1st Edition

Britain's War At Sea, 1914-1918 The war they thought and the war they fought

Edited By Greg Kennedy Copyright 2016
    238 Pages
    by Routledge

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    In Britain, memory of the First World War remains dominated by the trench warfare of the Western Front. Yet, in 1914 when the country declared war, the overwhelming expectation was that Britain’s efforts would be primarily focussed on the sea. As such, this volume is a welcome corrective to what is arguably an historical neglect of the naval aspect of the Great War. As well as reassessing Britain’s war at sea between 1914 and 1918, underlining the oft neglected contribution of the blockade of the Central Powers to the ending of the war, the book also offers a case study in ideas about military planning for ’the next war’. Questions about how next wars are thought about, planned for and conceptualised, and then how reality actually influences that thinking, have long been - and remain - key concerns for governments and military strategists. The essays in this volume show what ’realities’ there are to think about and how significant or not the change from pre-war to war was. This is important not only for historians trying to understand events in the past, but also has lessons for contemporary strategic thinkers who are responsible for planning and preparing for possible future conflict. Britain’s pre-war naval planning provides a perfect example of just how complex and uncertain that process is. Building upon and advancing recent scholarship concerning the role of the navy in the First World War, this collection brings to full light the dominance of the maritime environment, for Britain, in that war and the lessons that has for historians and military planners.

    Introduction, Greg Kennedy

    1. The British strategic assessment of the United States as a maritime power: 1900–1917, Greg Kennedy

    2. ‘The work of the F.O. is nauseous in war time – a mess of questions of contraband & kindred subjects that don’t exist in time of peace and are a disagreeable brood spawned by war’: the foreign office and maritime war, 1914–1915, Keith Neilson

    3. ‘Allah is great and the NOT is his prophet’: sea power, diplomacy and economic warfare. The case of the Netherlands, 1900–1918, T. G. Otte

    4. Solvitur Ambulando : the Admiralty administration reacts to war, 1914–1918, C. I. Hamilton

    5. Pragmatic hegemony and British economic warfare, 1900–1918: preparations and practice, John Ferris

    6. ‘In the shadow of the Alabama’: Royal Navy appreciations of he role of armed merchant cruisers, 1900–1918, Stephen Cobb

    7. How it worked: understanding the interaction of some environmental and technological realities of naval operations in the opening years of the First World War, 1914–1916, James Goldrick

    8. The legacy of Jutland: expectation, reality and learning from the experience of battle in the Royal Navy, 1913–1939, Joseph Moretz

    9. ‘The sea is all one’: the dominion perspective, 1909–1914, David Stevens

    10. Royal Navy concepts of air power in the maritime environment 1900–1918, David Jordan

    11. Not in quiet English fields: the Royal Navy and combined operations, Joseph Moretz


    Greg Kennedy is Professor of Strategic Foreign Policy at King's College London and joined the Defence Studies Department in June 2000. He has taught at the Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, for both the History and War Studies Departments. He is an adjunct Professor of that university. His PhD is from the University of Alberta, with an MA in War Studies from the Royal Military College of Canada, and a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Saskatchewan. He has published internationally on strategic foreign policy issues, maritime defence, disarmament, diplomacy and intelligence.