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A History of Sea Power by Stevens and Westcott

A description of the battle of jutland


the great battle turned out to be indecisive; in fact, it elated the Germans with a feeling of success and depressed the British with a keen sense of failure. Nevertheless, the control of the sea remained in the hands of the English, and never again did the High Seas Fleet risk another encounter. The relative positions at sea of the two adversaries therefore remained unaltered.

On the other hand, if the British had destroyed the German fleet the victory would have been priceless. As Jervis remarked at Cape St. Vincent, "A victory is very essential to England at this hour." The spring of 1916 was an ebb point in Allied prospects. The Verdun offensive was not halted, the Somme drive had not yet begun, the Russians were beaten far back in their own territory, the Italians had retreated, and there was rebellion in Ireland. The annihilation of the High Seas Fleet would have reversed the situation with dramatic suddenness and would have at least marked the turning point of the war. Without a German battle fleet, the British could have forced the fighting almost to the very harbors of the German coast--bottling up every exit by a barrage of mines. The blockade, therefore, could have been drawn close to the coast defenses. Moreover, with the High Seas Fleet gone, the British fleet could have entered and taken possession of the Baltic, which throughout the war remained a German lake. By this move England would have threatened the German Baltic coast with

invasion and extended her blockade in a highly important locality, cutting off the trade between Sweden and Germany. She would also have come to the relief of Russia, which was suffering terrible losses from the lack of munitions. Indeed it would have saved that ally from the collapse that withdrew her from the war. With no German "fleet in being" great numbers of workers in English industry and vast quantities of supplies might have been transferred to the support of the army. The threat of invasion would have been removed, and the large army that was kept in England right up to the crisis of March, 1918,[1] would have been free to reenforce the army at the front. Finally, without the personnel of the German fleet there could have been no ruthless submarine campaign the year after, such as actually came so near to winning the war. Thus, while the German claim to a triumph that drove the British from the seas is ridiculous, it is equally so to argue, as the First Lord of the Admiralty did, that there was no need of a British victory at Jutland, that all the fruits of victory were gained as it was. The subsequent history of the war tells a different tale.

[Footnote 1: A quarter of a million men were sent from England at this time.]


THE GRAND FLEET, 1914-1916, Admiral Viscount Lord Jellicoe of Scapa, 1919. THE GERMAN HIGH SEAS FLEET IN THE WORLD WAR, Vice Admiral von Scheer, 1920. THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND, Commander Carlyon Bellairs, M. P., 1920. THE NAVAL ANNUAL, 1919, Earl Brassey. A DESCRIPTION OF THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND, Lieut. Commander H. H. Frost, U. S. N., in U. S. NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS, vol. 45, pp. 1829 ff, 2019 ff; vol. 46, pp. 61 ff. THE BRITISH NAVY IN BATTLE, A. H. Pollen, 1919.

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