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After Jutland

James Goldrick

The Naval War in North European Waters, June 1916–November 1918
This is the story of the naval war in northern European waters following the critical if inconclusive battle of Jutland. There is a popular misconception that the battle marked the end of the operational career of the German High Sea Fleet. The reality is much more complex. The German battle fleet may have been quiescent in the North Sea, but it supported an ambitious amphibious campaign in the Baltic while an ever more bitter commerce war was waged by U-boats; and smaller warships of both sides fought a gruelling campaign in the waters of the English Channel and the Belgian Coast.

While the book focuses primarily on the Royal Navy as the dominant maritime force, it also analyses the struggles of the beleaguered German Navy as it sought to find ways to break the tightening stranglehold of the Allied blockade. It includes an assessment of the small, but increasingly significant supporting role played by the French Navy from its bases in northern France, while the continuing conflict in the Baltic is explored as the Germans increased pressure on Russian territory and the Russian fleet, despite the descent into revolution, still managed to strike heavy blows at the Imperial German Navy.

The author deals with the entry into the conflict of the United States and the increasing commitment of the US Navy to operations in Northern European waters. Many of the foundations of success in the next war were laid by the USN at this time, and there are strong links between the performance of all the navies and their experiences in 1939-45.

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The Naval War in North European Waters, June 1916–November 1918 This is the story of the naval war in northern European waters following the critical if inconclusive battle of Jutland. There is a popular misconception that the battle marked the end of the operational career of the German High Sea Fleet. The reality is much more complex. The German battle fleet may have been quiescent in the North Sea, but it supported an ambitious amphibious campaign in the Baltic while an ever more bitter commerce war was waged by U-boats; and smaller warships of both sides fought a gruelling campaign in the waters of the English Channel and the Belgian Coast. While the book focuses primarily on the Royal Navy as the dominant maritime force, it also analyses the struggles of the beleaguered German Navy as it sought to find ways to break the tightening stranglehold of the Allied blockade. It includes an assessment of the small, but increasingly significant supporting role played by the French Navy from its bases in northern France, while the continuing conflict in the Baltic is explored as the Germans increased pressure on Russian territory and the Russian fleet, despite the descent into revolution, still managed to strike heavy blows at the Imperial German Navy. The author deals with the entry into the conflict of the United States and the increasing commitment of the US Navy to operations in Northern European waters. Many of the foundations of success in the next war were laid by the USN at this time, and there are strong links between the performance of all the navies and their experiences in 1939-45. Not only were doctrine and technology shaped by the events of the First War, so were the cultures of the various services and the characters of the individuals who would go on to serve in the highest ranks in the next. All of this makes the 1916-18 period so significant in naval history. In addition to his huge historical knowledge, the author brings his own extensive personal experience of naval operations and command at sea to this study, and this fusion of history with practical understanding sheds a unique and fascinating perspective on his analysis of the conflict.

ISBN: 9781526742988
Format: Hardback
Author(s): James Goldrick
First Publishment Date: 4 October 2018

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  1. Very highly recommended. review by PWM on 07/03/2019

    The aftermath of Jutland saw the British Grand Fleet and German High Seas Fleet pull back to their home ports to lick their wounds, and in the case of the Grand Fleet, its injured pride. James Goldrick’s book shows that whilst another major encounter in the North Sea between the two massed Fleets was unlikely, naval encounters continued at every level.

    The High Seas Fleet under Scheer had failed to produce the knockout blow that the German nation had expected. Scheer believed that concentrating on unrestricted submarine warfare was the only realistic way of neutralising the British. Meanwhile Scheer still had to face up to the threats in the Baltic from both the Russian Navy and possible British incursions. Along the coast of Belgium and the Dover Straits, there were frequent naval clashes involving primarily submarines and destroyers.

    The lessons learnt from Jutland spread through both Fleets. Command and control methods were restructured, communications systems were enhanced, and there was greater awareness of the growing impact of air power.

    For the British, the increasing economic impact of the U-boat campaign led to technological changes as well as the eventual introduction of the convoy system. Mining was also a growing threat to both sides with the laying of large scale barrages, and this is an area where Goldrick believes that the British could and should have been more active in restricting the movement of the High Seas Fleet. Goldrick shows that far from the respective navies withdrawing from the fray, both navies, particularly the smaller ships, were being worked hard. The Russian Navy, at first a major force in the Baltic, was to become increasingly burdened with political turmoil which subsequently spread to the High Seas Fleet.

    In his final conclusion, Goldrick comments that Royal Navy operating methods in 1918 “were a remarkable advance on 1914”, and that large scale battle fleets were being replaced by balanced formations with integral air support. This is an extraordinarily absorbing book, leaving one almost breathless as it covers every aspect of the naval war of the last years of WW1 from morale to the development of weapons and tactics. Very highly recommended.


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