the tragic lies of Admiral Jellicoe

Discussion in 'History' started by seafarer1939, Oct 7, 2009.

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  1. I have read history,particularly Royal Navy, history, most of my life and now I find it hard to read about the slaughter in the trenches during WW1.
    The carnage was so unnecessary and pointless and as so often said, Lions led by Donkeys.
    As someone who has always thought Gen Haig should have been tried as a war criminal for making men walk towards the guns with heavy packs and getting caught up on the wire,and no running or else they would be shot! it came as a bit of surprise to find out that one of the biggest idiots was an Admiral!
    After the slaughter on the Somme,Haig was called to London and told enough is enough, no more trench stupidity, attacks will be from the underbelly around Italy and into Germany that way.
    Haig was made to agree but Admiral Jellicoe then piped up and said we were losing too many ships to German submarines sailing from Ostend so Haig had to go through Passchendaele to capture the port , Jellicoe said that we can't carry on with these losses due to these submarines.
    Haig was delighted so off he went to slaughter another hundred thousand Tommies in the mud and horror that was Passchendaele.
    Point is! Jellicoe was lying,he knew that shipping attacks,in 1917, from German subs were well down on previous years , and even more of a lie was the fact that those who did sail,set off from German ports,Ostend was hardly ever used to launch German vessels. He also knew that 300 anti -sub destroyers being built in the USA were nearly completed and would be operational here within a month,
    Why did the Admiral lie and for what reason?I can find no answer up to now but this Admiral,one of our supposed heroes,caused the deaths of over a hundred thousand soldiers by his remarks made through lies and with no valid real reason that I can find.
    Hardly our finest hour at the Admiralty an act of complete stupidity probably connived over a glass of Port in White's club.
    Lloyd George now had his hands tied,but why did Jellicoe do it?Anyone know or even guess?got me beat and I have read extensively on WW1 but this has just surfaced,kept this quiet I reckon.
    He was dismissed later after a disagreement with a minister but after the war,along with Haig,was revered and promoted.
    We really did have some stupid decision makers with no trace of humanity in them.
    Bit of a long time to look back I know but the answer to his stupidity eludes me and someone may know.
     
  2. Also worth a read; Architect of Victory: Douglas Haig, Dispels a lot of the myths
     
  3. Jellicoe and the other beings constituting the Lords of Admiralty were in fact losing ships -------------however the information given from the ports
    regarding ships sailing and arriving and non arrivals was false.

    Also the protection for merchantile shipping was not provided --the convoy system was not introduced untill later in the war . The Admiralty was relying on ''hunting groups '' to seek out Uboats and not having very much success!

    Once the Admiralty realised the shipping losses were getting very critical
    --the Government stepped in and basically ordered the RN to do convoy escort work ---------a time honoured system that worked ie let the Uboats come to where the targets were and then hunt them.

    The Convoy system was kept and used in the second world war and proved a success then too.

    Other U boat deterrents were the mine fields to blockade the German coastlines and Uboat passage routes.

    Basically Jellicoe was quoting the mis information he'd been supplied with --- yes shipping losses and thinking his ''hunting groups' were doing a good job !!


    G
     
  4. Thanks for the replies,I will hunt out these titles.My outlook is the same,he should have known what the position was re.shipping and U-boat sailings based on his officer staff.
    If he did not then his staff was incompetent,if the they were competent then he was lacking in judgement.
    It's too late to rake up the past,except for the firing squad of shell shocked soldiers which will never go away.
    I am just researching this period and this came up in an obscure book and I wondered why.Regards
     
  5. Hello Seafarer1939,

    All credit to your interest in history; I respect that, your experience & your opinion.

    Without disputing that opinion I would however like to offer a few words of general caution.

    All historians have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. The genuine historians will sift through as many ‘primary sources’ as they can find, or have access to, and provide their own brand of condensate. But this is almost always coloured by their particular perspective (bias?) on events and personalities.
    Otherwise ‘History’ would just become a raw chronology.

    This you will know already, and I hope that you have not been seduced by colourful, but sensational, coffee table ‘histories’.

    As a skeptic I believe (besides the primary and secondary sources – and how accurate are THEY?) that there is so much of history that is always inaccessible. Often because materials were not recorded/incorrectly recorded/mislaid, etc. Later historians will always unearth more material and can sometimes cause a revision of a previous established version, often with apparently shocking headlines; like your thread title.

    I also believe that any historical work should always be presented/related with frequent reference to the context and mores of that specific period, not just by today’s standards.

    This is only now being re-introduced into our ‘histories’; ‘The British Empire’ (oppressive) and ‘Rudyard Kipling’ (jingoist) are just two examples where history is over-ripe for a revisit.

    (Aside: I often wonder who will benefit from such studies? Besides the academic interest, how can we ensure that our rich legacy survives within our fabric?)



    SF’39 - The above is just my observation, not a ‘rant’.

    Finally, (please do not take me for a pedant, there are enough of those on any ‘fora/forums’ already!) just a friendly word about your signature, mon brave sir, not Monsarret, sp:

    Commander Nicholas John Turney Monsarrat RNVR (22 March 1910 – 8 August 1979)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Monsarrat

    The Visitor - play
    This Is The Schoolroom
    My brother Denys
    Three Corvettes (1945 and 1953)
    H.M.S. Marlborough Will Enter Harbour (1949)
    The Cruel Sea (1951)
    The Story of Esther Costello (1952)
    The Ship That Died of Shame (1959)
    H M Frigate
    The Tribe That Lost Its Head (1956)
    The Nylon Pirates (1960)
    The White Rajah (1961)
    The Time Before This (1962)
    Smith and Jones (1963)
    Something to Hide (1963)
    A Fair Day's Work (1964)
    Life is a four letter word: Breaking in (London, 1966) - autobiography
    Richer Than All His Tribe (1968)
    Life is a four letter word: Breaking out (London, 1970) - autobiography
    The Kappillan of Malta (1973)
    The Master Mariner – unfinished

    I read many of these as a v-keen-on-the-RN youngster and have re-read some, including the last two, recently: Cracking Historical Novels, IMHO.

    (Must tell Flymo about ‘The Kappillan of Malta’.)

    Adios – Bob

    PS Re: Your Conclusion: “with no valid real reason that I can findâ€. Please keep looking. We need to know the truth, too.


    PPS At your/my age perhaps we should be writing history, not reading it……
     
  6. Seafarer ---am myself interested in the fiasco that was WW1 .

    Haig and his ''one last assault'' to carry the battle after losing so many in futile assaults and still not winning anything significant.
    Staff Officers planning reports --expect high casualties ---very high !!

    Haig was a cavalry man---had friends in high places and kept his job till the end of the war 1919.
    The American entry into the war was basically the deciding factor
    for the German Armistice .

    The usual excuse for the way the war was fought was the fact that the
    introduction of 'modern' weapons --the machine gun/ artillery/aeroplanes
    Tanks the Army Generals old ideas and tactics couldn't handle it!
    Trench warfare was relatively unknown aswell.

    Good book ----Butchers and Bunglers of WW1! Written by an Australian
    who lost quite a few relatives .Lots of truths in it about the land war casualties and cock ups!!

    The RN was similar --the Uboat war was under hand and not very british !!
    Uboat detection methods were basic .


    G
     
  7. Very interesting topic '39 and not something I know much about.

    Fully agree with BOOTWU though - primary sources are needed - it is all too easy to be influenced by opinions/heresay, even with such recent history.
     
  8. For some personal accounts of the naval/military situation towards the end of WWI, you might look at contemporary issues of the deliberately independent and often irreverent Naval Review. For a flavour, this passage is taken from Vol V (1917):

     
  9. Re the First World War:
    somewhere in the National Archive is a document which gives Admiral Sir John Fisher's story of his dispute with Churchill in 1915. This led to him picking up his kitbag, hammock and hat box and retire to the Scottish Highlands to go fishing. He ignored all pleas to return to his post as First Sea Lord until he received a telegram which said "The King orders you to return to your duty". He did, but was given the push soon after - the fact that Churchill lost his job at the Admiralty soon after must have been some consolation after Gallipoli.
    I particularly remember this, as I sent it to the then PRO in the late 90's, endorsing the form to the effect that the release of this document should be accompanied by a press release thaet this was the first time that Fisher's side of the story had been told - up until then, everything had been told by Churchill and his biographers (probably to Fisher's detriment no doubt). I spent 2 hours trawling through the catalogue on the Nationl Archive website, but I'm damned if I can find it. If anyone does manage to locate it, it's well worth the reading, especially as Churchill and his adherents had 80 years to muddy the waters.
     
  10. Apart from the American Civil War and the 2nd Boer War?

    In all fairness, though, it was known but hardly anyone had bothered to understand it.
     
  11. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Seafarer, you are just as misinformed as all the others who think there was a neat alternative to trench warfare, and a neat solution to U-boats.

    Just to pick on a few basic points:

    Haig had to go on ordering assaults to prevent the Germans concentrating on the French line and breaking it, and because of SHORTAGE OF AMMUNITION (aggravated by Trades Union obstinacy at home) had to order infantry attacks with insufficient artillery preparation. Communication with the Front was by landline telephone, frequently cut by shellfire, or runner, frequently shot or shelled before the message could get back. In the end, as in all things human, technology was the answer - the aeroplane and the tank particularly, but also improved handling of artillery. It has to be remembered that all the officers in the BEF were operating way above their trained level; never in British history had such a huge army been put into the field and to lead armies, corps, divisions, and brigades officers had to be promote dinto those leadership positions as best might be. At the same time officers had to learn to handle new technology that had simply not existed in 1914. For instance the working of tanks and infantry togetehr had to be learned the hard way. The ordinary troops after the regulars had been through the mincer in 1914 were in some ways hardly trained at all, so the ops given to them could only be of the most basic.

    Shipping figures were based on all movements and it took a while to understand that these, fundamentally HM Customs figures, did not answer to the case. The hydrophone, hastily developed, could only be used whioel stationary. Q-ships only worked until they were rumbled. Convoy was the answer to U-boats and it worked. NB in 1942 the US still didn't believe this and bore terrible losses on their E coast until Admiral King reluctantly changed his mind. The fact that convoy is an OFFENSIVE measure took a long time to sink in; it beings the enemy to battle on ground of your own choosing, rather than running around looking for him where he isn't.

    Cut Jellicoe some slack; thanks to him we continued to have the free use of the North Sea and were able to maintain the blockade, which played a part in bringing Germany to its knees through starvation. Scheer's aim at Jutland was to break the Grand Fleet and so break the blockade - and he FAILED, just as he FAILED to lure the Grand Fleet into piecemeal battles that would deliver eventual defeat in detail. This was aggravated by the Germans having to take men off the land for the army because of the casualties inflicted by Haig (and the Russians early in the war).

    The bottom line is, we won; but at several points, only just. Now go read the books. Including 'A Naval History of World War 1' by PG Halpern.
     
  12. Again thanks for the replies,Seeweed I'm not misinformed,I have at least 50 books gathered over the years,maps and layouts of all the battles.
    I may know nowt about other things but I wanted to find out why so many were led to slaughter for so little gain.
    There was an alternative to the trenches,the underbelly thru Italy was was viable but the French,after Verdun,wanted us to take the pressure off their Army who were in mutiny so we had to go in.
    Generals Rawlinson and Robertson ordered the men to wear heavy packs and walk towards the enemy,run and you will risk been shot,the packs snagged on the wire and thousands died,this is not trench warfare'it's stupid slaughter of the troops.
    Bear also in mind the Germans had fortified their trenches with massive concrete bunkers that shells bounced off,our Generals said it wasn't worth us doing it,the men stayed in mud trenches.
    I could go on a but it's worth bearing in mind that one lucky soldier survived the whole 4 years of bloody battles and came through unhurt,he then remarked at Armistice "I am only 200 yards ahead of where I was in 1914"Such slaughter for what?
    these are all proven quotes,and it just made me sadder,when researching,than any other war.
    I lost 3 uncles in that war and just wanted to know why an Admiral piped up and thus continued the horror.
    I have no intention of re-living mistakes just enquiring for answers.cheers
     
  13. Again thanks for the replies,Seeweed I'm not misinformed,I have at least 50 books gathered over the years,maps and layouts of all the battles.
    I may know nowt about other things but I wanted to find out why so many were led to slaughter for so little gain.
    There was an alternative to the trenches,the underbelly thru Italy was was viable but the French,after Verdun,wanted us to take the pressure off their Army who were in mutiny so we had to go in.
    Generals Rawlinson and Robertson ordered the men to wear heavy packs and walk towards the enemy,run and you will risk been shot,the packs snagged on the wire and thousands died,this is not trench warfare'it's stupid slaughter of the troops.
    Bear also in mind the Germans had fortified their trenches with massive concrete bunkers that shells bounced off,our Generals said it wasn't worth us doing it,the men stayed in mud trenches.
    I could go on a but it's worth bearing in mind that one lucky soldier survived the whole 4 years of bloody battles and came through unhurt,he then remarked at Armistice "I am only 200 yards ahead of where I was in 1914"Such slaughter for what?
    these are all proven quotes,and it just made me sadder,when researching,than any other war.
    I lost 3 uncles in that war and just wanted to know why an Admiral piped up and thus continued the horror.
    I have no intention of re-living mistakes just enquiring for answers.cheers
     
  14. Sorry about the double post,I try to study WW1 as much as possible but I can't get my head around this new cordless keyboard and mouse!
    sometimes works twice or not at all,time for the bin I reckon.
     
  15. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    The yards gained or lost are not the measure of what was being fought for. What mattered was causing German casualties and in this, in the end, we were successful. Now, seafarer, since you know so much, please come up with an alternative strategy that would have worked better.

    Some 6.5 m War Medals were issued to British Empire troops and something like a sixth of that number were fatal casualties. Nobody in our history had ever before fielded, trained, led, fed and provided for an army on that scale; there were no precedents; the only personal experience army officers had to guide them was colonial warfare; they had never fought a mechanised, modern enemy - least of all one whose Government had for years worked to ensure supply for an aggressive war which it was deliberately planning. Were it not for Fisher the same inadequacies would have been present in the RN. At least we had a trained, superior battle fleet.
     
  16. Seaweed.
    If the measure of success in a battle/war is did we kill enough men rather than ground gained then the whole premise needs to be revised. If you remember Vietnam was all about body count and the US managed to lose that one big time. WW1 was and should have been about capturing and holding ground, just because medals were given out posthumously does not make the strategy a success. Attrition is one thing, but to maintain the pressure you need forward movement.

    The whole reason for General Officers is that they are supposedly the experts; it is their job to devise tactics that cause the enemy to loose and us to prevail with the smallest amount of casualties possible. As to trench warfare and mechanized warfare being new I can accept one possibly two battles to learn new tactics but to fight an extended engagement using the same failed tactics for months on end, this was just foolish.

    I think you will find the Naval tactics used at Jutland were almost comical and we were lucky that the Germans were not better prepared or we could have lost that one too.

    If we sat down and looked at WW1 naval and land battles we can pick every movement apart, but at the time they possible thought they were doing the right thing, dependant on experience.
     
  17. Seafarer - This link to WW1 Infantry Battalion War Diaries may be of interest > http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Infantry_Battalion_War_Diary_Transcript_Links_(WW1)#South_Staffordshire_Regiment

    I can just remember my great grandpa; he survived WW1 and came out the other side as an infantry battalion RSM with a shed-full of medals. He was also totally bat-shit crazy. His right arm was locked up with shrapnel damage and the sight of grandma sitting by the fire and prising his hand open so that she could cut his nails and stop them growing through the palm of his hand was the stuff of childhood nightmares.

    RM
     
  18. A book I've read that's got somw good articles in is "Myths & Legends of WW1" by James Hayward.

    As Gallipoli and Churchill have been mentioned "Gallipoli" by L.A. Carlyon is a good read. Basically saying that it had a good chance of success if it had been taken seriously as the concensus in the war office was that "Johnny Turk" would run as soon as we landed so the landings had no intel, no maps and no logistic support on a large enough scale.
    The C-in-C was Sir Ian Hamilton who didn't like to "upset" people and was dictated to by juniors and Lt General Sir Frederick Stopford whose expertise was in ceremonial. not a recipe for success. The whole idea was to relieve pressure on the Western Front, didn't work so lead on to the First Battle of the Somme a year later in 1916.
     

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