One hundred years after Trafalgar
The Dreadnought chronicle.
In 1888 Wilhelm II became the 9th King of Prussia and the 3rd Emperor of Germany was consumed with jealousy at Berties life style in particular the winning of a yachting race and reputation of the Royal Navy. The answer was to build his own Cowes in Kiel and fill it with enthusiastic rich and noble personage. William managed to jam as many as he could into Kiel but it never matched Cowes in style or glamour. Even with all his power he could not make the music and atmosphere of enjoyment. The beauties of Britain could not be enticed to his heel clicking Kiel.
The Transvaal attracted Williams attention and he sought to intercede, but he had not enough naval strength to impress the British Empire. As an answer to this problem he ordered the procurement of armoured cruiser s as quickly as possible. The Reichstag approved the building of Keiser Fredrick der Grosse with three large Cruisers and the next year more were d emanded.
Admiral Tirpitz returned to Germany in 1897 just as German Marines, taking advantage of the Boxer Rebellion seized the harbour in Tsingtao on Kiaochow Bay for their war ships. In June of that year Tirpitz handed William the famous manuscript of a very secret nature stating the military situation demanded more battleships in as greater numbers as soon as possible, in other words a Great German Fleet. A fleet of ships comparable or more than the British Navy. In 1898 the Fashoda Incident encouraged France to mobilises its Navy against Great Britain.
In 1901 the Admiralty informed the Prime Minster of the German persistence in Naval advancement to conflict with ours. The foreign policy a direct compliment of Nelson's Trafalgar was now at an end. Ernest Hasse had said, the world was already divided and Germany wanted territory, even if it belonged to foreigners, so as to shape their future an d according to needs.
The plan to defeat an island nation lay in the outmatching and destruction of its naval forces. Britain and France in 1904 - sign the Entente Cordiale, settling outstanding territorial disputes In 1905 Europe looked down the precipice of war in the Agadir Incident.
Morocco had been a problem for some time in international affairs even after the Act of Algeciras had sanctioned a kind of self-determination. Despite this, France held superior political power and Germany had only trading rights. Britain was the major commercial partner and as such looked the other way when friction between the two European powers occurred, not to disturb its markets. In 1907 the battle lines were drawn in Europe. On one side was the Triple Alliance, which consisted of German, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. On the oth er side was the Triple Entente, which consisted of Great Britain, France and Russia. The only thing that Europe needed to erupt in war was something to set it off.
German deserters from the French foreign legion were assisted by the Moroccan consulate in 1908 and the Germans not pleased with this acted call ously, Agadir problems continue. There was a rumour of war. In 1909 a new treaty was signed recognising Frances Moroccan political superiority and Germany's trading rights, a form of status quo. King Edward VII dies in 1910 "Belle Epoque" ends and George V took over the reigns, William thought he was a soft touch and could be manipulated. The Germans took advantage and expanded their rights expecting the French to back them up. France refused to oblige and in 1910 we moved closer to belligerence.
Local tribes revolted and a French Officer was killed in 1911 . France responded by threatening to send troops to Fez to protect their citizens. Germany naturally wanted to use the same argument and sent warshi ps to Agadir. German attempt to challenge French rights in Morocco by sending the gunboat Panther to Agadir in July 1911. The action incited the Second Moroccan Crisis. This incident provoked France and brought Europe to the brink of war. Germany later agreed to a French protectorate over Morocco.
A conservative Reichstag member shouts: "After every war things are better!"
Germany's standing up to the French over Morocco not only stirred up French belligerence, it disturbed the British. A desire for a rapprochement with Germany that had been developing in Britain quickly evaporated. British strategists were frightened into believing that they should stand firmly by their alliances with France and Russia. Britain signed an agreement with France that allowed a more efficient use of both their navies.
In Germany those favouring peace and negotiations won for Germany a negotiated settlement of differences with France, signed in Berlin in November 1911. Germany agreed to France establishing a protectorate over Morocco and in exchange, Germany received a little strip of land from the French Congo, giving Germany's colony, Kamerun (Cameroon) access to the Congo River. This agreement outraged Germany's hawks.
Italy's responded to France's gains in Morocco by seeking land of its own in North Africa. Italy warred against Turkey's Ottoman Empire for Tripoli and Cyrenaica. The Ottoman Turks lost face and looked weak to Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece. 1912, Germany agreed with the Ottoman Turks. France was with Serbia. Serbia and Greece took on Bulgaria. In 1913, Serbia emerged from these wars triumphant.
The sound of thunder in the Balkans
1914 Jun. Kiel Week: a British naval squadron visits the German naval base at Kiel. The Kaiser visits a British Dreadnought wearing a Royal Navy Admiral's uniform.
Fear God and Dreadnought.
One hundred years after Trafalgar the first Dreadnought send signals of dismay to Naval powers around the world. It rendered all other fighting sh ps second rates.
HMS Dreadnought was named after a ship that fought in Trafalgar. The ship was said to be the idea of Admiral Sir John Fisher First Sea Lord in 1904. Jackie Fisher set up a Committee of Designs which he controlled. Some experts maintain he actually wanted armoured battle cruisers and submarines coordinated by wireless. But seemed to have settled for the Dreadnought concept. He is also known for his long running battle with Admiral Charles Beresford.
Built in Portsmouth Yard, Dreadnought was the fastest and best armed ship i n the world, completed in 1906. The speed of its construction is remarkable even by today's standard to be completed in one year. Dreadnought at 21,854 tons full load with ten 12inch guns (305mm) and powered by new steam turbine engines had the top speed of 21.6 knots 3 knots faster than any other battleship. Her range was 7,870 miles with a crew up to 773.
After her trials in the Mediterranean and Trinidad she became the Flagship 1st Division Home Fleet in 1907. It is not surprising the rest of the world looked on and tried to emulate its power and speed. In 1914 Dreadnought was made Flagship of the 4th Battle Squadron Grand Fleet.
Fortunately Admiral Fisher had insisted on a ram bow and the Dreadnought used this effectively to sink the German Submarine U-29 on the 18th May 191 5. This great ship was already obsolete by 1914 and was withdrawn as the Flagship before the Battle of Jutland which began on the 31st May 1916 in t he North Sea.
Dreadnought was based Sheerness to scare of German Battle Cruisers from entering the Thames and never having fired in anger at a surface enemy. HMS Dreadnought was deleted from the Royal Navy on the 31st March 1920 and the following year sold for scarp to T.W Ward Inverkeithing and lay at her moorings till 2an January 1923. Those who watched saw this great Ship being towed on a wet winter morning to her last berth. No fan fare no flags flying and no Bosuns Pipe only the drumming of rain on her now rusting superstructure. HMS Dreadnought became scrap.
The last leviathan battle ship of the Royal Navy HMS Vanguard like her ancestor did not fire a gun in anger was made into scrap metal in 1960. Thus a maritime nation par excellence lost its battleships none persevered.
We have mentioned several people and events that may induce the reader to look further into these matters. May we remind you our look at events is of a casual nature and we sometimes see things from a different perspective
The Encyclopaedia of the Worlds Warships.
Dreadnought by Robert K Massie- (A Masterly Book).