The greatest naval war the world has ever witnessed

The Dodeka Club rejoiced in the successes of the Royal Navy since the start of the war.

Friday March 5th

Johnson opening the discussion of the evening with a paper on “What the British Navy had done”. He stated that the greatest naval war which the world had ever witnessed has been in progress nearly seven months. It had been marked by no engagement of first class importance, there had been no battle in which battleships of the latest types have been opposed to one another.

Nevertheless the British Fleet, not alone in one sea, but in every sea, had achieved a series of victories of great importance. Reviewing the course of events in broad outline, he summarised what the British Navy had achieved since August 4th 1914.

1. The High Sea Fleet of Germany had been contained in its home ports without respite, not a single German battle squadron had been at sea.
2. Five & a half million tons of German & a million tons of Austro-Hungarian shipping had been driven off the seas or captured.
3. The overseas trade of Germany & Austria had been strangled.
4. The German colonial Empire had been almost entirely destroyed.
Then. Too, at the outbreak of war there were at least – at the lowest estimate – one million Germans & Austrians of military age, resident in foreign countries who were prevented from crossing the seas to fight against us.

By way of contrast Johnson went on to show
1. That British shipping had been as active in war time as in peace, & had suffered but very little loss.
2. British overseas trade, except with the enemy, had been maintained.
3. Not a single British dominion, colony or dependency had been invaded, the German incursion into South Africa excepted.
4. Forty-five millions of inhabitants of the United Kingdom have been amply fed day-by-day & all owing to the Navy, which shows that our sailors are more than maintaining the splendid traditions of the past, & their skill and heroism leave nothing to be desired, and all honour to them.

It was getting towards the bewitching hour of midnight before the meeting broke up.

Dodeka Club minutes (D/EX2160/1/3)

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