The Royal Navy in the First World War

This page will contain a series of posts about the British Royal Navy during the First World War. They will be published as close to the 100th anniversary of the events being described as my other commitments permit.

There will be frequent mentions of the First Lord of the Admiralty and the First Sea Lord. These are different positions, but sometimes confused.

The First Lord is the political head of the Royal Navy, equivalent to the US Secretary for the Navy. This post was sometimes held by an admiral in the 18th and early 19th centuries, but was always held by a politician by this period.

The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy, equivalent to the US Chief of Naval Operations, and is always a serving admiral.

The Naval Arms Race before 1914

The Naval Balance of Power in 1914

Pre WWI British War Plans

Britain cuts German Cable Communications 5 August 1914

First British Action and Casualties of WWI 6 August 1914

HMS Birmingham Sinks U15 on 9 August 1914

SMS Goeben and Breslau Escape to Constantinople August 1914

The Sinking of SMS Zenta 16 August 1914

Allied Capture of German Codebooks

The Sinking of the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse 26 August 1914

The Battle of Hegloland Bight 28 August 1914

U21 Sinks HMS Pathfinder 5 September 1914

E9 Sinks SMS Hela 13 September 1914

HMS Carmania Sinks SMS Cap Trafalgar 14 September 1914

The Capture of German New Guinea 15 September 1914

SMS Konigsberg Sinks HMS Pegasus 1 20 September 1914

U9 Sinks Three British Cruisers 22 September 1914

U9 Sinks HMS Hawke 15 October 1914

The Battle of Texel Island 17 October 1914

The Sinking of HMS Audacious 27 October 1914

The Battle of Coronel 1 November 1914

The Cruise of SMS Karlsruhe

The Cruise of SMS Emden

The First British Invasion of Basra, 22 November 1914.

The Destruction of HMS Bulwark 26 November 1914.

The Royal Navy’s First VC of WWI.

Coronel to the Falklands.

The Battle of the Falklands 8 December 1914.

The First VC Awarded to a Submariner.

The German Raid on North East England 16 December 1914.

The Cuxhaven Raid 25 December 1914.

Submarines in 1914.

The Sinking of HMS Formidable 1 January 1915

The First Zeppelin Raid on the United Kingdom 19 January 1915

The Battle of Dogger Bank 24 January 1915

The Naval Blockades (1) United Kingdom

The Naval Blockades (2) Germany

The Sinking of SMS Dresden 14 March 1915

The Naval Attack on the Dardanelles (1) Planning

The Naval Attack on the Dardanelles (2) The Attack

 The Global Naval War

The Turning Point of the First World War, 1915: reblog from Defence in Depth

Lieutenant-Commander Eric Robinson and HMS E15

The Royal Navy and the Gallipoli Land Campaign

 The Sinking of the Lusitania 7 May 1915

The Italian Naval Convention 10 May 1915

The Sinking of HMS Goliath 13 May 1915

Admiral Fisher Resigns as First Sea Lord

Lieutenant-Commander Edward Boyle VC and HMS E14

U21 Sinks Two British Battleships in Three Days

Warneford VC and the Destruction of Two Zeppelins on 7 June 1915

Trawler and Submarine Trap Sinks U-boats.

Lieutenant-Commander Martin Naismith VC and HM Submarine E11

Captain Frederick Parslow VC and the Merchantman Anglo-Californian’s Battle with U39

The End of the  Last of the Early German Commerce Raiders: SMS Konigsberg

The First Aerial Torpedo Attack on a Ship

The First Sinking of a U-Boat by a Q-Ship

Allegations of War Crimes at Sea in 1915

The British Capture Kut-al-Amara 28 September 1915

Allied Submarines in the Dardanelles

British Submarines in the Baltic

Richard Bell Davies VC

U-boats in Late 1915

The Loss of HMS Natal 30 December 1915

The Man Who Survived 3 Sinkings in the First World War and the Titanic

First Successful Use of Depth Charges 22 March 1916

SS Sussex Torpedoed by U-boat 24 March 2016

Charles Cowley and Humphrey Firman VC

The Lowestoft Raid 25 April 1916

Jutland Centenary: building the Fleet; reblog from Glasgow University Great War Project

The Battle of Jutland 31 May – 2 June 1916

The Impact of Jutland on Economic Warfare: reblog from Defence in Depth

Jutland VCs: Harvey, Bingham, Cornwall and Jones

The Execution of Captain Fryatt 27 July 1916

The High Seas Fleet Sorties After Jutland

Archibald Smith VC and  the SS Otaki’s Fight with SMS Möwe

U Boats, the Zimmermann Telegram and the US Entry into the War

The Loss of HMS Vanguard 9 July 1917

Bibliography

This list is likely to expand as the series progresses. It includes some books and articles that I have read previously, but which relate to events that have not yet been covered. Websites used as sources of information will be indicated by a link rather than a footnote.

UK National Archives, Kew, London (NA)

Cabinet Files

CAB 37/115/39  ”Oil Fuel Supply for H.M. Navy”, 1913.

Admiralty Files

ADM 137/6  ”Persian Gulf, Part 1, 30 July – 31 October 1914”, 1914.

ADM 137/10221 ”S.M.S. Emden: Later Papers”.

UK Government Publications

Naval Staff Monographs (Historical)

These were prepared by the British Naval Staff in the 1920s and 1930s for use by RN officers. They were collected together into a number of volumes, of which the following can be downloaded from this link to the Royal Australian Navy’s website.

vol. i, ‘1. Coronel’, ‘2. German Cruiser Squadron in the Pacific’, ‘3. Falklands’, ‘4. Goeben and Breslau’.

vol. ii ’10. East Africa to July 1916′, ‘5. Cameroons 1914’.

vol. iii ‘6. Passage of BEF’, ‘7. Patrol Flotillas at Commencement of War’, ‘8. Raid on North-East Coast December 16 1914′, ’11. Heligoland Bight 1914, Aug. 28 1914′, ’12. Dogger Bank, January 24 1915.’

vol. iv, ’15. Mesopotamia and Persian Gulf’.

vol. v, ’14. First Australian Convoy.1914′, ’16. China Squadron, 1914 (including Emden Hunt’, ’17. East Indies Squadron, 1914′, ’20 Cape of Good Hope Squadron, 1914′.

vol. vi, ’18. Dover Command 1′.

vol. vii, ’19. Tenth Cruiser Squadron I’, ’25. The Baltic 1914′.

vol. viii, ’21. Mediterranean 1914-1915′.

vol. ix, ’22. Atlantic 1914′, ’23. Atlantic 1915′, ’27. Battles of Coronel and Falkland Islands’,

vol. x, ’23. Home Waters Part I August 1914′.

vol. xi, ’24. Home Waters Part II September and October 1914′.

vol. xii, ’28. Home Waters Part III November 1914 – January 1915′.

vol. xiii, ’29. Home Waters Part IV February – July 1915′.

vol.xiv, ’30. Home Waters Part V July – October 1915′.

vol. xv, ’31. Home Waters Part VI October 1915 – May 1916.’

vol. xvi, ’32. Lowestoft Raid April 1916′.

vol. xvii, ’33. Home Waters Part VII June – November 1916′.

vol. xviii, ’34. Home Waters Part VIII December 1916 – April 1917′.

vol. xix. ’35. Home Waters Part IX May – July 1917′.

Unnumbered vol. ’13. Grand Fleet August 1914 – November 1916′, ’14. First Australian Convoy.1914′, ’16. China Squadron, 1914 (including Emden Hunt’, ’17. East Indies Squadron, 1914′, ’20 Cape of Good Hope Squadron, 1914′, ’18. Dover Command 1′. ’19. Tenth Cruiser Squadron I’, ’25. The Baltic 1914.’

Parliamentary Papers

PP, Mesopotamia Commission. Report of the Commission Appointed by Act of Parliament to Enquire into the Operations of War in Mesopotamia, Together with a Separate Report by Commander J. Wedgwood, D.S.O., M.P., and Appendices, HMSO 1917 [Cd. 8610].

Published Primary Sources

Chalmers, W. S., ed. The Life and Letters of David, Earl Beatty, (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1951).

Churchill, R. S., Gilbert, M., eds Winston S. Churchill, Companion Documents, (London: Heinemann, 1967-75).

Kemp, P. K., ed. The Papers of Admiral Sir John Fisher, (London: Navy Records Society, 1960).

Lambert, N. A., Navy Records Society (Great Britain), The Submarine Service, 1900-1918, (Aldershot: Ashgate for the Navy Records Society, 2001).

Lumby, E. W. R., Policy and Operations in the Mediterranean, 1912-14, (London: Navy Records Society, 1970).

Marder, A. J., ed. Fear God and Dread Nought: The Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilverstone, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1952-59).

Patterson, A. T., ed. The Jellicoe Papers: Selections from the Private and Official Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe of Scapa, (London: Naval Records Society, 1966-68).

Ranft, B., ed. The Beatty Papers: Selections from the Private and Official Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty, (Aldershot: Scolar Press:, 1989-93).

Official Histories

Corbett, J. S., Newbolt, H., Naval Operations. 5 vols. [Second ed.] (London: HMSO, 1938).

Fayle, C. E., Seaborne Trade. 3 vols. (London: HMSO, 1920).

Hurd, A. S., The Merchant Navy. 3 vols. (London: HMSO, 1921).

Jose, A. W., The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, vol. ix, The Royal Australian Navy, 1914-1918. Ninth ed. (Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1941).

Moberly, F. J., The Campaign in Mesopotamia, 1914-1918. 4 vols. (London: HMSO, 1923).

________, Operations in Persia, 1914-1919, (London: HMSO, 1987).

Raleigh, W. A., Jones, H. A., The War in the Air: Being the Story of the Part Played in the Great War by the Royal Air Force. 7 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1922).

Naval Operations by Corbett and Newbolt and The Merchant Navy by Hurd can be viewed online at Naval-History.net. The copies of Naval Operations are of the first edition, published in 1920. The second edition, published in 1938, was revised after new sources became available, notably the German Official History, Der Kreig zur See, and the British Naval Staff Monographs.

The first volume of Seaborne Trade by Fayle and the second volume of The Campaign in Mesopotamia by Moberly can be downloaded from the Internet Archive.

The Royal Australian Navy, 1914-1918 by Jose can be downloaded from the Australian War Memorial.

Secondary Books, Memoirs  and Journal Articles

Books below highlighted in bold can be downloaded from the Internet Archive.

Superior Force and other books by G. Miller can be viewed online at navalhistory.co.uk.

Abbatiello, J. J., Anti-Submarine Warfare in World War I : British Naval Aviation and the Defeat of the U-Boats, (London: Routledge, 2006).

Andrew, C. M., Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community (London: Heinemann, 1985).

Bacon, R. H. S., The Life of Lord Fisher of Kilverstone. 2 vols. (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1929).

Baer, G. W., One Hundred Years of Sea Power : The U.S. Navy, 1890-1990, (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994).

Barker, A. J., The First Iraq War, 1914-1918: Britain’s Mesopotamian Campaign, (New York, NY: Enigma, 2009).

Bell, C. M., Churchill and Sea Power, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013).

Bennett, G., Naval Battles of the First World War, (London: Pan, 1983).

Black, N., The British Naval Staff in the First World War, (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2009).

Blyth, R. J. et al, eds The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age, (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011).

Bridgland, T., Sea Killers in Disguise : The Story of the Q Ships and Decoy Ships in the First World War, (London: Leo Cooper, 1999).

Brown, W. M., ‘Avoiding the U-Boats: The Clyde-Forth Oil Pipeline’, Mariners Mirror 90, no. 4 (2004): pp. 427-437.

Campbell, N. J. M., Jutland : An Analysis of the Fighting, (London: Conway Classics, 1998).

Cassar, G. H., The French and the Dardanelles: A Study of Failure in the Conduct of War, (London: Allen and Unwin, 1971).

Churchill, W. S., The World Crisis, 1911- 1918. 2 vols. (London: Odhams Press, 1939).

Clark, C. M., The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914, (London: Penguin, 2013).

Dreyer, F. C., The Sea Heritage. A Study of Maritime Warfare, (London: Museum Press, 1955).

Edwards, B., War under the Red Ensign 1914-1918, (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Maritime, 2010).

Gibson, M., ‘”Oil Fuel Will Absolutely Revolutionize Naval Strategy”: The Royal Navy’s Adoption of Oil before the First World War’ In A Military Transformed? Adaption and Innovation in the British Military, 1792-1945, ed. Mahoney, R., Mitchell, S., LoCicero, M. (Solihull: Helion and Company, 2014), pp. 110-23.

Gibson, R. H., Prendergast, M., The German Submarine War, 1914-1918., (London: Constable, 1931).

Gordon, G. A. H., The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command, (London: John Murray, 1996).

Gray, R., Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships, 1906-1921, (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1985).

Grimes, S. T., Strategy and War Planning in the British Navy, 1887-1918, (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2012).

Grove, E., ‘The Battleship Dreadnought: Technological, Economic and Strategic Contexts’ In The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Era, ed. Blyth, R. J., Lambert, Andrew, Rüger, Jan (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 165-81.

________, The Royal Navy since 1815 : A New Short History, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Gunn, D., Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915, (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Maritime, 2013).

Halpern, P. G., A Naval History of World War I, (London: UCL Press, 1994).

________, The Naval War in the Mediterranean, 1914-1918, (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987).

Hankey, M. P. A., The Supreme Command, 1914-1918., (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1961).

________, The Supreme Control at the Paris Peace Conference 1919. A Commentary, (London,, 1963).

Hardy, A. C., Oil Ships and Sea Transport. A Story of Oil in Relation to Its Effect on Sea Transportation., (London: George Routledge and Sons, 1931).

Hawkins, N., The Starvation Blockades, (Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 2002).

Herwig, H. H., The First World War : Germany and Austria-Hungary, 1914-1918, (London: Arnold, 1997).

________, ‘Luxury’ Fleet: The Imperial German Navy, 1888-1918, (London: Allen & Unwin, 1980).

Hinsley, F. H., Command of the Sea: The Naval Side of British History from 1918 to the End of the Second World War., (London: Christophers, 1950).

Hough, R. A., First Sea Lord: An Authorized Biography of Admiral Lord Fisher, (London: Severn House, 1977).

________, The Great War at Sea, 1914-1918, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983).

Hurley, E. N., The Bridge to France, (Philadelphia, PA: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1927).

Jameson, W. S., The Most Formidable Thing: The Story of the Submarine from Its Earliest Days to the End of World War I., (London: Rupert Hart-Davis Ltd, 1965).

Jellicoe, J. R., The Crisis of the Naval War, (London: Cassell and Company, 1920).

________, The Grand Fleet, 1914-16: Its Creation, Development and Work, (London: Cassell and Company, 1919).

________, The Submarine Peril: The Admiralty Policy in 1917., (London: Cassell and Company, 1934).

Johnston, I., Buxton, I. L., The Battleship Builders: Constructing and Arming British Capital Ships, (Barnsley: Seaforth, 2013).

Kennedy, P. M., The Rise and Fall of British Naval Mastery, (London: Allen Lane, 1976).

Lambert, N. A., Planning Armageddon : British Economic Warfare and the First World War, (Cambridge, Mass. ; London: Harvard University Press, 2012).

________, Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution, (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1999).

Layman, R. D., The Cuxhaven Raid: The World’s First Carrier Air Strike, (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1985).

________, Naval Aviation in the First World War : Its Impact and Influence, (London: Chatham, 1996).

Lloyd George, D., War Memoirs of David Lloyd George. 2 vols. (London: Odhams, 1938).

Lochner, R. K., The Last Gentleman-of-War : The Raider Exploits of the Cruiser Emden, Translated by Lindauer, T., Lindauer, H. (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1988).

Mackay, R. F., Fisher of Kilverstone, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1973).

Mahoney, R., Mitchell, S., LoCicero, M., ed., A Military Transformed? Adaption and Innovation in the British Military, 1792-1945,  (Solihull: Helion and Company, 2014).

March, E. J., British Destroyers: A History of Development 1892-1953., (London: Seely Service & Co., 1966).

Marder, A. J., From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow; the Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904-1919. 5 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1961-70).

Martin, C., ‘The Complexity of Strategy: “Jackie” Fisher and the Trouble with Submarines’, Journal of Military History 75, no. 2 (2011): pp. 441-70.

Massie, R. K., Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea, (London: Jonathan Cape, 2004).

________, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1992).

Miller, G., Superior Force : The Conspiracy Behind the Escape of Goeben and Breslau, ([Hull?]: University of Hull Press, 1996).

Moorehead, A., Gallipoli., (London: New English Library, 1963).

O’Brien, P. P., ed. The Anglo-Japanese Alliance, 1902-1922, (London: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004).

________, British and American Naval Power: Politics and Policy, 1900-1936, (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998).

________, ed. Technology and Naval Combat in the Twentieth Century and Beyond, (London: Frank Cass, 2001).

________, ‘The Titan Refreshed: Imperial Overstretch and the British Navy before the First World War’, Past & Present, no. 172 (2001): pp. 146-169.

Offer, A., The First World War: An Agrarian Interpretation, (Oxford: Clarendon, 1989).

Osborne, E. W., Britain’s Economic Blockade of Germany, 1914-1919, (London: Frank Cass, 2004).

Padfield, P., The Battleship Era, (London: Pan Books, 1975).

Preston, D., Wilful Murder: The Sinking of the Lusitania. Special Centenary edition. ed. (London: Doubleday, 2015 edition, first published 2002).

Raeder, E., Struggle for the Sea, (London,, 1959).

Roskill, S. W., Churchill and the Admirals, (London: Collins, 1977).

Scheer R., Germany’s High Sea Fleet in the World War, (London, New York,, 1920).

Seligmann, M. S., The Royal Navy and the German Threat 1901-1914 : Admiralty Plans to Protect British Trade in a War against Germany, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Simpson, C., Lusitania, (London: Longman, 1972).

Sims, W. S., Hendrick, B. J., The Victory at Sea, (London: J. Murray, 1920).

Smith, C., ‘Dreadnought Science: The Cultural Construction of Efficiency and Effectiveness’ In The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Era, ed. Blyth, R. J., Lambert, Andrew, Rüger, Jan (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 135-64.

Steel, N., Hart, P., Defeat at Gallipoli, (London: Papermac, 1995).

Steffen, D., ‘The Holtzendorff Memorandum of 22 December 1916 and Germany’s Declaration of Unrestricted U-Boat Warfare’, Journal of Military History 68, no. 1 (2004): pp. 215-224.

Stevenson, D., 1914-1918: The History of the First World War, (London: Allen Lane, 2004).

Strachan, H., The First World War: Vol. 1, to Arms, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Sumida, J. T., ‘British Naval Operational Logistics, 1914-1918’, Journal of Military History 57, no. 3 (1993): pp. 447-480.

________, In Defence of Naval Supremacy: Finance, Technology and British Naval Policy, 1889-1914, (Boston MA, London: Unwin Hyman, 1989).

Tarrant, V. E., Jutland : The German Perspective : A New View of the Great Battle, 31 May 1916, (London: Arms and Armour, 1995).

________, The U-Boat Offensive, 1914-1945, (London: Arms and Armour, 1989).

Terraine, J., Business in Great Waters: The U-Boat Wars, 1916-1945, (London: Cooper, 1989).

Travers, T., Gallipoli, 1915, (Stroud: Tempus, 2001).

Trumpener, U., ‘German Military Aid to Turkey in 1914: An Historical Re-Evaluation’, Journal of Modern History 32, no. 2 (1960): pp. 145-149.

Yates, K., Flawed Victory: Jutland, 1916, (London: Chatham, 2000).

2 responses to “The Royal Navy in the First World War

  1. Susan Lamb

    Hello Dr Gibson

    100th anniversary of Sopwith T1 Cuckoo production at Sherburn in Elmet Aerodrome – April 2018

    I am collating 100+ years of aviation heritage at Sherburn in Elmet Aerodrome and I am very interested to note that you will be publishing a series of posts about the British Royal Navy during the Fist World War and try to publish these as close to the 100th anniversary as possible.

    In April 1918, at Sherburn in Elmet Aerodrome, The Blackburn Aircraft & Motor Company produced its first of 163 Sopwith T1 torpedo aircraft under contract, ordered by Admiralty with the objective of attacking the German High Seas Fleet in its home port. Many of the aircraft built at Sherburn went to East Fortune and Torpedo Training School, intended for embarkation aboard HMS Argus.

    In 1921, six of the Sopwith Cuckoos (with Viper engines) built at Sherburn went to Japan as part of the British Aviation Mission led by Colonel Sempill. Presumably Colonel Sempill visited Sherburn because he was a competitor in Kings Cup Air Races during 1929, 1930 and 1931 when Sherburn was a landing point.

    During WWII, Sherburn in Elmet Aerodrome was once more an aircraft manufacturer’s aerodrome – more naval aircraft. In a new purpose built factory at Sherburn, Blackburn built 1,699 Fairey Swordfish. The aerodrome was also home to Blackburn Repair Organisation, Air Transport Auxiliary Ferry Pool No 7, and Airborne Forces Experimental Establishment.

    I hope you might be interested to write in one of your posts about the 100th anniversary of Sopwith T1 production at First World War Aerodrome Sherburn in Elmet, and I hope to hear from you.

    With best regards

    Susan Lamb

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