Book Review-‘How the Navy Won the War: The real instrument of victory, 1914–1918’ by J. Ring

By David G. Morgan-Owen, published December 2020

Abstract

Debates over what role British seapower might play in a European conflict long preceded the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. The idea that sea power might enable Britain to limit her military commitment to the Continent remained an alluring prospect throughout the conflict, and has proven no less attractive to many commentators in the hundred years since its conclusion. As Sir Julian Stafford Corbett, lamented in 1918, ‘now my fate is to tell the stupid story of the war as it is; not, alas, as it might have been.’

The war left the Royal Navy with a serious image problem. As many naval officers at the time recognized, the silent pressure of seapower exercised a far less powerful pull on the public mind than the battles of the Western Front. To a greater or lesser extent, advocates of seapower have grappled with this essential problem ever since. The centenary celebrations of the battle of Jutland in 2016 saw prominent navy men arguing that the action had ‘won the war’ by ensuring the continuation of the Allied blockade of the central powers. They made these claims despite the fact that the German Fleet had left port with no such objective in mind on the day of the battle…

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Filed under: WW1
Subjects include: Navies

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