Remembrance Sunday: Looking Back at WWI at Sea
This Remembrance Sunday, the nation will pause and remember all those who sacrificed so much to try and achieve a more peaceful world.
This year marks the hundredth anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, therefore commemorating the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts is particularly poignant.
Although WWI was mainly fought on land, its outcome was largely affected by the war fought at sea.
Before the First World War officially began, Britain and Germany had been locked in a naval arms race for a number of years. Britannia had ruled the waves, but Germany saw the opportunity to challenge that dominance as the dreadnought quickly became the symbol of naval power.
Described as ‘castles of steel’, the dreadnought revolutionised the design of boats used in conflict. It had not been long before that warships were powered by sail and weaponry was primitive in comparison.
As soon as war began, Britain caused a trade blockade and prevented access to the Channel. This drastically limited the movements of the German High Seas Fleet and also stopped merchant ships from supplying Germany and its allies with raw materials and food.
Despite action from Britain and its allies, German U-Boats moving virtually undetected under the surface became a huge threat at sea. The threat was taken very seriously after three vessels in the British surface fleet were attacked by German torpedo.
Above the surface, the Battle of Jutland became the only major meeting of the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet. Beginning on the afternoon of 31 May 1916 and continuing until the early hours of the following day, both sides claimed to exit the Battle of Jutland victorious. Germany inflicted more losses than it suffered, but its fleet was largely inactive following the battle, while the Grand Fleet remained dominant at sea.
Although the big iconic battles of WWI were not fought at sea, it was one of the key battlegrounds for new revolutionary technology, the deciding factor in the majority of wars from then on.
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Image Credit: Wikipedia
Article by Jack Bartrop