon produce general
friction, and the vain are never satisfied. These failings, so common to
human nature, even if all present, are to a great extent counteracted if
those concerned have plenty of hard and constant work. Besides, the
numbers of a Staff being few, there is all the greater choice in the
selection of the men who are to fill posts on it. In forming a Staff for
war the qualifications required include not only great professional
knowledge and acquaintance with service routine, but above all things
character, self-denial, energy, tact and discretion."



The struggle against the depredations of the enemy submarines during the
year 1917 was two-fold; _offensive_ in the direction of anti-submarine
measures (this was partly the business of the Anti-Submarine Division of
the Naval Staff and partly that of the Operations Division); _defensive_
in the direction of protective measures for trade, whether carried in
our own ships or in ships belonging to our Allies or to neutrals, this
being the business of the Trade and Mercantile Movements Divisions.

Prior to the formation of the Mercantile Movements Division the whole
direction of trade was in the hands of the Trade Division of the Staff.

The difficulty with which we were constantly faced in the early part of
1917, when the effective means of fighting the submarine were very
largely confined to the employment of surface vessels, was that of
providing a sufficient number of such vessels for _offensive_ operations
without incurring too heavy risks for our trade by the withdrawal of
vessels engaged in what might be termed _defensive_ work. There was
always great doubt whether any particular offensive operation undertaken
by small craft would produce any result, particularly as the numbers
necessary for success were not available, whilst there was the practical
_certainty_ that withdrawal of defensive vessels would increase our
losses; the situation was so serious in the spring of 1917 that we could
not carry out experiments involving grave risk of considerably increased

On the other hand, the sinking of one enemy submarine meant the possible
saving of a considerable number of merchant ships. It was difficult to
draw the line between the two classes of operations.

The desire of the Anti-Submarine Division to obtain destroyers for
offensive use in hunting flotillas in the North Sea and English Channel
led to continual requests being made to me to provide vessels for the
purpose. I was, of course, anxious to institute offensive operations,
but in the early days of 1917 we could not rely much on depth-charge
attack, owing to our small stock of these charges, and my experience in
the Grand Fleet had convinced me that for success in the alternative of
hunting submarines for a period which would exhaust their batteries and
so force them to come to the surface, a large number of destroyers was
required, unless the destroyers were provided with some apparatus which
would, by sound or otherwise, locate the submarine. This will be
realized when the fact is recalled that a German submarine could remain
submerged at slow speed for a period which would enable her to travel a
distance of some 80 miles. As this distance could be covered in any
direction in open waters such as the North Sea, it is obvious that only
a very numerous force of destroyers steaming at high speed could cover
the great area in which the submarine might come to the surface. She
would, naturally, select the dark hours for emergence, as being the
period of very limited range of vision for those searching for her. In
confined waters such as those in the eastern portion of the English
Channel the problem became simpler. Requests for destroyers constantly
came from every quarter, such as the Commanders-in-Chief at Portsmouth
and Devonport, the Senior Naval Officer at Gibraltar, the Vice-Admiral,
Dover, the Rear-Admiral Commanding East Coast, and the Admiral at
Queenstown. The vessels they wanted did not, however, exist.

Eventually, with great difficulty, a force of six destroyers was
collected from various sources in the spring of 1917, and used in the
Channel solely for hunting submarines; this number was really quite
inadequate, and it was not long before they had to be taken for convoy

Evidence of the difficulty of successfully hunting submarines was often
furnished by the experiences of our own vessels of this type, sometimes
when hunted by the enemy, sometimes when hunted in error by our own
craft. Many of our submarines went through some decidedly unpleasant
experiences at the hands of our own surface vessels and occasionally at
the hands of vessels belonging to our Allies. On several such occasions
the submarine was frequently reported as having been sunk, whereas she
had escaped.

As an example of a submarine that succeeded not only in evading
destruction, but in getting at least even with the enemy, the case of
one of our vessels of the "E" class, on patrol in the Heligoland Bight,
may be cited. This submarine ran into a heavy anti-submarine net, and
was dragged, nose first, to the bottom. After half an hour's effort,
during which bombs were exploding in her vicinity, the submarine was
brought to the surface by her own crew by the discharge of a great deal
of water from her forward ballast tanks. It was found, however, that the
net was still foul of her, and that a Zeppelin was overhead, evidently
attracted by the disturbance in the water due to the discharge of air
and water from the submarine. She went to the bottom again, and after
half an hour succeeded in getting clear of the net. Meanwhile the
Zeppelin had collected a force of trawlers and destroyers, and the
submarine was hunted for fourteen hours by this force, assisted by the
airship. During this period she succeeded in sinking one of the German
destroyers, and was eventually left unmolested.

For a correct appreciation of submarine warfare it is necessary to have
a clear idea of the characteristics and qualities of the submarine
herself, of the numbers possessed by the enemy, and of the rate at which
they were being produced. It is also necessary, in order to understand
the difficulty of introducing the counter measures adopted by the Royal
Navy, to know the length of time required to produce the vessels and the
weapons which were employed or which it was intended to employ in the
anti-submarine war.

The German submarines may be divided into four classes, viz.: Submarine
cruisers, U-boats, U.B.-boats, U.C.-boats. There were several variations
of each class.

The earlier _submarine cruisers_ of the "Deutschland" class were
double-hulled vessels, with a surface displacement of 1,850 tons, and
were about 215 feet long; they had a surface speed of about 12 knots and
a submerged speed of about 6 knots. They carried two 5.9-inch guns, two
22 pounders, two torpedo tubes, and 12 torpedoes. They could keep the
sea for quite four months without being dependent on a supply ship or

The later _submarine cruisers_ were double-hulled, 275-320 feet long,
had a surface speed of 16-18 knots, and a submerged speed of about 7 to
8 knots. They carried either one or two 5.9-inch guns, six torpedo
tubes, and about 10 torpedoes. They had a very large radius of action,
viz., from 12,000 to 20,000 miles, at a speed of 6 knots. A large number
(some 30 to 40) of these boats were under construction at the time of
the Armistice, but very few had been completed.

There were two or three types of _U-boats_. The earlier vessels were 210
to 220 feet long, double-hulled, with a surface displacement of about
750 tons, a surface speed of 15 to 16 knots, and a submerged speed of
about 8 knots. They carried one or two 4.1-inch guns, four to six
torpedo tubes, and about 10 torpedoes.

Later vessels of the class were 230 to 240 feet long, and of 800 to 820
tons surface displacement, and carried six torpedo tubes and 16
torpedoes. Some of them, fitted as minelayers, carried 36 mines, and two
torpedo tubes, but only two torpedoes. A later and much larger class of
minelayers carried a 5.9-inch gun, four torpedo tubes, 42 mines, and a
larger number of torpedoes. The earlier _U-boats_ could keep the sea for
about five weeks without returning to a base or a supply ship; the later
_U-boats_ had much greater sea endurance.

The smaller _U.B.-boats_ were single-hulled, and about 100 feet long,
had a surface speed of 7 to 9 knots and a submerged speed of about 5
knots, and carried one 22-pounder gun, two torpedo tubes and four
torpedoes. These boats could keep the sea for about two weeks without
returning to a base or supply ship. A later class were double-hulled,
180 feet long, with greater endurance (8,000 miles at 6 knots), a
surface speed of 13 knots and a submerged speed of 8 knots; they carried
one 4.1-inch gun, five tubes and 10 torpedoes.

The earliest _U.C.-boats_ were 111 feet long, with a surface
displacement of 175 tons, a surface speed of 6-½ knots, and a submerged
speed of 5 knots. They carried 12 mines, but no torpedo tubes, and as
they had a fuel endurance of only 800 miles at 5-½ knots, they could
operate only in southern waters.

The later _U.C.-boats_ were 170 to 180 feet long, double-hulled, had a
surface speed of 11 to 12 knots and a submerged speed of about 7 knots,
carried 18 mines, three torpedo tubes, five torpedoes, and one
22-pounder gun, and their fuel endurance was 8,000 to 10,000 miles at a
speed of 7 to 8 knots.

At the end of February, 1917, it was estimated that the enemy had a
total of about 130 submarines of all types available for use in home
waters, and about 20 in the Mediterranean. Of this total an average of
between one-half and one-third was usually at sea. During the year about
eight submarines, on the average, were added monthly to this total. Of
this number some 50 per cent, were vessels of the mine-laying type.

All the German submarines were capable of prolonged endurance submerged.
The U-boats could travel under water at the slowest speed for some 48
hours, at about 4 knots for 20 hours, at 5 knots for about 12 hours, and
at 8 knots for about 2 hours.

They were tested to depths of at least 180 feet, but many submerged to
depths exceeding 250 feet without injury. They did not usually lie on
the bottom at depths greatly exceeding 20 fathoms (120 feet).

All German submarines, except possibly the _cruiser class_, could dive
from diving trim in from 30 seconds to one minute. The _U.B. class_ had
particularly rapid diving qualities, and were very popular boats with
the German submarine officers. Perhaps the most noticeable features of
the German submarines as a whole were their excellent engines and their
great strength of construction.

Prior to the month of February, 1917, it was the usual practice of the
enemy submarine in the warfare against merchant ships to give some
warning before delivering her attack. This was by no means a universal
rule, particularly in the case of British merchant vessels, as is
evidenced by the attacks on the _Lusitania, Arabic_, and scores of other

In the years 1915 and 1916, however, only 21 and 29 per cent.
respectively of the British merchant ships sunk by enemy submarines were
destroyed without warning, whilst during the first four months of the
unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 the figure rose to 64 per cent.,
and went higher and higher as the months progressed.

Prior to February, 1917, the more general method of attack on ships was
to "bring them to" by means of gun-fire; they were then sunk by
gun-fire, torpedo, or bomb. This practice necessitated the submarine
being on the surface, and so gave a merchant ship defensively armed a
chance of replying to the gun-fire and of escaping, and it also gave
armed decoy ships a good opportunity of successful action if the
submarine could be induced to close to very short range.

The form of attack on commerce known as "unrestricted submarine warfare"
was commenced by Germany with the object of forcing Great Britain to
make peace by cutting off her supplies of food and raw material. It has
been acknowledged by Germans in high positions that the German Admiralty
considered that this form of warfare would achieve its object in a
comparatively short time, in fact in a matter of some five or six

Experienced British naval officers, aware of the extent of the German
submarine building programme, and above all aware of the shadowy nature
of our existing means of defence against such a form of warfare, had
every reason to hold the view that the danger was great and that the
Allies were faced with a situation, fraught with the very gravest

The principal doubt was as to the ability of the enemy to train
submarine crews with sufficient rapidity to keep pace with his building

However, it was ascertained that the Germans had evidently devoted a
very great number of their submarines to training work during the period
September, 1915, to March, 1916, possibly in anticipation of the
unrestricted warfare, since none of their larger boats was operating in
our waters between these months; this fact had a considerable bearing on
the problem.

As events turned out it would appear either that the training given was
insufficient or that the German submarine officer was lacking in

There is no doubt whatever that had the German craft engaged in the
unrestricted submarine warfare been manned by British officers and men,
adopting German methods, there would have been but few Allied or neutral
merchant ships left afloat by the end of 1917.

So long as the majority of the German submarine attacks upon shipping
were made by gun-fire, the method of defence was comparatively simple,
in that it merely involved the supply to merchant ships of guns of
sufficient power to prevent the submarine engaging at ranges at which
the fire could not be returned. Whilst the _method_ of defence was
apparent, the problem of _supplying_ suitable guns in sufficient numbers
was a very different matter. It involved arming all our merchant ships
with guns of 4-inch calibre and above. In January, 1917, only some 1,400
British ships had been so armed since the outbreak of war.

It will be seen, therefore, that so long as ships sailed singly, very
extensive supplies of guns were required to meet gun attack, and as
there was most pressing need for the supply of guns for the Army in
France, as well as for the anti-aircraft defence of London, the prospect
of arming merchant ships adequately was not promising.

When the enemy commenced unrestricted submarine warfare attack by
gun-fire was gradually replaced by attack by torpedo, and the problem at
once became infinitely more complicated.

Gun-fire was no longer a protection, since the submarine was rarely
seen. The first intimation of her presence would be given by the track
of a torpedo coming towards the ship, and no defence was then possible
beyond an endeavour to manoeuvre the ship clear of the torpedo. Since,
however, a torpedo is always some distance ahead of the bubbles which
mark its track (the speed of the torpedo exceeding 30 knots an hour),
the track is not, as a rule, seen until the torpedo is fairly close to
the ship unless the sea is absolutely calm. The chance of a ship of low
speed avoiding a hit by a timely alteration of course after the torpedo
has been fired is but slight. Further, the only difficulty experienced
by a submarine in hitting a moving vessel by torpedo-fire, once she has
arrived in a position suitable for attack, lies in estimating correctly
the course and speed of the target. In the case of an ordinary cargo
ship there is little difficulty in guessing her speed, since it is
certain to be between 8 and 12 knots, and her course can be judged with
fair accuracy by the angle of her masts and funnel, or by the angle
presented by her bridge.

It will be seen, then, how easy was the problem before the German
submarine officers, and how very difficult was that set to our Navy and
our gallant Mercantile Marine.

It will not be out of place here to describe the methods which were in
force at the end of 1916 and during the first part of 1917 for affording
protection to merchant shipping approaching our coasts from the
direction of the Atlantic Ocean.

The general idea dating from the early months of the war was to disperse
trade on passage over wide tracts of ocean, in order to prevent the
successful attacks which could be so easily carried out if shipping
traversed one particular route. To carry out such a system it was
necessary to give each vessel a definite route which she should follow
from her port of departure to her port of arrival; unless this course
was adopted, successive ships would certainly be found to be following
identical, or practically identical, routes, thereby greatly increasing
the chance of attack. In the early years of the war masters of ships
were given approximate tracks, but when the unrestricted submarine
campaign came into being it became necessary to give exact routes.

The necessary orders were issued by officers stationed at various ports
at home and abroad who were designated Shipping Intelligence or
Reporting Officers. It was, of course, essential to preserve the secrecy
of the general principles governing the issue of route orders and of the
route orders themselves. For this reason each master was only informed
of the orders affecting his own ship, and was directed that such orders
should on no account fall into the hands of the enemy.

The route orders were compiled on certain principles, of which a few may
be mentioned:

(a) Certain definite positions of latitude and longitude were given
through which the ship was required to pass, and the orders were
discussed with the master of each vessel in order to ensure that they
were fully understood.

(b) Directions were given that certain localities in which submarines
were known to operate, such as the approaches to the coast of the United
Kingdom, were, if possible, to be crossed at night. It was pointed out
that when the speed of the ship did not admit of traversing the whole
danger area at night, the portion involving the greatest danger (which
was the inshore position) should, as a rule, be crossed during dark

(c) Similarly the orders stated that ships should, as a rule, leave port
so as to approach the dangerous area at dusk, and that they should make
the coast at about daylight, and should avoid, as far as possible, the
practice of making the land at points in general use in peace time.

(d) Orders were definite that ships were to zigzag both by day and at
night in certain areas, and if kept waiting outside a port.

(e) Masters were cautioned to hug the coast, as far as navigational
facilities admitted, when making coastal passages.

The orders (b), (c) and (d) were those in practice in the Grand Fleet
when circumstances permitted during my term in that command.

A typical route order from New York to Liverpool might be as follows:

"After passing Sandy Hook, hug the coast until dark, then make a good
offing before daylight and steer to pass through the following
positions, viz:

Lat. 38° N.                Long. 68° W.
Lat. 41° N.                Long. 48° W.
Lat. 46° N.                Long. 28° W.
Lat. 51° 30'  N.           Long. 14° W.

"Thence make the coast near the Skelligs approximately at daylight, hug
the Irish coast to the Tuskar, up the Irish coast (inside the banks if
possible), and across the Irish Channel during dark hours. Thence hug
the coast to your port; zigzag by day and night after passing, Long. 20°

Sometimes ships were directed to cross to the English coast from the
south of Ireland, and to hug the English coast on their way north.

The traffic to the United Kingdom was so arranged in the early part of
1917 as to approach the coast in four different areas, which were known
as Approach A, B, C, and D.

Approach A was used for traffic bound towards the western approach to
the English Channel.

Approach B for traffic making for the south of Ireland.

Approach C for traffic making for the north of Ireland.

Approach D for traffic making for the east coast of England via the
north of Scotland.

The approach areas in force during one particular period are shown on
Chart A (in pocket at the end of the book). They were changed
occasionally when suspicion was aroused that their limits were known to
the enemy, or as submarine attack in an area became intense.

[Transcriber's note: Chart A is a navigational map of the waters
southwest of England, with approach routes marked.]

The approach areas were patrolled at the time, so far as numbers
admitted, by patrol craft (trawlers, torpedo-boat destroyers, and
sloops), and ships with specially valuable cargoes were given directions
to proceed to a certain rendezvous on the outskirts of the area, there
to be met by a destroyer or sloop, if one was available for the purpose.
The areas were necessarily of considerable length, by reason of the
distance from the coast at which submarines operated, and of
considerable width, owing to the necessity for a fairly wide dispersion
of traffic throughout the area. Consequently, with the comparatively
small number of patrol craft available, the protection afforded was but
slight, and losses were correspondingly heavy. In the early spring of
1917, Captain H.W. Grant, of the Operations Division at the Admiralty,
whose work in the Division was of great value, proposed a change in
method by which the traffic should be brought along certain definite
"lines" in each approach area. Typical lines are shown in Chart B.

[Transcriber's note: Chart B is a navigational map of the waters
southwest of Ireland, with approach routes marked.]

The idea was that the traffic in, say, Approach Route B, should,
commencing on a certain date, be ordered by the Routeing Officer to pass
along the line Alpha. Traffic would continue along the line for a
certain period, which was fixed at five days, when it would be
automatically diverted to another line, say Gamma, but the traffic along
Gamma would not commence until a period of 24 hours had elapsed since
discontinuance of the use of the line Alpha. This was necessary in order
to give time for the patrol craft to change from one line to the other.
During this period of 24 hours the arrangement for routeing at the ports
of departure ensured that no traffic would reach the outer end of any of
the approach lines, and consequently that traffic would cease on line
Alpha 24 hours before it commenced on line Gamma. After a further period
of five days the line would again change automatically.

It was necessary that Shipping Intelligence Officers should have in
their possession the orders for directing traffic on to the various
lines for some considerable time ahead, and the masters of ships which
were likely to be for some time at sea were informed of the dates
between which the various lines were to be used, up to a date sufficient
to cover the end of their voyage. There was, therefore, some danger of
this information reaching the enemy if a vessel were captured by a
submarine and the master failed to destroy his instructions in time.
There was also some danger in giving the information to neutrals.

However, the system, which was adopted, did result in a reduction of
losses during the comparatively short time that it was in use, and the
knowledge that patrol craft on the line would be much closer together
than they would be in an approach area certainly gave confidence to the
personnel of the merchant ships, and those who had been forced to
abandon their ship by taking to the boats were afforded a better chance
of being picked up.

Various arrangements were in existence for effecting rapidly a diversion
of shipping from one route to another in the event of submarines being
located in any particular position, and a continual change of the
signals for this purpose was necessary to guard against the possibility
of the code being compromised by having fallen into enemy hands, an
event which, unfortunately, was not infrequent.

Elaborate orders were necessary to regulate coastal traffic, and fresh
directions were continually being issued as danger, especially danger
from mines, was located. Generally speaking, the traffic in home waters
was directed to hug the coast as closely as safe navigation permitted.
Two reasons existed for this, (a) in water of a depth of less than about
eight fathoms German submarines did not care to operate, and (b) under
the procedure indicated danger from submarine attack was only likely on
the side remote from the coast.

Here is an example of the instructions for passing up Channel:

_From Falmouth to Portland Bill._--Hug the coast, following round the
bays, except when passing Torbay. (Directions followed as to the
procedure here.)

_From Portland Bill to St. Catherines._--Pass close south of the
Shambles and steer for Anvil Point, thence hug the coast, following
round the bays.

And so on.

As it was not safe navigationally to follow round the bays during
darkness, the instructions directed that ships were to leave the
daylight route at dusk and to join the dark period route, showing dimmed
bow lights whilst doing so.

Two "dark period routes" were laid down, one for vessels bound up
Channel, and another for vessels bound down Channel, and these routes
were some five miles apart in order to minimize the danger of collision,
ships being directed not to use their navigation lights except for
certain portions of the route, during which they crossed the route of
transports and store ships bound between certain southern British ports
(Portsmouth, Southampton and Devonport) and French ports.

Routes were similarly laid down for ships to follow when navigating to
or from the Bristol Channel, and for ships navigating the Irish Sea.

Any system of convoy was at this time out of the question, as neither
the cruisers to marshal the convoy to the submarine area, nor the
destroyers to screen it when there, were available.

There was one very important factor in the situation, viz., the
comparative rate at which the Germans could produce submarines and at
which we could build vessels suitable for anti-submarine warfare and for
defence of commerce. The varying estimates gave cause for grave anxiety.
Our average output of _destroyers_ was four to five per month. Indeed,
this is putting the figure high; and, of course, we suffered losses. The
French and Italians were not producing any vessels of this type, whilst
the Japanese were, in the early part of 1917, not able to spare any for
work in European waters, although later in the year they lent twelve
destroyers, which gave valuable assistance in the Mediterranean. The
United States of America were not then in the war. Consequently measures
for the defence of the Allied trade against the new menace depended on
our own production.

Our _submarines_ were being produced at an average rate of about two per
month only, and--apart from motor launches, which were only of use in
the finest weather and near the coast--the only other vessels suitable
for anti-submarine work that were building at the time, besides some
sloops and P-boats, were trawlers, which, whilst useful for protection
patrol, were too slow for most of the escort work or for offensive
duties. The Germans' estimate of their own submarine production was
about twelve per month, although this figure was never realized, the
average being nearer eight. But each submarine was capable of sinking
many merchant ships, thus necessitating the employment of a very large
number of our destroyers; and therein lay the gravity of the situation,
as we realized at the Admiralty early in 1917 that no effort of ours
could increase the output of destroyers for at least fifteen months, the
shortest time then taken to build a destroyer in this country.

And here it is interesting to compare the time occupied in the
production of small craft in Great Britain and in Germany during the

In pre-war days we rarely built a destroyer in less than twenty-four
months, although shortly before the war efforts were made to reduce the
time to something like eighteen to twenty months. Submarines occupied
two years in construction.

In starting the great building programme of destroyers and submarines at
the end of 1914, Lord Fisher increased very largely the number of firms
engaged in constructing vessels of both types. Hopes were held out of
the construction both of destroyers and of submarines in about twelve
months; but labour and other difficulties intervened, and although some
firms did complete craft of both classes during 1915 in less than twelve
months, by 1916 and 1917 destroyers _averaged_ about eighteen months and
submarines even longer for completion.

The Germans had always built their small craft rapidly, although their
heavy ships were longer in construction than our own. Their destroyers
were completed in a little over twelve months from the official date of
order in pre-war days. During the early years of the war it would seem
that they maintained this figure, and they succeeded in building their
smaller submarines of the U.B. and U.C. types in some six to eight
months, as U.B. and U.C. boats began to be delivered as early as April,
1915, and it is certain that they were not ordered before August, 1914.

The time taken by the Germans to build submarines of the U type was
estimated by us at twelve months, and that of submarine cruisers at
eighteen months. German submarine officers gave the time as eight to ten
months for a U-boat and eighteen months for a submarine cruiser.

(It is to be observed that Captain Persius in a recent article gives a
much longer period for the construction of the German submarines. It is
not stated whether he had access to official figures, and his statement
is not in agreement with the figures given by German submarine

It is of interest to note here the rate of ship production attained by
some firms in the United States of America during the war.

As I mention later (_Vide_ Chapter vi, p. 157), the Bethlehem Steel
Company, under Mr. Schwab's guidance, produced ten submarines for us in
five months from the date of the order. Mr. Schwab himself informed me
that towards the end of the war he was turning out large destroyers in
six weeks. The Ford Company, as is well known, produced submarine
chasers of the "Eagle" type in even a shorter period, but these vessels
were of special design and construction.

I have dealt so far with the question of anti-submarine measures
involving only the use of destroyers and other small surface craft.
There were, of course, other methods both in use and under consideration
early in 1917 when we took stock of the situation.

For some time we had been using _Decoy vessels_, and with some success;
it was possible to increase the number of these ships at the cost of
taking merchant ships off the trade routes or by building. A very
considerable increase was arranged.

The use of our own _submarines_ offensively against enemy submarines had
also been tried, and had met with occasional success, but our numbers
were very limited (the total in December, 1916, fit for oversea or
anti-submarine work was about forty). They were much needed for
reconnaissance and offensive work against surface men-of-war in enemy
waters, and only a few were at the time available for anti-submarine
operations, and then only at the cost of other important services.

The _hydrophone_ had been in the experimental stage and under trial for
a considerable period, but it had not so far developed into an effective
instrument for locating submarines, and although trials of the different
patterns which had been devised were pushed forward with energy, many
months elapsed before it became a practicable proposition.

One of the best offensive measures against the enemy submarines, it was
realized, was the _mine_, if laid in sufficiently large numbers.
Unfortunately, in January, 1917, we did not possess a mine that was
satisfactory against submarines.

Our deficiency in this respect was clearly shown in the course of some
trials which I ordered, when one of our own submarines was run against a
number of our mines, with the result that only about 33 per cent. of the
mines (fitted, of course, only with small charges) exploded. The Germans
were well aware that our mines were not very effective against

We possessed at the time mines of two patterns, and whilst proving
unsatisfactory against submarines, they were also found to be somewhat
unreliable when laid in minefields designed to catch surface vessels,
owing to a defect in the mooring apparatus. This defect was remedied,
but valuable time was lost whilst the necessary alterations were being
carried out, and although we possessed in April, 1917, a stock of some
20,000 mines, only 1,500 of them were then fit for laying. The position,
therefore, was that our mines were not a satisfactory anti-submarine

A _new pattern mine_, which had been designed on the model of the German
mine during Sir Henry Jackson's term of office as First Sea Lord in
1916, was experimented with at the commencement of 1917, and as soon as
drawings could be prepared orders for upwards of 100,000 were placed in
anticipation of its success. There were some initial difficulties before
all the details were satisfactory, and, in spite of the greatest
pressure on manufacturers, it was not until November, 1917, that mines
of this pattern were being delivered in large numbers. The earliest
minefields laid in the Heligoland Bight in September and October, 1917,
with mines of the new pattern met with immediate success against enemy
submarines, as did the minefields composed of the same type of mine, the
laying of which commenced in November, 1917, in the Straits of Dover.

When it became possible to adopt the system of bringing merchant ships
in convoys through the submarine zone under the escort of a screen of
destroyers, this system became in itself, to a certain extent, an
offensive operation, since it necessarily forced the enemy submarines
desirous of obtaining results into positions in which they themselves
were open to violent attack by depth charges dropped by destroyers.

During the greater part of the year 1917, however, it was only possible
to supply destroyers with a small number of _depth charges_, which was
their principal anti-submarine weapon; as it became feasible to increase
largely the supply of these charges to destroyers, so the violence of
the attack on the submarines increased, and their losses became heavier.

The position then, as it existed in the early days of the year 1917, is
described in the foregoing remarks.

The _result_ measured in loss of shipping (British, Allied, and neutral)
from submarine and mine attack in the first half of the year was as
follows in gross tonnage:

January  - 324,016
February - 500,573
March    - 555,991
April    - 870,359
May      - 589,754
June     - 675,154

Because of the time required for production, it was a sheer
impossibility to _put into effect_ any fresh devices that might be
adopted for dealing with submarine warfare for many months, and all that
could be done was to try new methods of approach to the coast and, as
the number of small craft suitable for escort duty increased, to extend
gradually the convoy system already in force to a certain extent for the
French coal trade and the Scandinavian trade.

In the chapters which follow the further steps which were taken to deal
with the problem, and the degree of success which attended them, will be



The previous chapters have dealt with the changes in organization
carried out at the Admiralty during the year 1917 largely with the
object of being able to deal more effectively with the submarine warfare
against merchant ships. Mention has also been made of the submarine
problem with which the Navy had to deal; particulars of the
anti-submarine and other work carried out will now be examined.

A very large proportion of the successful anti-submarine devices brought
into use during 1917, and continued throughout the year 1918, were the
outcome of the work of the Anti-Submarine Division of the Naval Staff,
and it is but just that the high value of this work should be recognized
when the history of the war comes to be written by future historians. As
has been stated in Chapter I, Rear-Admiral A.C. Duff, C.B., was the
original head of the division, with Captain F.C. Dreyer, C.B., Commander
Yeats Brown, and Commander Reginald Henderson as his immediate
assistants. Captain H.T. Walwyn took the place of Captain Dreyer on
March 1, 1917, when the latter officer became Director of Naval
Ordnance. When Admiral Duff was appointed Assistant Chief of the Naval
Staff, with a seat on the Board, in May, 1917, Captain W.W. Fisher,
C.B., became head of the division, which still remained one of the
divisions of the Staff working immediately under the A.C.N.S. It is to
these officers, with their most zealous, clever and efficient staff,
that the institution of many of the successful anti-submarine measures
is largely due. They were indefatigable in their search for new methods
and in working out and perfecting fresh schemes, and they kept their
minds open to _new ideas_. They received much valuable assistance from
the great civilian scientists who gave such ready help during the war,
the function of the naval officers working with the scientists being to
see that the effort was being directed along practical lines. They were
also greatly indebted to Captain Ryan, R.N., for the exceedingly
valuable work carried out by him at the experimental establishment at
Hawkcraig. Many brilliant ideas were due to Captain Ryan's clever brain.

I doubt whether the debt due to Admiral Duff and Captain Fisher and
their staff for their great work can ever be thoroughly appreciated, but
it is certainly my duty to mention it here since I am better able to
speak of it than any other person. In saying this I do not wish to
detract in the least from the value of the part performed by those to
whose lot it fell to put the actual schemes into operation. Without
them, of course, nothing could have been accomplished.

When the Anti-Submarine Division started in December, 1916, the earlier
devices to which attention was devoted were:

(1) The design and manufacture of howitzers firing shell fitted to
explode some 40 to 60 feet under water with which to attack submarines
when submerged.

(2) The introduction of a more suitable projectile for use against
submarines than that supplied at the time to the guns of destroyers and
patrol craft.

(3) The improvement of and great increase in the supply of smoke
apparatus for the screening of merchant ships from submarines attacking
by gunfire.

(4) A great increase in the number of depth charges supplied to
destroyers and other small craft.

(5) The development of the hydrophone for anti-submarine work, both from
ships and from shore stations.

(6) The introduction of the "Otter" for the protection of merchant ships
against mines.

(7) A very great improvement in the rapidity of arming merchant ships

(8) The extended and organized use of air craft for anti-submarine work.

(9) A great development of the special service or decoy ship.

(10) The introduction of a form of net protection for merchant ships
against torpedo fire.

Other devices followed, many of which were the outcome of work in other
Admiralty Departments, particularly the Departments of the Director of
Naval Ordnance and the Director of Torpedoes and Mines, working in
conjunction with the Anti-Submarine or the Operations Division of the
Naval Staff. Some of the new features were the development of
depth-charge throwers, the manufacture and use of fast coastal
motor-boats for anti-submarine work, the production of mines of an
improved type for use especially against submarines, very considerable
developments in the use of minefields, especially deep minefields,
including persistent mining in the Heligoland Bight and the laying of a
complete minefield at varying depths in the Straits of Dover; also,
after the United States entered the war, the laying of a very extensive
minefield right across the northern part of the North Sea. The provision
of "flares" for illuminating minefields at night, and a system of
submarine detection by the use of electrical apparatus were also matters
which were taken up and pressed forward during 1917. During the year the
system of dazzle painting for merchant ships was brought into general

On the operational side of the Naval Staff the work of dealing with
enemy submarines before they passed out of the North Sea was taken in
hand by organized hunting operations by destroyers and other patrol
craft, and by the more extended use offensively of our own submarines,
as vessels became available.

Considerable developments were effected in the matter of the control of
mercantile traffic, and much was done to train the personnel of the
mercantile marine in matters relating to submarine warfare.

Taking these subjects in detail, it will be of interest to examine the
progress made during the year.


The _howitzer_ as a weapon for use against the submarine when submerged
was almost non-existent at the beginning of 1917, only thirty
bomb-throwers, on the lines of trench-mortars, being on order. By April
of that year designs for seven different kinds of bomb-throwers and
howitzers had been prepared and approved, and orders placed for 1,006
weapons, of which number the first 41 were due for delivery in May. By
the end of May the number of bomb-throwers and howitzers on order had
been increased to 2,056, of eight different patterns. Over 1,000 of
these weapons fired a bomb or shell carrying a burster exceeding 90 lbs.
in weight, and with a range varying between 1,200 and 2,600 yards. Later
in the war, as we gained experience of the value of this form of attack,
heavier bombs were introduced for use in the existing bomb-throwers and
howitzers. The howitzer as an anti-submarine weapon was handicapped by
the comparatively small weight of the bursting charge of its shell. This
applied more particularly to the earlier patterns, and to inflict fatal
injury it was necessary to burst the shell in close proximity to the
submerged submarine. This weapon, although not very popular at first,
soon, however, proved its value, when employed both from patrol craft
and from merchant ships.

One curious instance occurred on March 28, 1918, of a merchant ship
being saved by a 7.5-inch howitzer. A torpedo was seen approaching at a
distance of some 600 yards, and it appeared certain to hit the ship. A
projectile fired from the howitzer exploded under water close to the
torpedo, deflected it from its course, and caused it to come to the
surface some 60 yards from the ship; a second projectile caused it to
stop, and apparently damaged the torpedo, which when picked up by an
escorting vessel was found to be minus its head.

Delivery of howitzers commenced in June, 1917, and continued as follows:

                                            Total completed,
                      No. of Howitzers      including those
  Date.               actually issued.      under proof.

  July 24, 1917              35                   48
  October 1, 1917            92                  167
  December 10, 1917         377                  422

The slow rate of delivery, in spite of constant pressure, which is shown
by these figures gives some idea of the time required to bring new
devices into existence.


In January, 1917, the Director of Naval Ordnance was requested by the
Anti-Submarine Division of the Naval Staff to carry out trials against a
target representing the hull of a German submarine, so far as the
details were known to us, to ascertain _the most suitable type of
projectile_ amongst those then in existence for the attack of submarines
by guns of 4.7-inch calibre and below.

The results were published to the Fleet in March, 1917. They afforded
some useful knowledge and demonstrated the ineffectiveness of some of
the shells and fuses commonly in use against submarines from 12-pounder
guns, the weapon with which so many of our patrol craft were armed. The
target at which the shell was fired did not, however, fully represent a
German submarine under the conditions of service. The trials were
therefore continued, and as a result, in June, 1917, a further order was
issued to the Fleet, giving directions as to the type of projectile to
be used against submarines from all natures of guns, pending the
introduction of delay action fuses for the smaller guns; this was the
temporary solution of the difficulty until a new type of shell evolved
from the experience gained at the trials could be produced and issued.
The trials, which were exhaustive, were pressed forward vigorously and
continuously throughout the year 1917, and meanwhile more accurate
information as to the exact form of the hull and the thickness of the
plating of German submarines became available. Early in 1918 the first
supplies of the new fuses were ready for issue.


The earlier _smoke apparatus_ for supply to merchant ships was designed
towards the end of 1916.

One description of smoke apparatus consisted of an arrangement for
burning phosphorus at the stern of a ship; in other cases firework
composition and other chemicals were used. A dense smoke cloud was thus
formed, and, with the wind in a suitable direction, a vessel could hide
her movements from an enemy submarine or other vessel, and thus screen
herself from accurate shell fire.

In another form the apparatus was thrown overboard and formed a smoke
cloud on the water.

The rate of supply of sets of the smoke apparatus to ships is shown by
the following figures:

April 1, 1917     - 1,372 sets
July 3, 1917      - 2,563 sets
October 5, 1917   - 3,445 sets
November 26, 1917 - 3,976 sets


_Depth charges_, as supplied to ships in 1917, were of two patterns:
one, Type D, contained a charge of 300 lb. of T.N.T., and the other,
Type D*, carried 120 lb. of T.N.T. At the commencement of 1917 the
allowance to ships was two of Type D and two of Type D*, and the supply
was insufficient at that time to keep up the stock required to maintain
on board four per destroyer, the number for which they were fitted, or
to supply all trawlers and other patrol craft with their allowance. The
great value of the depth charge as a weapon against submarines, and the
large number that were required for successful attack, became apparent
early in 1917, and the allowance was increased. Difficulty was
experienced throughout the year in maintaining adequate stocks owing to
the shortage of labour and the many demands on our industries made by
the war, but the improvement is shown by the fact that while the average
output _per week_ of depth charges was only 140 in July, it had become
over 500 by October, and that by the end of December it was raised to
over 800, and was still increasing very rapidly. As a consequence, early
in 1918 it was found possible to increase the supply very largely, as
many as 30 to 40 per destroyer being carried.

Improvements in the details of depth charges were effected during 1917.
One such improvement was the introduction of a pistol capable of firing
at much greater depths than had been in use before. The result was that
all vessels, whether fast or slow, could safely use the 300-lb. depth
charge if set to a sufficient depth. This led to the abolition of the
Type D* charges and the universal supply of Type D.

In spite of the difficulties of dropping depth charges so close to
submarines as to damage them sufficiently to cause them to come to the
surface, very good results were obtained from their use when destroyers
carried enough to form, so to speak, a ring round the assumed position
at which the submarine had dived. In order to encourage scientific
attack on submarines, a system of depth charge "Battle Practice" was
introduced towards the end of 1917.

It is as well to correct a common misapprehension as to the value of
depth charges in destroying submarines.

Many people held very exaggerated ideas on this subject, even to the
extent of supposing that a depth charge would destroy a submarine if
dropped within several hundred yards of her. This is, unfortunately,
very far indeed from being the case; it is, on the contrary, necessary
to explode the charge near the submarine in order to effect destruction.
Taking the depth charge with 300 lb. weight of explosive, ordinarily
supplied to destroyers in 1917, it was necessary to explode it within
fourteen feet of a submarine to ensure destruction; at distances up to
about twenty-eight feet from the hull the depth charge might be expected
to disable a submarine to the extent of forcing her to the surface, when
she could be sunk by gun-fire or rammed, and at distances up to sixty
feet the moral effect on the crew would be considerable and _might_
force the submarine to the surface.

A consideration of these figures will show that it was necessary for a
vessel attacking a submarine with depth charges to drop them in very
close proximity, and the first obvious difficulty was to ascertain the
position of a submarine that had dived and was out of sight.

Unless, therefore, the attacking vessel was fairly close to the
submarine at the moment of the latter diving there was but little chance
of the attack being successful.


The _Hydrophone_, for use in locating submerged submarines, although
first evolved in 1915, was in its infancy, so far as supply to ships was
concerned, at the commencement of 1917. Experiments were being carried
out by the Board of Invention and Research at Harwich, and by Captain
Ryan, R.N., at Hawkcraig, and although very useful results had been
obtained and a considerable number of shore stations as well as some
patrol vessels had been fitted with hydrophones, which had a listening
range of one or two miles, all the devices for use afloat suffered from
the disadvantage that it was not possible to use them whilst the ship
carrying them was moving, since the noise of the vessel's own machinery
and of the water passing along the side prevented the noise made by
other vessels being located. What was required was a listening
instrument that could be used by a ship moving at least at slow speed,
otherwise the ship carrying the hydrophone was herself, when stopped, an
easy target for the submarine's torpedo. It was also essential, before
an attack could be delivered, to be able to locate the _direction_ of
the enemy submarine, and prior to 1917 all that these instruments showed
was the presence of a submarine somewhere in the vicinity.

Much research and experimental work was carried out during the year 1917
under the encouragement and supervision of the Anti-Submarine Division
of the Naval Staff. Two hydrophones were invented in the early part of
1917, one by Captain Ryan, R.N., and one by the Board of Invention and
Research, which could be used from ships at very slow speed and which
gave some indication of the _direction_ of the sound; finally, in the
summer of 1917, the ability and patience of one inventor, Mr. Nash, were
rewarded, and an instrument was devised termed the "fish" hydrophone
which to a considerable extent fulfilled the required conditions. Mr.
Nash, whose invention had been considered but not adopted by the Board
of Invention and Research before he brought it to the Anti-Submarine
Division of the Naval Staff, laboured under many difficulties with the
greatest energy and perseverance; various modifications in the design
were effected until, in October, 1917, the instrument was pronounced
satisfactory and supplies were put in hand.

The next step was to fit the "fish" hydrophone in certain auxiliary
patrol vessels as well as some destroyers, "P" boats and motor launches,
to enter and train men to work it, and finally to organize these vessels
into "submarine hunting flotillas," drill them, and then set them to
their task.

This work, which occupied some time, was carried out at Portland, where
a regular establishment was set up for developing the "fish" hydrophone
and for organizing and training the "hunting flotillas" in its use. A
considerable amount of training in the use of the hydrophone was
required before men became efficient, and only those with a very keen
sense of hearing were suited to the work. The chances of the success of
the hunting flotillas had been promising in the early experiments, and
the fitting out of patrol craft and organizing and drilling them,
proceeded as rapidly as the vessels could be obtained, but largely owing
to the slow production of trawlers it was not until November that the
first hunting flotilla fitted with the "fish" hydrophone was actually at
work. The progress made after this date is illustrated by the fact that
in December, 1917, a division of drifters, with a "P" boat, fitted with
this "fish" hydrophone hunted an enemy submarine for seven hours during
darkness, covering a distance of fifty miles, kept touch with her by
sound throughout this period, and finished by dropping depth charges in
apparently the correct position, since a strong smell of oil fuel
resulted and nothing further could be heard of the submarine, although
the drifters listened for several hours. On another occasion in the same
month a division of drifters hunted a submarine for five hours. The
number of hydrophones was increased as rapidly as possible until by the
end of the year the system was in full operation within a limited area,
and only required expansion to work, as was intended, on a large scale
in the North Sea and the English Channel.

Meanwhile during 1917 _directional_ hydrophones, which had been
successfully produced both by Captain Ryan and by the Board of Invention
and Research, had been fitted to patrol craft in large numbers, and
"hunting flotillas" were operating in many areas. A good example of the
working of one of these flotillas occurred off Dartmouth in the summer
of 1918, when a division of motor launches fitted with the Mark II
hydrophone, under the general guidance of a destroyer, carried out a
successful attack on a German submarine. Early in the afternoon one of
the motor launches dropped a depth charge on an oil patch, and shortly
afterwards one of the hydrophones picked up the sound of an internal
combustion engine; a line of depth charges was run on the bearing
indicated by the hydrophone. The motor launches and the destroyer
remained listening, until at about 6.0 P.M. a submarine came to the
surface not far from Motor Launch No. 135, which fired two rounds at the
submarine before the latter submerged. Other motor launches closed in,
and depth charges were dropped by them in close proximity to the wash of
the submarine. Oil came to the surface, and more depth charges were
dropped in large numbers on the spot for the ensuing forty-eight hours.
Eventually objects came to the surface clearly indicating the presence
of a submarine. Further charges were dropped, and an obstruction on the
bottom was located by means of a sweep. This engagement held peculiar
interest for me, since during my visit to Canada in the winter of 1919
the honour fell to me of presenting to a Canadian--Lieutenant G.L.
Cassady, R.N.V.R.--at Vancouver the Distinguished Service Cross awarded
him by His Majesty for his work in Motor Launch No. 135 on this

_Motor Launches_ were organized into submarine hunting flotillas during
the year 1917. These vessels were equipped with the directional
hydrophone as soon as its utility was established, and were supplied
with depth charges. In the summer of 1917 four such hunting flotillas
were busy in the Channel; the work of one of these I have described
already, and they certainly contributed towards making the Channel an
uneasy place for submarine operations.

These results were, of course, greatly improved on in 1918, as the
numbers of ships fitted with the "fish" and other hydrophones increased
and further experience was gained.

The progress in supply of hydrophones is shown by the following table:

            Supply of        Directional
Date        General Service  Mark I and      Shark Fin    Fish
1917.       Portable Type.   Mark II.        Type.        Type.

Jul 31         2,750           500             -           -
Aug 31         2,750           700             -           -
Sep 30         2,750           850             -           -
Oct 31         3,500         1,000             -           -
Dec 31         3,680         1,950            870          37


At the beginning of 1917 four _shore hydrophone stations_ were in use.
During the year eight additional stations were completed and several
more were nearing completion. The first step necessary was a
considerable increase in the instructional facilities for training
listeners both for the increased number of shore stations and for the
large number of vessels that were fitted for hydrophone work during the

The greater part of this training took place at the establishment at
Hawkcraig, near Rosyth, at which Captain Ryan, R.N., carried out so much
exceedingly valuable work during the war. I am not able to give exact
figures of the number of officers and men who were instructed in
hydrophone work either at Hawkcraig or at other stations by instructors
sent from Hawkcraig, but the total was certainly upwards of 1,000
officers and 2,000 men. In addition to this extensive instructional work
the development of the whole system of detecting the presence of
submarines by sound is very largely due to the work originally carried
out at Hawkcraig by Captain Ryan.

The first hydrophone station which was established in the spring of 1915
was from Oxcars Lighthouse in the Firth of Forth; it was later in the
year transferred to Inchcolm. Experimental work under Captain Ryan
continued at Hawkcraig during 1915, and in 1916 a section of the Board
of Invention and Research went to Hawkcraig to work in conjunction with
him. This station produced the Mark II directional hydrophone of which
large numbers were ordered in 1917 for use in patrol craft. It was a
great improvement on any hydrophone instrument previously in use.
Hawkcraig also produced the directional plates fitted to our submarines,
as well as many other inventions used in detecting the presence of

In addition to the work at Hawkcraig an experimental station under the
Board of Invention and Research was established near Harwich in January,
1917. The Mark I directional hydrophone was designed at this
establishment in 1917, and other exceedingly valuable work was carried
out there connected with the detection of submarines.

At Malta an experimental station, with a hydrophone training school, was
started in the autumn of 1917, and good work was done both there and at
a hydrophone station established to the southward of Otranto at about
the same time, as well as at a hydrophone training school started at
Gallipoli at the end of the year.


_The "Otter" system_ of defence of merchant ships against mines was
devised by Lieutenant Dennis Burney, D.S.O., R.N. (a son of Admiral Sir
Cecil Burney), and was on similar lines to his valuable invention for
the protection of warships. The latter system had been introduced into
the Grand Fleet in 1916, although for a long period considerable
opposition existed against its general adoption, partly on account of
the difficulties experienced in its early days of development, and
partly owing to the extensive outlay involved in fitting all ships.
However, this opposition was eventually overcome, and before the end of
the war the system had very amply justified itself by saving a large
number of warships from destruction by mines. It was computed that there
were at least fifty cases during the war in which paravanes fitted to
warships had cut the moorings of mines, thus possibly saving the ships.
It must also be borne in mind that the cutting of the moorings of a mine
and the bringing of it to the surface may disclose the presence of an
hitherto unknown minefield, and thus save other ships.

Similarly, the "Otter" defence in its early stages was not introduced
without opposition, but again all difficulties were overcome, and the
rate of progress in its use is shown in the following statement giving
the number of British merchant ships fitted with it at different periods
of 1917:

By July 1, 95 ships had been fitted.
By September 1, 294 ships had been fitted.
By December 1, 900 ships had been fitted.

The system was also extended to foreign merchant ships, and supplies of
"Otters" were sent abroad for this purpose.

A considerable number of merchant ships were known to have been saved
from destruction by mine by the use of this system.


The _defensive arming_ of merchant ships was a matter which was pressed
forward with great energy and rapidity during the year 1917. The matter
was taken up with the Cabinet immediately on the formation of the Board
of Admiralty presided over by Sir Edward Carson, and arrangements made
for obtaining a considerable number of guns from the War Office, from
Japan, and from France, besides surrendering some guns from the
secondary and anti-torpedo boat armament of our own men-of-war,
principally those of the older type, pending the manufacture of large
numbers of guns for the purpose. Orders for some 4,200 guns were placed
by Captain Dreyer, the Director of Naval Ordnance, with our own gun
makers in March, April and May, 1917, in addition to nearly 3,000 guns
already on order for this purpose; 400 90-m.m. guns were obtained from
France, the mountings being made in England. Special arrangements were
also made by Captain Dreyer for the rapid manufacture of all guns,
including the provision of the material and of extra manufacturing

These orders for 4,200 guns and the orders for 2,026 howitzers placed at
the same time brought the total number of guns and howitzers under
manufacture in England for naval and merchant service purposes in May,
1917, up to the high figure of 10,761.

At the end of the year 1916 the total number of merchant ships that had
been armed since the commencement of the war (excluding those which were
working under the White Ensign and which had received _offensive_
armaments) was 1,420. Of this number, 83 had been lost.

During the first six months of 1917 armaments were provided for an
additional 1,581 ships, and during the last six months of that year a
further total of 1,406 ships were provided with guns, an aggregate
number of 2,987 ships being thus furnished with armaments during the
year. This total was exclusive of howitzers.

The progress of the work is shown by the following figures:

                                     Number or guns that had been
         Date.                       provided for British Merchant
                                     Ships excluding Howitzers.

  January 1, 1917                              1,420
  April 1, 1917                                2,181
  July 1, 1917                                 3,001
  October 1, 1917                              3,763
  January 1, 1918                              4,407

The figures given include the guns mounted in ships that were lost
through enemy action or from marine risks.

It should be stated that the large majority of the guns manufactured
during 1917 were 12-pounders or larger guns, as experience had shown
that smaller weapons were usually outranged by those carried in
submarines, and the projectiles of even the 12-pounder were smaller than
was desirable. Of the 2,987 new guns mounted in merchant ships during
the year 1917 only 190 were smaller than 12-pounders.


_Anti-submarine work by aircraft_ was already in operation round our
coasts by the beginning of 1917, and during the year the increase in
numbers and improvement in types of machines rendered possible
considerable expansion of the work. Closer co-operation between surface
vessels and aircraft was also secured, and as the convoy system was
extended aircraft were used both for escort and observation work, as
well as for attack on submarines. For actual escort work airships were
superior to heavier-than-air machines owing to their greater radius of
action, whilst for offensive work against a submarine that had been
sighted the high speed of the seaplane or aeroplane was of great value.

In 1916 and the early part of 1917 we were but ill provided with
aircraft suitable for anti-submarine operations at any considerable
distance from the coast, and such aircraft as we possessed did not carry
sufficiently powerful bombs to be very effective in attacking
submarines, although they were of use in forcing these vessels to
submerge and occasionally in bringing our surface craft to the spot to
press home the attack.

The Royal Naval Air Service, under Commodore Godfrey Paine, devoted much
energy to the provision of suitable aircraft, and the anti-submarine
side of the Naval Staff co-operated in the matter of their organization;
with the advent of the large "America" type of seaplane and the
Handley-Page type of aeroplane, both of which carried heavy bombs,
successful attacks on enemy submarines became more frequent. They were
assisted by the airships, particularly those of the larger type.

Improvements which were effected in signalling arrangements between
ships and aircraft were instrumental in adding greatly to their
efficiency, and by the early summer of 1917 aircraft had commenced to
play an important part in the war against submarines and in the
protection of trade.

Thereafter progress became rapid, as the following figures show:

In June, 1917, aeroplanes and seaplanes patrolling for anti-submarine
operations covered 75,000 miles, sighted 17 submarines, and were able to
attack 7 of them.

In September, 1917, the distance covered by anti-submarine patrols of
aeroplanes and seaplanes was 91,000 miles, 25 submarines were sighted,
of which 18 were attacked.

In the four weeks ending December 8, 1917, in spite of the much shorter
days and the far less favourable flying weather experienced, the mileage
covered was again 91,000 miles; 17 submarines were sighted, of which 11
were attacked during this period.

As regards airships the figures again show the increased anti-submarine
work carried out:

In June, 1917, airships engaged in anti-submarine patrol covered 53,000
miles, sighted and attacked 1 submarine.

In September, 1917, they covered 83,000 miles, and sighted 8 submarines,
of which 5 were attacked.

In the four weeks ending December 8, 1917, they covered 50,000 miles,
sighted 6 submarines, and attacked 5 of them.

The airships were more affected by short days, and particularly by bad
weather, than the heavier than air craft, and the fact that they covered
practically the same mileage in the winter days of December as in the
summer days of June shows clearly the development that took place in the

During the whole of 1917 it was estimated that our heavier than air
craft sighted 135 submarines and attacked 85 of them, and our lighter
than air craft sighted 26 and attacked 15. The figures given in Chapter
IX of the number of submarines sunk during the war by aircraft (viz. 7
as a minimum), when compared with the number of attacks during 1917
alone suggest the difficulties of successful attack.

In September, 1917, as extensive a programme as was consistent with
manufacturing capabilities, in view of the enormous demands of the Army,
was drawn up by the Naval Staff for the development of aircraft for
anti-submarine operations during 1918.

The main developments were in machines of the large "America" type and
heavy bombing machines for attacking enemy bases, as well as other
anti-submarine machines and aircraft for use with the Grand Fleet.

Included in the anti-submarine operations of aircraft during 1917 were
the bombing attacks on Bruges, since the German submarines and the
shelters in which they took refuge were part of the objective.

These attacks were carried out from the aerodrome established by the
Royal Naval Air Service at Dunkirk. During 1917 the Naval Air Forces of
the Dover Command, which included the squadrons at Dunkirk, were under
the command of Captain C.L. Lambe, R.N., and the operations of this
force were of a very strenuous character and of the utmost value.

Bombing operations prior to the year of 1917 had been carried out by
various types of machines, but the introduction of the Handley-Page
aeroplanes in the spring of 1917 enabled a much greater weight of
bombs--viz. some 1,500 lbs.--to be carried than had hitherto been
possible. These machines were generally used for night bombing, and the
weight of bombs dropped on the enemy bases in Belgium rose with great
rapidity as machines of the Handley-Page type were delivered, as did the
number of nights on which attacks were made. It was no uncommon
occurrence during the autumn of 1917 for six to eight tons of bombs to
be dropped in one night. I have not the figures for 1918, but feel no
doubt that with the great increase in aircraft that became possible
during that year this performance was constantly exceeded.


The story of the work of these vessels constitutes a record of
gallantry, endurance and discipline which has never been surpassed
afloat or ashore. The earliest vessels were fitted out during the year
1915 at Scapa, Rosyth, Queenstown and other ports, and from the very
first it was apparent that they would win for themselves a place in
history. The earliest success against an enemy submarine by one of these
vessels was achieved by the _Prince Charles_, fitted out at Scapa, and
commanded by Lieutenant Mark-Wardlaw, an officer on the Staff of Admiral
Sir Stanley Colville, then Admiral Commanding the Orkneys and Shetlands.
In the early months of 1917 it was decided to augment greatly the force
of these special service vessels, and steps were taken to organize a
separate Admiralty Department for the work. Special experience was
needed, both for the selection of suitable ships and for fitting them
out, and care was taken to select officers who had been personally
connected with the work during the war; the advice of successful
commanders of decoy ships was also utilized. At the head was Captain
Alexander Farrington, under whose directions several ships had been
fitted out at Scapa with great ingenuity and success. Every class of
ship was brought into the service: steam cargo vessels, trawlers,
drifters, sailing ships, ketches, and sloops specially designed to have
the appearance of cargo ships. These latter vessels were known as
"convoy sloops" to distinguish them from the ordinary sloop. Their
design, which was very clever, had been prepared in 1916 by Sir Eustace
T. D'Eyncourt, the Director of Naval Construction. The enemy submarine
commanders, however, became so wary owing to the successes of decoy
ships that they would not come to the surface until they had inspected
ships very closely in the submerged condition, and the fine lines of the
convoy sloops gave them away under close inspection.

In the early spring of 1917 the Director of Naval Construction was asked
whether the "P" class of patrol boats then under construction could be
altered to work as decoy vessels, as owing to their light draught they
would be almost immune from torpedo attack.

A very good design was produced, and some of the later patrol boats were
converted and called "P Q's." These vessels had the appearance of small
merchant ships at a cursory glance. They would not, however, stand close
examination owing, again, to their fine lines, but being better sea
boats than the "P's," by reason of their greater freeboard, the design
was continued, and they met with considerable success against submarines
(especially in the Irish Sea) by ramming and depth charge tactics, the
submarines when submerged probably not realizing when observing the "P
Q.'s" through a periscope the speed of which they were capable.

During 1917, when the unrestricted submarine warfare was in progress,
many of the decoy vessels were fitted with torpedo tubes, either above
water or submerged, since, as the submarine commanders became more wary,
they showed great dislike to coming to the surface sufficiently close to
merchant ships to admit of the gun armament being used with certainty of
success. A torpedo, on the other hand, could, of course, be used
effectively against a submarine whilst still submerged. The use also
became general of casks or cargoes of wood to give additional flotation
to decoy ships after being torpedoed, so as to prolong their life in
case the submarine should close near enough to allow of effective

Another ruse adopted was that of changing the disguise of a decoy ship
during the night, so that she could not be identified by a submarine
which had previously made an attack upon her. In all cases of disguise
or of changing disguise it was essential that the decoy ship should
assume the identity of some class of vessel likely to be met with in the
particular area in which she was working, and obviously the courses
steered were chosen with that object in view.

Again, since for success it was essential to induce the submarine to
come within close range so that the decoy ship's gunfire should be
immediately effective, it was necessary that her disguise should stand
the closest possible examination through the periscope of a submarine.
German submarine commanders, after a short experience of decoy ships,
were most careful not to bring their vessels to the surface in proximity
to craft that were apparently merchant ships until they had subjected
them to the sharpest scrutiny at short range through the periscope, and
the usual practice of an experienced submarine commander was to steer
round the ship, keeping submerged all the time.

Not only was it essential that there should be no sign of an armament in
the decoy ship, or a man-of-war-like appearance in any respect, but when
the "panic" signal was made to lead the submarine commander to think
that his attack had succeeded, precautions had to be taken against the
presence of more than the ordinary number of men in the boats lowered
and sent away with the supposed whole ship's company; also the sight of
any men left on board would at once betray the real character of the
decoy ship and result in the disappearance of the submarine and the
probable sinking of the disguised craft by torpedo fire.

During the late summer of 1917 it became evident that the submarine
commanders had become so suspicious of decoy craft that the chances of
success by the larger cargo vessels were not sufficient to justify any
further addition to existing numbers in view of the increasing shortage
of shipping; a considerable fleet of steamers building for this purpose
was therefore diverted to trade purposes. The number of smaller vessels,
particularly sailing craft, was, however, increased especially in
Mediterranean waters where they had not been previously operating on an
extensive scale.

It is impossible to close these remarks on this class of vessel without
testifying once more to the splendid gallantry, self-sacrifice, skilful
resource and magnificent discipline shown by those on board. This is
illustrated by descriptions of a few typical actions fought during 1917.

The first which I relate took place on February 17, 1917, when a decoy
vessel, a steamship armed with five 12-pounder guns, commanded by that
most gallant officer, Captain Gordon Campbell, R.N., was torpedoed by a
submarine in a position Lat. 51.34 N., Long. 11.23 W.

Captain Campbell saw the torpedo coming and manoeuvred to try and avoid
being hit in the engine-room, but as he purposely always selected a very
slow ship for decoy work his attempt was only partially successful and
the engine-room began to fill. No signal for assistance was made,
however, as Captain Campbell feared that such a signal might bring
another vessel on the scene and this would naturally scare the submarine
away. The usual procedure of abandoning the ship in the boats with every
appearance of haste was carried out, only sufficient hands remaining
hidden on board to work the guns. The periscope of the submarine was
next sighted on the quarter within 200 or 300 yards, and she came slowly
past the ship still submerged and evidently examining the vessel closely
through the periscope. She passed within a few yards of the ship, then
crossed the bow and came to the surface about 200 yards off and passed
down the port side again close to. Captain Campbell waited until every
gun would bear before giving the signal for "action." The decoy ship's
true character was then revealed; concealed gunports were thrown open;
colours were hoisted, and a hot fire opened from all guns. The submarine
was hit at once and continued to be hit so rapidly that it was evidently
impossible for her to submerge. She sank in a very short time. One
officer and one man were picked up. A signal was then made for
assistance and help arrived within a couple of hours. The decoy ship was
rapidly filling, but efforts were made to tow her into port, and with
the greatest difficulty, and entirely owing to the splendid manner in
which all hands stuck to the work, she was brought into Berehaven with
her stern under water thirty-six hours later and beached. The great
restraint shown by Captain Campbell, in withholding fire as the
submarine passed her in a submerged condition, and the truly wonderful
discipline and steadiness and ingenuity which baffled so close an
examination of the ship were the outstanding features of this great

On April 22, 1917, a decoy ship known as "Q22," a small sailing vessel
with auxiliary power, armed with two 12-pounder guns, and commanded by
Lieutenant Irvine, R.N.R., while in a position about fifty miles south
of Kinsale Head, sighted a submarine on the surface which opened fire
immediately at a range of about 4,000 yards. The fire was accurate and
the decoy ship was hit frequently, two men being killed and four wounded
in a few minutes and the vessel considerably damaged. As further
concealment appeared useless the guns were then unmasked and the fire
returned with apparently good results, several hits being claimed. The
enemy's fire then fell off in accuracy and she increased the range, and
after about one and a half hours' fighting the light became too bad to
continue the action. It was thought that the submarine was sunk, but
there was no positive evidence of sinking.

On April 30, 1917, a decoy ship--H.M.S. _Prize_--a small schooner with
auxiliary power, armed with two 12-pounder guns and commanded by
Lieutenant W.E. Sanders, R.N.R., a New Zealand officer, sighted, when in
position Lat. 49.44 N., Long. 11.42 W., a submarine about two miles away
on the port beam at 8.30 P.M. At 8.45 P.M. the submarine opened fire on
the _Prize_ and the "abandon ship" party left in a small boat. The
submarine gradually approached, continuing to pour in a heavy fire and
making two hits on the _Prize_ which put the motor out of action,
wrecked the wireless office, and caused much internal damage besides
letting a great deal of water into the ship.

The crew of the _Prize_ remained quietly hidden at their concealed guns
throughout this punishment, which continued for forty minutes as the
submarine closed, coming up from right astern, a position no doubt which
she considered one of safety. When close to she sheered off and passed
to the port beam at a distance of about one hundred yards. At this
moment Lieutenant Sanders gave the order for "action." The guns were
exposed and a devastating fire opened at point blank range, but not
before the submarine had fired both her guns, obtaining two more hits,
and wounding several of the crew of the _Prize_. The first shell fired
from the _Prize_ hit the foremost gun of the submarine and blew it
overboard, and a later shot knocked away the conning tower. The
submarine went ahead and the _Prize_ tried to follow, but the damage to
her motor prevented much movement. The firing continued as the submarine
moved away, and after an interval she appeared to be on fire and to
sink. This occurred shortly after 9.0 P.M., when it was nearly dark. The
_Prize_ sent her boats to pick up survivors, three being taken out of
the water, including the commander and one other officer. The prisoners
on coming on board expressed their willingness to assist in taking the
_Prize_ into port. It did not at this time seem likely that she would
long remain afloat, but by great exertion and good seamanship the leaks
were got under to a sufficient extent to allow of the ship being kept
afloat by pumping. The prisoners gave considerable help, especially when
the ship caught fire whilst starting the motor again. On May 2 she met a
motor launch off the coast of Ireland and was towed into port. In spite
of the undoubted great damage to the submarine, damage confirmed by the
survivors, who were apparently blown overboard with the conning tower,
and who had no thought other than that she had been sunk, later
intelligence showed that she succeeded in reaching Germany in a very
disabled condition. This incident accentuated still further the
recurrent difficulty of making definite statements as to the fate of
enemy submarines, for the evidence in this case seemed absolutely
conclusive. The commander of the submarine was so impressed with the
conduct of the crew of the _Prize_ that when examined subsequently in
London he stated that he did not consider it any disgrace to have been
beaten by her, as he could not have believed it possible for any ship's
company belonging to any nation in the world to have been imbued with
such discipline as to stand the shelling to which he subjected the
_Prize_ without any sign being made which would give away her true

Lieut.-Commander Sanders was awarded the Victoria Cross for his action
and many decorations were given to the officers and ship's company for
their conduct in the action. It was sad that so fine a commander and so
splendid a ship's company should have been lost a little later in action
with another submarine which she engaged unsuccessfully during daylight,
and which followed her in a submerged condition until nightfall and then
torpedoed her, all hands being lost.

It was my privilege during my visit to New Zealand in 1919 to unveil a
memorial to the gallant Sanders which was placed in his old school at
Takapuna, near Auckland.

On June 7, 1917, a decoy ship, the S.S. _Pargust_, armed with one 4-inch
gun, four 12-pounder guns and two torpedo tubes, commanded by Captain
Gordon Campbell, R.N., who had meanwhile been awarded the Victoria
Cross, was in a position Lat. 51.50 N., Long. 11.50 W., when a torpedo
hit the ship abreast the engine-room and in detonating made a hole
through which water poured, filling both engine-room and boiler-room.
The explosion of the torpedo also blew one of the boats to pieces. The
usual procedure of abandoning ship was carried out, and shortly after
the boats had left, the periscope of a submarine was sighted steering
for the port side. The submarine passed close under the stern, steered
to the starboard side, then recrossed the stern to the port side, and
when she was some fifty yards off on the port beam her conning tower
appeared on the surface and she steered to pass round the stern again
and towards one of the ship's boats on the starboard beam. She then came
completely to the surface within one hundred yards, and Captain Campbell
disclosed his true character, opened fire with all guns, hitting the
submarine at once and continuing to hit her until she sank. One officer
and one man were saved. The decoy ship lost one man killed, and one
officer was wounded by the explosion of the torpedo.

As in the case of the action on February 17 the distinguishing feature
of this exploit was the great restraint shown by Captain Campbell in
withholding his fire although his ship was so seriously damaged. The
gallantry and fine discipline of the ship's company, their good shooting
and splendid drill, contributed largely to the success. The decoy ship,
although seriously damaged, reached harbour.

On July 10, 1917, a decoy ship, H.M.S. _Glen_, a small schooner with
auxiliary power and armed with one 12-pounder and one 6-pounder gun,
commanded by Sub-Lieutenant K. Morris, R.N.R., was in a position about
forty miles south-west of Weymouth when a submarine was sighted on the
surface some three miles away. She closed to within two miles and opened
fire on the _Glen_. The usual practice of abandoning ship was followed,
the submarine closing during this operation to within half a mile and
remaining at that distance examining the _Glen_ for some time. After
about half an hour she went ahead and submerged, and then passed round
the ship at about 200 yards distance, examining her through the
periscope, finally coming to the surface about 50 yards off on the port
quarter. Almost immediately she again started to submerge, and fire was
at once opened. The submarine was hit three or four times before she
turned over on her side and disappeared. There was every reason to
believe that she had sunk, although no one was on deck when she
disappeared. No survivors were rescued.

The feature of this action was again the restraint shown by the
commanding officer of the _Glen_ and the excellent discipline of the

On August 8, 1917, the decoy ship H.M.S. _Dunraven_, in Lat. 48.0 N.,
Long. 7.37 W., armed with one 4-inch and four 12-pounder guns and two
torpedo tubes, commanded by Captain Gordon Campbell, V.C., R.N., sighted
a submarine on the surface some distance off. The submarine steered
towards the ship and submerged, and soon afterwards came to the surface
some two miles off and opened fire. The _Dunraven_, in her character of
a merchant ship, replied with an after gun, firing intentionally short,
made a smoke screen, and reduced speed slightly to allow the submarine
to close.

When the shells from the submarine began to fall close to the ship the
order to abandon her was given, and, as usual with the splendidly
trained ship's company working under Captain Campbell, the operation was
carried out with every appearance of disorder, one of the boats being
purposely left hanging vertical with only one end lowered. Meanwhile the
submarine closed. Several shells from her gun hit the after part of the
_Dunraven_, causing a depth charge to explode and setting her on fire
aft, blowing the officer in charge of the after gun out of his control
station, and wounding severely the seaman stationed at the depth
charges. The situation now was that the submarine was passing from the
port to the starboard quarter, and at any moment the 4-inch magazine and
the remaining depth charges in the after part of the _Dunraven_ might be
expected to explode. The 4-inch gun's crew aft knew the imminence of
this danger, but not a man moved although the deck beneath them was
rapidly becoming red hot; and Captain Campbell was so certain of the
magnificent discipline and gallantry of his crew that he still held on
so that the submarine might come clearly into view on the starboard side
clear of the smoke of the fire aft. In a few minutes the anticipated
explosion occurred. The 4-inch gun and gun's crew were blown into the
air just too soon for the submarine to be in the best position for being
engaged. The explosion itself caused the electrical apparatus to make
the "open fire" signal, whereupon the White Ensign was hoisted and the
only gun bearing commenced firing; but the submarine submerged at once.

Fifteen minutes later a torpedo hit the ship, and Captain Campbell again
ordered "abandon ship" and sent away a second party of men to give the
impression that the ship had now been finally abandoned although her
true character had been revealed. Meanwhile he had made a wireless
signal to other ships to keep away as he still hoped to get the
submarine, which, now keeping submerged, moved round the ship for three
quarters of an hour, during which period the fire gained on the
_Dunraven_ and frequent explosions of ammunition took place.

The submarine then came to the surface right astern where no guns could
bear on her, and recommenced her shellfire on the ship, hitting her
frequently. During this period the officers and men still remaining on
board gave no sign of their presence, Captain Campbell, by his example,
imbuing this remnant of his splendid ship's company with his own
indomitable spirit of endurance. The submarine submerged again soon
afterwards, and as she passed the ship Captain Campbell from his
submerged tube fired a torpedo at her, which just missed. Probably the
range was too short to allow the torpedo to gain its correct depth. She
went right round the ship, and a second torpedo was fired from the other
tube, which again missed. This torpedo was evidently seen from the
submarine, as she submerged at once. The ship was sinking, and it was
obviously of no use to continue the deception, which could only lead to
a useless sacrifice of life; wireless signals for assistance were
therefore made, and the arrival of some destroyers brought the action to
a conclusion. The wounded were transferred to the destroyers and the
ship taken in tow, but she sank whilst in tow forty-eight hours later.

This action was perhaps the finest feat amongst the very many gallant
deeds performed by decoy ships during the war. It displayed to the full
the qualities of grim determination, gallantry, patience and resource,
the splendid training and high standard of discipline, which were
necessary to success in this form of warfare. Lieutenant Charles G.
Bonner, R.N.R., and Petty-Officer Ernest Pitcher, R.N., were awarded the
V.C. for their services in this action, and many medals for conspicuous
gallantry were also given to the splendid ship's company.

Captain Campbell, as will be readily realized, met with great success in
his work, and he was the first to acknowledge how this success was due
to those who worked so magnificently under his command, and he also
realized the magnitude of the work performed by other decoy ships in all
areas, since he knew better than most people the difficulties of
enticing a submarine to her doom.

On September 17, 1917, in position Lat. 49.42 N., Long. 13.18 W., the
decoy ship _Stonecrop_, a small steamer commanded by Commander M.
Blackwood, R.N., armed with one 4-inch, one 6-pounder gun and some
stick-bomb throwers and carrying four torpedo tubes, sighted a
submarine, which opened fire on her at long range, the fire being
returned by the 6-pounder mounted aft. After the shelling had continued
for some time the usual order was given to "abandon ship," and a little
later the periscope of the submarine was sighted some distance away. The
submarine gradually closed, keeping submerged, until within about a
quarter of a mile, when she passed slowly round the ship, and finally
came to the surface at a distance of about 500 yards on the starboard
quarter. She did not close nearer, so the order was given to open fire,
and hitting started after the third round had been fired and continued
until the submarine sank stern first. No survivors were picked up, but
all the indications pointed to the certainty of the destruction of the


Mention may here be made of another vessel of a special class designed
in 1917. In the early summer, in consequence of the shortage of
destroyers, of the delays in the production of new ones, and the great
need for more small craft suitable for escorting merchant ships through
the submarine zone, arrangements were made to build a larger and faster
class of trawler which would be suitable for convoy work under
favourable conditions, and which to a certain extent would take the
place of destroyers. Trawlers could be built with much greater rapidity
than destroyers, and trawler builders who could not build destroyers
could be employed for the work, thus supplementing the activities of the
yards which could turn out the bigger craft.

Accordingly a 13-knot trawler was designed, and a large number ordered.
Great delays occurred, however, in their construction, as in that of all
other classes of vessel owing to the pressure of various kinds of war
work and other causes, and only one was delivered during 1917 instead of
the twenty or so which had been promised, whilst I believe that by July,
1918, not more than fourteen had been completed instead of the
anticipated number of forty. I was informed that they proved to be a
most useful type of vessel for the slower convoys, were excellent sea
boats, with a large radius of action, were a great relief to the
destroyers, and even to light cruisers, for convoy work. It is
understood that some fifty were completed by the end of the war.


This idea originated in 1915 or 1916 with Captain Edward C. Villiers, of
the _Actaeon_ Torpedo School ship. Experiments were carried out by a
battleship at Rosyth, in the first instance, and later at Scapa. They
were at that time unsuccessful.

At the end of 1916 I gave directions for a reconsideration of the
matter, and fresh trials were made; but early in 1917 there seemed to be
no prospect of success, and the trials were again abandoned. However,
Captain Villiers displayed great confidence in the idea, and he
introduced modifications, with the result that later in the year 1917
directions were given for fresh trials to be undertaken. At the end of
the year success was first obtained, and this was confirmed early in
1918, and the device finally adopted. A curious experience during the
trials was that the vessel carrying them out was actually fired at by a
German submarine, with the result that the net protection saved the ship
from being torpedoed. It is not often that an inventor receives such a
good advertisement.


The first proposal for this device came from Portsmouth, where the
Commander-in-Chief, Admiral the Hon. Sir Stanley Colville, was
indefatigable in his efforts to combat the submarine; throwers
manufactured by Messrs. Thornycroft, of Southampton, were tried and gave
good results. The arrangement was one by which depth charges could be
projected to a distance of 40 yards from a vessel, and the throwers were
usually fitted one on each quarter so that the charges could be thrown
out on the quarter whilst others were being dropped over the stern, and
the chances of damaging or sinking the submarine attacked were thus
greatly increased.

As soon as the earliest machines had been tried orders were placed for
large numbers and the supplies obtained were as follows:

Deliveries commenced in July, 1917.
By September 1, 30 had been delivered.
By October 1, 97 had been delivered.
By December 1, 238 had been delivered.


At the end of 1916 we possessed 13 fast coastal motor boats, carrying
torpedoes, and having a speed of some 36 knots. They had been built to
carry out certain operations in the Heligoland Bight, working from
Harwich, but the preliminary air reconnaissance which it had been
decided was necessary had not been effected by the end of 1916 owing to
bad weather and the lack of suitable machines.

When winter set in it became impossible, with the type of aircraft then
existing, to carry out the intended reconnaissance, and early in 1917 I
abandoned the idea of the operations for the winter and sent the boats
to the Dover Command for Sir R. Bacon to use from Dunkirk in operations
against enemy vessels operating from Ostend and Zeebrugge. They quickly
proved their value, and it became evident that they would also be useful
for anti-submarine work. A large number were ordered, some for
anti-submarine work and some for certain contemplated operations in
enemy waters, including a night attack on the enemy's light cruisers
known to lie occasionally in the Ems River, an operation that it was
intended to carry out in the spring of 1918. A daylight operation in
this neighbourhood, which was carried out during 1918, did not, from the
published reports, meet with success, the coastal motor boats being
attacked by aircraft, vessels against which they were defenceless. The
new boats were of an improved and larger type than the original 40-feet
boats. Delays occurred in construction owing principally to the
difficulty in obtaining engines by reason of the great demand for
engines for aircraft, and but few of the new boats were delivered during
the year 1917.


The policy which was carried out during 1917 in this respect, so far as
the supply of mines admitted, aimed at preventing the exit of submarines
from enemy ports. Incidentally, the fact that we laid large numbers of
mines in the Heligoland Bight rendered necessary such extensive sweeping
operations before any portion of the High Sea Fleet could put to sea as
to be very useful in giving us some indication of any movement that
might be intended. In view of the distance of the Grand Fleet from
German bases and the short time available in which to intercept the High
Sea Fleet if it came out for such a purpose as a raid on our coasts, or
on convoys, the information thus gathered would have proved of great

In planning mining operations in the Heligoland Bight, it was necessary
to take into consideration certain facts. The _first_ was the knowledge
that the Germans themselves had laid minefields in some portions of the
Bight, and it was necessary for our minelayers to give such suspected
areas a wide berth. _Secondly_, it was obvious that we could not lay
minefields in areas very near those which we ourselves had already
mined, since we should run the risk of blowing up our own ships with our
own mines.

Mining operations had necessarily to be carried out at night, and as
there were no navigational aids in the way of lights, etc., in the
Heligoland Bight, the position in which our mines were laid was never
known with _absolute_ accuracy. Consequently an area in which we had
directed mines to be laid, and to which a minelayer had been sent, could
not safely be approached within a distance of some five miles on a
subsequent occasion.

The use in mining operations of the device known as "taut wire" gear,
introduced by Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Oliver, was of great help in
ensuring accuracy in laying minefields and consequently in reducing the
danger distance surrounding our own minefields.

As our mining operations increased in number we were driven farther and
farther out from the German ports for subsequent operations. This
naturally increased the area to be mined as the Heligoland Bight is
bell-mouthed in shape, but it had the advantage of making the operations
of German minesweepers and mine-bumpers more difficult and hazardous as
they had to work farther out, thus giving our light forces better
chances of catching them at work and engaging them. Such actions as that
on November 17, 1917, between our light forces and the German light
cruisers and minesweepers were the result. We did not, of course, lay
mines in either the Danish or Dutch territorial waters, and these waters
consequently afforded an exit for German vessels as our minefields
became most distant from German bases.

Broadly speaking, the policy was to lay mines so thoroughly in the
Heligoland Bight as to force enemy submarines and other vessels to make
their exits along the Danish or Dutch coasts in territorial waters.

At the end of the exit we stationed submarines to signal enemy movements
and to attack enemy vessels. We knew, of course, that the enemy would
sweep other channels for his ships, but as soon as we discovered the
position of these channels, which was not a very difficult matter, more
mines were laid at the end. In order to give neutrals fair warning,
certain areas which included the Heligoland Bight were proclaimed
dangerous. In this respect German and British methods may be contrasted:
We never laid a minefield which could possibly have been dangerous to
neutrals without issuing a warning stating that a certain area (which
included the minefield) was dangerous. The Germans never issued such a
warning unless the proclamation stating that half the Atlantic Ocean,
most of the North Sea, and nine-tenths of the Mediterranean were
dangerous could be considered as such. It was also intended, as mines
became available, to lay more deep minefields in positions near our own
coast in which enemy submarines were known to work; these minefields
would be safe for the passage of surface vessels, but our patrol craft
would force the submarines to dive into them. This system to a certain
extent had already been in use during 1915 and 1916.

Schemes were also being devised by Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur
Wilson, who devoted much of his time to mining devices, by which mines
some distance below the surface would be exploded by an enemy submarine
even if navigating on the surface.

Such was the policy. Its execution was difficult.

The first difficulty lay in the fact that we did not possess a
thoroughly satisfactory mine. A percentage only of our mines exploded
when hit by a submarine, and they failed sometimes to take up their
intended depth when laid, betraying their presence by appearing on the

Energetic measures were adopted to overcome this latter defect, but it
took time and but few mines were available for laying in the early
months of 1917.

The result of our minelaying efforts is shown in the following table:

                                Mines laid         Deep mines laid
              Year.         in the Heligoland      off our own coasts
                                   Bight.          to catch submarines.

  1915                             4,498                  983
  1916                             1,679                2,573
  First quarter of 1917            4,865              )
  Second quarter of 1917           6,386              ) 3,843
  Third quarter of 1917            3,510              )

In the Straits of Dover, Thames Estuary and off the Belgian coast we
laid 2,664 mines in 1914, 6,337 in 1915, 9,685 in 1916, and 4,669 in the
first three quarters of 1917.

These last mines were laid as fast as the alterations, made with a view
to increasing their efficiency, could be carried out.

During the early part of the year 1917 the new pattern of mine, known as
the "H" Type, evolved in 1916, had been tried, and although not
perfectly satisfactory at the first trials, the success was sufficient
to warrant the placing of orders for 100,000 mines and in making
arrangements for the quickest possible manufacture. This was done by the
Director of Torpedoes and Mines, Rear-Admiral the Hon. Edward
Fitzherbert, under the direction of the then Fourth Sea Lord,
Rear-Admiral Lionel Halsey.

Deliveries commenced in the summer of 1917, but by the end of September
only a little over 1,500 were ready for laying. Some 500 of these were
laid in September in the Heligoland Bight and were immediately
successful against enemy submarines. More were laid in the Bight during
October, November and December, and the remainder, as they were
produced, were prepared for laying in the new minefield in the Straits
of Dover. _In the fourth quarter of the year a total of 10,389 mines was
laid in the Heligoland Bight and in the Straits of Dover._

During this last quarter delivery of "H" pattern mines was as follows:
In October 2,350, November 5,300, December 4,800; total 12,450. So that
it will be seen that the mines were laid as fast as delivery was made.

The great increase in projected minelaying operations during the year
1917 made it necessary also to add considerably to the number of
minelaying vessels.

In January, 1917, the only vessels equipped for this service were four
merchant ships and the Flotilla Leader _Abdiel_, with a total minelaying
capacity of some 1,200 mines per trip. It was not advisable to carry out
minelaying operations in enemy waters during the period near full moon
owing to the liability of the minelayers being seen by patrol craft.
Under such conditions the position of the minefield would be known to
the enemy. As the operation of placing the mines on board occupied
several days, it was not passible to depend on an average of more than
three operations per ship per month from the larger minelayers.
Consequently, with the intended policy in view, it was obvious that more
minelayers must be provided.

It was inadvisable to use merchant ships, since every vessel was
urgently required for trade or transport purposes, and the alternative
was to fit men-of-war for minelaying. The only old vessels of this type
suitable for mining in enemy waters were ships of the "Ariadne" class,
and although their machinery was not too reliable, two of these vessels
that were seaworthy were converted to minelayers. In addition a number
of the older light cruisers were fitted with portable rails on which
mines could be carried when minelaying operations were contemplated, in
place of a portion of the armament which could be removed; a flotilla of
destroyers, with some further flotilla leaders, were also fitted out as
minelayers, and several additional submarines were fitted for this

For a projected special scheme of minelaying in enemy waters a number of
lighters were ordered, and some of the motor launches and coastal motor
boats were fitted out and utilized for mining operations on the Belgian
coast towards the end of 1917.

By the end of that year 12 light cruisers, 12 destroyers and flotilla
leaders and 5 submarines had been fitted for minelaying. Two old
cruisers had been added to the minelaying fleet and several other
vessels were in hand for the same purpose. The detailed plans of the
arrangements were prepared and the work of fitting out minelayers
carried out under the supervision of Admiral R.N. Ommanney, C.B., whose
services in this matter were of great value. The rapidity with which
ships were added to the minelaying fleet was largely due to his efforts.

On the entry of the United States of America into the war a further
development of mining policy became feasible. The immense manufacturing
resources of the United States rendered a large production of mines an
easy matter, with the result that as soon as the United States Navy
produced a reliable type of mine the idea of placing a mine barrage
across the northern part of the North Sea which had been previously
discussed became a matter of practical politics. With this end in view a
still further addition to the minelaying fleet became necessary, and
since the mining would be carried out at leisure in this case and speed
was no great necessity for the minelayer owing to the distance of the
minefields from enemy waters, an old battleship was put in hand for

With the enormous increase in the number of mines on order the problem
of storage became of importance, including as it did the storage of the
very large number, some 120,000, required for the northern barrage. The
Third Sea Lord, Admiral Lionel Halsey, took this matter in hand with
characteristic energy, and in conjunction with United States naval
officers made all the necessary arrangements.

The United States mines were stored in the vicinity of Invergordon, and
the British mines intended for use in the northern barrage were located
at Grangemouth, near Leith, where Rear-Admiral Clinton Baker was in
charge, as well as in other places, whilst those for use in the
Heligoland Bight and Channel waters were stored at Immingham and other
southern depots.

The laying of the North Sea mine barrage was not accomplished without
very considerable delay, and many difficulties were encountered. It was
originally anticipated that the barrage would be completed in the spring
of 1918, but owing to various defects in both British and United States
mines which made themselves apparent when the operations commenced, due
partly to the great depth of water as well as to other causes, a delay
of several months took place; and, even when near completion, the
barrage was not so effective as many had hoped in spite of the great
expenditure of labour and material involved. I have not the figures of
the number of submarines that the barrage is thought to have accounted
for, but it was known to be disappointing.


In the late summer of 1917 _flares_ were experimented with; they were
intended to be used from kite balloons with the object of sighting
submarines when on the surface at night. Previously searchlights in
destroyers had been used for this purpose. The flares were not much
used, however, from kite balloons owing to lack of opportunity, but
trials which were carried out with flares from patrol craft, such as
trawlers and drifters, demonstrated that they would be of value from
these vessels, and when the Folkestone-Grisnez minefield was laid in
November and December, 1917, it was apparent that the flares would be of
use in forcing submarines to dive at night into the minefield to escape
detection on the surface and attack by gunfire.

Manufacture on a large scale was therefore commenced, and during 1918
the flares were in constant use across the Straits of Dover.


The existence of this very valuable device was due to the work of
certain distinguished scientists, and experiments were carried out
during 1917. It was brought to perfection in the late autumn, and orders
were given to fit it in certain localities. Some difficulty was
experienced in obtaining the necessary material, but the work was well
in hand by the end of the year, and quickly proved its value.


Prior to the year 1917 the only areas in which our own submarines
operated against enemy vessels of the same type was in the North Sea, or
occasionally in the vicinity of the Hebrides. Grand Fleet submarines
were used in the northern areas during 1916, and Harwich submarines
operated farther south, but the number of underwater craft available was
insufficient for any extended method of attack. Early in 1917, when our
mercantile losses were very heavy, some submarines were withdrawn from
the Harwich and Humber districts and formed into a flotilla off the
coast of Ireland for this form of operation. Some risk had to be
accepted in thus reducing our submarine strength in southern waters. At
the same time some Grand Fleet submarines were organized into a watching
patrol in the area off the Shetland Islands, through which enemy
submarines were expected to pass. The watch off the Horn Reef and in the
Heligoland Bight, which had previously been in force, was also

A little later the submarine flotilla off the Irish coast was
strengthened, and a regular patrol instituted near the North Channel
between Ireland and Scotland. The next step was the withdrawal of some
"C" Class submarines from coastal work on our east coast to work in the
area between England and Holland near the North Hinder Lightship, a
locality much frequented by enemy submarines on passage. Still later
some submarines were attached to the Portsmouth Command, where, working
under Sir Stanley Colville, they had some striking successes; others
went to the Dover Command. The latter were fitted with occulting lights
on top of the conning-tower, and were moored at night to buoys in the
Dover Net Barrage, in places where enemy submarines were likely to pass,
in order that they might have a chance of torpedoing them. A division of
submarines was also sent to Gibraltar, to operate against enemy cruiser
submarines working in that vicinity or near the Canaries. Successes
against enemy submarines were also obtained in the latter locality.

Finally, the arrival of some United States submarines enabled the areas
in which this form of attack was in force to be still further extended,
after the American personnel had been trained to this form of warfare.
There was a great increase in the number of enemy submarines sunk by
this method of attack during 1917 as compared with previous years; the
number of vessels sunk does not, however, convey a complete appreciation
of the effect of this form of anti-submarine warfare. The great value of
it lay in the feeling of insecurity that it bred in the minds of the
enemy submarine commanders. The moral effect of the constant
apprehension that one is being "stalked" is considerable. Indeed, the
combination of our aircraft and our submarine patrols led to our vessels
reporting, regretfully, that it was very seldom that German submarines
were found on the surface in daylight, and towards the end of 1917 quite
a large proportion of the attacks on merchant ships took place at night.

The work for our own vessels was very arduous indeed. It was only on
rare occasions that it was possible to bring off a successful attack on
a submarine that had been sighted, the low underwater speed of
submarines making it difficult to get into position when the enemy was
only sighted at short range, which was naturally usually the case.

In order to obviate this difficulty directions were given in 1917 to
design a special type of submarine for this form of warfare, and I
believe that the first vessel was completed by the autumn of 1918.

This account of the development of anti-submarine measures during 1917
would not be complete without mention of the work of the Trade Division
of the Staff, of which Captain Richard Webb, C.B., was the Director
until September.

This Division was either partly or wholly responsible for:

(1) The great increase in the rapidity of placing the armaments on board
merchant ships.

(2) The establishment of schools of instruction for captains and
officers of the Mercantile Marine.

This training scheme was begun at Chatham Barracks in February, 1917, by
Commander E.L.B. Lockyer, acting under Captain Webb, and later was
extended to Portsmouth, Cardiff and Greenock. Its success was so marked,
and its benefit in assisting officers to handle their ships in the
manner best calculated to save them from submarine attack so great, that
the Admiralty was continually being pressed by shipowners and by the
officers of the Mercantile Marine to extend the instruction to more and
more ports. This was done so far as possible, our principal difficulty
being to provide officers capable of giving the instruction required.

(3) The provision of wireless plant and operators to the Mercantile
Marine. This was another matter taken up with energy during 1917, and
with excellent results.

(4) The drilling of guns crews for the merchant ships. Men were invited
to go through a course of drill, and large numbers responded and were
instructed at the Royal Naval Depot at the Crystal Palace.

All these matters were additional to the important work upon which the
Trade Division was constantly employed, which included all blockade
questions, the routeing of merchant ships, examination of ships, etc.

In addition to the instructional anti-submarine course for masters and
officers, gunnery courses for cadets and apprentices were started at
Portsmouth, Chatham and Devonport. A system of visits to ships by
officer instructors for the purpose of affording instruction and for
inspection, as well as for the purpose of lecturing, was instituted, and
arrangements were made for giving instruction in signalling. Some idea
of the work carried out will be gathered from the following figures
showing the instructional work carried out during the year 1917:

  Masters                                               1,929
  Officers                                              2,149
  Number of cadets and apprentices passed through
    the gunnery course                                    543
  Number of merchant seamen trained in gunnery at
    the Crystal Palace                                  3,964
  Number of ships visited by officer instructors        6,927
  Numbers attending these lectures:
    Masters                                             1,361
    Officers                                            5,921
  Number of officers and men instructed in signalling  10,487

The keenness shown by officers and men of the merchant service
contributed in a marked degree to the success of the courses instituted;
just one example may be given. I visited the Royal Naval Depot at the
Crystal Palace early in 1918, and amongst other most interesting scenes
witnessed a large number of men of the merchant service at gun drill. I
questioned several of them as to their experiences, and many of the men
had had their ships torpedoed under them three, four or five times.
Amongst the gun crews was a steward who had been through this experience
four times. On my asking why he, as a steward, should be going through
the gunnery course, he replied that he hoped that by so doing he might
stand a chance of getting his own back by assisting to sink a submarine.

The knowledge which I possessed of the measures introduced during the
year 1917 to combat the German submarine warfare, and the continual
increase in the efficiency of the anti-submarine work which I knew would
result from increased production of anti-submarine vessels and weapons,
led me in February, 1918, to state that in my opinion the submarine
menace would be "held" by the autumn of the year 1918. The remark, which
was made at what I understood to be a private gathering, was given very
wide publicity, and was criticized at the time, but it was fulfilled, as
the figures will indicate.



The question of the introduction of convoys for the protection of
merchant ships was under consideration at various times during the war.
The system had been employed during the old wars and had proved its
value in the case of attack by vessels on the surface, and it was
natural that thoughts should be directed towards its reintroduction when
the submarine campaign developed. There is one inherent disadvantage in
this system which cannot be overcome, although it can be mitigated by
careful organization, viz. the delay involved. Delay means, of course, a
loss of carrying-power, and when tonnage is already short any proposal
which must reduce its efficiency has to be very carefully examined. The
delay of the convoy system is due to two causes, (a) because the speed
of the convoy must necessarily be fixed by the speed of the slowest
ship, and (b) the fact that the arrival of a large number of ships at
one time may cause congestion and consequent delay at the port of
unloading. However, if additional safety is given there is compensation
for this delay when the risk is great. One danger of a convoy system
under modern conditions should be mentioned, viz. the increased risk
from attack by mines. If ships are sailing singly a minefield will in
all probability sink only one vessel--the first ship entering it. The
fate of that ship reveals the presence of the field, and with adequate
organization it is improbable that other vessels will be sunk in the
same field. In the case of a convoy encountering a minefield, as in the
case of a fleet, several ships may be sunk practically simultaneously.

During the year 1916, whilst I was still in command of the Grand Fleet,
suggestions as to convoys had been forwarded to the Admiralty for the
better protection of the ocean trade against attack by surface vessels;
but it was pointed out to me that the number of cruisers available for
escort work was entirely insufficient, and that, consequently, the
suggestions could not be adopted. This objection was one that could only
be overcome by removing some of the faster merchant ships from the trade
routes and arming them. To this course there was the objection that we
were already--that is before the intensive campaign began--very short of

Shortly after my taking up the post of First Sea Lord at the Admiralty,
at the end of 1916, the question was discussed once more. At that time
the danger of attack by enemy raiders on shipping in the North Atlantic
was small; the protection needed was against attack by submarines, and
the dangerous area commenced some 300-400 miles from the British
Islands. It was known that unrestricted submarine warfare was about to
commence, and that this would mean that shipping would usually be
subjected to torpedo attack from submarines when in a submerged
condition. Against this form of attack the gun armament of cruisers or
armed merchant ships was practically useless, and, however powerfully
armed, ships of this type were themselves in peril of being torpedoed.
Small vessels of shallow draught, possessing high speed, offered the
only practicable form of protection. Shallow draught was necessary in
order that the protecting vessels should themselves be comparatively
immune from successful torpedo fire, and speed was essential for
offensive operations against the submarines.

Convoy sailing was, as has been stated, the recognized method of trade
protection in the old wars, and this was a strong argument in favour of
its adoption in the late war. It should, however, be clearly understood
that the conditions had entirely changed. Convoy sailing for the
protection of merchant ships against torpedo attack by submarines was
quite a different matter from such a system as a preventive against
attack by surface vessels and involved far greater difficulties. In the
days of sailing ships especially, accurate station keeping was not very
necessary, and the ships comprising the convoy sailed in loose order and
covered a considerable area of water. On a strange vessel, also a
sailing vessel, being sighted, the protecting frigate or frigates would
proceed to investigate her character, whilst the ships composing the
convoy closed in towards one another or steered a course that would take
them out of danger.

In the circumstances with which we were dealing in 1917 the requirements
were quite otherwise. It was essential for the protection of the convoy
that the ships should keep close and accurate station and should be able
to manoeuvre by signal. Close station was enjoined by the necessity of
reducing the area covered by the convoy; accurate station was required
to ensure safety from collision and freedom of manoeuvre. It will be
realized that a convoy comprising twenty to thirty vessels occupies
considerable space, even when steaming in the usual formation of four,
five or six columns. Since the number of destroyers or sloops that could
be provided for screening the convoy from torpedo attack by submarines
was bound to be very limited under any conditions, it was essential that
the columns of ships should be as short as possible; in other words,
that the ships should follow one another at close intervals, so that the
destroyers on each side of the convoy should be able as far as possible
to guard it from attack by submarines working from the flank, and that
they should be able with great rapidity to counter-attack a submarine
with depth charges should a periscope be sighted for a brief moment
above the surface, or the track of a torpedo be seen. In fact, it was
necessary, if the protection of a convoy was to be real protection, that
the ships composing the convoy should be handled in a manner that
approached the handling of battleships in a squadron. The diagram on p.
107 shows an ideal convoy with six destroyers protecting it, disposed in
the manner ordered at the start of the convoy system.

[Illustration on page 107, with caption "Diagram illustrating a convoy
of 25 Merchant Ships, with an escort of 6 Destroyers zigzagging at high
speed for protection. The convoy shown in close order and on its normal

[Illustration on page 108 shows, according to its caption, "Typical
convoy and escort of 10 Trawlers in the early days of convoy."]

How far this ideal was attainable was a matter of doubt. Prior to 1917
our experience of merchant ships sailing in company had been confined to
troop transports. These vessels were well officered and well manned,
carried experienced engine-room staffs, were capable of attaining
moderate speeds, and were generally not comparable to ordinary cargo
vessels, many of which were of very slow speed, and possessed a large
proportion of officers and men of limited sea experience, owing to the
very considerable personnel of the Mercantile Marine which had joined
the Royal Naval Reserve and was serving in the Fleet or in patrol craft.
Moreover, even the troop transports had not crossed the submarine zone
in company, but had been escorted independently; and many naval officers
who had been in charge of convoys, when questioned, were not convinced
that sailing in convoy under the conditions mentioned above was a
feasible proposition, nor, moreover, were the masters of the transports.

In February, 1917, in order to investigate this aspect of the question,
a conference took place between the Naval Staff and the masters of cargo
steamers which were lying in the London docks. The masters were asked
their opinion as to how far their ships could be depended on to keep
station in a convoy of 12 to 20 vessels. They expressed a unanimous
opinion that it was not practicable to keep station under the conditions
mentioned, the difficulty being due to two causes: (1) the inexperience
of their deck officers owing to so many of them having been taken for
the Royal Naval Reserve, and (2) the inexperience of their engineers,
combined with the impossibility of obtaining delicate adjustments of
speed by reason of the absence of suitable engine-room telegraphs and
the poor quality of much of the coal used. When pressed as to the
greatest number of ships that could be expected to manoeuvre together in
safety, the masters of these cargo steamers, all experienced seamen,
gave it as their opinion that two or possibly three was the maximum
number. The opinions thus expressed were confirmed later by other
masters of merchant ships who were consulted on the subject. It is to
the eternal credit of the British Merchant Marine, which rendered
service of absolutely inestimable value to the Empire throughout the
war, that when put to the test by the adoption of the convoy system,
officers and men proved that they could achieve far more than they
themselves had considered possible. At the same time it should be
recognized how severe a strain was imposed on officers, particularly the
masters, of vessels sailing in convoy.

The matter was kept constantly under review. In February, 1917, the
Germans commenced unrestricted submarine warfare against merchant ships
of all nationalities, and as a consequence our shipping losses, as well
as those of Allied and neutral countries, began to mount steadily each
succeeding month. The effect of this new phase of submarine warfare is
best illustrated by a few figures.

During the last four months of 1916 the gross tonnage lost by _submarine
attack_ alone gave the following monthly average: British, 121,500;
Allies, 59,500; neutrals, 87,500; total, 268,500.

In the first four months of 1917 the figures became, in round numbers:

                British.    Allies.   Neutrals.  Total.

  January       104,000     62,000    116,000    282,000
  February      256,000     77,000    131,000    464,000
  March         283,000     74,000    149,000    506,000
  April         513,000    133,000    185,000    831,000

(The United States entered the war on April 6, 1917.)

NOTE.--In neither case is the loss of fishing craft included.

It will be realized that, since the losses towards the end of 1916 were
such as to give just cause for considerable anxiety, the later figures
made it clear that some method of counteracting the submarines must be
found and found quickly if the Allied cause was to be saved from

None of the anti-submarine measures that had been under consideration or
trial since the formation of the Anti-Submarine Division of the Naval
Staff in December, 1916, could _by any possibility_ mature for some
months, since time was necessary for the production of vessels and more
or less complicated matériel, and in these circumstances the only step
that could be taken was that of giving a trial to the convoy system for
the ocean trade, although the time was by no means yet ripe for
effective use of the system, by reason of the shortage of destroyers,
sloops and cruisers, which was still most acute, although the situation
was improving slowly month by month as new vessels were completed.

Prior to this date we had already had some experience of convoys as a
protection against submarine attack. The coal trade of France had been
brought under convoy in March, 1917. The trade between Scandinavia and
North Sea ports was also organized in convoys in April of the same year,
this trade having since December, 1916, been carried out on a system of
"protected sailings." It is true that these convoys were always very
much scattered, particularly the Scandinavian convoy, which was composed
largely of neutral vessels and therefore presented exceptional
difficulties in the matter of organization and handling. The number of
destroyers which could be spared for screening the convoys was also very
small. The protection afforded was therefore more apparent than real,
but even so the results had been very good in reducing the losses by
submarine attack. The protection of the vessels employed in the French
coal trade was entrusted very largely to trawlers, as the ships
composing the convoy were mostly slow, so that in this case more
screening vessels were available, although they were not so efficient,
being themselves of slow speed.

For the introduction of a system of convoy which would protect merchant
ships as far as their port of discharge in the United Kingdom, there
were two requirements: (a) A sufficient number of convoying cruisers or
armed merchant ships, whose role would be that of bringing the ships
comprising the convoy to some selected rendezvous outside the zone of
submarine activity, where it would be met by the flotilla of small
vessels which would protect the convoy through the submarine area. It
was essential that the ships of the convoy should arrive at this
rendezvous as an organized unit, well practised in station-keeping by
day, and at night, with the ships darkened, and that the vessels should
be capable also of zigzagging together and of carrying out such
necessary movements as alterations of course, etc.; otherwise the convoy
could not be safely escorted through the danger area. (b) The other
essential was the presence of the escorting flotilla in sufficient

It has been mentioned that there was an insufficient number of vessels
available for use as convoying cruisers. It was estimated that about
fifty cruisers or armed merchant ships would be required for this
service if the homeward-bound trade to the British Isles alone was
considered. An additional twelve vessels would be necessary to deal with
the outward-bound trade. At the time only eighteen vessels were
available, and these could only be obtained by denuding the North
Atlantic entirely of cruisers.

The situation in regard to destroyers or other fast vessels presented
equal difficulties. Early in February, 1917, we had available for
general convoy or patrol work only fourteen destroyers stationed at
Devonport and twelve sloops at Queenstown, and owing to repairs and the
necessity of resting officers and men periodically, only a proportion of
these were available at any one time. A number of these vessels were
required to escort troop transports through the submarine danger zone.
During the month of February six sloops were diverted from their proper
work of minesweeping in the North Sea and added to the patrol force at
Queenstown, and eight destroyers were taken from the Grand Fleet and
sent to southern waters for patrol and escort duty. There were obvious
objections to this weakening of the North Sea forces, but it was
necessary in the circumstances to ignore them.

This total of forty destroyers and sloops represented the whole
available force at the end of February. Simultaneously a careful
investigation showed that for the institution of a system of convoy and
escort for homeward-bound Atlantic trade alone to the United Kingdom,
our requirements would be eighty-one destroyers or sloops and
forty-eight trawlers (the latter vessels being only suitable for
escorting the slow 6-7-knot ships of the trade from Gibraltar to the
United Kingdom). For the outward Atlantic trade from the United Kingdom
our estimated requirements were forty-four additional destroyers or

The deficiency in suitable vessels of this class is best shown by the
following table, which reveals the destroyer position at different
periods during the year 1917:

Pembroke.                                                       |
-------------------------------------------------------------+  |
Queenstown.                                                  |  |
---------------------------------------------------------+   |  |
Bunerana.                                                |   |  |
------------------------------------------------------+  |   |  |
North Channel.                                        |  |   |  |
---------------------------------------------------+  |  |   |  |
Scapa and Invergordon.                             |  |  |   |  |
------------------------------------------------+  |  |  |   |  |
The Tyne.                                       |  |  |  |   |  |
---------------------------------------------+  |  |  |  |   |  |
The Humber.                                  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
------------------------------------------+  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Lowestoft.                                |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
---------------------------------------+  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
The Nore.                              |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
------------------------------------+  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Portsmouth.                         |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
---------------------------------+  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Devonport.                       |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
------------------------------+  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Dover.                        |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
---------------------------+  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Harwich Fleet.             |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
------------------------+  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Grand Fleet.            |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
January.            |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Flotilla Leaders    | 10| 2| 3|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Modern destroyers   | 97|45|18|14|13|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |29
                    |[A]|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Destroyers of River |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
class and earlier   |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
construction        |   |  |11| 6|16| 9|  | 9|11|15| 4|  |   |  | 8
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
P boats             |   | 2| 5|  | 4|10| 4| 1|  |  |  |  |   |  |
June.               |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Flotilla Leaders    | 10| 3| 4|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Modern destroyers   | 95|23|29|38|15|  |  | 5|  |  |  | 4| 32|  |29
                    |[A]|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |[B]|  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Destroyers of River |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
class and earlier   |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
construction        |   |  |10| 5|16| 7|  |29| 1|11| 4|  |   |  | 8
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
P boats             |   | 2| 6|  | 8| 9| 4| 1|  |  |  |  |   | 5|
November.           |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Flotilla Leaders    | 11| 4| 6|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Modern destroyers   |101|24|26|37| 9|  |  | 4|  |  |  |29| 35|  |32
                    |[A]|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |[B]|  |
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
Destroyers of River |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
class and earlier   |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
construction        |   |  |10| 4| 8|12| 2|30|  |11| 4|  |   |  | 8
                    |   |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |   |  |
P boats             |   | 2| 6|  |31|  |  | 1|  |  |  |  |   |10|

[Footnote A: Includes destroyers detached for protection work in other

[Footnote B: Includes United States destroyers.]

There was the possible alternative of bringing only a small portion of
the trade under convoy by taking all the available fast small craft from
patrol duty and utilizing them to escort this portion of the trade, but
it was felt that as this would leave the _whole_ of the remaining trade
entirely without protection, and no fast patrol craft would be on the
trade routes to pick up the crews of any merchant ships that might be
sunk by submarines, the step was not justified.

The next point for consideration was the possibility of obtaining
destroyers or sloops from other sources with which to increase the
forces for trade protection. The only commands on which it was possible
to draw further were the Grand Fleet, the Harwich and Dover forces, the
destroyers of old types working on the East Coast, or the destroyers and
"P" boats protecting our cross-Channel communications west of the Dover

It was out of the question to reduce the Harwich or Dover flotillas
materially, as we were already running the gravest risks from the
inadequacy of these forces to deal with enemy destroyers and submarines
operating in southern waters from Zeebrugge or from German ports, and in
addition the Harwich Force furnished the sole protection for the weekly
convoy running between the Thames and Dutch ports, besides being much
required for reconnaissance and offensive operations in the Heligoland
Bight so far as it could be spared for this purpose. However, the
emergency was such that destroyers were taken from Harwich, as the force
obtained new vessels of a faster and more powerful type. The destroyers
on the East Coast and in the Portsmouth Command were already inadequate
to afford proper protection to the trade and the cross-Channel
communications, as evidenced by our losses. Here again, however, in
order to meet the very serious situation, some destroyers were
eventually transferred to Devonport from Portsmouth, but at the expense
of still less protection and fewer opportunities for offensive action
against submarines. There remained only the Grand Fleet destroyers on
which we could draw yet further. It had always been held that the Grand
Fleet required a total force of one hundred destroyers and ten flotilla
leaders for the double purpose of screening the ships from submarine
attack when at sea and of countering the enemy's destroyers and
attacking his heavy ships with torpedo fire in a fleet action. We had
gradually built the destroyer force of the Grand Fleet up to this figure
by the early spring of 1917, although, of course, it fell far short of
requirements in earlier months. It was well known to us that the High
Sea Fleet would be accompanied by at least eight flotillas, or
eighty-eight destroyers, when proceeding to sea at its _selected_
moment, and it was quite probable that the number might be much higher,
as many more vessels were available. At our _average_ moment, even with
a nominal force of one hundred destroyers and ten flotilla leaders, we
could not expect that more than seventy destroyers and eight leaders
would be present with the Fleet, since, in addition to those absent
refitting, a considerable number were always engaged on trade protection
or anti-submarine work in northern waters which could not join up in
time to accompany the Fleet to sea. When the Scandinavian convoy was
started in April, 1917, one flotilla leader and six destroyers from the
Grand Fleet were used for its protection; other vessels in northern
waters also depended on Grand Fleet destroyers for protection. Any
further transference, therefore, of destroyers from the Grand Fleet to
southern waters for trade protection was a highly dangerous expedient,
involving increased risk from submarine attack on the heavy ships in the
event of the Fleet proceeding to sea, as well as disadvantages in a
Fleet action. The necessity, however, was so great that the risk had to
be faced, and for some months of 1917 from eight to twelve Grand Fleet
destroyers were used for trade protection in the Atlantic, principally
from Irish ports, in addition to those protecting trade in the North

It is interesting to note the number of persons who claim to have been
the first to urge the Admiralty to adopt convoys as a method of
protecting merchant ships against submarine attack. The claimants for
this distinction are not confined to Great Britain; the great majority
of them are people without any knowledge of the sea and naval matters,
certainly none of them possessed any knowledge of the number of vessels
needed to afford protection to the ships under convoy, nor of the
vessels which we could produce for the purpose at the time.

Possibly the facts related above may serve to show that convoys were
commenced by Admiralty direction, and that they were started as soon as
and extended as rapidly as the necessary protecting vessels could be
provided. Those who argued then, or who have argued since, that we
should have reduced the number of destroyers with the Grand Fleet will
not, I think, meet with any support from those who served in that Fleet,
especially from the officers upon whom lay the responsibility for
countering any move of the High Sea Fleet.

The entry of the United States into the war early in April eased the
situation somewhat. First it was hoped that the United States Navy would
assist us with destroyers and other small craft, and secondly it was a
fact that the great majority of the material imported into countries
contiguous to Germany came from the United States. There was reason to
anticipate that steps would be taken by the United States authorities in
the direction of some form of rationing of these countries, and in these
circumstances it was justifiable to reduce gradually the strength of our
blockading squadron of armed merchant vessels known as the 10th Cruiser
Squadron. By this means we could at once provide additional vessels to
act as convoying cruisers.

Vice-Admiral W.S. Sims had arrived in this country in March, 1917, after
passing through an exciting experience, the ship in which he crossed
(the United States steamer _St. Louis_) being mined outside Liverpool.
He came to visit me at the Admiralty immediately after his arrival in
London, and from that day until I left the Admiralty at the end of the
year it was my privilege and pleasure to work in the very closest
co-operation with him. My friendship with the Admiral was of very long
standing. We had during many years exchanged views on different naval
subjects, but principally on gunnery questions. I, in common with other
British naval officers who had the honour of his acquaintance, had
always been greatly struck by his wonderful success in the post of
Inspector of Target Practice in the United States Navy. That success was
due not only to his intimate knowledge of gunnery, but also to his
attractive personality, charm of manner, keen sense of humour, and quick
and accurate grasp of any problem with which he was confronted. It was
fortunate indeed for the Allied cause that Admiral Sims should have been
selected to command the United States forces in European waters, for to
the qualities mentioned above he added a habit of speaking his mind with
absolutely fearless disregard of the consequences. This characteristic
has led him on more than one occasion into difficulty, but in the
circumstances with which we had to deal in 1917 it was just the quality
that was needed. It was a very difficult matter for those in authority
in the United States, separated as they were by 3,000 miles of sea from
the theatres of war, to realize the conditions in European waters, for
the Admiralty was not concerned only with the North Sea and Atlantic,
and the terse and straightforward reports of Admiral Sims, and his
convincing statements, went a long way towards bringing home to the
United States people at that time the extreme gravity of the situation
and the need for immediate action. He was consistently backed up by that
great ambassador, the late Mr. W.H. Page, who also honoured me with his
confidence, and to whom I spoke perfectly freely on all occasions.

The assistance from the United States that it was hoped was now in sight
made the prospect of success following on the adoption of the convoy
system far more favourable, and preparations were put in hand for the
institution of an ocean convoy system on a large scale. In order to gain
some experience of the difficulties attending the working of cargo
ships, directions were given for an experimental convoy to be collected
at Gibraltar. The necessary officers were sent out to Gibraltar with
orders to assemble the convoy, to instruct the masters in the work that
lay before them, and to explain to them the system of sailing, the
manner in which the convoy would be handled, and the protection that
would be afforded. This naturally took time, and the convoy did not
arrive in England until after the middle of May. The experience gained
showed, however, that the difficulties apprehended by the officers of
the Mercantile Marine were not insuperable, and that, given adequate
protection by cruisers and small fast craft, the system was at least
practicable. It was accordingly decided to put it into operation at
once, and to extend it as rapidly as the increase in the numbers of our
destroyers and sloops permitted.

The North Atlantic homeward-bound trade was brought under convoy in May,
1917, and the Gibraltar homeward-bound trade in July, but for some
months it was impossible to provide for the institution of a complete
convoy system. At first some 40 per cent, of the homeward-bound trade
was convoyed. Then the system was gradually extended to include first 60
per cent., then 80 per cent., and finally 100 per cent, of the homeward
Atlantic trade and the trade from Gibraltar, trawlers being used as
escorts for the Gibraltar trade, as the majority of the ships therein
engaged were slow. But trawlers are unsatisfactory escort vessels.

In the early stages of the convoy system difficulties were experienced
from the fact that all the available destroyers and most of the sloops
were used as escorts, with the result that the ships not under convoy
were left with but little protection.



As has been mentioned in Chapter II., the first ships to be brought
under a system of convoy were those engaged in the French coal trade and
in the trade between Scandinavia and the United Kingdom.

In the case of the _French coal trade_, commencing in March, 1917, the
steamships engaged in the trade were sailed in groups from four
different assembly ports, viz.:

Southend to Boulogne and Calais.
St. Helens to Havre.
Portland to Cherbourg.
Penzance to Brest.

Between Southend and Boulogne and Calais the protection was given by the
vessels of the Dover Patrol in the course of their ordinary duties, but
for the other three routes special escort forces were utilized, and
daily convoys were the rule.

Owing to the great demand for coal in France, sailing vessels were also
used, and sailed under convoy from several of the south-west ports.

A large organization was required to deal with the trade, and this was
built up under the supervision of Captain Reginald G.H. Henderson, C.B.,
of the Anti-Submarine Division of the Naval Staff, working under
Vice-Admiral (then Rear-Admiral) Sir Alexander Duff, head of the
Division, in conference with the Commanders-in-Chief, Portsmouth and
Plymouth, under whose direction and protection the convoys were run. The
immunity of this trade, carried out in the infested waters of the
English Channel, from successful attack by submarines was extraordinary.
No doubt the small size of the vessels concerned and their comparatively
shallow draught were a contributory cause to this immunity. The figures
for the period March to August, 1917, show that 8,825 vessels crossed
the Channel under convoy, and that only fourteen were lost.

The history of the _Scandinavian and East Coast convoys_ dates back to
the autumn of 1916, when heavy losses were being incurred amongst
Scandinavian ships due to submarine attack. Thus in October, 1916, the
losses amongst Norwegian and Swedish ships by submarine attack were more
than three times as great as the previous highest monthly losses. Some
fear existed that the neutral Scandinavian countries might refuse to run
such risks and go to the extreme of prohibiting sailings. Towards the
end of 1916, before I left the Fleet, a system of "protected" sailings
was therefore introduced. In this system the Commander-in-Chief, Grand
Fleet, fixed upon a number of alternative routes between Norway and the
Shetland Islands, which were used by all vessels trading between
Scandinavia and Allied countries. The particular route in use at any
given moment was patrolled by the local forces from the Orkneys and
Shetlands, assisted when possible by small craft from the Grand Fleet.
The Admiral Commanding the Orkneys and Shetlands was placed in charge of
the arrangements, which were carried out by the Senior Naval Officer at
Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands. At this period the intention was that
the shipping from Norway should sail at dusk, reach a certain rendezvous
at dawn, and thence be escorted to Lerwick. The shipping from Lerwick
sailed at dawn under protection, dispersed at dark, and reached the
Norwegian coast at dawn. Difficulties, of course, arose in the event of
bad weather, or when the slow speed of the ships prevented the passage
of about 180 miles being made in approximately twenty-four hours, and by
April, 1917, it was evident that further steps were necessary to meet
these difficulties, which were again causing heavy losses. Early in
April, then, by direction from the Admiralty, a conference was held at
Longhope on the subject. Admiral Sir Frederick Brock, Commanding the
Orkneys and Shetlands, presided, and representatives from the Admiralty
and the Commands affected were present, and the adoption of a complete
convoy system to include the whole trade between the East Coast and
Norway was recommended. This proposal was approved by the Admiralty and
was put into force as soon as the necessary organization had matured.
Escorting vessels had with difficulty been provided, although in
inadequate numbers. The first convoys sailed towards the end of April,

The system may be described briefly as follows. The convoys all put into
Lerwick, in the Shetland Islands, both on the eastward and westward
passages, so that Lerwick acted as a junction for the whole system. From
Lerwick, convoys to Scandinavia left in the afternoon under the
protection of two or three destroyers, and, with some armed patrol
vessels in company up to a certain stage, made the Norwegian coast at
varying points, and there dispersed, and the destroyers then picked up
the west-bound convoy at a rendezvous off the Norwegian coast shortly
before dark, and steered for a rendezvous between Norway and the
Shetland Islands, where an escort of armed patrol vessels joined the
convoy at daylight to assist in its protection to Lerwick. From Lerwick
convoys were dispatched to various points on the coast of the United
Kingdom; those making for southern ports on the East Coast were escorted
by a force composed of some of the old "River" class or of 30-knot class
destroyers, and trawlers belonging to the East Coast Command based on
the Humber, and those making for more northerly ports or ports on the
West Coast were escorted merely by armed patrol vessels, as the danger
of submarine attack to these convoys was not so great.

The main difficulty was the provision of the destroyers required for the
proper protection of the convoys, and to a lesser degree the provision
of armed patrol vessels of the trawler, whaler, or drifter types.

The conference held early in April, 1917, had reported that whilst
stronger protection was naturally desirable, the very least force that
could give defence to the convoys between Lerwick and the East Coast
ports would be a total of twenty-three destroyers and fifty trawlers,
whilst for each convoy between Lerwick and Norway at least two
destroyers and four trawlers were needed. The destroyers for the latter
convoys were provided by the Grand Fleet, although they could ill be
spared. The total number so utilized was six. It was only possible to
provide a force of twenty old destroyers and forty-five trawlers for the
East Coast convoys instead of the numbers recommended by the conference,
and owing to the age of a large majority of these destroyers and the
inevitable resultant occasional breakdown of machinery, the number
available frequently fell below twenty, although it was really
marvellous how those old destroyers stuck to the work to the eternal
credit of their crews, and particularly the engineering staffs. The
adoption of the system, however, resulted during the comparatively fine
summer weather in a considerable reduction in the number of merchant
ships lost, in spite of the fact that great difficulty was experienced
in keeping the ships of the convoys together, particularly at night,
dawn frequently finding the convoy very much scattered.

It became obvious, however, that with the approach of winter the old
destroyers of the 30-knot class would have the greatest difficulty in
facing the heavy weather, and very urgent representations were made by
Sir Frederick Brock for their replacement by more modern vessels before
the winter set in. All that could be effected in this direction was
done, though at the expense of some of the Channel escorts. Urgent
requests for good destroyers were being received at the Admiralty from
every Command, and it was impossible to comply with them since the
vessels were not in existence.

Certain other steps which may be enumerated were taken in connection
with the Scandinavian traffic.

The convoys received such additional protection as could be given by the
airships which were gradually being stationed on the East Coast during
the year 1917, and decoy ships occasionally joined the convoys in order
to invite submarine attack on themselves. This procedure was indeed
adopted on all convoy routes as they were brought into being, the rule
being for the decoy ship to drop behind the convoy in the guise of a

Some of our submarines were also detailed to work in the vicinity of
convoy routes in order that they might take advantage of any opportunity
to attack enemy submarines if sighted; due precautions for their safety
were made.

Among the difficulties with which the very energetic and resourceful
Admiral Commanding the Orkneys and Shetlands had to contend in his
working of the convoys was the persistent mining of the approach to
Lerwick Harbour by German submarines; a second difficulty was the great
congestion that took place in that harbour as soon as bad weather set in
during the autumn of 1917. The weather during the latter part of 1917
was exceptionally bad, and great congestion and consequent delay to
shipping occurred both at Lerwick and in the Norwegian ports. As the
result of this congestion it became necessary to increase largely the
number of ships in each convoy, thereby enhancing the difficulty of
handling the convoy.

At the commencement it had been decided to limit the size of a
Scandinavian convoy to six or eight vessels, but as the congestion
increased it became necessary to exceed this number considerably,
occasional convoys composed of as many as thirty to forty ships being
formed. A contributory cause to the increase in the size of convoys was
due to the fact that the trade between Lerwick and the White Sea, which
had been proceeding direct between those places during the first half of
1917, became the target of persistent submarine attack during the
summer, and in order to afford them protection it was necessary in the
autumn to include these ships also in the Scandinavian convoy for the
passage across the North Sea. Between the coast of Norway and the White
Sea they proceeded independently, hugging territorial waters as far as

It will be realized that the institution of the convoy system of sailing
for the Scandinavian trade necessitated an extensive organization on the
Norwegian as well as on the British side of the North Sea. For this
reason Captain Arthur Halsey, R.N., was appointed in March, 1917, as
Naval Vice-Consul at Bergen, and the whole of the arrangements in regard
to the working of the convoys, the issue of orders, etc., from the
Norwegian side came under him and his staff, to which additions were
made from time to time. The position was peculiar in that British naval
officers were working in this manner in a neutral country, and it says
much for the discretion and tact of Captain Halsey and his staff and the
courtesy of the Norwegian Government officials that no difficulties

Steps were also taken to appoint officers at British ports for the work
of controlling the mercantile traffic, and as the organization became
perfected so the conditions gradually improved.

By the end of September the bad weather prevalent in the North Sea had
caused great dislocation in the convoy system. Ships composing convoys
became much scattered and arrived so late off Lerwick as to prevent them
proceeding on their passage without entering harbour. Owing to the
overcrowding of Lerwick Harbour the system of changing convoy escorts
without entering harbour had been introduced, and the delays due to bad
weather were causing great difficulties in this respect. The question of
substituting the Tyne for Lerwick as the collecting port was first
discussed at this period, but the objections to the Tyne as an assembly
port were so strong as to prevent the adoption of the proposal.

The system of convoy outlined above continued in force from April to
December, 1917, during which period some 6,000 vessels were convoyed
between Norway and the Humber with a total loss of about seventy ships.

There was always the danger that Germany would attack the convoys by
means of surface vessels. The safeguard against such attacks was the
constant presence of forces from the Grand Fleet in the North Sea. In
view of the fact, however, that the distance of the convoy routes from
the Horn Reef was only between 300 and 350 miles, and that on a winter
night this distance could almost be covered at a speed of 20 knots
during the fourteen or fifteen hours of darkness that prevailed, it will
be seen that unless the convoys were actually accompanied by a force
sufficient to protect them against operations by surface vessels, there
was undoubted risk of successful attack. It was not possible to forecast
the class of vessels by which such an attack might be carried out or the
strength of the attacking force. The German decision in this respect
would naturally be governed by the value of the objective and by the
risk to be run. Admiral Scheer in his book states that on one occasion,
in April, 1918, the German battle-cruisers, supported by the battleships
and the remainder of the High Sea Fleet, attempted such an attack, but
found no convoy. It was always realized by us that an attack in great
force might be made on the convoy, but such risk had to be accepted.

The movements of the ships of the Grand Fleet were a matter for the
Commander-in-Chief, provided always that no definite orders were issued
by the Admiralty or no warning of expected attack was given to the
Commander-in-Chief, and, prior to the first attack on the Scandinavian
convoy, no special force of cruisers or light cruisers accompanied the
convoy to guard it against attack by surface vessels, although a strong
deterrent to attack lay in the frequent presence of forces from the
Grand Fleet to the southward of the convoy routes, which forces would
seriously threaten the return of any raiding German vessels. As the
enemy would naturally make the northward passage by night we could
hardly expect to sight his ships on the outward trip.

The first attack took place at daylight on October 17. The convoy on
this occasion consisted of twelve ships, two British, one Belgian, one
Danish, five Norwegian and three Swedish, and was under the
anti-submarine escort of the destroyers _Mary Rose_ and _Strongbow_, and
two trawlers, the _Elsie_ and _P. Fannon_. At dawn, shortly after 6.0
A.M., two strange vessels were sighted to the southward, and were later
recognized as German light cruisers. They were challenged, but replied
by opening fire at about 6.15 A.M., disabling the _Strongbow_ with the
first salvo fired. The _Mary Rose_ steamed gallantly at the enemy with
the intention of attacking with torpedoes, but was sunk by gunfire
before she could achieve her object. The enemy vessels then attacked the
convoy, sinking all except the British and Belgian vessels, which
escaped undamaged. The _Strongbow_, shelled at close range, returned the
fire, using guns and torpedoes, but was completely overwhelmed by the
guns of the light cruisers and sank at about 9.30 A.M. The trawler
_Elsie_ effected very fine rescue work amongst the survivors both from
the _Strongbow_ and ships of the convoy, whilst under fire, and both
trawlers reached Lerwick. The enemy sheered off soon after 8.0 A.M. Most
unfortunately neither the _Strongbow_ nor the _Mary Rose_ succeeded in
getting a wireless signal through to our own vessels to report the
presence of enemy ships, otherwise there can be little doubt that they
would have been intercepted and sunk. We had in the North Sea, during
the night before the attack and during the day of the attack, a
particularly strong force of light cruisers comprising four or possibly
five squadrons (a total of not less than sixteen vessels), all to the
southward of the convoy route, and had the information of the attack
come through from the destroyers, these vessels would have been informed
at once and would have had an excellent chance of intercepting the
enemy. The extreme difficulty of preventing the egress of raiders from
the North Sea at night, even when so large a force is cruising, was well
illustrated by this incident, although a little reflection on the wide
area of water to be covered, together with a knowledge of the distance
that the eye can cover on a dark night (some 200 to 300 yards), would
show how very great are the chances in favour of evasion.

This disaster to the Scandinavian convoy was bound to bring into
prominence the question of affording to it protection against future
attacks by surface vessels, for necessarily the protection against
surface vessels differed from that against submarines, a point which was
sometimes overlooked by those who were unfamiliar with the demands of
the two wars which were being waged--the one on the surface and the
other under the surface. It was very difficult to furnish efficient
protection against the surface form of attack from the resources of the
Grand Fleet if the practice of running a daily convoy was continued,
because it was impossible to forecast the strength or exact
character--battle-cruisers, cruisers or destroyers--of the attack; and
the first step was to reduce the number of convoys and to increase
correspondingly the number of ships in each convoy. A telegram was sent
to the Admiral Commanding the Orkneys and Shetlands on October 26 asking
whether the convoys could be conveniently reduced to three per week. A
reply was received on the 29th to the effect that the convoy could be
run every third day under certain conditions; the important conditions
were the use of the Tyne instead of the Hurnber as a collecting port,
and the provision of eight extra trawlers and nine modern destroyers.
Sir Frederick Brock stated that he was assuming cruiser protection to
the convoys and that the details would need to be worked out before the
change could be made. He suggested a conference. He was requested on
October 31 to consult the Vice-Admiral Commanding East Coast of England
as to the practicability of using the Tyne as a convoy collecting port.
Meanwhile Sir F. Brock had prepared a scheme for giving effect to his
proposals, and on November 5 he sent copies of this scheme to the
Vice-Admiral Commanding East Coast of England and other officers
concerned for their consideration.

In forwarding proposals to the Admiralty on November 22, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet stated that the destroyers asked
for could not be provided from the Grand Fleet. Amongst other reasons it
was pointed out that the destroyers required for screening the light
cruisers protecting the convoys would have to be supplied from that
source, thus bringing an additional strain on the Grand Fleet flotillas.
He suggested the provision of these vessels from other Commands, such as
the Mediterranean, and pointed out the manifest advantages that would
result from providing a force for this convoy work that would be
additional to the Grand Fleet flotillas. Consideration of the proposals
at the Admiralty showed once again the great difficulty of providing the
destroyers. It was impossible to spare any from the Mediterranean, where
large troop movements needing destroyer protection were in progress, and
other Commands were equally unable to furnish them. Indeed, the demands
for destroyers from all directions were as insistent as ever. The
unsuitability of the Tyne as a collecting port was remarked upon by the
Naval Staff, as well as other objections to the scheme as put forward
from Scapa. In order to decide upon a workable scheme, directions were
given that a conference was to assemble at Scapa on December 10. An
officer from the Naval Staff was detailed to attend the conference, to
point out the objections which had been raised and, amongst other
matters, to bring to notice the advantage of the Firth of Forth as a
collecting port instead of the Tyne.

Meanwhile steps had been taken to furnish as much protection as possible
from Grand Fleet resources to the convoys against attack by enemy
surface vessels.

The conference of December 10 came to the conclusion that the Firth of
Forth was the best assembly place, and that the port of Methil in that
locality would offer great advantages. The conference made
recommendations as to the provision of destroyers as soon as they were
available, and, amongst other matters, mentioned the necessity for an
increase in the minesweeping force at Rosyth to meet a possible
extension of enemy minelaying when the new system was in operation.

On December 12 a second attack on the convoy took place. In this
instance the attack was carried out by four German destroyers. Two
convoys were at sea, one east-bound and one west-bound, the east-bound
convoy being attacked. It was screened against submarine attack by two
destroyers--the _Pellew_ and _Partridge_--and four armed trawlers, and
comprised six vessels, one being British and the remainder neutrals. The
attack took place in approximately Lat. 59.50 N., Long. 3.50 E., and the
action resulted in the _Partridge_, the four trawlers, and the whole of
the convoy being sunk, and the _Pellew_ was so severely damaged as to be
incapable of continuing the action. At the time of this attack a
west-bound convoy was at sea to the westward of the other convoy, and
two armoured cruisers--the _Shannon_ and _Minotaur_--with four
destroyers were acting as a covering force for the convoys against
attack by surface vessels. A wireless signal from the _Partridge_ having
been intercepted, this force steamed at full speed for the scene of the
action, the destroyers arriving in time to pick up 100 survivors from
the convoy and trawlers, but not in time to save the convoy. The 3rd
Light Cruiser Squadron, also at sea, was some 85 miles to the southward
and eastward of the convoy when attacked, but neither this force nor the
_Shannon's_ force succeeded in intercepting the enemy before he reached
port. The short hours of daylight greatly facilitated his escape.

On receipt of the report of the meeting of December 10, and in view of
the attack of December 12, the question of the interval between convoys
was specially considered in its relation to the ability of the Grand
Fleet to furnish protection against surface attack. It was decided that
for this reason it would only be possible to sail convoys from Methil
every third day so as to avoid having two convoys at sea at a time, a
situation with which the Grand Fleet could not deal satisfactorily. The
organization then drawn up actually came into effect on January 20,
1918, after my departure from the Admiralty, and was continued with
certain modifications to the end of the war. The principal modification
was an increase of the interval between convoys, first, to four, and
later to five days in order to relieve the strain on the Grand Fleet
arising from the provision of covering forces; the disadvantage of the
resultant increased size of the convoys had to be accepted. Under the
new system the Commander-in-Chief Coast of Scotland at Rosyth--Admiral
Sir Cecil Burney--became responsible for the control of the Scandinavian
convoys, the Admiralty selecting the routes.

The introduction of the convoy system for the Atlantic trade dates from
the early days of May, 1917, when the prospect--for it was only then a
prospect--of increasing assistance from the U.S. Navy in regard to
destroyers and other small craft for escort duty as well as convoy
cruisers for ocean work, made the system possible. Action taken with the
U.S. authorities for the introduction of a system by which the trade
from that country in neutral shipping was controlled enabled the ships
of the 10th Cruiser Squadron to be gradually withdrawn from blockade
duties and utilized as ocean convoy cruisers. Even with assistance from
the U.S. Navy in the shape of old battleships and cruisers, the use of
the 10th Cruiser Squadron, the withdrawal of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron of
five ships from the Grand Fleet, the use of the ships of the North
American and West Indies Squadron and of some of our older battleships
from the Mediterranean, there was still a shortage of convoy cruisers;
this deficiency was made up by arming a number of the faster cargo
vessels with 6-inch guns for duty as convoy cruisers. These vessels
usually carried cargo themselves, so that no great loss of tonnage was

On May 17 a committee was assembled at the Admiralty to draw up a
complete organization for a general convoy system. (The committee was
composed of the following officers: Captain H.W. Longden, R.N., Fleet
Paymaster H.W.E. Manisty, R.N., Commander J.S. Wilde, R.N., Lieutenant
G.E. Burton, R.N., and Mr. N.A. Leslie, of the Ministry of Shipping.)
This committee had before it the experience of an experimental convoy
which arrived from Gibraltar shortly after the commencement of the
committee's work, as well as the experience already gained in the
Scandinavian and French coal trade convoys, and the evidence of officers
such as Captain R.G. Henderson, R.N., who had made a close study of the
convoy question.

On June 6 the report was completed. This valuable report dealt with the
whole organization needed for the institution of a complete system of
convoy for homeward and outward trade in the Atlantic. In anticipation
of the report steps had already been taken to commence the system, the
first homeward bound Atlantic convoy starting on May 24. A necessary
preliminary for the successful working of the convoys was a central
organization at the Admiralty. This organization--termed the Convoy
Section of the Trade Division of the Naval Staff--worked directly under
Rear-Admiral A.L. Duff, who had recently been placed on the Board of
Admiralty with the title of Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff
(A.C.N.S.), and who was in immediate control of the Anti-Submarine,
Trade and Minesweeping Divisions of the Staff. Fleet Paymaster H.W.E.
Manisty was appointed as Organizing Manager of Convoys, and the Convoy
Section, comprising at first some ten officers, soon increased to a
total of fifteen, and was in immediate touch with the Ministry of
Shipping through a representative, Mr. Leslie. His function was to make
such arrangements as would ensure co-operation between the loading and
discharging of cargoes and convoy requirements, and generally to
coordinate shipping needs with convoy needs.

The organizing manager of the convoys and his staff controlled the
assembly, etc., of all convoys and vessels.

The routing of the convoys and their protection, both ocean and
anti-submarine, was arranged under the superintendence of the A.C.N.S.

In addition to the central Admiralty organization, an officer with the
necessary staff was appointed to each convoy port of assembly at home
and abroad. This officer's duties comprised the collection and
organization of the convoy and the issue of sailing orders and necessary
printed instructions to the masters of the vessels, seeing that they
were properly equipped for sailing in company, and forwarding
information to the Admiralty of the movements of the convoy.

An essential feature of the system was the appointment of a convoy
commodore. This officer was quite distinct from the commanding officer
of the vessel forming the ocean escort, but acted under his orders when
in company. The duty of the convoy commodore, whose broad pennant was
hoisted in one of the ships, was, subject to instructions from the
commanding officer of the escorting vessel, to take general charge of
the convoy.

The convoy commodores were either naval officers, admirals or captains
on the active or retired lists, or experienced merchant captains. The
duties were most arduous and responsible, but there was no lack of
volunteers for this work. Many of the convoy commodores had their ships
sunk under them. The country has every reason for much gratitude to
those who undertook this difficult and very responsible task.

By July we had succeeded in increasing the strength of the
anti-submarine convoy escorting force to thirty-three destroyers (eleven
of which belonged to the United States Navy) and ten sloops, with eleven
more destroyers for the screening of troop transports through the
submarine zone and for the protection of the convoys eastward from the
Lizard, the position in which the other screening force left them. We
had remaining twelve sloops, which, with trawlers, were engaged in
protecting that considerable portion of the trade making for the south
of Ireland, which we could not yet bring under convoy. It was intended
to absorb these sloops for convoy protection as soon as circumstances

At this stage it was considered that a total of thirty-three more
destroyers or sloops was needed to complete the homeward convoy system.
The Admiralty was pressed to weaken yet further the Grand Fleet
destroyer force in order to extend the convoy system, but did not
consider such a course justified in view of the general naval situation.

In arranging the organization of the Atlantic convoy system it was
necessary to take into consideration certain other important matters.
Amongst these were the following:

1. The selection of ports of assembly and frequency of sailing. During
the latter half of 1917 the general arrangements were as follows for the
homeward trade:

Port of Assembly.      Frequency of Sailing.      Destination.

Gibraltar              Every 4 days.              Alternately to
                                                  E. & W. c'ts.
Sierra Leone           Every 8 days.              Either coast.
Dakar                  Every 8 days.              Either coast.
Hampton Roads (U.S.A.) Every 4 days.              Alternately to
                                                  E. & W. c'ts.
New York               Every 8 days.              Alternately to
                                                  E. & W. c'ts.
Halifax, N.S.          Every 8 days.              West coast.
Sydney (Cape Breton)   Every 8 days.              Alternately to
                                                  E. & W. c'ts.

Each port served a certain area of trade, and vessels engaged in that
trade met at the port of assembly for convoy to the United Kingdom or to

The total number of merchant ships sailing thus in convoy every eight
days in September, 1917, was about 150, in convoys comprising from 12 to
30 ships, and the total escorting forces comprised:

  50 ocean escort vessels (old battleships, cruisers, armed
     merchant ships and armed escort ships),
  90 sloops and destroyers,
  15 vessels of the "P" class (small destroyers),
  50 trawlers,

in addition to a considerable force for local escort near Gibraltar,
consisting of sloops, yachts, torpedo boats, U.S. revenue cruisers, U.S.
tugs, etc.

At this period (September, 1917) outward convoys were also in operation,
the arrangement being that the outward convoy was escorted by destroyers
or sloops to a position 300 to 400 miles from the coast clear of the
known submarine area, and there dispersed to proceed independently,
there being insufficient ocean escort vessels to take the convoy on;
about twelve more were needed for this work. The escorting vessels used
for the outward convoys were destroyers or sloops which were due to
proceed to sea to meet a homeward convoy, the routine being that the
outward convoy should sail at such a time as would ensure the homeward
convoy being met by the escort without undue delay at the rendezvous,
since any long period of waiting about at a rendezvous was impossible
for the escorting vessels as they would have run short of fuel. It was
also undesirable, as it revealed to any submarine in the neighbourhood
the approach of a convoy.

It will be realized by seamen that this procedure (which was forced upon
us by the shortage of escorting vessels) led to many difficulties. In
the first place the homeward convoys were frequently delayed by bad
weather, etc., on passage across the Atlantic, and, owing to the
insufficient range of the wireless installations, it was often not
possible for the commodore to acquaint the Admiralty of this delay in
time to stop the sailing of the outward convoys. Again, outward convoys
were often delayed by bad weather, resulting in the homeward convoy not
being met before entering the submarine zone. As the winter drew near
this was a source of constant anxiety, since so many of the vessels
outward bound were in ballast (empty), and their speed was consequently
quickly reduced in bad weather. The ships under these conditions became
in some cases almost unmanageable in a convoy, and the responsibilities
of the escorts were much intensified.

In September, 1917, the following was the position in respect to outward
bound convoys:

Port of Assembly.         Frequency of Sailing.      Destination.

Lamlash                   Every 4 days.              Atlantic ports.
Milford Haven             Every 4 days.              Gibraltar.
Queenstown                Every 4 days.              Atlantic ports.
Falmouth                  Every 8 days.              Gibraltar.
Plymouth                  Every 4 days.              Atlantic ports.

About 150 vessels sailed every eight days in convoys varying in strength
from 12 to 30 ships.

There was still a good deal of Atlantic trade that was not sailing under
convoy. This comprised trade between Gibraltar and North and South
America, between the Cape, South America and Dakar, and the coastal
trade between North and South America. It was estimated that an
additional twenty-five to thirty ocean escorts and eleven destroyers
would be needed to include the above trade in convoy.

The Mediterranean trade is dealt with later.

The question of speed was naturally one of great importance in the
convoy system. As has been stated earlier, the speed of a convoy like
that of a squadron or fleet is necessarily that of the slowest ship, and
in order to prevent delay to shipping, which was equivalent to serious
loss of its carrying power, it was very necessary that convoys should be
composed of ships of approximately the same speed. In order to achieve
this careful organization was needed, and the matter was not made easier
by the uncertainty that frequently prevailed as to the actual sea speed
of particular merchant ships. Some masters, no doubt from legitimate
pride in their vessels, credited them with speeds in excess of those
actually attained. Frequently coal of poor quality or the fact that a
ship had a dirty bottom reduced her speed to a very appreciable extent,
and convoy commodores had occasionally to direct ships under such
conditions to drop out of the convoy altogether and make their passage
alone. Obviously this action was not taken lightly owing to the risk
involved. Decision as to the sea speed of convoys was taken by the
convoy officer at the collecting port, and he based this on the result
of an examination of the records in the different ships. As a rule
convoys were classed as "slow" and "fast." Slow convoys comprised
vessels of a speed between 8 and 12-½ knots. Fast convoys included ships
with a speed between 12-½ and 16 knots. Ships of higher speed than 16
knots did not as a rule sail in convoys, but trusted to their speed and
dark hours for protection in the submarine area. The Gibraltar convoy
(an exception to the general rule) contained ships of only 7 knots

With the introduction of convoys the provision of efficient signal
arrangements became a matter of importance. The issue of printed
instructions to each master and the custom introduced of assembling the
masters to meet the captain of the escorting cruiser before sailing, so
that the conduct of the convoy might be explained, had the effect of
reducing signalling to a minimum, but it was necessary that each ship
should have a signalman on board, and the provision of the number of
signalmen required was no easy matter. A good wireless installation was
essential in the escorting cruiser and in the Commodore's ship in order
that the course of the convoy could be diverted by the Admiralty if the
known or suspected presence of submarines rendered it necessary, and
also for the purpose of giving to the Admiralty early information of the
position of a convoy approaching the coast, so that the escorting
destroyers could be dispatched in time.

Fortunately for us, German submarines constantly used their wireless
installations when operating at sea, and as a consequence our wireless
directional stations were able to fix their positions by cross bearings.
This practice on the part of the enemy undoubtedly went far to assist us
both in anti-submarine measures and in diverting trade to a safe course.

The introduction of the convoy system rendered the provision of
anti-submarine protection at ports of assembly a matter of great
importance, owing to the very large number of vessels that were
collected in them. Some of the ports were already in possession of these
defences, but amongst those for which net protection was prepared and
laid during 1917 were Halifax, Sydney (Cape Breton), Falmouth, Lamlash,
Rosslare (on the south-east coast of Ireland), Milford Haven, Sierra
Leone and Dakar. This involved extensive work, and was undertaken and
carried out with great rapidity by Captain F.C. Learmonth and his staff,
whose work in the production of net defences during the war was of
inestimable value, not only to ourselves, but to our Allies, for whom
large supplies of net defences were also provided. The U.S.A. also
adopted our system of net defence for their harbours on entry into the
war. Many anxious months were passed at the Admiralty and at the ports
named until the anti-submarine defences were completed.

The escort of the convoys through the submarine zone imposed very heavy
work upon the destroyers, sloops and other screening vessels. This was
due partly to the fact that there were not sufficient vessels to admit
of adequate time being spent in harbour to rest the crews and effect
necessary repairs, and partly to the nature of the work itself and the
weather conditions under which so much of it was carried out. It will be
realized by those who have been at sea in these small craft that little
rest was obtainable in the Atlantic between the west coast of Ireland
and the mouth of the Channel and positions 800 to 400 miles to the
westward, except in the finest weather. When to this is added the
constant strain imposed by watching for the momentary appearance of a
periscope or the track of a torpedo, and the vigilance needed,
especially on dark and stormy nights, to keep touch with a large convoy
of merchant ships showing no lights, with the inevitable whipping up of
occasional stragglers from the convoy, some idea may be gathered of the
arduous and unceasing work accomplished by the anti-submarine escorts.

It had been my practice during 1917 to call for returns from all
commands of the number of hours that vessels of the destroyer and light
cruiser type were actually under way per month, and these returns showed
how heavy was the strain on the destroyers, particularly those engaged
in convoy work.

For several months, for instance, the destroyers in the flotillas
stationed at Devonport were under way on an average for just under 50
per cent. of the month.

This meant that several destroyers in these flotillas averaged quite 60
per cent. or even 70 per cent. of their time under way, as other vessels
of the flotilla were laid up during the periods under review for long
refits due to collision or other damage, in addition to the necessary
four-monthly refit.

Anyone familiar with the delicate nature of the machinery of
destroyers--which needs constant attention--and the conditions of life
at sea in them will appreciate the significance of these figures and the
strain which the conditions imposed on those on board as well as on the

It was evident in November, 1917, that the personnel and the machinery,
whilst standing the strain in a wonderful manner, were approaching the
limit of endurance, and anxiety was felt as to the situation during the

Reports came in from the Grand Fleet indicating that the work of the
destroyers engaged in protecting the ships of the Scandinavian convoy
was telling heavily on the personnel, particularly on the commanding
officers, and one report stated that the convoy work produced far
greater strain than any other duty carried out by destroyers. No mean
proportion of the officers were suffering from a breakdown in health,
and since the _whole_ of the work of the Devonport, Queenstown and North
of Ireland flotillas consisted of convoy duty, whilst only a portion of
the Grand Fleet destroyers was engaged in this work, the opinions
expressed were very disquieting in their relation to the work of the
southern flotillas.

However, the destroyers held on here as elsewhere, but it is only just
to the splendid endurance of the young officers and the men who manned
them to emphasize as strongly as I can the magnificent work they carried
out in the face of every difficulty, and without even the incentive of
the prospect of a fight with a foe that could be seen, this being the
compensation given in their work to the gallant personnel of the Dover,
Harwich and Grand Fleet flotillas. The convoy flotillas knew that their
only chance of action was with a submarine submerged, a form of warfare
in which the result was so very frequently unknown and therefore

Under the new conditions the Admiralty took upon itself responsibility
for the control of the ships of the Mercantile Marine in addition to its
control of the movements of the Fleet. Indeed the control of convoys was
even more directly under the Admiralty than was the control of the
Fleet. In the latter case the proper system is for the Admiralty to
indicate to the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, or to other Commands
the objective, and to supply all the information possible regarding the
strength of the enemy, his intentions and movements and such other
information as can be of use to the Commander-in-Chief, but to leave the
handling of the force to the Commander-in-Chief concerned. This is the
course which was usually followed during the late war. It was my
invariable practice when at the Admiralty.

In the case of convoys, however, a different system was necessary owing
to the difficulty of transmitting information, the great delay that
would be caused were this attempted, and the impossibility of control
being exercised over all convoys at sea except by the Admiralty.
Consequently the actual movements of convoys for the greater part of
their passage were directed by the Naval Staff. Owing to ships not
showing lights at night, convoys were diverted clear of one another by
wireless signal if they were getting into dangerous proximity; they were
directed to alter course as necessary to avoid areas in which submarines
had been located, and occasionally it became necessary to alter the
destination of some ships as they approached home waters. The movements
of all convoys were "plotted" from day to day, indeed from hour to hour,
on a large-scale chart at the Admiralty, and it was easy to see at a
glance the position of all the ships at any given time.

As the convoy approached home waters the ships came within the areas of
the Commanders-in-Chief, Coast of Ireland, Devonport, and Portsmouth,
and the Vice-Admiral Commanding the Dover Patrol, and were taken in
charge by one or other of them. At each port a staff existed which kept
a constant record of the movements of ships passing through or working
in the Command, and enabled the Commander-in-Chief to take instant
action if occasion arose.

The success of the convoy system in protecting trade is best shown by
the figures relating to the year 1917 on the succeeding page (p. 144).
In considering these figures the loose station-keeping of the ships in
the Scandinavian convoy must be borne in mind. A large proportion of the
ships in this convoy were neutrals, and it was naturally not possible to
bring these vessels under discipline as was the case with convoys
composed of purely British ships. Consequently there was much
straggling, and the losses were proportionately heavier than in most of
the Atlantic convoys. The comparatively heavy losses in the Gibraltar
convoys were probably due to these convoys traversing two dangerous
submarine zones. The extraordinary immunity of the French coal trade
convoy from serious losses is remarkable and is probably due to the
short passage which enabled most of the distance to be traversed at
night and to the ships being of light draught.

The table on the following page would not be complete were no reference
made to the heavy losses which were experienced during the year amongst
ships which were _unescorted_ through the danger zones, owing to the
fact that no escorting vessels were available for the work.


|                            | No. of    | No. lost | Percentage  |
| Particulars                | Ships     | in       | of          |
| of Convoys.                | convoyed  | convoys  | losses      |
|                            |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| NEW YORK AND     | of      |      447  |     5    |      1      |
| HAMPTON ROADS    | Aug.    |           |          |             |
| Started in May.  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |    1,000  |    11    |      1      |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |    1,280  |    11    |     .93     |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| GIBRALTAR        | of      |      122  |     2    |     1.6     |
| Started in July  | Aug.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      359  |     8    |     2.2     |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      484  |    12    |     2.5     |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| SCANDINAVIAN.    | of      |    3,372  |    42    |     1.2     |
| Started in April.| Aug.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |    4,800  |     6    |     1.3     |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |    5,560  |    3.63  |     1.1     |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| FRENCH COAL      | of      |    8,871  |    16    |      .18    |
| TRADE            | Aug.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |   12,446  |    20    |      .16    |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |   14,416  |    24    |      .16    |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |

In the Dakar convoy at the end of November and in the Halifax convoy 150
ships had been brought home without loss, whilst in the Sierra Leone
convoy 1 ship had been lost out of 90 convoyed.


|                            | No. of    | No. lost | Percentage  |
| Particulars                | Ships     | in       | of          |
| of Convoys.                | convoyed  | convoys  | losses      |
|                            |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| MILFORD          | of      |       86  |    Nil.  |    Nil.     |
| HAVEN.           | Aug.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      360  |    Nil.  |    Nil.     |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      535  |     3    |     .56     |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| LAMLASH.         | of      |       35  |     1    |     2.8     |
|                  | Aug.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      175  |     2    |     1.1     |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      284  |     2    |      .7     |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| PLYMOUTH.        | of      |       42  |   Nil.   |     Nil.    |
|                  | Aug.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      246  |   Nil.   |     Nil.    |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      414  |     1    |     .23     |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
| FALMOUTH.        | of      |       14  |   Nil.   |     Nil.    |
|                  | Aug.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      146  |   Nil.   |     Nil.    |
|                  | Oct.    |           |          |             |
|                  |----------------------------------------------|
|                  | To end  |           |          |             |
|                  | of      |      185  |   Nil.   |     Nil.    |
|                  | Nov.    |           |          |             |

In the convoys starting from Queenstown 180 ships had been sent out up
to the end of November without loss.

There were naturally loud complaints of these losses, but these were
inevitable in the absence of escorting vessels, and no one realized the
dangers run more than those responsible for finding protection; every
available vessel was not only working at highest possible pressure, but,
as has been mentioned, breakdowns from overwork amongst escorting craft
were causing very considerable anxiety.

The following figures show the dangers which were run by unescorted

                             Losses amongst British merchant
                             steamships in 1917 by submarine
                           attack, under separate escort, under
    Period                          convoy or unescorted.

                           Ships under   Ships           Ships
                            separate     under         unescorted.
                             escort.     convoy.

Quarter ending June 30 ...      17         26             158

Quarter ending September 30 ... 14         29             148

October and November ...        12         23              90

In considering the above table it should be pointed out that a large
proportion of the losses shown under the heading "Ships unescorted" took
place amongst ships which had either dispersed from a convoy or which
were on their way to join up with a convoy at the port of assembly. It
was unfortunately quite impossible to provide escorts for all ships
either to their ports of discharge or from their loading ports to the
ports of assembly for the convoy, as we had so few vessels available for
this work. Thus, in the month of November, 1917, out of 13 vessels
engaged in the main oversea trade that were lost, 6 were in convoy, 5
had left or had not joined their convoy, and 2 were not joining a convoy
and were unescorted.

November was the month of smallest British losses during the period of
unrestricted warfare in 1917, and it is of interest to examine the
losses for that month. The total number of ships lost was 51. As many as
1,197 vessels entered or left home waters in _overseas trade_ exclusive
of the Mediterranean trade. Of this aggregate 87.5 per cent, were in
convoy, and the total number of these vessels sunk (13) was divided
amongst the following trades: North America, 1; Gibraltar, 5; West
Africa and South America, 1; the Bay of Biscay, Portugal and Spanish
ports west of Gibraltar, 5; Scandinavian, 1. In the same month there
were 2,159 _cross-Channel sailings _and ten losses, nine of these
vessels being unescorted.

Particulars of the locality of the total British losses of 51 ships for
the month of November are as follows:

East Coast north of St. Abb's               1
East Coast between St. Abb's and Yarmouth   4
East Coast, Yarmouth to the Downs           4 (2 by mine)
English Channel                            21 (7 by mine)
Bristol Channel                             4
Irish Sea                                   2
Bay of Biscay                               2
South of Cape St. Vincent                   1
Mediterranean                              11
East of Suez                                1 (by mine)

In order to give some idea of the great volume of traffic on the East
Coast and the consequent difficulty of affording proper protection, it
may be mentioned that in the month of October, 1917, the number of
vessels passing between Spurn Head (River Humber) and St. Abb's Head (to
the northward) was 740 going north and 920 going south. Of this total
only 223 of the northward--and 413 of the southward-bound vessels were
in convoy or under escort, the total losses being eleven, all amongst
the unaccompanied ships.

Mention should be made here of the very serious situation which arose
during the year 1917 owing to the success attending the attacks by enemy
submarines on oil tankers bringing oil fuel to the United Kingdom for
the use of the Fleet. A great many of these tank vessels were of great
length and slow speed and presented the easiest of targets to the
torpedo attack of a submerged submarine. So many vessels were sunk that
our reserve of oil fuel became perilously low. Instead of a reserve of
some five or six months we were gradually reduced to one of about eight
weeks, and in order to economize expenditure of fuel it actually became
necessary at one time to issue directions that the speed of oil-burning
warships was to be limited except in cases of the greatest urgency. Such
an order in war was a matter of much gravity; the great majority of our
light cruisers and destroyers were fitted to burn oil fuel only, as well
as our latest and most powerful battleships. The crisis was eventually
overcome by drawing upon every source (including the Grand Fleet) for
destroyers to escort the tankers through the submarine danger areas, and
by the assistance given us by the Ministry of Shipping in bringing
supplies of oil fuel to this country in the double bottoms of merchant
ships. By the end of 1917 the situation had greatly improved.

The losses of shipping during 1917 were particularly heavy in the
Mediterranean. Apart from the fact that the narrow waters of that sea
render difficult a policy of evasion on the part of merchant shipping
and give great advantages to the submarine, it was thought that the
heavy losses in the early part of the year were partly due to the method
of routeing the ships then in force, and in reply to representations
made to the French Admiralty this system was altered by the French
Commander-in-Chief. It should be noted that the Mediterranean outside
the Adriatic was under French naval control in accordance with the
agreement entered into with France and Italy. The cordial co-operation
of the French Admiralty with us, and the manner in which our proposals
were met, form very pleasant memories of my term of office at the
Admiralty. During the greater part of the year 1917 Admiral Lacaze was
Minister of Marine, whilst Admiral de Bon held office as Chief of the
Naval Staff during the whole year. Nothing could exceed the courtesy
extended to me by these distinguished officers, for whom I conceived
great admiration and respect.

The result of the altered arrangement was a decided but temporary
improvement, and the losses again became serious during the summer
months. I then deemed it desirable that the control of the traffic
should be placed in the hands of officers stationed at Malta, this being
a central position from which any necessary change in the arrangements
could be made more rapidly and with greater facility than by the French
Commander-in-Chief, who was also controlling fleet movements and who,
for this reason alone, was not in a position to act quickly.

A unified command in the Mediterranean would undoubtedly have been the
most satisfactory and efficient system to adopt, but the time was not
ripe for proposing that solution in 1917, and the alternative was
adopted of British control of the traffic routes throughout the whole
Mediterranean Sea subject to the general charge of the French
Commander-in-Chief which was necessary in such an eventuality arising as
an attempted "break out" of the Austrian Fleet.

Accordingly, with the consent of the French and Italian Admiralties,
Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe, K.C.B., was
dispatched to the Mediterranean as British Commander-in-Chief; he was in
control generally of all British Naval forces in the Mediterranean, and
especially in charge of all the arrangements for the protection of trade
and for anti-submarine operations, the patrol vessels of all the
nationalities concerned being placed under his immediate orders for the
purpose, whilst the whole of the Mediterranean remained under the
general control of Vice-Admiral Gauchet, the French Commander-in-Chief.
Admiral Calthorpe was assisted by French and Italian officers, and the
Japanese Government, which had previously dispatched twelve destroyers
to the Mediterranean to assist in the protection of trade, also gave to
Admiral Calthorpe the control of these vessels.

In the requests which we addressed to the Japanese Admiralty I always
received great assistance from Admiral Funakoshi, the Naval Attaché in
London. His co-operation was of a close and most cordial nature.

The services of the Japanese destroyers in the Mediterranean were of
considerable value to the Allied cause. A striking instance of the
seamanlike and gallant conduct of their officers and men was furnished
on the occasion of the torpedoing of a British transport by an enemy
submarine off the coast of Italy, when by the work of the Japanese
escorting destroyers the great majority of those on board were saved.

Admiral Calthorpe on leaving England was charged with the duty of
organizing convoys in the Mediterranean on the lines of those already in
force in other waters as soon as the necessary vessels were available,
and a conference of Allied officers sat at Malta soon after his arrival,
when a definite scheme of convoy was prepared. There had always,
however, been a great scarcity of fast patrol vessels in the
Mediterranean for this work. Divided control of the forces in that area
was partly responsible for this. The Austrian destroyers were considered
by the Italian Admiralty to be so serious a menace in the Adriatic as to
render it necessary to keep in that sea the great majority of the
Italian destroyers as well as several French vessels of this class. The
situation at the eastern end of the Mediterranean necessitated a force
of some eight British destroyers being kept in the Aegean Sea to deal
with any Turkish vessels that might attempt to force the blockade of the
Dardanelles, whilst operations on the Syrian coast engaged the services
of some French and British destroyers. Continual troop movements in the
Mediterranean also absorbed the sendees of a considerable number of
vessels of this type.

Consequently there was a great shortage of fast small craft for escort
and mercantile convoy work. It was estimated that the escort force
required for the protection of a complete system of convoy in the
Mediterranean was approximately 290 vessels, the total number available
being about 215.

In spite, then, of the success of Admiral Calthorpe's work, the result
was that convoys were not started in the Mediterranean until October,
and they were then but inadequately protected, and losses were heavy,
both from this cause and from the fact already mentioned--that the
Mediterranean is a sea which, by reason of its confined nature, is
particularly suited for operations by submarines against trade. Its
narrowness at various points, such as the Straits of Gibraltar, the
Malta Channel, the Straits of Messina, and the passages to the Ægean
cause such convergence of trade as to make it a very simple matter for a
submarine to operate with success. Evasion by change of route is almost
impossible. Operations designed to prevent the exit of submarines from
the Adriatic were difficult, because the depth of water in the Straits
of Otranto militated against the adoption of effective mining and the
laying of an effective net barrage.

For the above reasons the Admiralty was always very averse to the
sending of a large volume of our Far Eastern trade through the
Mediterranean, and strongly urged the Cape route instead; but the
shortage of shipping, combined with the increased length of the Cape
route, influenced the Ministry of Shipping to press strongly for the
Mediterranean as opposed to the other route. A "through" convoy from
England to Port Said was started in October, and by the end of November
two ships had been sunk out of the thirty-five that had been under
convoy. The return convoy; Port Said to England, was only started in

The losses of British merchant steamships per quarter in the
Mediterranean during 1917 is shown below:

Quarter ending June 30     69

September 30               29

October and November       28

It is impossible to close this chapter describing the convoys without
mention being made of the fine work accomplished by those upon whose
shoulders fell the task of organizing and working the whole system. I
cannot hope that I have succeeded in conveying to readers of this volume
an adequate conception of the great and marvellously successful
performance that it was or a full appreciation of what immense
difficulties the staff had to contend with. They were very completely
realized by me, who saw them appear day by day and disappear under

The head of the organization was, of course, Rear-Admiral A.L. Duff, the
member of the Board and Staff immediately responsible also for the whole
anti-submarine organization. Only those who witnessed Admiral Duff's
work at the Admiralty during 1917 can realize the immense debt that the
country owes to his untiring ability, patience, energy and resource.
Capt. H.G. Henderson, who had been associated with the convoy system
from its start, was an invaluable assistant, as also was Commander I.W.
Carrington. Capt. Richard Webb, the Director of the Trade Division, and
Capt. Frederic A. Whitehead, the Director of the Mercantile Movements
Division, took an important share in the work of organization, whilst
the work of Convoy Manager was carried through with quite exceptional
skill by Paymaster-Commander H.W.E. Manisty. These officers were
assisted by most capable staffs, and the Ministry of Shipping, without
whose assistance the work could not possibly have been successfully
carried out, co-operated most cordially.



The entry of the United States of America into the war in April, 1917,
had an important although not an immediate effect upon our Naval policy.
That the effect was not immediate was due to the fact that the United
States Navy was at the time indifferently provided with the particular
classes of vessels which were so greatly needed for submarine warfare,
viz. destroyers and other small surface craft, submarines and light
cruisers; further, the United States mercantile fleet did not include
any considerable number of small craft which could be usefully employed
for patrol and escort duty. The armed forces of the United States of
America were also poorly equipped with aircraft, and had none available
for Naval work. According to our knowledge at the time the United States
Navy, in April, 1917, possessed twenty-three large and about twenty-four
small destroyers, some of which were unfit to cross the Atlantic; there
were about twelve submarines capable of working overseas, but not well
suited for anti-submarine work, and only three light cruisers of the
"Chester" class. On the other hand about seven armoured cruisers were
available in Atlantic waters for convoy duties, and the Navy included a
fine force of battleships, of which fourteen were in full commission in

At first, therefore, it was clear that the assistance which could be
given to the Allied Navies would be but slight even if all available
destroyers were sent to European waters. This was, presumably, well
known to the members of the German Naval Staff, and possibly explains
their view that the entry of the United States of America would be of
little help to the Allied cause. The Germans did not, however, make
sufficient allowance for the productive power of the United States, and
perhaps also it was thought in Germany that public opinion in the United
States would not allow the Navy Department to send over to European
waters such destroyers and other vessels of value in anti-submarine
warfare as were available at once or would be available as time
progressed. The German Staff may have had in mind the situation during
the Spanish-American War when the fact of Admiral Cervera's weak and
inefficient squadron being at large was sufficient to affect adversely
the naval strategy of the United States to a considerable extent and to
paralyze the work of the United States Navy in an offensive direction.

Very fortunately for the Allied cause a most distinguished officer of
the United States Navy, Vice-Admiral W.S. Sims, came to this country to
report on the situation and to command such forces as were sent to
European waters. Admiral Sims, in his earlier career before reaching the
flag list, was a gunnery officer of the very first rank. He had
assimilated the ideas of Sir Percy Scott of our own Navy, who had
revolutionized British naval gunnery, and he had succeeded, in his
position as Inspector of Target Practice in the United States Navy, in
producing a very marked increase in gunnery efficiency. Later when in
command, first of a battleship, then of the destroyer flotillas, and
finally as head of the United States Naval War College, his close study
of naval strategy and tactics had peculiarly fitted him for the
important post for which he was selected, and he not only held the
soundest views on such subjects himself, but was able, by dint of the
tact and persuasive eloquence that had carried him successfully through
his gunnery difficulties, to impress his views on others.

Admiral Sims, from the first moment of his arrival in this country, was
in the closest touch with the Admiralty in general and with myself in
particular. His earliest question to me was as to the direction in which
the United States Navy could afford assistance to the Allied cause. My
reply was that the first essential was the dispatch to European waters
of every available destroyer, trawler, yacht, tug and other small craft
of sufficient speed to deal with submarines, other vessels of these
classes following as fast as they could be produced; further that
submarines and light cruisers would also be of great value as they
became available. Admiral Sims responded wholeheartedly to my requests.
He urged the Navy Department with all his force to send these vessels
and send them quickly. He frequently telegraphed to the United States
figures showing the tonnage of merchant ships being sunk week by week in
order to impress on the Navy Department and Government the great urgency
of the situation. I furnished him with figures which even we ourselves
were not publishing, as I felt that nothing but the knowledge given by
these figures could impress those who were removed by 3,000 miles of sea
from the scene of a Naval war unique in many of its features.

Meanwhile the British Naval Commander-in-Chief in North American waters,
Vice-Admiral Sir Montague Browning, had been directed to confer with the
United States Navy Department and to point out our immediate
requirements and explain the general situation.

On April 6 the United States declared war on Germany. On April 13 we
received information from Washington that the Navy Department was
arranging to co-operate with our forces for the protection of trade in
the West Atlantic should any enemy raiders escape from the North Sea,
that six United States destroyers would be sent to European waters in
the immediate future, and that the United States would undertake the
protection of trade on the west coast of Canada and North America as
well as in the Gulf of Mexico. It was further indicated that the number
of United States destroyers for European waters would be increased at an
early date. The vital importance of this latter step was being
constantly urged by Admiral Sims.

When Mr. Balfour's mission left for the United States in April,
Rear-Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair, the naval representative on the
mission, was requested to do all in his power to impress on the United
States Navy Department the very urgent necessity that existed for the
immediate provision of small craft for anti-submarine operations in
European waters and for the protection of trade.

He was informed that the position could not be considered satisfactory
until the number of trawlers and sloops available for patrol and escort
duty was greatly increased and that a total of at least _another hundred
destroyers was required_.

It was pointed out that difficulty might arise from the natural desire
of the United States Government to retain large numbers of small craft
for the protection of shipping in the vicinity of the United States
coast, but it was at the same time indicated that our experience showed
that the number of submarines that the Germans could maintain on the
western side of the Atlantic was very small, and that the real danger
therefore existed in European waters.

Admiral de Chair was asked amongst other matters to emphasize the
assistance which United States submarines could render on the eastern
side of the Atlantic, where they would be able to undertake
anti-submarine operations, and he was also directed to endeavour to
obtain assistance in the production of mines, and the provision of ships
for minelaying work. Great stress was, of course, laid upon the very
important question of a large output of merchant ships and the necessity
for repairing and putting into service the German merchant ships
interned in U.S. ports was urged; directions were also given to Admiral
de Chair to ascertain from Mr. Schwab, of the Bethlehem Steel Company,
and other firms, to what extent they could build for the British Navy
destroyers, sloops, trawlers and submarines, and the rapidity of such

The need for sloops was so great that I sent a personal telegram to Mr.
Schwab, whose acquaintance I had made in October, 1914, on the occasion
of the loss of the _Audacious_, begging him to build at once a hundred
of these vessels to our order. I felt certain from the experience we had
gained of Mr. Schwab's wonderful energy and power, as illustrated by the
work accomplished by him in providing us in 1915 with ten submarines
built in the extraordinarily short period of five months, that he would
produce sloops at a very rapid rate and that there would be no delay in
starting if he undertook the work. The drawings had already been sent
over. However he was not able to undertake the work as the U.S.
Government decided that his yards would all be required for their own
work. This was unfortunate, as I had hoped that these vessels would have
been built in from four to six months, seeing that the drawings were
actually ready; they would have been invaluable in the latter part of

Whilst the mission was in the United States constant communications
passed on these subjects, the heavy losses taking place in merchant
ships were stated, and every effort was made to impress upon the Navy
Department the urgency of the situation.

The tenor of our communications will be gathered from these quotations
from a personal telegram sent by me to Admiral de Chair on April 26,

"For Rear-Admiral de Chair from First Sea Lord.

"You must emphasize most strongly to the United States authorities the
very serious nature of the shipping position. We lost 55 British ships
last week approximately 180,000 tons and rate of loss is not

       *       *       *       *       *

"Press most strongly that the number of destroyers sent to Ireland
should be increased to twenty-four at once if this number is available.

"Battleships are not required but concentration on the vital question of
defeat of submarine menace is essential.

"Urge on the authorities that everything should give way to the
submarine menace and that by far the most important place on which to
concentrate patrols is the S.W. of Ireland.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You must keep constantly before the U.S. authorities the great gravity
of the situation and the need that exists for immediate action.

"Our new methods will not be effective until July and the critical
period is April to July."

It was very necessary to bring home to the United States Navy Department
the need for early action. Admiral Sims informed me--as soon as he
became aware of the heavy losses to merchant shipping that were taking
place--that neither he nor anyone else in the United States had realized
that the situation was so serious. This was, of course, largely due to
the necessity which we were under of not publishing facts which would
encourage the enemy or unduly depress our own people. Further, he
informed me that an idea was prevalent in the United States that the
_morale_ of the German submarine crews had been completely broken by
their losses in submarines. This impression was the successful result of
certain action on our part taken with intent to discourage the enemy.
Whatever may have been the case later in the year, we had, however, no
evidence in the spring of 1917 of deterioration of _morale_ amongst
German submarine crews, nor was there any reason for such a result. It
was therefore necessary to be quite frank with Admiral Sims; we knew
quite well that we could not expect new measures to be effective for
some few months, and we knew also that we could not afford a continuance
of the heavy rate of loss experienced in April, without a serious effect
being produced upon our war effort. We were certainly not in the state
of panic which has been ascribed to us in certain quarters, but we did
want those who were engaged in the war on the side of the Allies to
understand the situation in order that they might realize the value that
early naval assistance would bring to the Allied cause. There is no
doubt that great difficulty must be experienced by those far removed
from the theatre of war in understanding the conditions in the war zone.
This was exemplified at a time when we had organized the trade in
convoys and the system was showing itself effective in greatly reducing
losses from submarine attack. We were pressing the United States to
strengthen our escorting forces as far as possible in order to extend
the convoy system, when a telegram arrived from Washington to the effect
that it was considered that ships which were armed were safer when
sailing singly than when in convoy. It has also been stated that the
Admiralty held the view at this time that no solution of the problem
created by the enemy's submarine campaign was in sight. This is
incorrect. We had confidence in the measures--most of them dependent on
the manufacture of material--which were in course of preparation by the
time the United States entered the war, but our opinion was that there
was no _immediate_ solution beyond the provision of additional vessels
for the protection of shipping, and the reason for this view was that
time was required before other measures could be put into effective
operation; this is evident from the final paragraph of my telegram to
Admiral de Chair, dated April 26, which I have quoted.

The first division of six United States destroyers, under the command of
Lieut.-Commander T.K. Taussig, arrived in British waters on May 2, and
they were most welcome. It was interesting to me personally that
Lieut.-Commander Taussig should be in command, as he, when a
sub-lieutenant, had been wounded on the same day as myself during the
Boxer campaign in China, and we had been together for some time

At about this time our advice was sought by the United States Navy
Department as to the best type of anti-submarine craft for the United
States to build; on this subject a very short experience in the war
theatre caused Admiral Sims to hold precisely similar views to myself.
As a result of the advice tendered a great building programme of
destroyers, large submarine-hunting motor launches and other small craft
was embarked upon. Although the completion of these vessels was delayed
considerably beyond anticipated dates, they did, in 1918, exercise an
influence on the submarine war.

The Germans made one great mistake, for which we were thankful. As
already mentioned, it was anticipated that they would send submarines to
work off the United States coast immediately after the declaration of
war by that country. Indeed we were expecting to hear of the presence of
submarines in the West Atlantic throughout the whole of 1917. They did
not appear there until May, 1918. The moral effect of such action in
1917 would have been very great and might possibly have led to the
retention in the United States of some of the destroyers and other small
craft which were of such assistance in European waters in starting the
convoy system. Admiral Sims was himself, I think, anxious on this head.
When the Germans did move in this direction in 1918 it was too late; it
was by that time realized in the United States that the enemy could not
maintain submarines in sufficient numbers in their waters to exercise
any decisive effect, although the shipping losses might be considerable
for a time, and consequently no large change of policy was made.

As is well known, Admiral Sims, with the consent of the United States
Navy Department, placed all vessels which were dispatched to British
waters under the British flag officers in whose Command they were
working. This step, which at once produced unity of command, is typical
of the manner in which the two navies, under the guidance of their
senior officers, worked together throughout the war. The destroyers
operating from Queenstown came under Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly; Captain
Pringle, the senior United States officer on the spot, whose services
were ever of the utmost value, was appointed as Chief of the Staff to
Sir Lewis Bayly, whilst on the occasion of Sir Lewis Bayly, at my urgent
suggestion, consenting to take a few days' leave in the summer of 1917,
Admiral Sims, at our request, took his place at Queenstown, hoisting his
flag in command of the British and United States naval forces. The
relations between the officers and men of the two navies in this Command
were of the happiest possible nature, and form one of the pleasantest
episodes of the co-operation between the two nations. The United States
officers and men very quickly realized the strong personality of the
Commander-in-Chief at Queenstown, and became imbued with the same
feelings of great respect and admiration for him as were held by British
officers and men. Also he made the officers feel that Admiralty House,
Queenstown, was their home when in port, and saw that everything
possible was done for the comfort of the men. The very high standard of
duty set by Sir Lewis, and very fully sustained by him, was cheerfully
and willingly followed by the United States force, the personnel of
which earned his warmest admiration. I think it will be agreed in years
to come that the comradeship between the two navies, first initiated in
the Queenstown Command, went very far towards cementing the bonds of
union between the two great English-speaking nations.

This was the first step in co-operation. The next was taken when the
United States Navy Department, as the result of a request made by us to
Admiral Sims, sent to Gibraltar a detachment of three light cruisers and
a number of revenue cutters as patrol and escort vessels, placing the
whole force under the British senior naval officer at Gibraltar,
Rear-Admiral Heathcote Grant. Here again the relations between the two
navies were of the happiest nature. Finally, later in the year, I
discussed with Admiral Sims the desirability of a small force of United
States battleships being sent to reinforce the Grand Fleet.

When the project was first mentioned my object in asking for the ships
was that they might relieve some of our earlier "Dreadnoughts," which at
that time it was desired to use for another purpose. I discussed the
matter also with Admiral Mayo, the Commander-in-Chief of the United
States Atlantic Fleet, during his visit to this country in August, 1917,
and with Admiral Benson, the Chief of Operations in the United States
Navy Department, when he came over later in the year. Admiral Benson
gave directions that four coal-burning battleships should be sent over.
We were obliged to ask for coal-burning battleships instead of the more
modern vessels with oil-fired boilers owing to the great shortage of oil
fuel in this country and the danger of our reserves being still further
depleted. These vessels, under Rear-Admiral Hugh Rodman, arrived in
British waters early in December, 1917, and formed a division of the
Grand Fleet. The co-operation afloat was now complete, and all that was
needed was further co-operation between the British Admiralty and the
United States Navy Department.

This had already formed the subject of discussions, first between
Admiral Sims and myself, and later with Admirals Mayo and Benson.

During the summer of 1917 Admiral Sims had been invited to attend the
daily meetings of the naval members of the operations side of the Board,
an invitation which he accepted, and his co-operation was of great
value; but we both felt it desirable to go a step farther, and I had
suggested the extreme desirability of the United States Navy Department
sending officers of experience of different ranks to work in the
Admiralty, both on the operations and material side, officers upon whom
the Navy Department could rely to place before us the views of the
Department and to transmit their view of the situation as the result of
their work and experience at the Admiralty. We had pressed strongly for
the adoption of this course. Admiral Benson, after discussions, assented
to it, and the officers on the material side commenced work in the
Admiralty towards the end of 1917, whilst those on the operations side
joined the War Staff early in 1918.

It was felt that this course would complete the co-operation between the
navies of the two countries and, further, that the United States Navy
Department would be kept in the closest possible touch with the British
Admiralty in all respects.

It is particularly to be remembered that even before we had established
this close liaison the whole of the United States naval forces in
British waters had been placed under the command of British naval
officers. This step, so conducive to good results owing to the unity of
command which was thus obtained, won our highest admiration, showing as
it did a fine spirit of self-effacement on the part of the senior
American naval officers.

The visits of Admirals Mayo and Benson to this country were productive
of very good results. The exchange of information which took place was
most beneficial, as was the experience which the admirals gained of
modern naval warfare. Moreover, the utterly baseless suggestion which
had, unfortunately, found expression in some organs of the Press of the
United States that we were not giving the fullest information to the
Navy Department was completely disproved.

When Admiral Mayo arrived in England he informed me that the main
objects of his visit as Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet were:

(1) To ascertain our present policy and plans.

(2) To inquire as to the changes, if any, that were contemplated in the
immediate or more distant future.

(3) To ascertain what further assistance it was desired that the United
States should provide from resources then available or likely to be soon
available, and the measures that the United States should take to
provide future forces and material.

Papers were prepared under my direction for Admiral Mayo giving full
information of our immediate needs, of past procedure and of future
plans. As to our needs, the main requests were:

(1) An increase in the number of destroyers, in order to enlarge the
convoy system and to provide better protection for each convoy. An
additional 55 destroyers were stated to be required for this service.

(2) An increase in the number of convoy cruisers for the same reason.
The total addition of cruisers or old battleships was given as 41.

(3) An increase in the number of patrol craft, tugs, etc., for
anti-submarine work.

(4) The rapid building of merchant ships.

(5) The supply of a large number of mines for the proposed barrage in
the North Sea, and assistance towards laying them by the provision of
United States minelaying vessels.

(6) Aircraft assistance in the shape of three large seaplane stations on
the coast of Ireland, with some 36 machines at each station.

(7) The provision of four coal-burning battleships of the "Dreadnought"
type to replace Grand Fleet "Dreadnought" battleships which it was
desired to use for other purposes.

Admiral Mayo was informed that some 100,000 mines would be required from
the Americans for forming and maintaining that portion of the North Sea
Barrage which it was suggested should be laid by them, in addition to
the large number that it was proposed that we ourselves should lay in
the barrage, and that as the barrage would need patrolling by a large
number of small craft, great help would be afforded if the United States
could provide some of these vessels. It was estimated at that time that
the barrage would absorb the services of some 250 small vessels in order
that a sufficient number might be kept constantly on patrol.

It may be of interest to give the history of the North Sea Barrage so
far as I can recollect it. Our views on such a scheme were sought by the
United States Navy Department in the spring of 1917. Owing to various
military circumstances, even at that time we had no prospect of
obtaining mines in adequate numbers for such work for at least nine to
twelve months, nor could we provide the necessary craft to patrol the
barrage. Our view was that such mines as became available during the
last months of 1917 would be more effective if laid nearer to the German
North Sea naval bases, and in the Straits of Dover, than at such a
distance from these bases as the suggestion involved. Apart from our
desire to stop the submarines near their bases, the pros and cons of the
scheme were as follows:

The advantages were:

(1) That, except for the difficulty of preventing the submarines from
using Norwegian territorial waters for egress, a North Sea Barrage would
be a menace to submarines using the Kattegat exit as well as those
coming from North Sea bases.

(2) That the enemy would be unable to sweep up the minefield, owing to
its distance (over 200 miles) from his bases.

The disadvantages were:

(1) The immense number of mines required--some 120,000, excluding
reserves--and the improbability of producing them in Great Britain.

(2) The great depth of water in which many of them were to be moored, a
depth in which no mines had ever been successfully laid before; time
would be required to devise arrangements that would enable the mines to
be laid at such depths.

(3) The very large number of patrol craft that would be needed to force
submarines to dive into that portion of the minefield which was safe for
surface vessels and the difficulty of maintaining them at sea in bad
North Sea weather.

(4) The difficulty of preventing egress by the submarines in Norwegian
territorial waters, in which, even if mines were laid, they would have
to be moored at such a depth as not to constitute a danger to vessels on
the surface.

Shortly after the subject was broached to us we learned that the United
States Navy had devised a mine that it was expected would be
satisfactory for the purpose of the barrage. An experienced mining
officer was at once sent over by us to inspect the mine and to give to
the United States officers such assistance as was possible due to his
great knowledge of mining under war conditions.

When he arrived in the United States the mine was still in the
experimental stage, but later he reported that it promised to be
successful, and in view of the great manufacturing resources in America,
it appeared that a considerable proportion of the mines for the barrage
could be provided by the United States Navy. Our own efforts to produce
a mine suitable for very great depths were also proving successful and
anticipations as to manufacture were optimistic. Accordingly plans were
prepared for a barrage across the North Sea, which were given to Admiral
Mayo before he left England on his return to the United States. Without
seriously relaxing our mining operations in the Heligoland Bight, and
without interfering with our mine barrage on the Folkestone-Grisnez
line, we anticipated at this time that we could provide mines for our
portion of the North Sea Barrage by the time that the United States
supply of mines was in readiness to be laid.

Admiral Mayo was also furnished with papers dealing at length with our
naval policy at the time and the intended future policy, both in home
waters and abroad. Papers were given him relating to our air policy, to
the attitude of neutral countries, to the Belgian coast problem, to the
blockade, to the defence of trade (including one on the convoy system),
to such subjects as the defensive armament of merchant ships with guns,
smoke apparatus and mine defence gear, the instruction of the personnel
in their use, and the system of issuing route instruction to merchant
ships. An important statement was also supplied giving a detailed
account of our anti-submarine policy, both at the time and in the

These papers gave the fullest information on the naval problem, and were
intended to put the United States Naval Department in a position to
appreciate the whole position and its many embarrassments, though we
realized that these could be appreciated only by those who, like Admiral
Sims, were in daily contact with the problems. It will possibly be of
further interest if mention is made of some of the points to which
attention was drawn.

Admiral Mayo, for instance, was informed that British naval policy was
being directed in 1917, as during the remainder of the war, to exerting
constant economic pressure upon the enemy with a view to forcing him to
come to terms. We also endeavoured to prevent the enemy from interfering
with the conduct of the war by ourselves and our Allies. In the
effective pursuit of that policy the duty of the Navy involved:

(1) The protection of the sea communications of the Allied armies and
the protection of British and Allied trade.

(2) The prevention of enemy trade in order to interfere with his
military operations and to exert economic pressure.

(3) Resistance to invasion and raids.

It was pointed out that the question at issue in each case was the
control of sea communications, and in order to attain that control
permanently and completely the enemy's naval forces both above and below
water had to be destroyed or effectually masked. As the weaker German
Fleet not unnaturally refused decisive action and as its _destruction_
had hitherto not been achieved, we had adopted a policy of guarding an
area between our vital communications and the enemy's ports, and of
guarding the areas through which the trade and transports passed; these
were the only methods of frustrating attacks made either by surface
vessels or by submarines which succeeded in reaching open waters. It was
pointed out that a combination of these two methods had been in force
during the wars of the eighteenth century, blockades being combined with
the convoy system and the patrol of local areas by frigates, etc.
History, in fact, was repeating itself.

We mentioned that a close blockade of the German North Sea and Baltic
ports presented insuperable difficulties under the conditions of modern
warfare, and the alternative of controlling the Dover and
Norway-Scotland exits to the North Sea had been adopted. The former
protected the communications of the armies in France, whilst the two
combined covered the maritime communications of the world outside the
North Sea and Baltic, and if they could be effectively guarded our first
two objects would be attained.

So far as the Dover exit was concerned we stated that the narrowness of
the waters, with the consequent risk to the enemy from our mines and
torpedoes, had so far acted as a deterrent to his capital ships; we had
to depend on the light forces at Harwich and Dover to deal with any
enemy surface craft attacking the southern area from German ports.

We pointed out that the control of the Norway-Scotland exit depended
upon the presence of the Grand Fleet at Rosyth or at Scapa. This fleet
ensured the safety of all the vessels engaged in protecting trade and in
hunting submarines outside the North Sea.

Mention was made of the fact that the enemy could not open the sea
routes for his own war ships without risking a serious action, and that
so far he had shown no inclination to run that risk. The Battle of
Jutland having been fought in the previous year, any future movement of
the High Sea Fleet into the North Sea would probably be merely with the
object of drawing our capital ships into prepared areas so as to bring
about a process of attrition by mines and torpedoes. Such a movement had
been carried out on August 19, 1916. The reasons which had led to the
adoption of the Orkney-Faroe-Iceland blockade line were also explained.

It was pointed out that in the early stages of the war, the foregoing
general dispositions had sufficed to protect the Allies' communications
and to throttle those of the enemy outside the Baltic. Although enemy
cruisers in foreign waters and a few raiding vessels which had evaded
the blockade had inflicted losses on trade, losses from such causes
could not reach really serious proportions so long as the enemy trusted
to evasion and refused to face the Grand Fleet. The danger of serious
loss from attack by raiding surface craft had also been greatly
minimized by the adoption of the convoy system. But as the enemy's
submarines increased in size, efficiency and numbers, the situation had
been modified, for evasion by submarines of the command exercised by the
Grand Fleet was easy, and our vital sea communications could be attacked
by them without the risk of a fleet action.

So far as the protection of trade was concerned, the effect therefore of
the submarine campaign had been to remove the barrier established by the
Grand Fleet and to transfer operations to the focal areas and approach

As the situation developed, a policy of dealing with the submarines by
armed patrol craft and decoy ships in these areas had therefore been put
into force. Merchant ships had been armed as rapidly as possible, and in
addition efforts had been made to intercept the submarines _en route_ to
these areas both in the vicinity of German waters and farther afield.

The great area covered by the approach routes and the increasing radius
of submarine operations had made the provision of a sufficient number of
patrol vessels a practical impossibility and had led to a general
adoption of the convoy system as rapidly as the supply of fast small
craft made this possible.

The methods of attacking German submarines before they could reach open
waters, by extensive mining in the Heligoland Bight, with the exception
of Dutch and Danish territorial waters, were also mentioned.

As regards _future_ naval policy it was pointed out that the enemy
submarine campaign was the dominating factor to such an extent that any
sustained increase in the then rate of sinking merchant ships might
eventually prove disastrous.

Mention was made of the fact that the enemy was still producing
submarines faster than the Allies were destroying them; the policy of
coping with submarines after they reached the open sea had not as yet
been sufficiently effective to balance construction against losses, even
in combination with the extensive minefields laid in the Heligoland

The future policy was therefore being directed towards an attempt at a
still more concentrated and effective control in the areas between the
enemy's ports and our trade routes, and it was proposed to form some
description of block or barrage through which the enemy submarines would
not be able to pass without considerable risk. Four forms had been

(1) A method of blocking either mechanically or by mines all the exits
of the submarines from their North Sea or Baltic bases.

(2) A barrage of mines at different depths, from near the surface of the
sea to near the bottom.

(3) A combination of deep mines with a patrolling force of surface craft
and aircraft whose object would be to force the submarines under the
surface into the minefield.

(4) A force of surface craft and aircraft patrolling an area of
sufficient extent to prevent submarines coming to the surface to
recharge their batteries during the hours of darkness.

Admiral Mayo was informed that in our opinion the first scheme as given
above, viz. _that of absolutely sealing the exits, was the only radical
cure for the evil_, but that there were very great difficulties to be
overcome before such an operation could be successfully carried out. He
was shown the plan that had been prepared for a mechanical block of all
the enemy North Sea bases, and he entirely concurred in the
impracticability of carrying it out. Such a plan had been advocated by
some officers and by other people; it was, of course, most attractive in
theory and appealed strongly to those who looked at the question
superficially. When, however, a definite operation came to be worked out
in detail the difficulties became very apparent, and even enthusiastic
supporters of the _idea_ were forced to change their views. It was not a
matter for surprise to me that the idea of sealing the exits from
submarine bases was urged by so many people on both sides of the
Atlantic. It was, of course, the obvious counter to the submarine
campaign, and it appealed with force to that considerable section which
feels vaguely, and rightly, that _offensive_ action is needed, without
being quite so clear as to the means by which it is to be carried out.

In this particular case I informed the clever and able officers to whom
the planning of the operation was entrusted that they were to proceed on
the assumption that we intended to seal the enemy's ports somehow, and
that they were to devise the best possible scheme, drawing up all the
necessary orders for the operations. This was done in the most complete
detail and with great care and ingenuity, but at the end there was no
difference of opinion whatever as to the inadvisability of proceeding
with the operations.

It is to be observed in connexion with this question that sealing the
North Sea bases would not have been a complete cure, since submarines
could still make their exit via the Kattegat, where we could not block
channels without violating the neutrality of other nations.

The final conclusion arrived at _was to use a combination of the last
three alternatives_ provided that _a satisfactory type of mine_ could be
produced in sufficient numbers and a sufficient supply of small craft
provided by ourselves and the United States.

Full details were given to Admiral Mayo of the proposed North Sea
Barrage on a line totalling 230 miles in length, which was divided into
three parts, Areas A, B and C, of which Area A only would be dangerous
to surface vessels.

It was estimated that Area A would require 36,300 mines, and it was
proposed that this area should be mined by the United States forces with
United States mines.

It was proposed that the British should mine Area B, the requirements
being 67,500 mines, and that the United States should mine Area C, for
which 18,000 United States mines would be required.

The reasons governing the selection of the mine barrage area were fully
given, and the advantages arising from the use of the United States
pattern of mine instead of the British mine for Areas A and C were

Admiral Mayo was also informed of our intention to establish a mine
barrage in the Channel, on the Folkestone-Grisnez line, as soon as mines
were available, with a strong force of patrol vessels stationed there,
whose duty it would be to compel enemy submarines to dive into the
minefield. He was further made acquainted with our intended policy of
still closer minelaying in the Heligoland Bight.

Although Admiral Mayo was not actually informed of the details of the
future policy which it was hoped to adopt in the Adriatic for the
improvement of the Otranto Barrage, various schemes were at the time
being worked out between the British, French and Italian Admiralties,
having as their object the prevention or obstruction of the exit of
enemy submarines from the Adriatic, in the same way as it was hoped to
obstruct German submarines from making their exit from the North Sea
without incurring heavy losses. The great depth of water in the southern
part of the Adriatic constituted the main difficulty facing us in the
solution of this problem. In August, 1917, it was, however, definitely
decided to establish a barrage of nets and mines across the Straits of
Otranto, and the work was put in hand. This became effective during

The paper on Naval Air Policy showed the aim of the Admiralty to be:

To provide in sufficient numbers a type of airship which would be able
to scout with the Grand Fleet, and, in this respect, to perform the duty
of light cruisers. Airship stations had been established on the East
Coast for this purpose.

To provide also a type of airship for coastal patrol work and for the
escort of merchant ships in convoy. For these airships stations had been
established on the East, South and West Coasts and at Scapa.

To provide a sufficient supply of kite balloons for the work of the
Grand Fleet. Fleet kite balloon stations had already been established at
Rosyth and Scapa, and the resources of the latter station were
supplemented by a kite balloon ship. It was intended also to provide
kite balloons for flotillas or single vessels engaged in submarine
hunting or in convoy work. A large number of kite balloon stations for
anti-submarine work had been or were being established round the coast
for this work.

As to the future programme of rigid airships, Admiral Mayo was told that
it was under consideration to construct three new rigid stations, also
that three new stations for the use of non-rigids for anti-submarine
work were to be established, while it was also proposed to provide
sufficient resources to allow of a number of kite balloons being worked
in vessels between the North of Scotland and Norway and to the eastward
of the English Channel.

Admiral Mayo was also informed that it was proposed to provide
sufficient "heavier than air" craft of various types for the Fleet, both
to insure adequate air reconnaissance and to drive off hostile aircraft.
The Grand Fleet was at the time already provided with three seaplane
carriers, and the _Furious_ and other special vessels were being fitted
to carry aircraft. Many of the armoured vessels and light cruisers of
the Fleet had also been fitted to carry aircraft, whilst the Harwich
light cruiser force possessed one seaplane carrier; two carriers were
devoted to anti-submarine work, and three were employed in the

It was further stated that machines for naval reconnaissance were
working from several East Coast stations, and that lighters to carry
seaplanes for more extended reconnaissance and offensive work were under
construction. The work carried out by our naval aircraft off the Belgian
coast, comprising the duty of keeping the coast under constant
observation, of spotting the gunfire of ships, of fighting aircraft and
bombing objectives of importance, were also mentioned, as well as the
work in the Mediterranean, where there were four bases in the Aegean.

The extensive anti-submarine patrol work round the British Isles and in
the Mediterranean was touched upon, there being "heavier than air"
stations at the time at

Houton Bay.
South Shields.

Steps were being taken to extend the number of stations as soon as
possible, the new programme including stations at such places as

Loch Foyle.
Loch Ryan (or in the Hebrides).

In the event of the United States being in a position to co-operate in
the work, it was recommended that the three main seaplane stations in
Ireland should be taken over by the Americans, and equipped, manned and
controlled entirely by United States personnel.

In regard to the convoy system a full description of the whole
organization was given, with the results up to date, and details of the
vessels available and still needed for its protection.

Full information was afforded on the subject of the arming of merchant
ships and fitting other defensive measures to them, and the routeing
system in use for merchant ships was described in detail.

In the remarks on our anti-submarine warfare it was pointed out that
anti-submarine measures were carried out both on the surface, under
water, and in the air.

The surface measures were described as follows:

In twelve of the twenty-two areas into which the waters round the United
Kingdom were divided, regular _hunting flotillas_ were at work,
comprising trawlers and motor launches fitted with hydrophones. Before
the institution of the convoy system a few fast vessels, such as
destroyers or "P" boats, had been formed into hunting flotillas, but the
convoy work had necessitated the withdrawal of all these vessels, and
the work of the flotillas had suffered in consequence, the speed of
trawlers being too slow to offer the same prospect of success in such
anti-submarine measures. The flotillas of motor launches which had been
formed were of considerable utility in fine weather, but they could only
operate in comparatively smooth water.

At the time of Admiral Mayo's visit a force of thirty-two trawlers to
work with about six sloops or destroyers was being organized as vessels
became available, to operate in the North Sea with a view to engaging
enemy submarines on passage in those waters.

It was also pointed out to Admiral Mayo that the coast patrol vessels
which were not actually in the hunting flotillas were all engaged in
anti-submarine work and did frequently come into action against the
German submarines.

Finally Admiral Mayo was informed that the convoy system itself was
looked upon as an offensive measure since the German submarines would,
in order to attack vessels under convoy, be forced into contact with the
fast craft engaged in the work of escort and thus place themselves in
positions in which they could themselves be successfully attacked.

Admiral Mayo, during his stay in European waters, inspected some of our
naval bases and paid a visit to the Grand Fleet.

He crossed to France in order that he might see the work being carried
out at French ports by vessels of the United States Navy, and while
returning from this visit he honoured the British Navy by accompanying
Sir Reginald Bacon and myself in H.M.S. _Broke_ to witness a bombardment
of Ostend by the monitor _Terror_. On this occasion Admiral Mayo's flag
was hoisted in the _Broke_ and subsequently presented to him as a
souvenir of the first occasion of a United States Admiral having been
under fire in a British man-of-war. It is satisfactory to record that
subsequent aerial photographs showed that much damage to workshops,
etc., had been caused by this bombardment.

The Admiral and his Staff very quickly established themselves in the
high regard of British naval officers, and it was with much regret that
we witnessed their return to the United States. My own associations with
the Admiral had led to a feeling of great friendship. He left behind him
his Chief of Staff, Captain Jackson, who to our great regret had been
seriously injured in a motor accident.

Admiral Benson's visit took place later in the year. I had written to
him urging him to come across so that he might have first-hand knowledge
of the state of affairs and of the policy being followed. During his
visit the same questions were discussed as with Admiral Mayo, and
important action was taken in the direction of closer naval co-operation
between the Allies by the formation of an Allied Naval Council
consisting of the Ministers of Marine and the Chiefs of the Naval Staff
of the Allied Nations and of the United States. This proposal had been
under discussion for some little time, and, indeed, naval _conferences_
had been held on previous occasions. The first of these during my tenure
of office at the Admiralty was on January 23 and 24, 1917, and another
was held during the visit of Admiral Mayo and at the instigation of the
Government of the United States on September 4 and 5, 1917. On this
latter occasion important discussions had taken place, principally on
the subject of submarine warfare, the methods of dealing with it in home
waters and in the Mediterranean, and such matters as the provision of
mercantile shipping for the use of our Allies.

There was, however, no regular council sitting at specified intervals,
and it was this council which came into being in the early part of
December. Its functions were to watch over the general conduct of the
naval war and to insure co-ordination of the effort at sea as well as
the development of all scientific operations connected with the conduct
of the war.

Special emphasis was laid upon the fact that the individual
responsibility of the respective Chiefs of the Naval Staff and of the
Commanders-in-Chief at sea towards their Governments as regards
operations in hand as well as the strategical and technical disposition
of the forces placed under their command remained unchanged; this
proviso was a necessity in naval warfare, and was very strongly insisted
upon by the Admiralty.

The attention of the Council was directed at the earliest meetings to
the situation in the Mediterranean, where naval forces from the British
Empire, France, Greece, Italy, Japan and the United States were working,
and where the need for close co-operation was most urgent. The real need
in the Mediterranean, as was frequently pointed out, was the inclusion
of the naval forces of all the Allied nations under one single command.
In 1918 strong efforts were made to carry out this policy, and indeed
the actual Admiralissimo was selected, but the attempt failed in the

Both these distinguished American officers were reminded, as indeed they
must have seen for themselves, that the successful combating of the
submarine danger depended largely on the manufacture of material, and
that the resources of this country, with its great fleet and its large
and increasing armies, were so seriously taxed that the execution of the
plans of the Admiralty were being constantly and gravely delayed. The
Admiralty was, indeed, seriously embarrassed by difficulties in the
adequate supply of mines and other means of destroying submarines as
well as of fast craft of various descriptions. The Admiralty, as was
pointed out, were doing not what they would like to do, but what they
could do, both in the way of offensive and defensive action. The
supplies of raw material and labour controlled in large measure the
character and extent of the operations at sea.



It is difficult to give an idea of the truly magnificent work achieved
by the patrol and minesweeping services during the year 1917 without
showing how these services expanded after the outbreak of war in 1914.

When war was declared the only vessels immediately available for the
work consisted of seven torpedo gunboats manned by officers and men of
the Royal Navy, and fourteen trawlers manned by fishermen. All these
vessels were fitted for regular minesweeping work, and the crews of the
trawlers formed a part of what was known as the "Trawler Reserve." Other
trawlers, exceeding eighty in number, became, however, almost
immediately available at the outbreak of war under the organized Trawler
Reserve which had been set up a year or two preceding the outbreak of
war. Men belonging to this reserve had been trained in the work of
minesweeping and were paid a small retaining fee.

As soon as the German methods of indiscriminate minelaying and submarine
attacks upon merchant ships commenced, a great expansion of this force
became necessary. The matter was handled energetically by the Admiralty
at the time, and by the end of 1914 over 700 vessels (yachts, trawlers
and drifters) were employed on patrol and minesweeping duties, and the
Admiralty had also commenced to build vessels of the trawler type
specially for this work.

By the commencement of 1917 there were in use some 2,500 yachts,
trawlers and drifters, the great majority of them manned by fishermen or
men of the R.N.R. or R.N.V.R. and officered by trawler or drifter
skippers or officers of the R.N.R. or R.N.V.R., many of them having
temporary commissions in these services.

Early in the war the coast of the United Kingdom had been divided into
areas for purposes of patrol and minesweeping, and each area was under
the command of a naval officer on either the active or retired list.

The Chart D shows the respective areas at one period. No very important
changes took place in the delimitation of the areas during the war, and
the chart may therefore be considered generally representative of the
organization. Chart E shows the zones into which the Mediterranean was

[Transcriber's note: Charts D and E are maps of the waters around the
United Kingdom, and the waters of the Mediterranean, respectively, with
patrol zones marked.]

In December, 1917, the number of vessels of different classes actually
appropriated to various areas is given on the next page in Table A for
the British Isles and Table B for the Mediterranean.


                             Boom Defence Drifters, etc.    |
--------------------------------------------------------+   |
                             Boom Defence Trawlers.     |   |
----------------------------------------------------+   |   |
                               Patrol Paddlers.     |   |   |
-------------------------------------------------+  |   |   |
               Paddle or Screw Minesweepers.     |  |   |   |
----------------------------------------------+  |  |   |   |
                             Motor Boats.     |  |  |   |   |
-------------------------------------------+  |  |  |   |   |
                       Motor Drifters.     |  |  |  |   |   |
----------------------------------------+  |  |  |  |   |   |
                   Other Drifters.      |  |  |  |  |   |   |
------------------------------------+   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
                 Net Drifters.      |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
--------------------------------+   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
            Motor Launches.     |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
----------------------------+   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
             Whalers.       |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
------------------------+   |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
         Trawlers.      |   |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
--------------------+   |   |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
        Yachts.     |   |   |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
Area No.        |   |   |   |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
                |   |   |   |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
   I            |  5| 44|  4|  6| 22|  2|11|  | 3|  |   |  6|
  II            |  6|119|  7| 15| 72|112| 6|  | 8|  | 60| 83|
  IV            |  1| 27|   | 12| 10|  3|  |  |  |  | 15| 10|
   V            |  1| 20|   |  8| 12|  1| 7|  |  |  |   |   |
  VI            |  6| 51|  1| 24|  9| 14|14|  |13|  | 20| 23|
 VIII           |  1| 51|   | 16| 25|   | 4|  | 9|  |   |   |
  IX            |  1| 93|  3|  6| 25|  1| 4|  | 8|  |  7| 25|
       [        |  2| 16|   |  6| 27|   |  | 2|  |  |   |   |
  X   -[        |   | 53|   |  6|   | 19|  |  |  |  |   |   |
  -             |   | 30|   |  6| 28|   | 2|  | 7|  |   |  5|
  -             |  1| 29|   | 33| 42|   |  |  | 9|  |  3| 13|
  XI            |  2| 70|   | 31|101|   |  |  |19|  |   |  2|
                |  1|   |   |   |   | 30|  |  |  |  |   |   |
 XII            |  2| 35|   | 26| 22| 10|  |  | 6|  |   |  10|
                |   | 18|   |  5| 18|   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
                |   | 14|   |  2| 25|  2|  |  |  |  |   |   |
                |   |  6|   |   |   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
                |   |   |   |  4| 37|   |  | 1|  |  |   |   |
 XIII           |  1| 27|   | 19| 15|   |  |  | 5|  |   |   |
 XIIIA          |   | 54|   | 21| 19|   |  |  |  |  |   |  1|
  XIV           |  2| 44|   | 14| 41|   |  |  |  |  |   |  2|
                |   |  6|   |  6|  6|   |  |  | 5|  |   |   |
  XV            |  3| 46|   |  8| 59|  2|  |  |  |  |  3|   |
  XVI           |  3| 19|   | 12| 13|   |  |  |  |  |   |  1|
                |   |  9|   |  6| 16|   | 5|  | 5|  |   |   |
  XVII          |  3| 26|   | 12| 68|  1|  |  | 4|  |   |  1|
                |  1| 10|   |  6| 31|   |  |  |  |  |  4|  2|
  XVIII         |   | 31|   |   | 11|  4|  |  |  |  |  4|   |
  XIX           |   |  7|   |  8|   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
  XX            |   |  8|   |  6|  4|   |  |  |  |  |   |  1|
  XXI           |  1| 15|   | 16| 11|   | 6|  | 7|  |  2|  3|
  XXII          |  1| 10|   |  6| 14|   |  |  |  |  |   |   |


    I           |  7|  9|   | 19|   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
    VI          |  1| 12|   | 42|116|   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
   VIII         |  2| 61|   | 21| 25|   |  |  |  |  |  2|  2|
    V           |  1| 51|   | 18|   |   |  |  |  | 5|   |   |
    X           |  1| 47|   | 17|  6|   |  |  |  | 5|   |   |
                |  2|   |   | 12|   |   |  |  |  |  |   |   |
                |  2| 22|   |   |  4|   |  |  |  |  |  2|   |
                |  1|  4|   | 11|   |   |  | 7|  |  |   |   |

It will be seen that the total number of British patrol and minesweeping
craft, exclusive of the stationary boom defence vessels, was at this
time 3,084. Of this number 473 were in the Mediterranean, 824 were in
the English Channel between The Nore and Falmouth, 557 were in Irish
waters or on the west coast of England, and the remaining 1,230 were on
the east coast of England and the east and west coasts of Scotland and
the Orkneys and Shetlands.

The work of these vessels was almost entirely of an anti-submarine or
minesweeping nature.

The trawlers were engaged in patrol duty, convoy escort service, and
minesweeping. The drifters worked drifting nets fitted with mines as an
anti-submarine weapon, and also in the case of the Dover area they laid
and kept efficient a barrage of mine nets off the Belgian coast. Some
were also fitted with hydrophones and formed hunting flotillas, and some
were engaged in minesweeping duties, or in patrolling swept channels. At
Fleet bases a small number were required to attend on the ships of the
Fleet, and to assist in the work of the base. The whalers, being faster
vessels than the trawlers, were mostly engaged on escort duty or on
patrol. The motor launches were employed for anti-submarine work, fitted
with hydrophones, and worked in company with drifters and torpedo-boat
destroyers, or in minesweeping in areas in which their light draught
rendered it advantageous and safer to employ them instead of heavier
draught vessels to locate minefields, and in the Dover area they were
largely used to work smoke screens for operations on the Belgian coast.

As the convoy system became more general, so the work of the small craft
in certain areas altered from patrol and escort work to convoy duty.
These areas were those on the East Coast and north-west of Scotland
through which the Scandinavian and East Coast trade passed, and those in
the Channel frequented by the vessels employed in the French coal trade.
The majority of these ships were of comparatively slow speed, and
trawlers possessed sufficient speed to accompany them, but a few
destroyers of the older type formed a part of the escorting force, both
for the purpose of protection and also for offensive action against
submarines attacking the convoys, the slow speed of trawlers
handicapping them greatly in this respect.

The difficulty of dealing with submarines may be gauged by the enormous
number of small craft thus employed, but a consideration of the
characteristics of a submarine and of the great volume of traffic
passing up and down our coasts will assist in a realization of the
varied and difficult problems set to the British Navy.

For instance, the total number of vessels passing Lowestoft during the
month of April, 1917, was 1,837 British and Allied and 208 neutral,
giving a _daily_ average of 62 British and Allied and 7 neutral ships;
and as Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon has mentioned in his book, "The Dover
Patrol, 1915-17" (page 51), an average of between 80 to 100 merchant
vessels passed Dover daily during 1917. A study of these figures gives
some idea of the number of targets offered daily to ordinary submarines
and minelaying submarines in two of the areas off our coasts. When it is
borne in mind that the Germans had similar chances of inflicting heavy
losses on our mercantile marine all round the coasts of the United
Kingdom, and that it was obviously impossible to tell where an
underwater attack would take place, it will be realized that once
submarines reached our coasts, nothing short of an immense number of
small craft could deal satisfactorily with the situation, and afford any
degree of protection to trade. Minelaying by submarines was a
particularly difficult problem with which to deal; the enemy frequently
changed his methods, and such changes when discovered involved
alterations in our own procedure. Thus for some time after the
commencement of minelaying by submarines, the whole of the mines of one
submarine would be laid in a comparatively small area. It was fairly
easy to deal with this method as a dangerous area was proclaimed round
the spot where a mine was discovered, and experience soon showed the
necessary extent of area to proclaim. Later the submarines laid mines in
groups of about six. This necessitated the proclamation of more than one
area, and was naturally a more difficult problem. At a further stage the
submarines scattered their mines in even smaller numbers, and the task
of ensuring a safe channel was still further increased. The most
difficult artifice to deal with, however, was the introduction by the
Germans of a delay action device in their mines, which caused them to
remain at the bottom for varying periods after being laid. The ordinary
mine-sweep, the function of which was to catch the mooring rope of the
mine and drag the mine clear of the channel, was, of course, ineffective
against the mine on the bottom, and there was no guarantee that mines
might not be released from the bottom and rise to a depth at which they
were dangerous, _after the channel had been swept and reported clear_.
To deal with this danger a chain-sweep to work on the bottom was
introduced, but its use presented many difficulties, especially over a
rocky bottom.

When a regular swept and buoyed channel was in use the enemy had little
difficulty in deciding on the positions in which to lay mines by reason
of the presence of the buoys. This fact constituted the principal
disadvantage in the use of a buoyed channel, but in certain places where
the traffic was heavy the procedure was inevitable, and it greatly
simplified the work of the patrol craft and minesweepers; the only
precautions possible lay in the use of alternative marked channels, and
in the laying of defensive deep minefields outside the channel in which
enemy submarines might compass their own destruction. As rapidly as our
supply of mines admitted, this latter device was adopted in positions
where the minefields could not constitute a danger to our own
submarines. False buoyed channels with mined areas round them could also
be laid in which to catch the submarine. Another device was that of
altering the position of light vessels and buoys with the object of
putting a submarine on to a shoal.

The situation with which our patrol and minesweeping craft had to deal
having now been stated, it remains to speak of the magnificent manner in
which they accomplished their task.

I regret very deeply that, in spite of a strong desire to undertake the
task, I have neither the information nor the literary ability to do
justice to the many deeds of individual gallantry, self-sacrifice and
resource performed by the splendid officers and men who manned the small
craft. No words of mine can adequately convey the intense admiration
which I felt, and which I know was shared by the whole Navy, for the
manner in which their arduous and perilous work was carried out. These
fine seamen, though quite strange to the hazardous work which they were
called upon to undertake, quickly accustomed themselves to their new
duties, and the nation should ever be full of gratitude that it bred
such a race of hardy, skilful and courageous men as those who took so
great a part in defeating the greatest menace with which the Empire has
ever been faced.

There are, however, just two cases in 1917, typical of many others,
which I cannot forbear from mentioning. The first occurred off the East
Coast of England.

On August 15 the armed fishing craft _Nelson_ and _Ethel and Millie_
were attacked by gunfire by a German submarine on the surface at a range
of four to five miles.

The submarine first concentrated her fire on the _Nelson_, which
immediately slipped her trawl and went to action stations. The third
shot from the submarine pierced the trawler's bows, and, having
established the range, the submarine poured a well-directed fire into
the _Nelson_, under which she rapidly began to settle down.

The seventh shot struck the skipper, Thomas Crisp, D.S.C., R.N.R.,
taking off both his legs and partly disembowelling him.

In spite of the terrible nature of his injuries he retained
consciousness and gave instructions to the mate, who was his son, to
send a message by carrier pigeon to the senior officer of his base
reporting that he was engaged with the enemy; he then bade him fight to
the last.

The _Nelson_, armed with one small gun, replied to the enemy's fire
until the heavy heel which she had assumed made it impossible to bring
the gun to bear. As she was then on the point of sinking the mate
decided to abandon her and take to the boat, and begged his father to
give them leave to carry him. This, however, the old man sternly refused
to do, and ordered his son to throw him overboard.

The nature of his wounds being such that he would have died if he had
been moved, they deemed it best, after consultation, to leave him where
he lay. Accordingly, yielding to his reiterated order to abandon the
ship, they left this most gallant seaman lying in his blood, and
embarked in the boat as the _Nelson_ sank.

The submarine in the meanwhile concentrated her fire on the _Ethel and
Millie_, and having eventually sunk her, made the survivors of the crew
prisoners, and steamed away.

The crew of the _Nelson_ were rescued by a man-of-war after being in
their boat for forty-four hours.

The second case occurred in the Adriatic. On the night in question our
drifter patrol in the Straits of Otranto was attacked by a force of
Austrian light cruisers. The drifters were each armed with a 3-pounder
gun, and the light cruisers with 4-inch and 6-inch guns. The drifters
were, of course, quite unable to defend themselves. Nevertheless the
indomitable skipper, I. Watt, of the drifter _Gowan Lea_, when summoned
to surrender by an Austrian light cruiser which was firing at his craft,
shouted defiance, waved his hat to his men, and ordered them to open
fire with the 3-pounder gun. His orders were obeyed, and, surprising to
relate, the light cruiser sheered off, and this fine seaman with his
gallant ship's company brought the _Gowan Lea_ into port in safety.

Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon, in his most interesting narrative of the
work of the Dover Patrol, has brought to light many individual instances
of work gallantly performed; it is much to be hoped that before
recollection fades, those who can speak of the actions of individuals in
other areas will tell their countrymen something of the great deeds

A feature of the patrol service of much interest was the manner in which
a large number of retired officers, including many of flag rank--who had
reached mature age--volunteered for service in the yachts and other
small craft engaged in the work. The late Admiral Sir Alfred Paget was
one of the first, if not the first, to come forward, and in order to
avoid any difficulty in the matter of rank, this fine veteran proposed
to sink his Naval status and to accept a commission as captain of the
Royal Naval Reserve. Sir Alfred, in common with many other officers who
took up this work, was over sixty, but age did not deter these gallant
seamen from facing the hardship and discomfort of service in small craft
in the North Sea and elsewhere. To name all the officers who undertook
this duty, or who were in charge of patrol areas, would be impossible,
and it may seem invidious to mention names at all; but I cannot forbear
to speak of some of those with whom I came most frequently into contact
during 1917. Sir James Startin, K.C.B., who was the life and soul of the
patrols and minesweepers working from Granton, was frequently at sea in
decoy ships fitted out there, as well as in minesweepers, etc., and
together with his son won the Albert Medal for saving life during the
war; Admiral J.L. Marx, C.B., D.S.O., served also in a decoy ship;
Admiral John Denison, D.S.O., was in charge first at Falmouth and later
at Kingstown; Admiral T.P. Walker, D.S.O., had his yacht sunk under him;
Admiral Sir Charles Dare, K.C.M.G., C.B., won great distinction in
command of the patrols, etc., working from Milford Haven; and
Rear-Admiral C.H. Simpson's Peterhead trawlers, splendidly manned, took
a heavy toll of enemy submarines. A large number of retired Naval
officers below the rank of admiral served in minesweepers and patrol
craft, and in command of various areas, and their work was of the
greatest possible value. A few of those with whom I came into personal
contact during the year 1917 were the late Captain F. Bird, C.M.G.,
D.S.O., who was most conspicuous in command of the drifters of the Dover
Patrol; Captain W. Vansittart Howard, D.S.O., who commanded the Dover
Trawler Patrol with such ability; Commander Sir George Armstrong, Bart.,
who so successfully inspired the minesweeping force working from Havre;
and Commander H.F. Cayley, D.S.O., whose services in the Harwich
minesweeping force, working under his brother, Rear-Admiral C.G. Cayley,
were invaluable.

So much for the patrol craft. The great work carried out by the
minesweepers can be best judged by quoting a few figures for 1917,
during which year the mine menace attained its maximum intensity, owing
to the large increase in the number of German submarine minelayers.

During the year 1916 the average number of mines swept up per month was

Statistics for 1917 show the following numbers of mines swept up per

January    250
February   380
March      473
April      515
May        360
June       470
July       404
August     352
September  418
October    237
November   184
December   188

making the average per month in 1917 355 mines.

It will be noticed how rapidly the figures rose in the early part of the
year, and how great was the diminution in the figures for the later
months. This decrease was due to the fact that the extension of
anti-submarine measures was beginning to take effect, and the
destruction of German submarines, and especially of submarine minelayers
of the U.C. type, was becoming considerable.

The heavy work involved a great strain on the minesweeping service, and
the greatest possible credit is due to the personnel of that service for
the fine response made to the call for additional exertions and heavier

At the same time the organizing work achieved at Headquarters by the
minesweeping section of the Naval Staff should not be forgotten. At the
head of this section was Captain Lionel G. Preston, C.B.; he had
succeeded to the post of Head of the Minesweeping Service early in 1917,
after two and a half years of strenuous and most successful minesweeping
work in the Grand Fleet flotillas, and he at once grappled with the task
of dealing with the large number of mines then being laid by German

Instructions were issued to fit all patrol craft round the coast for
minesweeping work in addition to their patrol duties, and they were used
for sweeping as required. Many drifters were also fitted for
minesweeping in addition to the trawlers hitherto employed; and although
there was some prejudice against these vessels on account of their
slower speed, they proved to be of great assistance. Every available
small craft that could be fitted for the work was pressed into the
service, including a considerable number of motor launches.

There was unfortunately great delay in the building of the "Hunt" class
of minesweeper, which was the type ordered in 1916 and repeated in 1917,
and in spite of very large additional orders for this class of vessel
having been placed early in 1917 (a total of 100 extra vessels being
ordered), the number completed during that year was only sixteen,
together with a single paddle sweeper. Consequently we were dependent
for the largely increased work on improvised craft, and the very
greatest credit is due to all who were concerned in this arduous and
dangerous duty that the waters were kept comparatively clear of mines,
and that our losses from this cause were so small when the immense
number of mines swept up is considered.

Fortunately the enemy lost very heavily in submarines of the U.C., or
minelaying type, largely because they were working of necessity in
waters near our coast, so that our anti-submarine measures had a better
chance, since they were easier to locate and destroy than submarines
working farther afield. By the commencement of 1918 the average number
of mines swept up monthly showed a very remarkable decrease, the average
for the first two months of that year being only 159 per month, eloquent
testimony to the efficiency of the anti-submarine measures in operation
during 1917. I have no information as to the figures for the remaining
months of 1918.

The record of minesweeping work would not be complete without figures
showing the damage caused by mines to minesweeping vessels.

During the last six months of 1916 the average number of these craft
sunk or damaged by mines _per month_ was 5.7, while for the first six
months of 1917 the figures rose to ten per month. For the second six
months of 1917 the figures fell to four per month, a reduction even on
the losses towards the end of 1916, in spite of the fact that more mines
were being dealt with. This reduction may have been due to improvements
effected in organization as the result of experience.

Similarly the total number of merchant ships sunk or damaged by mines,
which during the first six months of 1917 totalled 90, dropped in the
second six months to 49.

By far the greater proportion of mines swept up were laid in Area
10--i.e. the Nore, Harwich and Lowestoft area. This part of the coast
was nearest to the German submarine base at Zeebrugge, and as the
greater part of the east coast traffic passed through the area it
naturally came in for a great deal of minelaying attention. Out of some
2,400 mines swept up in the first half of 1917, over 800 came from Area
10 alone. The greatest number of casualties to merchant ships from mines
during this same period also occurred in Area 10, which in this respect
was, however, rivalled by Area 8--the Tyne. Many ships also struck mines
in Areas 11 and 12 in the English Channel, and in both of these areas a
considerable number of mines were swept up.

In addition to the daily risks of being themselves blown up which were
run by the vessels engaged in this work, many very gallant deeds were
performed by individual officers and men of the minesweeping force, who
were one and all imbued with the idea that their first duty was to keep
a clear channel for traffic regardless of the consequence to themselves.
I must leave to abler pens than mine the task of recording in fitting
phrase some of the courageous actions of our small craft which will be
looked upon as amongst the most glorious episodes of the Naval part of
the Great War, and content myself to mention only one case, that of the
trawler _Grand Duke_, working in the Milford area in May, 1917. In this
instance a flotilla of minesweepers was employed in sweeping when two
mines exploded in the sweep towed by the second pair of minesweeping
trawlers in the flotilla. The wire parted and one of the two trawlers
proceeded to heave in the "kite," the contrivance employed to keep the
sweep at the required depth. When hove short up it was discovered that a
mine was foul of the wire and that it had been hauled up against the
ship's side. Just beneath the surface the circular outline of a second
mine could also be detected entangled in the wire and swirling round in
the current beneath the trawler's counter. In the circumstances, since
any roll of the ship might suffice to strike one of the horns of either
mine and detonate the charges, the officer in charge of the trawler
chose the best course open to him in view of his responsibility for the
lives of those under his command, and ordered the trawler to be

The senior officer of the division of minesweepers thereupon called for
a volunteer, and accompanied by the engineman, boarded the abandoned
trawler, and disregarding the imminent probability of an explosion
caused by the contact of the ship and the mine, cut the sweep and kite
wires. The mines fell clear without detonating, and by means of a rope
passed to another trawler they were towed clear of the spot.

It is appropriate to close this chapter by giving a synopsis of the
losses amongst our patrol escort and minesweeping vessels between the
commencement of the war and the end of 1917 due (1) to enemy action, and
(2) to the increased navigational dangers incidental to service afloat
under war conditions.

Under the first heading--enemy action--the losses were 8 yachts, 6 motor
launches, 3 motor boats, 150 trawlers, 59 drifters, and 10 paddle
minesweepers; and the losses due to navigational risks were 5 yachts, 55
trawlers, 7 motor launches, 3 motor boats, 30 drifters, and 1 paddle
minesweeper, whilst the total loss of life was 197 officers and 1,782



Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon has given ("The Dover Patrol,
1915-1917," Hutchinson & Co., 1919.) a most valuable record of the
varied work carried out in the Straits of Dover and on the Belgian coast
during the period of his command. There is little to be added to this
great record, but it may be of interest to mention the general Admiralty
policy which governed the Naval operations in southern waters during the
year 1917, and the methods by which that policy was carried out.

The policy which was adopted in southern waters, and especially in the
Straits of Dover, was that, so far as the means at our disposal
admitted, the Straits should be rendered impassable for enemy ships of
all kinds, from battleships to submarines, with a view to protecting the
cross-Channel communications of our Army in France, of affording
protection to trade in the Channel, and preventing a military landing by
the Germans either in the south of England or on the left flank of the
Allied Army in France. So long as the Belgian coast ports remained in
German possession, the Naval force that could be based there constituted
a very serious menace to the cross-Channel traffic. This really applied
more to destroyers than to submarines, and for this reason: submarines
have an infinitely larger radius of action than destroyers, and if the
Belgian coast ports had not been in German occupation, the additional
210 miles from the Ems would not have been a matter of serious moment to
them, and if sighted on the longer passage they could submerge. The case
was quite different with destroyers or other surface vessels; in the
first place they were open to attack by our vessels during the passage
to and from the Ems, and in the second the additional distance to be
traversed was a matter for consideration, since they carried only
limited supplies of fuel.

A fact to which the Admiralty frequently directed attention was that,
although annoyance and even serious inconvenience might be caused to the
enemy by sea and air operations against Ostend and Zeebrugge, no
_permanent_ result could be achieved by the Navy alone unless backed up
by an advance on land. The Admiralty was heart and soul for an audacious
policy, providing the form of attack and the occasion offered a
reasonable prospect of success. Owing to the preoccupations of the Army,
we had to be satisfied with bombardments of the ports by unprotected
monitors, which had necessarily to be carried out at very long ranges,
exceeding 25,000 yards, and necessitating direction of the fire by

Bruges, about eight miles from the sea, was the real base of enemy
submarines and destroyers, Zeebrugge and Ostend being merely exits from
Bruges, and the use of the latter could only be denied to the enemy by
land attack or by effective blocking operations at Ostend and Zeebrugge,
for, if only one port was closed, the other could be used.

Neither Zeebrugge, Ostend, nor Bruges could be rendered untenable to the
enemy with the guns available during 1917, although Ostend in
particular, and Zeebrugge to a lesser extent, could be, and were
frequently, brought under fire when certain conditions prevailed, and
some temporary damage caused. Indeed, the fire against Ostend was so
effective that the harbour fell into disuse as a base towards the end of
1917. We were arranging also in 1917 for mounting naval guns on shore
that would bring Bruges under fire, after the enemy had been driven from
Ostend by the contemplated operation which is mentioned later. When
forced to abandon this operation, in consequence of the military advance
being held up by the weather, these guns were mounted in monitors.

In the matter of blocking the entrance to the ports of Zeebrugge and
Ostend, the fact had to be recognized that effective _permanent_
blocking operations against destroyers and submarines were not
practicable, mainly because of the great rise and fall above low water
at ordinary spring tides, which is 14 feet at Ostend and 13 feet at
Zeebrugge for about half the days in each month. Low water at Ostend
also lasts for one hour. Therefore, even if block-ships were sunk in the
most favourable position the operation of making a passage by cutting
away the upper works of the block-ships was not a difficult matter, and
the Germans are a painstaking people. This passage could be used for
some time on each side of high water by vessels like destroyers drawing
less than 14 feet, or submarines drawing, say, 14 feet. The block would,
therefore, be of a temporary and not a permanent nature, although it
would undoubtedly be a source of considerable inconvenience. At the same
time it was realized that, although permanent blocking was not
practicable, a temporary block would be of use, and that _the moral
effect alone of such an operation would be of great value_. These
considerations, together with the abandonment of the proposed landing on
the Belgian coast, owing to unfavourable military conditions, led to the
decision late in 1917 to undertake blocking operations concurrently with
an attack on the vessels alongside the Mole at Zeebrugge.

In order to carry out the general policy mentioned, the eastern end of
the Straits of Dover had been heavily mined at intervals during the war,
and these mines had proved to be a sufficient deterrent against any
attempt on the part of surface vessels larger than destroyers to pass
through. Owing to the rise of tide enemy destroyers could pass over the
minefields at high water without risk of injury, and they frequently did
so pass. Many attempts had been made to prevent the passage of enemy
submarines by means of obstructions, but without much success; and at
the end of 1916 a "mine net barrage"--i.e. a series of wire nets of wide
mesh carrying mines--was in process of being placed by us right across
the Straits from the South Goodwin Buoy to the West Dyck Bank, a length
of 28 miles, it being arranged that the French would continue the
barrage from this position to the French coast. The construction of the
barrage was much delayed by the difficulty in procuring mooring buoys,
and it was not completed until the late summer of 1917. Even then it was
not an effective barrier owing to the tidal effects, as submarines were
able to pass over it during strong tides, or to dive under the nets as
an alternative; it was not practicable to use nets more than 60 feet
deep, whilst the depth of water in places exceeded 120 feet.

Deep mines were laid to guard the water below the net, but although
these were moored at some considerable distance from the barrage,
trouble was experienced owing to the mines dragging their moorings in
the strong tide-way and fouling the nets. One series had to be entirely
swept up for this reason. Many devices were tried with the object of
improving this barrage, and many clever brains were at work on it. _And
all the time our drifters with their crews of gallant fishermen, with
Captain Bird at their head, worked day after day at the task of keeping
the nets efficient_.

In spite of its deficiencies the barrage was believed to be responsible
for the destruction of a few submarines, and it did certainly render the
passage of the Straits more difficult, and therefore its moral effect
was appreciable. Towards the end of 1917, however, evidence came into
our possession showing that more submarines were actually passing the
Straits of Dover than had been believed to be the case, and it became a
question whether a proportion of the drifters, etc., required for the
maintenance of the nets of the barrage should be utilized instead for
patrol work in the vicinity of the mine barrage then being laid between
Folkestone and Cape Grisnez. This action was taken, drifters being
gradually moved to the new area.

In April, 1916, a net barrage, with lines of deep mines on the Belgian
side of the nets, had also been laid along the Belgian coast covering
the exits from the ports of Ostend and Zeebrugge as well as the coast
between those ports. These nets were laid at a distance of some 24,000
yards from the shore. This plan had proved most successful in preventing
minelaying by submarines in the Straits of Dover, and the barrage was
maintained from May to October, but the weather conditions had prevented
its continuance from that date.

The operation was repeated in 1917, the barrage being kept in position
until December, when the question of withdrawing the craft required for
its maintenance for patrol work in connection with the minefield laid on
the Folkestone-Grisnez line came under discussion.

The Belgian coast barrage being in the nature of a surprise was probably
more useful as a deterrent to submarine activity in 1916 than in 1917.
In both years a strong patrol of monitors, destroyers, minesweepers,
drifters for net repairs, and other vessels was maintained in position
to the westward of the barrage to prevent interference with the nets by
enemy vessels and to keep them effective.

These vessels were patrolling daily within 13 or 14 sea miles of the two
enemy destroyer and submarine bases, and although occasionally attacked,
were not driven off in spite of the superior destroyer force which the
enemy could always bring to bear. In 1917 actions between our vessels
and those of the enemy, and between our own and enemy aircraft, were of
very frequent occurrence. The Germans also introduced a new weapon in
the form of fast motor boats controlled by a cable from the shore and
guided by signals from aircraft, these boats being heavily loaded in the
fore part with explosives which detonated on contact with any vessels
attacked. On only one occasion in four attacks were the boats successful
in hitting their mark, and the monitor _Terror_, which was struck in
this instance, although considerably damaged in her bulge protection,
was successfully brought back to port and repaired.

Whilst our monitors were on patrol near the barrage, as well as on other
occasions, every favourable opportunity was taken of bombarding the
bases at Zeebrugge and Ostend. In the former case the targets fired at
were the lock gates, and in the latter the workshops, to which
considerable damage was frequently occasioned, as well as to vessels
lying in the basin.

These bombardments were carried out in 1917 at distances exceeding
25,000 yards. The long range was necessary on account of the net
barrage, and also because of the rapidity with which the "Knocke" and
"Tirpitz" shore batteries obtained the range of monitors attacking them,
one hit on an unprotected monitor being sufficient to sink her.

They were also invariably carried out under the protection of a smoke
screen; in the autumn of 1917 the enemy commenced to start a smoke
screen himself as soon as we opened fire, thus interfering with our
observation of fire even from aircraft, but in spite of this much damage
resulted from the bombardments. Our observation of fire being
necessarily carried out by aircraft, and the enemy attempting similar
measures in his return gunfire, resulted in aerial combats over the
monitors being a frequent occurrence.

The carefully organized arrangements made by Admiral Bacon for these
coastal bombardments excited my warm admiration. He left nothing to
chance, and everything that ingenuity could devise and patient
preparation could assist was done to ensure success. He received
assistance from a staff which, though small in number, was imbued with
his own spirit, and he brought to great perfection and achieved
wonderful success in methods of warfare of which the Navy had had no
previous experience.

During the year 1917 aerial bombing attacks were persistently carried
out on the German naval bases in Belgium by the Royal Naval Air Force at
Dunkirk, which came within the sphere of the Dover Command. These
attacks had as their main object the destruction of enemy vessels lying
in these bases, and of the means for their maintenance and repair. The
attacks, under the very skilful direction of Captain Lambe, R.N., were
as incessant as our resources and the weather admitted, and our gallant
and splendidly efficient airmen of the R.N.A.S. were veritable thorns in
the sides of the Germans. Our bombing machines as well as our fighting
aircraft were often required to attack military instead of naval
objectives, and several squadrons of our fighting machines were lent to
the military for the operations carried out during the year on the
Western Front; they did most excellent work, and earned the high
commendation of Sir Douglas Haig (now Earl Haig). But we were still able
to work against naval objectives. Zeebrugge, for instance, was bombed on
seven nights during April and five nights during May, and during
September a total weight of 86 tons of bombs was dropped on enemy
objectives by the Dunkirk Naval aircraft, and we had good reason to be
satisfied with the results achieved. During this same month 18 enemy
aircraft were destroyed and 43 driven down. Attacks upon enemy
aerodromes were very frequent, and this form of aerial offensive
undoubtedly exercised a very deterrent influence upon enemy aerial
activity over England. Two submarines also were attacked and were
thought to be destroyed, all by our machines from Dunkirk. To Commodore
Godfrey Paine, the Fifth Sea Lord at the Admiralty, who was in charge of
the R.N.A.S., and to the staff assisting him our thanks were due for the
great work they accomplished in developing new and efficient types of
machines and in overcoming so far as was possible the difficulties of
supply. The amount of bombing work carried out in 1917 cannot, of
course, compare with that accomplished during 1918, when production had
got into its stride and the number of machines available was
consequently so very much larger.

Whether it was due to our aerial attacks on Bruges that the German
destroyers in the autumn months frequently left that base and lay at
Zeebrugge cannot be known, but they did so, and as soon as we discovered
this fact by aerial photographs, plans were laid by Sir Reginald Bacon
for a combined naval and aerial night operation. The idea was for the
aircraft to bomb Zeebrugge heavily in the vicinity of the Mole, as we
ascertained by trial that on such occasions the enemy's destroyers left
the Mole and proceeded outside the harbour. There we had our coastal
motor boats lying off waiting for the destroyers to come out, and on the
first occasion that the operation was carried out one German destroyer
was sunk and another believed to have been damaged, if not also sunk, by
torpedoes fired by the coastal motor boats, to which very great credit
is due for their work, not only on this, but on many other occasions;
these boats were manned by a very gallant and enterprising personnel.

Numerous other operations against enemy destroyers, torpedo boats and
submarines were carried out during the year, as recounted in Sir
Reginald Bacon's book, and in the autumn, when supplies of the new
pattern mines were becoming available, some minelaying destroyers were
sent to Dover; these vessels, as well as coastal motor boats and motor
launches, were continually laying mines in the vicinity of Zeebrugge and
Ostend with excellent results, a considerable number of German
destroyers and torpedo boats working from Zeebrugge being known to have
been mined, and a fair proportion of them sunk by these measures.

In addition to the operations carried out in the vicinity of the Belgian
coast, the Dover force constantly laid traps for the enemy destroyers
and submarines in waters through which they were known to pass.

Lines of mined nets laid across the expected track of enemy vessels was
a device frequently employed; submarines, as has been stated, were used
on the cross-Channel barrage to watch for the passage of enemy
submarines and destroyers, and everything that ingenuity could suggest
was done to catch the German craft if they came out.

Such measures were supplementary to the work of the destroyers engaged
on the regular Dover Patrol, the indomitable Sixth Flotilla.

A great deal depended upon the work of these destroyers. They formed the
principal, indeed practically the only, protection for the vast volume
of trade passing the Straits of Dover as well as for our cross-Channel
communications. When the nearness of Zeebrugge and Ostend to Dover is
considered (a matter of only 72 and 62 miles respectively), and the fact
that one and sometimes two German flotillas, each comprising eleven
large and heavily armed torpedo-boat destroyers, were usually based on
Bruges, together with a force of large modern torpedo boats and a very
considerable number of submarines, it will be realized that the position
was ever one of considerable anxiety. It was further always possible for
the enemy to send reinforcements of additional flotillas from German
ports, or to send heavier craft with minesweepers to sweep a clear
channel, timing their arrival to coincide with an intended attack, and
thus to place the German forces in a position of overwhelming

Our own Dover force at the commencement of 1917 consisted of one light
cruiser, three flotilla leaders, eighteen modern destroyers, including
several of the old "Tribal" class, eleven old destroyers of the 30-knot
class (the latter being unfit to engage the German destroyers), and five
"P" boats. Of this total the average number not available at any moment
may be taken as at least one-third. This may seem a high estimate, but
in addition to the ordinary refits and the time required for boiler
cleaning, the vessels of the Dover Patrol working in very dangerous,
foggy and narrow waters suffered heavy casualties from mines and
collisions. The work of the Dover force included the duty of escorting
the heavy traffic between Dover and Folkestone and the French ports,
this being mostly carried on during daylight hours owing to the
prevalence of submarine-laid mines and the necessity for sweeping the
various channels before the traffic--which included a very large troop
traffic--was allowed to cross. An average of more than twenty transports
and hospital ships crossed the Straits daily during 1917, irrespective
of other vessels. The destroyers which were engaged during daylight
hours in this work, and those patrolling the barrages across the Straits
and off the Belgian coast, obviously required some rest at night, and
this fact reduced the number available for duty in the dark hours, the
only time during which enemy destroyer attacks took place.

Up to the spring of 1917 the examination service of all vessels passing
the Straits of Dover had been carried out in the Downs. This led to a
very large number of merchant ships being at anchor in the Downs at
night, and these vessels were obviously open to attack by enemy craft of
every description. It was always a marvel to me that the enemy showed
such a lack of enterprise in failing to take advantage of these
conditions. In order to protect these vessels to some extent, a light
cruiser from Dover, and one usually borrowed from Harwich, together with
a division of destroyers either from Dover, or borrowed also from
Harwich, were anchored off Ramsgate, and backed by a monitor if one was
available, necessitating a division of strength and a weakening of the
force available for work in the Straits of Dover proper.

The result of this conflict of interests in the early part of the year
was that for the patrol of the actual Straits in the darkness of night
on a line some 30 miles in length, the number of vessels available
rarely if ever exceeded six--viz. two flotilla leaders and four
destroyers, with the destroyers resting in Dover (four to six in number)
with steam ready at short notice as a reserve.

An attack had been made on the Dover Patrol in October, 1916, which had
resulted in the loss by us of one destroyer and six drifters, and
serious damage to another destroyer. A consideration of the
circumstances of this attack after my arrival at the Admiralty led me to
discuss with Sir Reginald Bacon the question of keeping such forces as
we had in the Straits at night concentrated as far as possible. This
disposition naturally increased the risk of enemy vessels passing
unobserved, but ensured that they would be encountered in greater,
although not equal, force if sighted.

Steps were also taken to reduce the tempting bait represented by the
presence of so many merchant ships in the Downs at night. Sir Reginald
Bacon proposed that the portion of the examination service which dealt
with south-going ships should be moved to Southend, and the transfer was
effected as rapidly as possible and without difficulty, thereby
assisting to free us from a source of anxiety.

During the early part of 1917 the enemy carried out a few destroyer
raids both on English coast towns in the vicinity of Dover and the
French ports of Dunkirk and Calais. As a result of these raids, which,
though regrettable, were of no military importance, a good deal of
ill-informed criticism was levelled at the Admiralty and the
Vice-Admiral commanding at Dover. To anyone conversant with the
conditions, the wonder was not that the raids took place, but that the
enemy showed so little enterprise in carrying out--with the great
advantages he possessed--operations of real, if not vital, military

The only explanation is that he foresaw the moral effect that his
tip-and-run raids would produce; and he considered that the effect of
the resulting agitation might be of no inconsiderable value to himself;
the actual damage done was almost negligible, apart from the loss of
some eight lives, which we all deplored. It is perhaps natural that
people who have never experienced war at close quarters should be
impatient if its consequences are brought home to them. A visit to
Dunkirk would have shown what war really meant, and the bearing of the
inhabitants of that town would have taught a valuable lesson.

The conditions in the Straits have already been mentioned, but too much
emphasis cannot be laid on them. The enemy who possessed the
incalculable advantage of the initiative, had at his disposal, whenever
he took heart to plan an attack, a force of at least twenty-two very
good destroyers, all unfortunately of higher speed than anything we
could bring against them, and more heavily armed than many of our
destroyers. This force was based within seventy miles of Dover, and as
the Germans had no traffic of any sort to defend, was always available
for offensive operations against our up and down or cross-Channel
traffic. Our Dover force was inferior even at full strength, but owing
to the inevitable absence of vessels under repair or refitting and the
manifold duties imposed upon it, was bound to be in a position of marked
inferiority in any night attack undertaken by the Germans against any
objective in the Straits.

The enemy had a great choice of objectives. These were: first, the
traffic in the Channel or the destroyers watching the Straits (the most
important military objective); second, the merchant ships anchored in
the Downs; third, the British monitors anchored off Dunkirk; fourth, the
French ports, Dunkirk, Boulogne and Calais, and the British port of
Dover; and fifth, the British undefended towns of Ramsgate, Margate,
Lowestoft, etc., which German mentality did not hesitate to attack.

A glance at Chart F [Transcriber's note: Not preserved in book.] will
show how widely separated are these objectives and how impossible it was
for the small Dover force to defend them all simultaneously, especially
during the hours of darkness. Any such attempt would have led to a
dispersion of force which would have been criminal. The distance from
Dunkirk along the French coast to Calais, thence to Dover and along the
English coast to the North Foreland is 60 miles. The distance at which
an enemy destroyer can be seen at night is about a quarter of a mile,
and the enemy could select any point of the 60 miles for attack, or
could vary the scene of operations by bombarding Lowestoft or towns in
the vicinity, which were only 80 miles from Zeebrugge and equally
vulnerable to attack, since the enemy's destroyers could leave their
base before dark, carry out their hurried bombardment, and return before
daylight. In whatever quarter he attacked he could be certain of great
local superiority of force, although, of course, he knew full well that
the first sign of an attack would be a signal to our forces to try to
cut him off from his bases. Therein lay the reason for the tip-and-run
nature of the raids, which lasted for a few minutes only. The enemy
realized that we should endeavour to intercept his force as soon as it
had disclosed its presence. The Germans had naturally to take the risk
of encountering our vessels on the way to his objectives, but at night
this risk was but slight.

As it was obviously impossible to prevent bombardments by stationing
destroyers in adequate force for the protection of each town, the only
possible alternative, unless such bombardments were ignored, was to give
the most vulnerable points protection by artillery mounted on shore.
This was a War Office, not an Admiralty, responsibility; but as the War
Office had not the means available, the Admiralty decided to take the
matter in hand, and in the spring of 1917 some 6-inch naval guns taken
from our reserves were mounted in the vicinity of the North Foreland.
Further, an old monitor, which was of no use for other work owing to her
machinery being unfit, was moored to the southward of Ramsgate, and her
guns commanded the Downs. Searchlights were also mounted on shore, but
more reliance was placed on the use of star shells, of which the
earliest supplies were sent to these guns. The result was immediately
apparent. German destroyers appeared one night later on off the North
Foreland and opened fire, which was returned by the monitor and the
shore guns. The enemy immediately withdrew, and never appeared again in
1917 in this neighbourhood.

Meanwhile efforts had been made to increase the strength of the Dover
force, and by the end of June it stood at 4 flotilla leaders, 29 modern
destroyers (including "Tribal" class), 10 old 30-knotters, and 6 "P"
boats. The increase in strength was rendered possible owing to the
relief of destroyers of the "M" and "L" classes at Harwich by new
vessels recently completed and by the weakening of that force
numerically. The flotilla leaders were a great asset to Dover, as,
although they were coal-burning ships and lacked the speed of the German
destroyers, their powerful armament made it possible for them to engage
successfully a numerically greatly superior force. This was clearly
shown on the occasion of the action between the _Broke_ and _Swift_ and
a German force of destroyers on the night of April 20-21, 1917.

The flotilla leaders on that occasion were, as was customary, patrolling
at the Dover end of the cross-Channel barrage. The enemy's destroyers
were in two detachments. One detachment, consisting apparently of four
boats, passed, it was thought, round the western end of the barrage at
high tide close to the South Goodwin Buoy, and fired a few rounds at
Dover. The other detachment of two boats went towards Calais, and the
whole force seems to have met at a rendezvous prior to its return to its

The _Broke_ and _Swift_ intercepted them on their return, and after a
hot engagement succeeded in sinking two of the enemy vessels, one being
very neatly rammed by the _Broke_ (Captain E.R.G.R. Evans, C.B.), and
the second sunk by torpedoes. Some of the remaining four boats
undoubtedly suffered serious damage. Our flotilla leaders were handled
with conspicuous skill, and the enemy was taught a lesson which resulted
in his displaying even greater caution in laying his plans and evincing
a greater respect for the Dover force for many months.

The success of the _Broke_ and _Swift_ was received with a chorus of
praise, and this praise was undoubtedly most fully deserved, but once
again an example was furnished of the manner in which public attention
becomes riveted upon the dramatic moments of naval warfare whilst the
long and patient labour by which the dramatic moments are brought about
is ignored.

Thus in this case, but little attention was drawn to the years of
arduous work performed by the Sixth Flotilla in the Straits of Dover by
day and by night, in dense fogs, heavy gales and blinding snowstorms, in
waters which were constantly mined, and in the face of an enemy who was
bound to be in greatly superior force whenever he chose to attack.

Little thought was given either to the wonderful and most gallant work
carried out by the drifters of the Patrol, manned largely by fishermen,
and practically defenceless against attack by the German destroyers.

The careful organization which conduced to the successful action was
forgotten. Sir Reginald Bacon has told the story of all this work in his
book, and I need not repeat it. But let it be added that victory depends
less on such enheartening incidents, welcome as they are, than on the
patient and usually monotonous performance of duty at sea by day and by
night in all weathers, and on the skill in organization of the staff
ashore in foreseeing and forestalling enemy activity on a hundred and
one occasions of which the public necessarily knows nothing.

It has been stated that reliable information reached us in the autumn of
1917 that enemy submarines were passing the Straits of Dover in much
greater numbers than we had hitherto believed to be the case, and the
inefficiency of the net barrage in preventing the passage was apparent.

Early in the year (in February) Sir Reginald Bacon had put forward a
proposal for a deep minefield on the line Folkestone--Cape Grisnez, but
confined only to the portion of the line to the southward of the Varne

It was known that enemy submarines as a rule made this portion of their
passage submerged, and the minefield was designed to catch them.

The proposal was approved after personal discussion with Admiral Bacon,
and directions were given that the earliest supplies of the new pattern
mines were to be allocated for this service; these mines commenced to
become available early in the following November, and were immediately

Admiral Bacon suggested later the extension of the minefield to the
westward of the Varne Shoal, so as to make it a complete barrier across
the Channel. This was also approved and measures were taken to provide
the necessary mines.

The question of illuminating at night the area covered by the deep
minefield was also discussed at length with Sir Reginald Bacon. Various
proposals were considered, such as the use of searchlights on Cape
Grisnez and at Folkestone, together with the provision of small
light-ships fitted with searchlights and moored at intervals across the
Channel, and also the use of flares from patrol craft. Flares had
already been experimented with from kite balloons by the Anti-Submarine
Division of the War Staff, and they were found on trial to be efficient
when used from drifters, and of great use in illuminating the patrol
area so that the patrol craft might have better opportunities for
sighting submarines and the latter be forced to dive into the

A committee had been meanwhile appointed by the First Lord to consider
the question of the Dover Barrage in the light of the information we
then possessed as to the passage of enemy submarines through the Straits
of Dover. This committee visited Dover on several occasions, and its
members, some of whom were naval officers and some civilian engineers,
were shown the existing arrangements.

The committee, which considered at first the question of providing an
_obstruction_, ended by reporting that the existing barrage was
inefficient (a fact which had become apparent), and made proposals for
the establishment of the already approved minefield on the
Folkestone-Grisnez line. I do not recollect that any definite new ideas
were evolved as the outcome of the labours of this committee; some ideas
regarding the details of the minefield, particularly as to the best form
of obstruction that would catch submarines or other vessels on the
surface, were put forward, as also some proposals for erecting towers in
certain positions in the Straits. I do not think that these latter ever
matured. The manner in which the minefield should be illuminated at
night was discussed by the committee, and arrangements were made for the
provision of the vessels proposed by Admiral Bacon.

Some disagreement arose on the subject of the provision of the necessary
number of vessels for patrolling the minefield with a view to forcing
the submarines to dive. In my view a question of this nature was one to
be left in the hands of the Vice-Admiral at Dover, with experience on
the spot, after I had emphasized to him the extreme importance attached
to the provision of an ample number of patrol craft at the earliest
possible moment. Interference by the Admiralty in such a detail of a
flag officer's command would in my opinion have been dangerous and
incorrect, for so long as a flag officer retains the confidence of the
Board he must be left to work his command in the manner considered best
by him after having been informed of the approved general policy, since
he is bound to be acquainted with the local situation to a far greater
extent than any officer serving at the Admiralty or elsewhere. I
discussed the matter personally with Sir Reginald Bacon, and was
satisfied that he was aware of the views held by me and of the necessity
for providing the patrol craft even at the expense of other services, as
soon as he could make the requisite arrangements.

Sir Reginald Bacon's three years' experience at Dover was a great asset
in dealing with this matter, as with other questions connected with the
Command, more especially the difficult and embarrassing operations on
the Belgian coast. His ingenuity, originality, patience, power of
organization and his methodical preparations for carrying out operations
were always a great factor in ensuring success. These qualities were
never shown more clearly than during the preparations made for landing a
force of some 14,000 officers and men with tanks, artillery and
transport on the coast of Belgium under the very muzzles of the German
heavy coast artillery. It was estimated that the whole force would be
put on shore in a period of twenty minutes. The scheme is described in
full in Chapter IX. of the first volume of Sir Reginald Bacon's book on
the Dover Patrol. He had put the proposal before Admiral Sir Henry
Jackson, my predecessor, who had expressed his concurrence so far as the
naval portion of the scheme was concerned, and provided that the army
made the necessary advance in Flanders. When the scheme was shown to me
shortly after taking office as First Sea Lord I confess that I had some
doubts as to the possibility of manoeuvring two monitors, with a pontoon
550 feet in length secured ahead of and between the bows of the
monitors, but in view of the immense importance of driving the Germans
from the Belgian coast and the fact that this scheme, if practicable,
promised to facilitate greatly such an operation, approval was given for
the construction of a pontoon, and after witnessing the first trials of
the pontoon secured between two monitors which were themselves lashed
together, I became convinced that this part of the operation was
perfectly feasible. The remaining pontoons were therefore constructed,
and preparations commenced in the greatest secrecy for the whole

The next matter for trial was the arrangement devised by Sir R. Bacon
for making it possible for tanks to mount the sea wall. These trials
were carried out with great secrecy against a model of the sea wall
built at the Headquarters of the Tank Corps in France, and were quite
successful. It was necessary to see actual photographs of the tanks
mounting the coping at the top of the sea wall to be convinced of the
practicability of the scheme. A matter of great importance was the
necessity for obtaining accurate information of the slope of the beach
at the projected landing places in order that the practicability of
grounding the pontoon could be ascertained. This information Sir R.
Bacon, with his characteristic patience and ingenuity, obtained by means
of aerial photographs taken at various states of tide.

Finally, to gain exact knowledge of the rise and fall of the tide,
Admiral Bacon employed a submarine which submerged in the vicinity of
Nieuport and registered the height of water above her hull for a period
of twenty-four hours under conditions of spring and neap tides.

The preparations for the landing involved much collaboration with the
military authorities, and Sir Reginald Bacon was frequently at G.H.Q.
for the purpose. As soon as it was decided that the 1st Division was to
provide the landing party, conferences took place between Admiral Bacon
and General Sir Henry Rawlinson (now Lord Rawlinson), and I took the
opportunity of a visit paid by Sir H. Rawlinson to London to confer with
him myself. Subsequently a conference took place at the War Office at
which Sir Douglas Haig was present.

There was entire unanimity between the Navy and Army over the proposed
operation, and we greatly admired the manner in which the Sister Service
took up the work of preparing for the landing. Secrecy was absolutely
vital to success, as the whole scheme was dependent on the operation
being a surprise, more particularly in the selection of the landing
place. Admiral Bacon describes in his book the methods by which secrecy
was preserved. As time passed, and the atrocious weather in Flanders
during the summer of 1917 prevented the advance of our Army, it became
more and more difficult to preserve secrecy; but although the fact that
some operation of the kind was in preparation gradually became known to
an increasing number of people, it is safe to say that the enemy never
realized until long after the operation had been abandoned its real
nature or the locality selected for it.

Some officers with experience of the difficulties encountered during the
landings at Gallipoli expressed doubts of the practicability of the
operation in the face of the heavy fire from large guns and from machine
guns which might be expected, but the circumstances were so different
from those at Gallipoli that neither Sir Reginald Bacon nor I shared
these doubts. The heavy bombardment of the coast batteries by our own
shore guns, which had been greatly strengthened for the purpose, the
rapidity of the landing, the use of a dense smoke screen, the fact of
the landing being a complete surprise, the use of tanks for dealing with
hostile machine guns, the interruption to the enemy's shore
communications by heavy artillery fire, and the bombardment by monitors
of the coast well to the eastward of the landing place as a feint, were
all new factors, and all promised to assist towards success.

Of the supreme importance of the operation there could be no question.
Ever since 1914 the Navy had been pressing for the recapture of the
ports on the Belgian coast, and they could only be taken by means of a
combined operation. Sir John French (now Field-Marshal Viscount French)
himself had in the early days of the war pointed, out the great
importance of securing the coast, but circumstances beyond his control
were too powerful for him.

It was in these circumstances that the decision to undertake the
operation was made, and when it became necessary to abandon it owing to
the inability of the Army to co-operate the intense disappointment felt
by all those who had worked so hard to ensure its success can be

The Harwich force, consisting of the 5th Light Cruiser Squadron and the
flotilla of destroyers, was the only other British force stationed in
south-eastern waters if we except the local craft at the Nore. The 5th
Light Cruiser Squadron and the flotilla were under the command of
Commodore (now Rear-Admiral) Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt, an officer whose
vessels were, if we except the Dover patrol, more frequently in contact
with the enemy than any other British force in Home waters. Sir Reginald
Tyrwhitt had several functions to perform:

(1) It was always hoped that he would be able to join forces with the
Grand Fleet should events foreshadow a meeting with the High Sea Fleet.

(2) We depended very largely on him for reconnaissance work in the
southern part of the North Sea and into the German Bight.

(3) It fell to his lot as a rule to provide the covering force for
aerial operations carried out from seaplane carriers in southern waters.

(4) His force was best placed to cut off any enemy light craft that
might be located in southern waters and to attack Zeppelins at sea on
their return from raids over England.

(5) He was called upon almost weekly to cover the passage of the convoy
of merchant ships between the Thames and Holland known as the "Dutch

(6) He was constantly called upon the provide reinforcements for the
Dover Patrol or to assist in operations carried out by the latter force.

These miscellaneous duties involved a great deal of work for the Harwich
force and particularly for the destroyers.

The necessity for continually providing reinforcements from the Harwich
force for the Dover Patrol was a standing handicap to Sir Reginald
Tyrwhitt's operations; he took the matter philosophically, although I
always realized how difficult it made his work at times, and whenever,
as was frequent, combined operations were carried out by the two forces,
the greatest harmony prevailed between the Commands.

At the commencement of 1917 the Harwich force comprised 8 light
cruisers, 2 flotilla leaders and 45 destroyers. During the year new
vessels were either added to it or replaced older craft which were
withdrawn for other services, and at the end of the year the force
included 9 light cruisers, 4 flotilla leaders and 24 destroyers.

The force was constantly operating in the outer waters of the Heligoland
Bight to seaward of our minefields. The objects of the presence of our
ships in these waters, in addition to reconnaissance work and aerial
operations, were:

(a) To intercept any enemy light forces which might be intending to
operate off our coasts or which might be on passage between German

(b) To surprise and attack enemy minesweeping vessels.

(c) To destroy Zeppelins either on reconnaissance or raiding work.

(d) To capture enemy merchant ships trading between Dutch and German
ports, or neutrals with contraband trading to Germany.

The opportunities that were given to the force under heading (a) were
exceedingly rare during the year 1917, when even the light forces of the
High Sea Fleet were content to remain almost constantly in port except
when engaged in the operations in the Baltic, and excepting also on the
two occasions on which attacks were made on the Scandinavian convoy; but
a portion of the Harwich force succeeded on one occasion in intercepting
a flotilla of German destroyers _en route_ to Zeebrugge from German
ports with the result that one destroyer was seriously damaged and
forced into the Dutch port of Ymuiden and another either sunk or badly

Forces from Harwich also succeeded in capturing or sinking twenty-four
merchant ships trading between Antwerp and Dutch ports and Germany
during the year, but the main result of the operations of this force was
shown in the refusal of the enemy to risk his vessels except under cover
of darkness in the area in which the Harwich force worked.

The duty of protecting the Dutch convoy imposed a heavy strain upon the
Harwich force. During the year 1917, 520 eastbound and 511 westbound
vessels were convoyed between Dutch and British ports with the loss of
only four ships by submarine attack, one by destroyer attack, and one by
mine. The price paid by the force for this success was the loss of four
destroyers by mines, and one by collision, and the damage of three
destroyers by mine or torpedo, and of five destroyers and one light
cruiser by collision. The frequent collisions were due to the conditions
under which the traffic was carried out at night without lights, and to
the prevalence of fogs. The procedure adopted by the force was
frequently changed as it necessarily became known to the Germans.

The extraordinarily small losses in the convoys were a very great
tribute to the handling of the protecting force and to the organization
in Holland for arranging sailings, when it is borne in mind that it was
almost impossible to prevent leakage of information to German agents
once the time of sailing was given out, and that the convoys were open
to attack from destroyers and submarines operating either from Zeebrugge
or from the Ems or other German ports. The orders of course emanated
from the Admiralty, and of all the great work achieved by Vice-Admiral
Sir Henry Oliver, the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, during his
service at the Admiralty in the year 1917 and indeed in the two
preceding years, the success attending the work of this convoy was
certainly not the least.

It is difficult to put into words the great admiration which I felt for
Sir Henry Oliver's work throughout the war. Our association commenced
during my command of the Grand Fleet, but became of course much closer
at the Admiralty, and during my service there his assistance was of
immense help to me and of incalculable value to the nation.

It was fortunate indeed for the Allied cause that he held such important
Staff appointments during the most critical periods of the war.



The foregoing chapters have been devoted to describing the measures that
were devised or put into force or that were in course of preparation
during the year 1917 to deal with the unrestricted submarine warfare
against merchant shipping adopted by Germany and Austria in February of
that year. It now remains to state, so far as my information admits, the
effect of those measures.

British anti-submarine measures were almost non-existent at the
commencement of the war. Sir Arthur Wilson, when in command of the
Channel Fleet in the early days of the submarine, had experimented with
nets as an anti-submarine measure, and shortly before the war submarines
were exercised at stalking one another in a submerged condition; also
the question of employing a light gun for use against the same type of
enemy craft when on the surface had been considered, and some of our
submarines had actually been provided with such a gun of small calibre.
Two patterns of towed explosive sweeps had also been tried and adopted,
but it cannot be said that we had succeeded in finding any satisfactory
anti-submarine device, although many brains were at work on the subject,
and therefore the earliest successes against enemy submarines were
principally achieved by ramming tactics. Gradually other devices were
thought out and adopted; these comprised drift and stationary nets
fitted with mines, the depth charge, decoy ships of various natures,
gunfire from patrol craft and gunfire from armed merchant ships, as well
as the numerous devices mentioned in Chapter III.

Except at the very commencement of the war, when production of craft in
Germany was slow, presumably as a result of the comparatively small
number under construction when war broke out, the British measures
failed until towards the end of 1917 in sinking submarines at a rate
approaching in any degree that at which the Germans were producing them.

Thus Germany started the war with 28 submarines; five were added and
five were lost during 1914, leaving the number still 28 at the
commencement of 1915.

During 1915, so far as our knowledge went, 54 were added and only 19
were lost, the total at the commencement of 1916 being therefore 63.

During 1916 it is believed that 87 submarines were added and 25 lost,
leaving the total at the commencement of 1917 at 125.

During 1917 our information was that 78 submarines were added and 66
lost, leaving the total at the end of the year at 137.

The losses during 1917, given quarterly, indicate the increasing
effectiveness of our anti-submarine measures. These losses, so far as we
know them, were:

First quarter ... 10    Third quarter ... 20
Second quarter ... 12   Fourth quarter ... 24

During 1918, according to Admiral Scheer ("Germany's High Sea Fleet In
the World War," page 335), 74 submarines were added to the fleet in the
period January to October. The losses during this year up to the date of
the Armistice totalled 70, excluding those destroyed by the Germans on
the evacuation of Bruges and those blown up by them at Pola and Cattaro.
Taken quarterly the losses were:

First quarter ... 18    Third quarter ... 21
Second quarter ... 26   Fourth quarter (to
                        date of Armistice) ... 6

It will be seen from the foregoing figures for 1917 and 1918 that the
full result of the anti-submarine measures inaugurated in 1917 and
previous years was being felt in the last quarter of 1917, the results
for 1918 being very little in advance of those for the previous

According to our information, as shown by the figures given above, the
Germans had completed by October, 1918, a total of 326 submarines of all
classes, exclusive of those destroyed by them in November at Bruges,
Pola and Cattaro.

Admiral von Capelle informed the Reichstag Committee that a total of 810
was ordered before and during the war. It follows from that statement
that over 400 must have been under construction or contemplated at the
time of the Armistice.

It is understood that the number of submarines actually building at the
end of 1918 was, however, only about 200, which perhaps was the total
capacity of the German shipyards at one time.

At the risk of repetition it is as well to repeat here the figures
giving the quarterly losses of merchant ships during 1917 and 1918, as
they indicate in another and effective way the influence of the
anti-submarine measures.

These figures are:


                British.        Foreign.        Total.
1st quarter      911,840         707,533       1,519,373
2nd quarter    1,361,870         875,064       2,236,934
3rd quarter      952,938         541,535       1,494,473
4th quarter      782,887         489,954       1,272,843


                British.        Foreign.        Total.
1st quarter      697,668         445,668       1,143,336
2nd quarter      630,862         331,145         962,007
3rd quarter      512,030         403,483         915,513
4th quarter       83,952          93,582         177,534

       Figures for 4th quarter are for Month of October only.

The decline of the losses of British shipping was progressive from the
second quarter of 1917; in the third quarter of 1918 the reduction in
the tonnage sunk became very marked, and suggested definitely the
approaching end of the submarine menace.

The fact that during the second quarter of 1918 the world's output of
tonnage overtook the world's losses was another satisfactory feature.
The output for 1917 and 1918 is shown in the following table:

                        United         Dominions,
                        Kingdom        Allied and       Total for
                        Output.        Neutral          World.
1st quarter             246,239        340,807          587,046
2nd quarter             249,331        435,717          685,048
3rd quarter             248,283        426,778          675,061
4th quarter             419,621        571,010          990,631

1st quarter             320,280        550,037          870,317
2nd quarter             442,966        800,308        1,243,274
3rd quarter             411,395        972,735        1,384,130
4th quarter, Oct. only  136,100        375,000          511,100

It will be noticed that by the last quarter of 1918 the output of
shipping in the United Kingdom alone had overtaken the losses of British

It is not possible to give exact information as to the particular means
by which the various German submarines were disposed of, but it is
believed that of the 186 vessels mentioned as having been lost by the
Germans at least thirty-five fell victims to the depth charge, large
orders for which had been placed by the Admiralty in 1917, and it is
probably safe to credit mines, of which there was a large and rapidly
increasing output throughout 1917, with the same number--thirty-five--a
small proportion of these losses being due to the mines in the North Sea
Barrage. Our own submarines accounted for some nineteen.

Our destroyers and patrol craft of all natures sank at least twenty by
means of gunfire or the ram, and some four or five more by the use of
towed sweeps of various natures. Our decoy ships sank about twelve; four
German submarines are known to have been sunk by being rammed by
men-of-war other than destroyers, four by merchant ships, and about ten
by means of our nets. It is fairly certain that at least seven were
accounted for by aerial attack. Six were interned, some as the result of
injury after action with our vessels.

The total thus accounted for is 156. It was always difficult to obtain
exact information of the fate of submarines, particularly in such cases
as mine attack, and the figures, therefore, do not cover the whole of
the German losses which we estimated at 185.



The anti-submarine measures initiated during the year 1917 and continued
throughout the year 1918, as well as those in force in the earlier years
of the war, depended very much for their success on the work carried out
by the Admiralty Departments responsible for design and production, and
apart from this these departments, during the year 1917, carried out a
great deal of most valuable work in the direction of improving the
efficiency of the material with which the vessels of the Grand Fleet and
other warships were equipped.

Early in 1917 certain changes were made in the Naval Ordnance
Department. When Captain Dreyer took up the post of Director of Naval
Ordnance in succession to Rear-Admiral Morgan Singer on March 1, the
opportunity was seized of removing the Torpedo Department, which had
hitherto been a branch of the Naval Ordnance Department, from the
control of the Director of Naval Ordnance, and Rear-Admiral Fitzherbert
was appointed as Director of Torpedoes and Mines, with two assistant
Directors under him, one for torpedoes and the other for mines. It had
for some time been apparent to me that the torpedo and mining work of
the Fleet required a larger and more independent organization, and the
intention to adopt a very extensive mining policy accentuated the
necessity of appointing a larger staff and according it greater
independence. The change also relieved the D.N.O. of some work and gave
him more liberty to concentrate on purely ordnance matters.

Captain Dreyer, from his experience as Flag Captain in the _Iron Duke_,
was well aware of the directions in which improvement in armament
efficiency was necessary, and a variety of questions were taken up by
him with great energy.

Some of the more important items of the valuable work achieved by the
Naval Ordnance Department during the year 1917, in addition to the
provision of various anti-submarine measures mentioned in Chapter III,

(1) The introduction of a new armour-piercing shell of far greater
efficiency than that previously in use; the initial designs for these
shells were produced in the drawing office of the Department of the
Director of Naval Ordnance.

(2) The introduction of star shell.

(3) The improvement of the arrangements made, after our experience in
the Jutland action, for preventing the flash of exploding shell from
being communicated to the magazines.

Taking these in order, the _New Armour-piercing Shell_ would have
produced a very marked effect had a Fleet action been fought in 1918.
Twelve thousand of these new pattern shell had been ordered by November,
1917, after a long series of experiments, and a considerable number were
in an advanced stage of construction by the end of the year. With our
older pattern of shell, as used by the Fleet at Jutland and in earlier
actions, there was no chance of the burst of the shell, when fired at
battle range, taking place inboard, after penetrating the side armour of
modern German capital ships, in such a position that the fragments might
be expected to reach and explode the magazines. A large proportion of
the shell burst on the face of the armour, the remainder while passing
through it. In the case of the new shell, which was certainly twice as
efficient and which would penetrate the armour without breaking up, the
fragments would have a very good chance of reaching the magazines of
even the latest German ships.

The greatest credit was due to the Ordnance Department and to our
enterprising manufacturers for the feat which they achieved. We had
pressed for a shell of this nature as the result of our experience
during the Jutland action, and it was badly wanted.

We had experienced the need for an efficient _Star Shell_ both in the
Grand Fleet and in southern waters, and after the Jutland action the
attention of the Admiralty had been drawn by me to the efficiency of the
German shell of this type. In the early part of 1917, during one of the
short night bombardments of the south coast by German destroyers, some
German star shell, unexploded, reached the shore. Directions were at
once given to copy these shell and not to waste time by trying to
improve upon them, a procedure dear to technical minds but fatal when
time is of the first importance. Success was soon attained, and star
shell were issued during 1917 to all our ships, the vessels of the Dover
and Harwich patrol force and the shore battery at the North Foreland
being the first supplied.

Important experiments were carried out in 1917 on board H.M.S.
_Vengeance_ to test the _Anti-flash_ arrangements with which the Fleet
had been equipped as the result of certain of our ships being blown up
in the Jutland action. Valuable information was obtained from these
experiments and the arrangements were improved accordingly.

The work of the Torpedo and Mining Department was also of great value
during 1917. The principal task lay in perfecting the new pattern mine
and arranging for its production in great numbers, in overcoming the
difficulties experienced with the older pattern mines, and in arranging
for a greatly increased production of explosives for use in mines, depth
charges, etc.

These projects were in hand when the new organization involving the
appointment of an Admiralty Controller was adopted.

The circumstances in which this great and far-reaching change in
organization was brought about were as follows. In the spring of 1917
proposals were made to the Admiralty by the then Prime Minister that
some of the work carried out at that time by the Third Sea Lord should
be transferred to a civilian. At first it was understood by us that the
idea was to re-institute the office of additional Civil Lord, which
office was at the time held by Sir Francis Hopwood (now Lord
Southborough), whose services, however, were being utilized by the
Foreign Office, and who had for this reason but little time to devote to
Admiralty work. To this proposal no objection was raised.

At a later stage, however, it became evident that the proposal was more
far reaching and that the underlying idea was to place a civilian in
charge of naval material generally and of all shipbuilding, both naval
and mercantile. Up to the spring of 1916 mercantile shipbuilding had
been carried out under the supervision of the Board of Trade, but when
the office of Shipping Controller was instituted this work had been
placed under that Minister, who was assisted by a committee of
shipbuilders termed the "Shipbuilding Advisory Committee." Statistics
show that good results as regards mercantile ship production were not
obtained under either the Board of Trade or the Shipping Controller, one
reason being that the supply of labour and material, which were very
important factors, was a matter of competition between the claims of the
Navy and those of the Mercantile Marine, and another the fact that many
men had been withdrawn from the shipyards for service in the Army. There
was especial difficulty in providing labour for the manufacture of
machinery, and at one time the Admiralty went so far as to lend
artificers to assist in the production of engines. The idea of placing
the production of ships for both services under one head appealed to and
was supported by the Admiralty. The next step was a proposal to the
Admiralty that Sir Eric Geddes, at that time the head of the military
railway organization in France with the honorary rank of Major-General,
should become Admiralty Controller. This would place him in charge of
all shipbuilding for both services as well as that portion of the work
of the Third Sea Lord which related to armament production. I was
requested to see Sir Eric whilst attending a conference in Paris with a
view to his being asked to take up the post of Admiralty Controller.
This I did after discussing the matter with some of the heads of the War
Office Administration and members of General Headquarters in France.

I learned from Sir Eric Geddes that he felt capable of undertaking the
work on the understanding that he was assured of my personal support; he
said that experience in his railway work in France had shown the
difficulty of taking over duties hitherto performed by officers, and
stated that it could not have been carried through without the strong
support of the Commander-in-Chief; for this reason he considered he must
be assured of my support at the Admiralty. In view of the importance
attached to combining under one administration the work of both naval
and mercantile shipbuilding for the reasons already stated, and
influenced in some degree by the high opinion held of Sir Eric Geddes by
the Prime Minister, I came to the conclusion that his appointment would
be of benefit to Admiralty work, and therefore gave him the assurance
and said that I would do my best to smooth over any difficulties with
the existing Admiralty officials, whether naval or technical.

In these circumstances Sir Eric Geddes was offered the post of Admiralty
Controller by Sir Edward Carson, then First Lord, and accepted it. It
was arranged that a naval officer should continue to hold the post of
Third Sea Lord and that he should be jointly responsible, so far as the
Navy was concerned, for all _design_ work on its technical side, whether
for ships, ordnance material, mines, torpedoes, etc., etc., whilst the
Controller became entirely responsible for _production_. It was obvious
that goodwill and tact would be required to start this new organization,
which was decidedly complicated, and that the post of Third Sea Lord
would be difficult to fill. At the request of Sir Eric Geddes
Rear-Admiral Lionel Halsey, C.B., who at that time was Fourth Sea Lord,
was asked if he would become Third Sea Lord in the new organization. He
consented and was appointed. When the detailed organization, drawn up to
meet the views of Sir E. Geddes, was examined by the naval officers
responsible for armament work, strong objections were raised to that
part of the organization which affected their responsibility for the
control and approval of designs and of inspection.

Sir Eric held the view that inspection should come under the officials
in charge of production and that the designing staff should also be
under him, the designs being drawn up to meet the views of the naval
officers and finally approved by them. Personally I saw no _danger_ in
the proposals regarding design, because the responsibility of the naval
officer for final approval was recognized; but there was a certain
possibility of delay if the naval technical officer lost control over
the designing staff. I fully agreed with the criticisms on the subject
of inspection, the argument being that only naval officers accustomed to
_use_ the ordnance material could know the dangers that might arise from
faulty inspection, and that the producer had temptations in his path,
especially under war conditions, to make inspection subservient to
rapidity of production. Sir Eric Geddes finally waived his objections.
He informed me that he based his arguments largely on his experience at
the Ministry of Munitions, with which he had been associated earlier in
the war. The contention of the naval officers at the Admiralty was that
even if the organization proposed was found to be workable for the Army,
it would not be satisfactory for the Navy, as in our case it was
essential that the responsibility for approval of design and for
inspection should be independent of the producer, whether the producer
was a Government official or a contractor. Apart from questions of
general principle in this matter, accidents to ordnance material in the
Navy, or the production of inferior ammunition, may involve, and have
involved, the most serious results, even the complete loss of
battleships with their crews, as the result of a magazine explosion or
the bursting of a heavy gun. I could not find that the organization at
the Ministry of Munitions had, even in its early days, placed design,
inspection and production under one head; inspection and design had each
its own head and were separate from production. In any case in 1918 the
Ministry of Munitions reverted to the Admiralty system of placing the
responsibility for design and inspection under an artillery expert who
was neither a manufacturer nor responsible for production.

The matters referred to above may appear unimportant to the civilian
reader, but any question relating to the efficiency of its material is
of such paramount importance to the fighting efficiency of the Navy that
it is necessary to mention it with a view to the avoidance of future

The new organization resulted in the creation of a very large
administrative staff for the purpose of accelerating the production of
ships, ordnance material, mines, etc. Indeed, the increase in numbers
was so great that it became necessary to find additional housing room,
and the offices of the Board of Education were taken over for the
purpose. It was felt that the increase in staff, though it involved, of
course, very heavy expenditure, would be justified if it resulted in
increased rapidity of production. It will be readily understood that
such an immense change in organization, one which I had promised to see
through personally, and which was naturally much disliked by all the
Admiralty departments, threw a vast volume of extra work on my
shoulders, work which had no connexion with the operations of war, and
this too at a period when the enemy's submarine campaign was at its
height. I should not have undertaken it but for the hope that the change
would result in greatly increased production, particularly of warships
and merchant ships.

The success of this new organization can only be measured by the results
obtained, and by this standard, if it were possible to eliminate some of
the varying and incalculable factors, we should be able to judge the
extent to which the change was justified. It was a change for which,
under pressure, I bore a large share of responsibility, and it involved
replacing, in the middle of a great war, an organization built up by
experts well acquainted with naval needs by one in which a considerable
proportion of the personnel had no previous experience of the work. The
change was, of course, an experiment; the danger lay in the fact that,
until technical and Admiralty experience has been gained, even men of
the greatest ability in other walks of life may find it difficult to
produce satisfactory results even if there are no limits imposed on the
size of the Staff which assists them.

The question of production is best examined under various headings and
the results under the old Admiralty organization compared with those
under the new, although comparison is admittedly difficult owing to
changing conditions.


Under the Admiralty organization existing up to May, 1917, the Third Sea
Lord--as the Controller was termed when changes were introduced by Mr.
Churchill in 1912--was head of the Departments of the Director of Naval
Construction and Engineer in Chief, and of that part of the work of the
Director of Naval Ordnance which dealt with the design and production of
guns and gun mountings. Under the new organization a civilian Controller
became responsible for production, the Third Sea Lord being associated
with him on technical matters of design.

A special department for warship production and repairs was set up under
a Deputy Controller, the Third Sea Lord having no authority over this
department except by his association with the Controller.

Under the old organization it had been the custom during the war for the
Third Sea Lord to give to the Board and to the Commander-in-Chief of the
Grand Fleet a personal forecast of the anticipated dates of completion
of all warships under construction. My experience whilst in command of
the Grand Fleet had been that this personal forecast was generally
fairly accurate for six months ahead.

As an example it may be stated that in the first four months of 1917 the
delivery of destroyers _was within one of the forecast_ made in October,
1916, four vessels of the class being slightly behind and three ahead of
the forecast. Of thirteen "E" class submarines forecasted in October,
1916, for delivery by March, 1917, all except two were delivered by
April; of twelve "K" class submarines forecasted for delivery in the
same period, all except three were delivered by April, 1917. It should
be stated that these "K" class submarines were vessels of a new type,
involving new problems of some difficulty.

On the other hand there was considerable delay in the completion of a
number of the thirty "P" boats forecasted in October, 1916, for delivery
during the first seven months of 1917, and the April forecast showed
that only twenty out of the thirty would be delivered during that
period. There was also some delay in the delivery of twin screw
minesweepers, twenty of which were shown in the forecast of October,
1916, as due for delivery in the first six months of 1917. The April,
1917, forecast showed that six had been delivered or would complete in
April, ten more would complete within the estimated period, and the four
remaining would be overdue and would not be delivered until July or

These figures show the degree of reliance which could be placed on the
personal forecasts of the Third Sea Lord under the old organization. It
is, of course, a fact that accurate forecasts do not _necessarily_ mean
that the rate of production is satisfactory, but only that the forecast
is to be depended on. We were never at all satisfied with the rate of
production, either under the old or the new organization. Accuracy of
forecast was, however, of great use from the Staff point of view in
allotting new ships to the various commands and in planning operations.

To turn now to the figures given by the Admiralty Controller under the
new organization. The table below shows the forecasts ("F") given in
June, 1917, and the deliveries ("D") of different classes of warships
month by month during the period of July to November of that year:

   Class of   | July. |  Aug. | Sept. | Oct.  |  Nov. | Deficit in
Vessel.       | F | D | F | D | F | D | F | D | F | D | 5 months
Flotilla      |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  Leaders     |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |   |
  and T.B.D's.| 5 | 2 | 7 | 8 | 8 | 5 | 5 | 5 | 6 | 6 |     4
Submarines    | 2 | 0 | 4 | 4 | 5 | 1 | 3 | 3 | 6 | 1 |    11
Sloops        | 3 | 2 | 5 | 2 | 4 | 2 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 7 |     5
"P." Boats    | 6 | 5 | 6 | 5 | 3 | 3 | 3 | 2 | 1 | 1 |     3

Amongst vessels which were classed as auxiliaries the figures were:

   Class of   | July. |  Aug. | Sept. | Oct.  |  Nov. | Deficit in
Vessel.       | F | D | F | D | F | D | F | D | F | D | 5 months
Minesweepers  | 5 | 3 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 1 | 3 | 2 | 2 | 0 |     7
Trawlers      |25 |18 |23 |14 |30 |13 |27 |28 |33 |24 |    41

It will be seen from these figures that the forecast of June was
inaccurate even for the three succeeding months and that the total
deficit in the five months was considerable, except in the case of
T.B.D.'s and "P" boats.

The most disappointing figures were those relating to submarines,
trawlers and minesweepers. The case of the submarines may be put in
another way, thus:

In the June forecast twenty-six submarines were forecasted for delivery
during the period July to the end of December, the dates of three,
however, being somewhat uncertain; of this total of twenty-six, _only
nine were actually delivered_. Of the remainder, seven were shown in a
November forecast as delayed for four months, two for five months, and
one for nine months.

The attention of the Production Departments was continually directed to
the very serious effect which the delay was producing on our
anti-submarine measures, and the First Lord, Sir Eric Geddes, was
informed of the difficult position which was arising. In the early part
of December I pointed out to the Third Sea Lord and the Admiralty
Controller, Sir Allan Anderson, that it was obviously impossible for the
Naval Staff to frame future policy unless some dependence could be
placed on the forecast of deliveries. The Controller in reply stated
that accurate forecasts were most difficult, and proposed a discussion
with the Third Sea Lord and myself, but I had left the Admiralty before
the discussion took place.

The delays, as will be seen from the tables given, were most serious in
the case of vessels classed as auxiliaries. Sir Thomas Bell, who
possessed great experience of shipbuilding in a private capacity, was at
the head of the Department of the Deputy Controller for Dockyards and
Shipbuilding, and the Director of Warship Production was a distinguished
Naval constructor. The Deputy Controller of Auxiliary Shipbuilding was
an officer lent from the War Office, whose previous experience had lain,
I believe, largely in the railway world; some of his assistants and
staff were, however, men with experience of shipbuilding.

When I became First Sea Lord at the end of 1916 the new building
programme, which had received the sanction of the Cabinet, was as

 8 Flotilla leaders.           500 Trawlers.
65 T.B.D.'s.                    60 Submarines.
34 Sloops.                       4 Seaplane carriers.
48 Screw minesweepers.          60 Boom defence vessels.
16 Paddle            "

During the early part of 1917 it was decided to substitute 56 screw
minesweepers and 8 paddle sweepers for the approved programme of this
class of vessel and to add another 50 screw minesweepers to meet the
growing mine menace, as well as to substitute 115 drifters for 50 of the
trawlers, and to request the Canadian Government to build 36 trawlers
and 100 drifters mainly for use in Canadian waters. It was also decided
to lay down 36 mercantile decoy ships and 12 tugs, and to build 56 motor
skimmers on the lines of the coastal motor boats, which were then
showing their value off the Belgian coast. The programme therefore, in
May, 1917, was as follows:

Flotilla leaders                       8
T.B.D.'s                              65
Patrol boats                           6
Sloops                                34
Minesweepers (screw)                  56
    "        (paddle)                  8
Additional twin-screw minesweepers    50
Submarines                            60
Trawlers                             450
Drifters                             115
Canadian trawlers                     36
    "    drifters                    100
Boom defence vessels                  60
Mercantile decoy ships                36
Seaplane carriers                      4
Tugs                                  12
Motor skimmers                        56

Meanwhile intelligence had been received which indicated that Germany
was building such a considerable number of light cruisers as to
jeopardize our supremacy in this class of vessel, and it was decided by
the Board that we ought to build eight more light cruisers even at the
cost of appropriating the steel intended for the construction of six
merchant ships.

Further, the German submarine programme was developing with great
rapidity, and our own submarines of the "L" class were taking a very
long time to build. It was therefore proposed to substitute eighteen
additional "H" class submarines for four of the "L" class, as the
vessels of the "H" class were capable of more rapid construction, thus
making the total number of submarines on order 74. Approval was also
sought for the addition of 24 destroyers and four "P" boats to the
programme, bringing the number of destroyers on order up to a total of

The programme was approved, a slight change being made in the matter of
the seaplane carriers by fitting out one of the "Raleigh" class of
cruisers as a seaplane vessel in order to obtain an increased number of
vessels of this type more rapidly than by building. Later in the year
the cruiser _Furious_ was also converted into a seaplane carrier, and
she carried out much useful work in 1918.


A greatly increased output of merchant ships had been anticipated under
the new organization, which placed mercantile construction under the
Admiralty Controller instead of under the Ministry of Shipping. It was
expected that the difficulties due, under the previous arrangement, to
competing claims for steel and labour would vanish with very beneficial

It was, as previously stated, mainly with this object that the Admiralty
had agreed to the change. The start was promising enough. After a review
of the situation hopes were held out that during the second half of 1917
an addition of about 1,000,000 tons of shipping from the shipyards
within the United Kingdom would be effected. This figure, indeed, was
given to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister on August 16, 1917.

On comparing this figure with that of the first half of the year (a
total of about 484,000 tons) there was distinct cause for gratification;
it is right to state that Admiralty officials who had previously been
watching mercantile shipbuilding regarded the estimate as very
optimistic. Further, it was anticipated by the then Admiralty
Controller, Sir Eric Geddes, that during the year 1918, with some
addition to the labour strength, a total output of nearly two million
tons was possible, provided steel was forthcoming, whilst with
considerably greater additions to the labour strength and to the supply
of steel, and with the help of the National Shipyards proposed by the
Controller, the total output might even reach three million tons.

The actual results fell very short of these forecasts, the total output
for the second half of the year was only 620,000 tons, the monthly
totals in gross tonnage for the whole year being:

January        46,929        July         81,188
February       78,436        August      100,900
March         115,654        September    60,685
April          67,536        October     145,844
May            68,083        November    158,826
June          108,397        December    112,486

In January, 1918, the total dropped to 58,568 tons, and in February was
only 100,038 tons. In March it was announced that Lord Pirie would take
the position of Controller General of Merchant Shipbuilding. The
subsequent results in the direction of output of merchant ships do not
properly come within the scope of this book, which is intended to deal
only with work during the year 1917, but it may be of interest to give
here the output month by month. It was as follows:

January        58,568        July        141,948
February      100,038        August      124,675
March         161,674        September   144,772
April         111,533        October     136,000
May           197,274        November    105,093
June          134,159        December    118,276

Total for the year          1,534,110

It will be seen that the results for 1918 were an improvement on those
for 1917, the exact figure for that year being 1,163,474 tons; these
results, however, fell very short of the optimistic estimates given in
July, 1917.


The Controller's Department undoubtedly succeeded in the work of
improving the arrangements for the repair of merchant ships. This is
shown by an analysis of the total number of vessels that _completed_
repairs during various months.

In August, 1917, the number was 382, with a tonnage of 1,183,000. In
November the figure became 542 ships, with a tonnage of 1,509,000. There
remained under repair at the end of August 326 ships, and at the end of
November 350 ships, these figures indicating that the greater number of
completions was not due to the smaller number of vessels being damaged
or the damages being less in extent.

Considerable credit is due to the Department for this successful
acceleration of repair work which naturally had a great influence on the
shipping situation.


It was not, I think, realized either by the Government or by the
civilians brought into the Admiralty during the year 1917 that there was
a very great difference between the Admiralty and the War Office
organizations in the matter of production of material, nor was it
recognized that naval officers are by their training and experience
better fitted to deal with such matters on a large scale than are
military officers, except perhaps officers in the Artillery and Royal
Engineers. Whatever may be the case in the future, the Navy in pre-war
days was so much more dependent on material than the Army as to make
questions relating to naval material of far greater importance that was
the case with military material. This fact is apt to be forgotten by
those writers on naval affairs who think that an intimate knowledge of
questions relating to naval material _and its use_ is of little
importance. I trust that this belief will never become general in the
service, for the naval officer who is not familiar with the design and
production of material is handicapped when he comes to use it.

Ignorance of the great experience of the Admiralty in handling problems
of production and of the past success of Admiralty methods in this
respect gave rise to a good deal of misconception. The fact that it had
been necessary to form a separate Ministry (that of Munitions) to deal
with the production of war material for the Army probably fostered the
idea that matters at the Admiralty should be altered in a similar

The post of Deputy Controller of Armament Production was created under
the new organization, and all matters concerning the production of guns,
gun-mountings, projectiles, cordite, torpedoes, mines, paravanes and all
other war material was placed under him. I have dealt earlier in this
chapter with the questions of design and inspection over which some
disagreement arose.

I was not conscious that the new organization succeeded in speeding up
armament production during 1917, and during the latter part of the year
I was much concerned with the delays in ordnance production as revealed
during 1917 and as exposed by the forecasts for 1918.

It is very possible, on the other hand, that in the case of mines the
results were good. The old Admiralty organization had not been equipped
to deal with such an immense number of mines as were on order, and
although a large organization for their production was started by Sir
Lionel Halsey, when Fourth Sea Lord, with the assistance of Admiral
Fitzherbert and Captain Litchfield-Speer, it had not been sufficiently
long at work for an opinion to be given as to whether the results in
production would have been as good as under the D.C.A.P.

In considering the whole question of production during the year 1917 it
should be borne in mind that very extensive orders were placed in the
early part of that year for guns, gun-mountings, mines, warships of the
smaller class and patrol craft, and that if we compare only the actual
output for 1917 with that of previous years without taking the above
fact into account, we might form an incorrect impression as to the
success of the organization for production. For instance, in the last
quarter of 1917, 1,515 guns of all calibres were delivered, as against
1,101 in the first quarter; in the month of November 1,335 mines of all
natures and 2,078 depth charges were filled, as compared with 625 mines
and 542 depth charges in July. These figures were the result of the
large orders placed early in the year, and it was not until 1918 that
the full fruits of the orders placed in 1917 became apparent. The
figures for that year, however, are not at my disposal.

One great advantage which resulted from the new organization, viz., the
creation of a Directorate of Materials and Priority, must be mentioned.
This Directorate controlled the distribution of all steel for all
services and produced a very beneficial effect on the issue of supplies
of steel to shipbuilders. The immense increase in staff which resulted
from the institution of the office of Admiralty Controller is exhibited
in the lists of staff in 1918 as compared with the staff in the early
part of 1917.



The main effort of the Navy during the year 1917 was directed towards
the defeat of the enemy's submarines, since the Central Powers confined
their naval effort almost entirely to this form of warfare, but many
other problems occupied our attention at the Admiralty, and some of
these may be mentioned.

Considerable discussion took place in the early part of the year on the
subject of the policy to be pursued in the Eastern theatre of war, and
naval opinion on the possibility of effecting a landing in force at
different points was invited and given. It need only be said here that
the matter was brought forward more than once, and that the situation
from the naval point of view was always clear. The feasible landing
places so far as we were concerned were unsuited to the military
strategy at that period; the time required to collect or build the great
number of lighters, horse boats, etc., for the strong force required was
not available, and it was a sheer impossibility to provide in a short
period all the small craft needed for an operation of magnitude, whilst
the provision of the necessary anti-submarine defences would have taxed
our resources to the utmost and have prevented essential work of this
nature in other theatres.

The work of the Navy, therefore, _off the coast of Palestine_ was
confined to protecting the left flank of the advancing army and
assisting its operations, and to establishing, as the troops advanced,
bases on the coast at which stores, etc., could be landed. This task was
effectively carried out.

The anchorages on this coast are all entirely open to the sea, and
become untenable at very short notice, so that the work of the Navy was
always carried out under considerable difficulty. Nor could the ships
working on the flank be adequately guarded against submarine attack, and
some losses were experienced, the most important being the sinking of
Monitor M15 and the destroyer _Staunch_ by a submarine attack off Deir
el Belah (nine miles south of Gaza) in November.

The Navy continued its co-operation with the Army in the _Salonika
theatre of war_, assisted by the Royal Naval Air Service, and
bombardments were continually carried out on military objectives.
Similarly _in the Adriatic_ our monitors and machines of the R.N.A.S.
assisted the military forces of the Allies; particularly was this the
case at the time of the Austrian advance to the Piave, where our
monitors did much useful work in checking enemy attempts to cross that

_Off the Gallipoli Peninsula_ the Naval watch on the mouth of the
Dardanelles was continued; extensive new minefields were laid during the
year, and were effective in sinking the _Breslau_ and severely damaging
the _Goeben_ when those vessels attempted a sortie on January 20, 1918.
The R.N.A.S. during the year carried out many long distance
reconnaissance and bombing operations over Constantinople and the

_In the Red Sea_ Naval operations were carried out in conjunction with
friendly Arabs, and the Arabian coast cleared of Turkish forces.

_In the White Sea_ during the latter part of 1917 the whole of the Naval
work fell upon British Naval forces when the Russian ships, which had
co-operated hitherto, had come under the influence of the political
situation. Our force in these waters consisted largely of trawlers
engaged in minesweeping and escort work. The latter duty imposed a very
heavy strain on officers and men, involving as it did the safe conduct
during the year of no fewer than one thousand ships carrying stores and
munitions for the Russian military forces.

_In the Baltic_ the situation became very difficult owing first to the
Russian revolution and, finally, to the Russian debacle. Our force in
these waters consisted of seven submarines. It became evident at the
beginning of October, 1917, that the Germans were intending to carry out
some operations in the Baltic against Russia, and the question of
affording assistance was at once considered by the Naval Staff. It was
surmised that but little dependence could be placed on the Russian
Baltic Fleet (events showed this surmise to be accurate), and in order
to keep our control over the North Sea and ensure the safety of our
communications with France it was obvious that for any action we might
decide to take we should be obliged to divide the Grand Fleet, sending
such portion of that Command into the Baltic as could successfully
engage the High Sea Fleet if encountered, as well as to secure the
return passage via the Great Belt, and retaining a sufficient force to
deal with such German vessels as might attempt operations in the North
Sea or Channel during our raid into the Baltic.

There were many ways in which the Germans might seriously hamper, if not
entirely prevent, the return of our fleet from the Baltic unless we
secured the exits. The Great Belt could easily be closed by block-ships
at its narrowest points, and extensive minefields could be laid. It was
obvious, therefore, that to secure the exit a strong force would be
required, and that it would necessarily occupy a position where it would
be open to serious attack.

The initial operation of gaining access to the Baltic via the Great
Belt, though not impossible, was difficult, involving as it did sweeping
passages through very extensive minefields, and even when our ships were
in the Baltic fairly constant sweeping would be necessary.

Finally, the whole operation would be complicated by the question of
fuel supply, especially to the destroyers and other small craft with a
limited radius of action, since we could not depend upon Russian sources
of supply. These were amongst the considerations which made it clear
that the operation was not one that I could recommend. The Russian naval
view is given in the following statement which appeared in the Russian
Press in October:

The Naval General Staff categorically denies the rumours circulated in
Petrograd on the 8th and 9th instant, to the effect that the British or
French Fleet had broken through to the Baltic Sea.

At the same time it is pointed out that it would be a physical
impossibility for the Allies' Fleet to come in from the western
entrance, because it would be necessary to pass through the Sound or
through one of the two Belts.

Entry to the Sound through Danish or Swedish waters could not also be
affected owing to the fact that these waters in part are only 18 feet
deep, while large-sized vessels would require at least 30 feet of water.

As regards the entry to the Belts, this would be an extremely hazardous
undertaking as parts of the routes are under control of the Germans who
have constructed their own defences consisting of mines and batteries.

In these circumstances, according to the opinion of our naval experts,
an entrance into the Baltic by the Allies' Fleets could only be
undertaken after gaining possession of these waters and the adjacent
coast; and then only with the co-operation of land forces.

The Germans had an easy task in the Baltic, as the Russian resistance
was not of a serious nature; our submarines attacked on every possible
occasion, and scored some successes against German vessels. Towards the
end of the year it became necessary to consider the action to be taken
in regard to our submarines, as the German control of the Baltic became
effective, and the demobilization of the Russian fleet became more and
more pronounced. Many schemes for securing their escape from these
waters were discussed, but the chances of success were so small, and the
submarines themselves possessed so little fighting value owing to their
age, that eventually instructions were sent to the senior officer to
destroy the submarines before they could fall into German hands.



It is natural that the task of recounting the facts in the foregoing
chapters should cause one's thoughts to turn to the future. The Empire
has passed through a period of great danger, during which its every
interest was threatened, and it has come successfully out of the ordeal,
but to those upon whom the responsibility lay of initiating and
directing the nation's policy the serious nature of the perils which
faced us were frequently such as to justify the grave anxiety which
sprang from full knowledge of events and their significance.

An international organization is in process of being brought into
existence which, if it does not entirely prevent a recurrence of the
horrors of the four and a half years of war, will, it is hoped, at least
minimize the chances of the repetition of such an experience as that
through which the world has so recently passed. But the League of
Nations is still only a skeleton to be clothed with authority and
supported by the public opinion of the world if it is to be a success.
It is in its infancy, and so far the most optimistic have not advanced
beyond hopes in its efficiency; and if the lessons of the past are
correctly interpreted, as they were interpreted by our forefathers in
their day, those upon whom responsibility lies in future years for the
safety and prosperity of the Empire will see to it that, so far as lies
in their power, whatever else may be left undone, the security of the
sea communications of the Empire is ensured. Not one of us but must have
realized during the war, if he did not realize it before, that the
all-important thing upon which we must set our minds is the ability to
use the sea communications of the far-flung Empire, which is only united
by the seas so long as we can use them. But while governments may
realize their duty in this matter, and set out with good intentions, it
is, after all, upon the people who elect governments that the final
responsibility lies, and therefore it is to them that it is so necessary
to bring home in season and out of season the dangers that confront us
if our sea communications are imperilled.

The danger which confronted the British peoples was never so great in
any previous period as it was during the year 1917 when the submarine
menace was at its height, and it may be hoped that the lessons to be
learned from the history of those months will never be forgotten. The
British Empire differs from any other nation or empire which has ever
existed. Our sea communications are our very life-blood, and it is not
greatly exaggerating the case to say that the safety of those
communications is the one consideration of first-class importance. Upon
a solid sense of their security depends not only our prosperity, but
also the actual lives of a large proportion of the inhabitants. There is
no other nation in the world which is situated as the people of these
islands are situated; therefore there is no other nation to whom sea
power is in the least degree as essential as it is to us. Four out of
five of our loaves and most of our raw materials for manufacture must
come to us by sea, and it is only by the sea that we can hold any
commercial intercourse with the Dominions, Dependencies and Crown
Colonies, which together make up what we call the Empire, with a
population of 400,000,000 people.

What, then, are we to do in the future to ensure the safety of the
communications between these islands and the rest of the Empire? As a
matter of course we should be in a position to safeguard them against
any possible form of attack from whatever quarter it may come. So far as
can be seen there is no present likelihood of the transport of food or
raw materials being effected in anything but vessels which move upon the
surface of the sea. It is true that, as a result of the war, people's
thoughts turn in the direction of transport, both of human beings and of
merchandise, by air or under the water, but there is no possible chance,
for at least a generation to come, of either of these methods of
transport being able to compete commercially with transport in vessels
sailing on the sea. Therefore the problem of guarding our communications
resolves itself into one of securing the safety of vessels which move
upon the surface of the sea, whatever may be the character of the

I do not desire to enter into any discussion here as to the method by
which these vessels can be protected, except to say that it is necessary
for us to be in a position of superiority in all the weapons by which
their safety may be endangered. At the present time there are two
principal forms of attack: (1) by vessels which move on the surface, and
(2) by vessels which move under water. A third danger--namely, one from
the air--is also becoming of increasing importance. The war has shown us
how to ensure safety against the first two forms of attack, and our duty
as members of a great maritime Empire is to take steps to maintain
effective forces for the purpose.

In order to carry out this duty it will be greatly to our advantage if
the matter can be dealt with by all the constituent parts of the Empire.
A recent tour of the greater part of the British Empire has shown me
that the importance of sea power is very fully realized by the great
majority of our kith and kin overseas, and that there is a strong desire
on their part to co-operate in what is, after all, the concern of the
whole Empire. It seems to me of the greatest possible importance that
this matter of an Empire naval policy and an Empire naval organization
should be settled at the earliest possible moment, and that it should be
looked at from the broadest point of view.

I do not think that we in this country can claim to have taken into
sufficient account the very natural views and the very natural ambitions
which animate the peoples overseas. We have, in point of fact, looked at
the whole question too locally, whilst we have been suggesting to the
Dominions that they are inclined to make this error, and unless we
depart from that attitude there is a possibility that we shall not reap
the full benefit of the resources of the Empire, which are very great
and are increasing. In war it is not only the material which counts, but
the spirit of a people, and we must enlist the support, spontaneous and
effective, of every section of the King's Dominions in the task of sea
defence which lies before us, consulting fully and unreservedly the
representatives of our kith and kin, and giving them the benefit of
whatever instructed advice we, with ancient traditions and matured
knowledge, may possess.

In framing our future naval policy it is obvious that we must be guided
by what is being done abroad. We are bound to keep an absolutely safe
margin of naval strength, and that margin must exist in all arms and in
all classes of vessels. At the moment, and no doubt for some time to
come, difficulties in regard to finance will exist, but it would seem to
be nothing more than common sense to insist that the one service which
is vital to our existence should be absolutely the last to suffer for
need of money. During a period of the greatest financial pressure it may
be necessary to economize somewhat in the construction of new ships, and
in the upkeep of certain of our naval bases which the result of the war
and consequent considerations of future strategy may suggest to be not
of immediate importance, although even here it may well be necessary to
develop other naval bases to meet changed conditions; but we cannot
afford to fall behind in organization, in the testing and development of
new ideas, or in the strength of our personnel or in its training. A
well trained personnel and a carefully thought out organization cannot
by any possibility be quickly extemporized.

It is the height of economic folly to stint experimental research, for
it is in times of stress that the value of past experimental work is
shown. In the matter of organization we must be certain that adequate
means are taken to ensure that the different arms which must co-operate
in war are trained to work together under peace conditions. A modern
fleet consists of many units of different types--battleships,
battle-cruisers, light cruisers, destroyers and submarines. Before I
relinquished the command of the Grand Fleet, large sea-going submarines
of high speed, vessels of the "K" class, had been built to accompany the
surface vessels to sea. It is very essential that senior officers should
have every opportunity of studying tactical schemes in which various
classes of ships and kinds of weapons are employed. In considering the
future of the Navy it is impossible to ignore aircraft. There are many
important problems which the Navy and the Air Service ought to work out
together. A fleet without aircraft will be a fleet without eyes, and
aircraft will, moreover, be necessary, not only for reconnaissance work,
but for gun-spotting, as well as, possibly, for submarine hunting. Air
power is regarded by many officers of wide practical experience as an
essential complement to sea power, whatever future the airship and
aeroplane may have for independent action. A captain who is going to
fight his ship successfully must have practised in time of peace with
all the weapons he will employ in action, and he must have absolute
control over all the elements constituting the fighting power of his
ship. In a larger sense, the same may be said of an admiral in command
of a fleet; divided control may mean disaster. The advent of aircraft
has introduced new and, at present, only partially explored problems
into naval warfare, and officers commanding naval forces will require
frequent opportunities of studying them. They must be worked out with
naval vessels and aircraft acting in close association. With the Air
Service under separate control, financially as well as in an executive
and administrative sense, is it certain that the Admiralty will be able
to obtain machines and personnel in the necessary numbers to carry out
all the experimental and training work that is essential for efficiency
in action? Is it also beyond doubt that unity of command at sea, which
is essential to victory, will be preserved? In view of all the
possibilities which the future holds now that the airship and aeroplane
have arrived, it is well that there should be no doubt on such matters,
for inefficiency might in conceivable circumstances spell defeat.

Then there is the question of the personnel of the fleet. It would be
most unwise to allow the strength of the trained personnel of the Navy
to fall below the limit of reasonable safety, because it is upon that
trained personnel that the success of the enormous expansions needed in
war so largely depends. This was found during the late struggle, when
the personnel was expanded from 150,000 to upwards of 400,000, throwing
upon the pre-war nucleus a heavy responsibility in training, equipment
and organizing. Without the backbone of a highly trained personnel of
sufficient strength, developments in time of sudden emergency cannot
possibly be effected. In the late war we suffered in this respect, and
we should not forget the lesson.

In future wars, if any such should occur, trained personnel will be of
even greater importance than it was in the Great War, because the
advance of science increases constantly the importance of the highly
trained individual, and if nothing else is certain it can surely be
predicted that science will play an increasing part in warfare in the
future. Only those officers and men who served afloat in the years
immediately preceding the opening of hostilities know how great the
struggle was to gain that high pitch of efficiency which the Navy had
reached at the outbreak of war, and it was the devotion to duty of our
magnificent pre-war personnel that went far to ensure our victory. It is
essential that the Navy of the future should not be given a yet harder
task than fell to the Navy of the past as a result of a policy of
starving the personnel.

There is, perhaps, just one other point upon which I might touch in
conclusion. I would venture to suggest to my countrymen that there
should be a full realization of the fact that the Naval Service as a
whole is a highly specialized profession. It is one in which the senior
officers have passed the whole of their lives, and during their best
years their thoughts are turned constantly in one direction--namely, how
they can best fit the Navy and themselves for possible war. The country
as a whole has probably but little idea of the great amount of technical
knowledge that is demanded of the naval officer in these days. He must
possess this knowledge in addition to the lessons derived from his study
of war, and the naval officer is learning from the day that he enters
the Service until the day that he leaves it.

The Navy, then, is a profession which is at least as highly specialized
as that of a surgeon, an engineer, or a lawyer. Consequently, it would
seem a matter of common sense that those who have not adopted the Navy
as a profession should pay as much respect to the professional judgment
of the naval officer as they would to that of the surgeon or the
engineer or the lawyer, each in his own sphere. Governments are, of
course, bound to be responsible for the policy of the country, and
policy governs defence, but, both in peace and in war, I think it will
be agreed that the work of governments in naval affairs should end at
policy, and that the remainder should be left to the expert. That is the
basis of real economy in association with efficiency, and victory in war
goes to the nation which, under stress and strain, develops the highest
efficiency in action.


_Abdiel_ as minelayer,
Admiralty, the, American co-operation at,
  and the control of convoys,
  anomalies at,
  lack of naval officers at,
  naval air policy of,
  official summary of changes in personnel of Board,
  over-centralization at,
  "production" at, in 1917,
  reorganization at,
  the Staff in October, 1916,
  in April, 1917,
  end of December, 1917,
  end of November, 1918,
Admiralty Controller, appointment of an,
Admiralty Organization for Production, growth of the,
Adriatic, the, Austrian destroyers in,
  R.N.A.S. assists military forces of Allies in,
Aegean Sea, the, British destroyers in,
Aeroplane, the Handley-Page type of,
Aeroplane stations,
Air Ministry, the, establishment of,
Air power as complement to sea power,
Aircraft, bombing attacks by,
  for anti-submarine work,
  the eyes of a fleet,
Airship stations,
Airships as protection for convoys,
Allied Naval Council, formation of,
America enters the war,
  (see also United States)
American battleships and destroyers in British waters,
Anderson, Sir A.G.,
Anti-flash arrangements, improvements of,
Anti-submarine convoy escorting force, the, strengthened,
Anti-submarine devices,
Anti-submarine Division of Naval Staff, Directors of,
  formation of,
Anti-submarine instructional schools,
Anti-submarine operations,
Anti-submarine protection for ports of assembly,
Approach areas, and how protected,
Arabian coast cleared of Turkish forces,
Armament production,
Armed merchant ships,
Armour-piercing shell, an improved,
Armstrong, Commander Sir George,
Atlantic convoys, losses in,
  organization of system of,
_Audacious_, loss of,
Auxiliary patrols, deficiency in deliveries of,
  in home waters and in Mediterranean zones,

Bacon, Sir Reginald,
  a daring scheme of, abandoned,
  author's tribute to,
  his book on the "Dover Patrol,"
  his proposal for Folkestone-Cape Grisnez minefield,
  organizes coastal bombardments,
  witnesses bombardment of Ostend,
Baker, Rear-Admiral Clinton,
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A.J., a mission to the United States,
  offers author post of First Sea Lord,
Baltic, the, a difficult situation in,
Barrage, Folkestone-Cape Grisnez,
  four forms of,
  off Belgian coast,
  the Dover,
  the North Sea,
  the Otranio,
Bayly, Admiral Sir Lewis, in command at Queenstown,
Belgian coast, barrage off,
  mining the,
Bell, Sir Thomas,
Benson, Admiral, and author,
  visits England,
Bergen, Capt. Halsey's appointment to,
Bethlehem Steel Company, the,
Bird, Captain F., of the Dover patrol,
Blackwood, Commander M.,
Blockade of German ports, difficulties of,
Board of Invention and Research, the (B.I.R.),
Bomb-throwers and howitzers,
Bonner, Lieutenant Charles G., awarded the V.C.,
Boxer campaign in China, the,
_Breslau_, loss of,
British and German production of submarines, etc., compared,
British Empire, the, importance of security of sea communications of,
British merchant steamships, losses from submarines,
  losses of unescorted,
  submarine sinks enemy destroyer,
Brock, Admiral Sir Frederick, and the disaster to the Scandinavian
_Broke_, action with German destroyers,
  conveys author to witness bombardment of Ostend,
Brown, Commander Yeats,
Browning, Vice-Admiral Sir Montague, confers with U.S. Navy Department,
Bruges, aerial attacks on, as enemy base,
  enemy evacuation of,
proposed long-range bombardment of,
Burney, Admiral Sir Cecil, at Rosyth,
  Second Sea Lord,
Burney, Lieutenant Dennis, a clever device of,
Burton, Lieutenant G. E.,

Calais, enemy destroyer raids on,
Calthorpe, Admiral (see Gough-Calthorpe)
Campbell, Captain Gordon,
  awarded the V.C.,
  fights with submarines,
  sinks an enemy submarine,
Canadian Government asked to build vessels for use in Canadian waters,
Cape Grisnez-Folkestone mine barrage,
Capelle, Admiral von, and submarine construction,
Cardiff, instructional anti-submarine school at,
Carrington, Commander I.W.,
Carson, Sir Edward, a tribute to,
  and the defensive arming of merchant ships,
  becomes First Lord,
  leaves the Admiralty,
  offers post of Admiralty Controller to Sir Eric Geddes,
Cassady, Lieut. G.L., awarded the D.S.C.,
Cattaro, Germans destroy their submarines at,
Cayley, Rear-Admiral C.G.,
Cayley, Commander H.F.,
Cervera, Admiral, and the Spanish-American War,
Chain-sweep, a, introduction of,
Chatham, gunnery courses for cadets and apprentices at,
  instructional anti-submarine school at,
Chief of the Staff, duties and responsibilities of,
Churchill, Right Hon. Winston, and Staff organization,
Coal-ships, French, convoy of,
Coastal motor boats,
Coastal traffic, regulation of: typical instructions,
Colville, Admiral the Hon. Sir Stanley,
Constantinople, bombing operations in vicinity of,
Convoy commodores, appointment of,
Convoy Section of Trade Division of Naval Staff, the,
"Convoy sloops,"
Convoy system, the, a committee on, at the Admiralty,
  growth of,
  introduction of,
  successful organization and working of,
  the system at work,
Convoys, as protection against submarine attack: success of,
  enemy attacks on,
  losses in homeward and outward bound,
Coode, Captain C.P.R.,
Crisp, Thomas, of the _Nelson_,
Cross-Channel sailings and losses,
Crystal Palace, Royal Naval Depot at,
  author's visit to,

Dakar convoy, the,
Dare, Admiral Sir Charles,
Dartmouth, a successful attack on an enemy submarine off,
Dazzle painting for merchant ships, system of,
De Bon, Admiral,
De Chair, Rear-Admiral Sir Dudley, and the U.S. mission,
Decoy ships,
  and the convoy of merchant shipping,
  fitted with torpedo tubes,
  number of enemy submarines sunk by,
  typical actions fought by,
Delay action fuses,
Denison, Admiral John,
Depth charge throwers,
Depth charges,
  enemy submarine victims to,
Deputy Controller of Armament Production, appointment of a,
Destroyers, American, in British waters,
  and patrol craft, number of enemy submarines sunk by,
  available force in February, 1917
  average output of British,
  enemy flotilla of, intercepted,
  essential to Grand Fleet,
  fitted with "fish" hydrophones,
  heavy strain on,
  hunting flotillas of,
Destroyers, inadequate number of British,
  of the Dover Patrol,
  time taken in building,
Devonport, gunnery courses for cadets and apprentices at,
D'Eyncourt, Sir Eustace T.,
Directional hydrophones,
Directorate of Materials and Priority, creation of,
Dover, daily average of mercantile marine passing,
  enemy destroyer raids on,
Dover Patrol, the,
  an enemy attack on,
  Sir Reginald Bacon's book on,
  the Sixth Flotilla and its arduous work,
Dover, Straits of, inefficiency of the barrage,
  minelaying in,
  passage of U-boats through,
Dreyer, Captain F.C.,
  and the defensive arming of merchant ships,
  appointed Director of Naval Ordnance,
  energy of,
Drift nets, mines fitted to,
Drifters, work of,
Duff, Rear-Admiral A.L.,
  a tribute to,
  becomes A.C.N.S.,
Dunkirk, enemy destroyer raids on,
  Royal Naval Force at, and their work,
  _Dunraven_ (decoy ship), a gallant fight by,
Dutch convoy, the,

East coast and Norway, trade between, convoyed,
East Coast, the, volume of trade on, and difficulty of proper
protection of,
Electrical submarine detector, the,
English coast towns, destroyer raids on,
Escorts for merchant shipping,
Ethel and Millie sunk by submarine,
Evans, Captain E.R.G.R., of the _Broke_, rams an enemy vessel,

Falmouth convoy, the,
  losses in 1917,
Farrington, Captain Alexander, and decoy ships,
"Fish" hydrophones, invention of,
Fisher, Lord,
  destroyer programme of,
Fisher, Captain W.W., Director of Anti-Submarine Division,
  tribute to,
Fitzherbert, Rear-Admiral the Hon. Edward,
  appointed Director of Torpedoes and Mines,
  for night illumination of minefields,
Folkestone-Cape Grisnez mine barrage,
Ford Company, the (U.S.A.),
France, the Staff organization at G.H.Q. in,
Fremantle, Rear-Admiral Sydney,
French, Sir John (Field-Marshal Viscount),
French Admiralty, the, cordial co-operation with Allies,
French coal trade, the, convoy of,
  losses in 1917,
Fuller, Captain C.T.M.,
Funakoshi, Admiral, Japanese Naval Attache in London,
_Furious_ converted into a seaplane carrier,

Gallipoli, hydrophone training school at,
  naval work at,
Gauchet, Vice-Admiral,
Geddes, Sir Eric, becomes Admiralty Controller,
  becomes First Lord,
  disappointing forecasts of,
General Headquarters in France, Staff organization at,
German Army, von Schellendorft; on Staff work in,
German attacks on convoys,
  campaign against merchant shipping,
  operations in the Baltic against Russia,
  prisoners assist a decoy ship to port,
  star shells, efficiency of,
  submarine commanders and decoy ships,
  submarine fleet at commencement of war and subsequent additions,
  view of entry of America into the war,
Germans, the, a new weapon of,
  destroy their submarines,
  their choice of objectives for night attacks,
  their lack of enterprise,
  tip-and-run raids by,
Germany, America declares war on,
  estimated total of submarines in 1917,
  her submarine production,
  naval programme of,
  submarine force of and her losses,
Gibb, Colonel Alexander,
Gibraltar, an American detachment at,
  an experimental convoy collected at,
Gibraltar convoy, the,
  a reason for heavy losses in,
Gibraltar convoy, the, losses in 1917,
_Glen_ (decoy ship),
_Goeben_ severely damaged,
Gough-Calthorpe, Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir Somerset, his Mediterranean
_Gowan Lea_,
_Grand Duke_ trawler,
Grand Fleet, the, changes in command of,
  destroyers and,
  destroyers used for Atlantic trade,
Grant, Captain H.W.,
Grant, Rear-Admiral Heathcote, his command at Gibraltar,
Greenock, instructional anti-submarine school at,
Gunnery courses for cadets and apprentices,

Haig, Sir Douglas (Earl), commends work of air force,
Halifax convoy, the,
Hall, Rear-Admiral Sir Reginald,
Halsey, Captain Arthur, appointed Naval Vice-Consul at Bergen,
Halsey, Commodore (Rear-Admiral) Lionel,
  becomes Third Sea Lord,
Hampton Roads and New York convoy,
  losses in 1917,
Harwich, hydrophone station at,
Harwich force, the, and its commander,
  duties of,
  intercepts a flotilla of German destroyers,
Hawkcraig, hydrophone station at,
Heath, Vice-Admiral Sir H.L.,
Heligoland Bight, mining of,
  proclaimed a dangerous area,
Henderson, Captain Reginald G.H.,
  a tribute to,
Henderson, Captain Reginald G.H., and the convoy system,
Homeward-bound convoys, losses in,
Hope, Rear-Admiral George P.W., appointed Deputy First Sea Lord,
Hopwood, Sir Francis (Lord Southborough),
Hotham, Captain A.G.,
Howard, Captain W. Vansittart,
Howitzers and bomb-throwers,
Hydrophone stations and training schools,
  fitted to auxiliary patrols,

Irvine, Lieutenant, fights a submarine,

Jackson, Admiral Sir Heney,
  First Sea Lord,
Jackson, Captain, injured in a motor accident,
Japanese destroyers in the Mediterranean,
Jellicoe, Admiral (Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa), a personal telegram to
    Mr. Schwab,
  a tour of the British Empire and its lessons,
  amicable relations with U.S. Navy,
  and merchant ship construction,
  and the building programme of 1916,
  and the Dover Patrol,
  and the future naval policy,
  and the reorganization at the Admiralty,
  and the submarine menace,
Jellicoe, Admiral (Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa), becomes First Sea Lord
    and Chief of Naval Staff,
  confers with Mr. Balfour,
  friendship with Admiral Mayo,
  his admiration for the work of Admiral Sir Henry Oliver,
  his proposals for Admiralty reorganization,
  on the convoy system,
  on the work of destroyers,
  praises work and organization of convoys,
  relations with Admiral Sims,
  unveils a memorial to Lieut. Commander Sanders,
  visits New Zealand,
  witnesses bombardment of Ostend,
  wounded in the Boxer campaign,
Jutland battle, and the shells used in,

Kite balloons,

Lacaze, Admiral,
Lambe, Captain C.L., and his command,
Lamlash convoy, the,
  losses in 1917,
League of Nations, the,
Learmonth, Captain F.C.,
Lerwick as junction for convoy system,
  enemy mining of,
Leslie, N.A.,
Ley, Rear-Admiral J.C.,
Litchfield-Speer, Captain,
Lockyer, Commander E.L.B.,
Longden, Captain H.W.
Lowestoft, average daily number of vessels passing,
  bombardment of,
_Lusitania_, loss of,

MacNamara, Right Hon. T.J.,
Madden, Admiral Sir Charles,
Malta, hydrophone training school at,
Manisty, Fleet Paymaster H.W.E.,
  appointed Organizing Manager of Convoys,
Margate, bombardment of,
Mark-Wardlaw, Lieutenant, decoy ship of,
Marx, Admiral J.L.,
Mary _Rose_, sinking of,
Mayo, Admiral, and author,
  object of his visit to England,
  visits Grand Fleet,
  witnesses bombardment of Ostend,
Mediterranean, the, Japanese destroyers in,
  narrow waters of,
  need of a unified command in,
  shipping losses in 1917 in,
Mercantile marine, daily average of,
  passing Lowestoft and Dover,
  schools of instruction for,
  wireless for,
  (See also Merchant ships)
Mercantile Movements Division, formation of,
  its head,
Mercantile repair work,
Merchant ships, arming of,
  losses of,
  route orders for,
  submarines and,
  (Cf. Mercantile marine)
Merz, Sir Charles H.,
Milford Haven convoy, the,
  losses in 1917,
Mine-cutters (see Paravanes)
Minelayers, fleet of, strengthened,
Minelaying, British and German methods of, contrasted,
Minelaying by submarines,
  difficulty of dealing with problem of,
Mine net barrage, definition of,
Mines, American,
  Britain, number laid in 1915-17,
  number of submarines sunk by,
Mines and minefields,
  as protection against enemy submarines,
  "H" type of,
  improved type of,
  inadequate supply of,
  influence of, in Great War,
Minesweepers, delay in deliveries of,
Minesweeping and patrol services,
Minesweeping craft, damage caused by mines to,
  gallantry of officers and men of,
Minesweeping Division, formation of the,
Minesweeping, introduction of a chain-sweep,
  statistics for 1916, 1917,
Ministry of Munitions, formation of,
Mobilization and Movements Department, formation of,
Monitor M15, loss of,
Monitors, bombardment of enemy ports by,
Morris, Sub-Lieutenant K.,
Motor boats, coastal,
  launches as submarine hunters,
  fitted with hydrophones,
  in home waters and in the Mediterranean,
Murray, Sir O.,

Nash, Mr., invents the "fish" hydrophone,
Naval Ordnance Department, the, changes in,
Naval Staff and the movements of convoys,
  confers with masters of cargo steamers,
  minesweeping section of,
  Operations Division of, strengthened,
  reorganization of,
Navy, the, a specialized profession,
  considerations on the future of,
  personnel of: importance of,
  Staff work in,
  work of, during 1917,
_Nelson_ attacked and sunk,
Net barrage at Dover,
Net protection against torpedo fire,
  at ports of assembly,
Nets as an anti-submarine measure,
New York and Hampton Roads convoy,
  losses in 1917,
Nicholson, Captain R.L.,
North Foreland, the, naval guns mounted in vicinity of,
  star shells supplied to,
North Sea barrage, the,
  advantages and disadvantages of,
North Sea, the, convoy system at work in,
Norway convoy, the,

Oil tankers, serious loss of,
Oliver, Vice-Admiral Sir Henry,
  and mining operations,
  becomes D.C.N.S.,
  his valuable work,
Ommanney, Admiral R.N., an appreciation of his services,
Operations Division of Naval Staff strengthened,
Ordnance production, delay in,
Ostend, bombardment of,
Otranto, hydrophone station at,
Otranto, Straits of, a drifter patrol attacked by Austrian light
  mining the,
"Otter" mine destroyers,
Outward-bound convoys, losses in,
Overseas trade, vessels sunk in 1917,

"P" Boats, fitted with "fish" hydrophones,
  hunting flotillas of,
_P. Fannon_,
Page, Mr. W.H., relations with author,
Paget, Admiral Sir Alfred,
Paine, Commodore Godfrey,
  joins the Air Council,
Palestine, work of the Navy off coast of,
Paravanes, and their use,
_Pargust_ (decoy ship),
_Partridge_, sinking of,
Patrol craft and minesweeping services,
  a tribute to officers and men of,
  as decoy vessels,
  hydrophones for,
  lack of British,
  retired officers volunteer for work in,
  synopsis of losses among,
Patrol gunboats,
Pease, Mr. A.F.,
_Pellew_, damaged in action,
Persius, Captain, and the construction of German submarines,
Personnel of the Navy, importance of,
Piave, the, Austrian advance to,
Pirie, Lord, becomes Controller-General of Merchant Shipbuilding,
Pitcher, Petty-Officer Ernest, awarded V.C.,
Plymouth convoy, the,
  losses in 1917,
Pola, Germans destroy their submarines at,
Portland, submarine-hunting flotillas at,
Ports of assembly for Atlantic convoy system,
Portsmouth, gunnery courses for cadets and apprentices at,
  instructional anti-submarine school at,
Pound, Captain A.D.P.,
Preston, Captain Lionel G., Head of Minesweeping Service,
Pretyman, Right Hon. E.G.,
_Prince Charles_, success of, against an enemy submarine,
Pringle, Captain, appointed Chief of Staff to Sir Lewis Bayly,
_Prize_ sinks a submarine,
Production of warships, etc., and forecasts of _et seq._,
Projectiles, anti-submarine,
"Protected sailings," system of,

Q-Boats (_see_ Decoy ships),
Q22 in action with a submarine,
Queenstown, amicable relations between British and U.S. Navies at,
Queenstown convoy, the,

Ramsgate, bombardment of,
Rawlinson, General Sir Henry (Lord), confers with Admiral Bacon,
Red Sea, naval operations in,
Rodman, Rear-Admiral Hugh,
Route orders, and principle on which compiled,
Royal Naval Air Service, the, activities of,
  bombs enemy bases,
Royal Naval Air Service, the, in the Eastern theatre of war,
Russian Baltic Fleet, the,
  demobilization of,
Russian Navy, the defection of,
Russo-Japanese war, the,
Ryan, Captain, experimental work of,

_St. Louis_ mined outside Liverpool,
Salonika, Navy co-operation with Army in,
Sanders, Lieutenant W. E., actions with submarines,
  awarded the V.C.,
  memorial to,
Scandinavian convoy, the,
  enemy attacks on a,
  loose station-keeping of ships in,
  losses in 1917,
Scapa, a conference at,
Scarlett, Wing-Captain F.R.,
Scheer, Admiral, his work on the High Sea Fleet,
  on the convoy system,
Schellendorff, von, on German Army Staffs,
Schwab, Mr.,
Sea, the, considerations on future safeguarding of,
Seaplane, advent of "America" type of,
Seaplane carriers,
Seaplane stations,
Shipbuilding Advisory Committee,
Shipbuilding programme of 1916, British,
Shipping (British, Allied and neutral), losses in 1917,
Shipping Controller, appointment of a,
Sierra Leone convoy, the,
Signalling arrangements for convoys,
  instruction in,
Simpson, Rear-Admiral C.H.,
Sims, Vice-Admiral W.S., arrives in London,
  ensures unity of command,
  his career,
  hoists his flag at Queenstown,
  in command of U.S. forces in European waters,
Singer, Admiral Morgan,
Smoke screens,
Spanish-American War, the,
Special service or decoy ships,
Specialist training in the Navy,
Speed, importance of, in convoy system,
Star shells, introduction of,
Startin, Admiral Sir James, the Albert Medal for,
_Staunch_ sunk by submarine,
_Slonecrop_ (decoy ship) sinks a submarine,
_Strongbow_, sinking of,
Submarine attacks on decoy ships,
  campaign of 1917, the,
  danger, the, difficulties of combating,
  detector, an electrical,
  -hunting flotillas,
  warfare, offensive and defensive measures against,
Submarines, British, delay in deliveries of,
  estimated number of enemy sinkings by,
  fitted as minelayers,
  length of time taken in construction of,
  offensive use of,
  operations against enemy submarines,
  production of,
  value of depth charges against,
Submarines, German,
  aircraft attacks on,
  Allied losses by, 1916-17,
  as minelayers,
  devices for circumventing,
  losses of,
Submarines, German, rapid construction of,
  success of, in the Mediterranean,
_Swift_, action with German destroyers,
Sydney (Cape Breton) convoy, the,
Syrian Coast, the, operations on,

Taussig, Lieut-Commander T.K.,
"Taut wire" gear, value of the device,
_Terror_, bombardment of Ostend by,
Thames Estuary, mines laid in the,
Torpedo and Mining Department, the
  valuable work of,
Torpedo, the, in general use,
Tothill, Rear-Admiral H.H.D.,
Trade Division of the Naval Staff, the,
"Trawler Reserve," the,
Trawlers as minesweepers,
  convoy work of,
  delay in deliveries of,
  hunting flotilla work of,
Troop transports, escorts for,
Tyrwhitt, Rear-Admiral Sir Reginald, and his command,

U-Boats, various types of, (see also Submarines, German)
Unescorted ships, losses by submarine attack in 1917,
United Kingdom, the, approach areas for traffic to,
  coast divided into areas for patrol and minesweeping,
United States Navy, a detachment dispatched to Gibraltar,
  co-operation with British Navy,
  In 1917,
United States, the, a new type of mine produced in,
United States, the, and the convoy system,
  declares war on Germany,
  rate of ship production in,
  (See also America)
"Unrestricted submarine warfare," object of,
  opening of,

_Vengeance_, experimental tests in,
Villiers, Captain Edward C., net protection device of,

Warship production in 1917,
Watt, I., skipper of _Gowan Lea_,
Webb, Captain Richard, in charge of Trade Division,
Wemyss, Vice-Admiral Sir Rosslyn, becomes Deputy First Sea Lord,
  Chief of Naval Staff,
Whalers and their work,
White Sea, the, British naval work in,
Whitehead, Captain Frederic A., Director of Mercantile Movements
Wilde, Commander J.S.,
Wilson, Admiral Sir Arthur, anti-submarine measures of,
Wireless, importance of, in convoys,
  provided for the Mercantile Marine,
  patrol work of,

Zeebrugge, aerial bombing attacks on,
  bombardment of,
Zeppelin assists in a hunt for a British submarine,

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