One hundred years after Trafalgar

picture of HMS Dreadnought 1906

The Dreadnought chronicle.

Bertie, Prince of Wales to become king in 1902 known as a lover of  actresses and a yachtsman of high calibre. During the Regatta at Cowes, he was  seen walking across the lawn of the Royal Yacht Squadron in blue jacket, white  flannel trousers and white yachting cap, smoking a large cigar. Beauties from  all over crushed in near to catch his attentions, with his array of friends  always near by to compliment him.

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.

Germany launched :

Kurfurst Friedrich Wilhelm, 1891 Brandenburg,1891
Worth, 1892. Kaiser Friedrich III,1896.
Kaiser  Wilhelm III,1897 Kaiser Wilhelm der Grobe,1899
Kaiser Karl der Grobe,1899 Kaiser  Barberossa,1900.
Kronprinz Wilhelm,1914.

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 

Acknowledgements to-
The Encyclopaedia of the Worlds Warships. 
Dreadnought by Robert K Massie- (A Masterly Book).

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