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The German squadron began their attack before they realised the two battle cruisers were there.

THE WAR IN THE NORTH SEA. THE ROYAL NAVY AND THE IMPERIAL GERMAN NAVY 1914-1918

Retreating, they were easily picked off by the battle cruisers with their superior firepower. The threat of the East Asiatic Squadron was eliminated. Growing more serious however was the war beneath the waves. Both sides attempted blockades to cut off supplies of food and raw materials to the other. German submarines called U-boats Unterseebooten were now sinking allied merchant vessels at an alarming rate.

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Merchant and warships were not the only casualties; U-boats tended to fire on sight and on 7th May the liner Lusitania was sunk by U with the loss of over lives, including Americans. The subsequent worldwide outcry and pressure from Washington forced the Germans to forbid attacks on neutral shipping and passenger liners by U-boats. German Submarine U By the U-boat war had reached a crisis point; submarines were now sinking allied merchant vessels so frequently that Britain was only a few weeks away from serious food shortages.


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For the first couple of hours, German ships slipped in and out of a thick fog bank to fire on the British ships. In time, however, the Germans were lured into open water.

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After a battle that lasted nearly eight hours, Germany lost three cruisers and 1 , men, while Britain lost only thirty-five sailors and not a single ship. This early defeat intimidated Kaiser Wilhelm II , who insisted that the German navy, of which he was very proud, be kept off the open seas and used primarily as a defensive weapon.

The German submarine fleet, however, was used aggressively. Submarines armed with torpedoes were a new type of weapon at the time, and while many military leaders viewed them with skepticism and even disdain, they proved quite effective. Although the Germans had been developing a fleet of large warships in recent years, they recognized that it was still far inferior to that of Britain. Copyright, North of Scotland Newspapers.

Planning for war in the North Sea – Defence-In-Depth

After their return to base crews were granted leave, while the many wounded were taken to the naval hospitals at South Queensferry, and also to the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh where on 16 June the King spoke to all the hundred or so wounded men reported to be receiving treatment. Having survived the battle, on 1 July Leading Stoker James Quinn was involved in a motor bus accident, contracted gangrene and died four days later in hospital at South Queensferry.

The twenty six year-old from Dundee was buried at Dalmeny nearby. These sister ships, each armed with six 15 inch guns went into active service in August and September respectively. The Royal Navy suffered the humiliating loss of fourteen ships, including three of its vaunted battlecruisers, to effective German gunnery. British shells were less effective because they mostly exploded on impact rather than penetrating armour plate.


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  • Nevertheless the damage done to the German High Seas Fleet was very considerable. After Jutland Germany made the most of its lighter losses of men and ships, while in Britain the Navy was criticised by many for its apparent failures. The strategic value of the Battle of Jutland became apparent: the Royal Navy achieved its aim of containing the German naval threat, and deterred German warships from all but minor actions in the North Sea.

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    The Navy also overcame the new threat from German submarines against Atlantic supply lines. Both these achievements contributed hugely to the Allied victory in