Monday, May 30, 2016


I've seen a couple of TV programmes about the Battle of Jutland, now 100 years in the past. One on C4 and one on BBC2. The BBC one took the usual Home Counties Blue Peter approach and whilst it made some great points about the lethal operating procedures of the RN's ships it was all a bit cloying and irritating. C4's was a better programme, more down to earth, looking at the two senior RN officers leading the day. Sad to say it seemed to be another case of (poorly trained and prepared) lions being led by arrogant donkeys as is the way of a lot of the WW1 narrative. 

Much was made of the weaknesses (and relative strengths and inner conflicts) of Beatty and Jellicoe. Men trapped in 19th Century warfare methods armed with 20th Century weapons that they did not fully understand. In fact the way the great Dreadnoughts were built and operated made me think that they were never really intended to be used in anger, like today's nuclear weapons. They were a shaking fist to frighten any upstarts who growled back at the British Empire but their onboard regimes and lack of safety systems and design could not support or sustain any kind of fire fight. They shouldn't have been out at sea so ill prepared and inexperienced. One decent hit from the enemy could destroy a ship as it was full of open delivery shafts and unclosed doors leading to huge amounts of shells and cordite buried deep in the ship. The poor untrained men had no chance once hit anywhere near a turret or magazine. Awful stuff really and testimony to the dreadful truth that time and time again people fail to learn lessons from the past and fail to understand the weaknesses of the technology they are grappling with on the day. 

The only consolation seems to be the view that despite the huge losses on both sides the Germans never did try again to unblock the North Sea routes and so slowly ran out of supplies as the war raged on. Anyway, a real horror story, God bless the poor souls that were out there...

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