Book Review – ‘Before Jutland: The naval war in northern European waters, August 1914–February 1915’ by Jorit Wintjes

By Jorit Wintjes, published October 2020


The war at sea in northern waters in the First World War is often associated with the battle of Jutland. This focus on the only large-scale engagement of the dreadnought era often reduces the naval history of the war before that event to being a mere prelude to it. While this concentration on the battle of Jutland is perhaps understandable, given the preoccupation of both sides before the war with a huge decisive battle, the 22 months before Jutland not only saw engagements important in their own right, but also presented both sides with operational challenges that had only partly been foreseen before the war. For example, the capabilities and limitations of the submarine were insufficiently understood before the war, as were those of the zeppelin and the aircraft, resulting in steep and at times painful learning curves on all sides, particularly during the early months of the war. It is in this phase, the first seven months between 1 August 1914 and the battle of the Dogger Bank that James Goldrick’s new book Before Jutland concentrates. It focuses on the war at sea in northern European waters, leaving out both the cruiser war, which continues to loom large in discussions of the first three months of the war at sea, and the initial phase of the war at sea in the Mediterranean.

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Filed under: North Sea
Subjects include: Battles & Tactics | Navies

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