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By Bernard Ireland

Battle at Sea 1914-1945

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In support were over one hundred shipbuilding yards. Bearing in mind the relative sizes of the British fleet and the German Navy, the latter's sacrifice of a significant force of modern ships and trained crews in exchange for a few score merchantmen appears uneconomic. With certain exceptions, the auxiliary cruisers would fare Iittle better. Wrecked by the Sydney-'s heavier fire, with two-thirds of her crew dead or wounded, the Emden ended her career on the reef off North Keeling Island. It had been the first major action fought by an Australian warship.

Abandoning her cruise she returned safely to Kiel following a four-month absence. Early in 1916 the Germans sailed the Wolf but her foray had to be abandoned after her grounding. She was followed on 27 February by the heavily armed Greif. Disguised as a Norwegian, she was intercepted by the AMCs Alcantara and Andes of the Northern Patrol. As the forlner closed to send over a boarding party, the Greiflet fly with guns and torpedoes. Fatally damaged, the British ship herself opened fire, engaging the raider until the Andes moved in to assist.

Churchill had made too many enemies and was sidelined. The 'fiery energy' that had driven the Admiralty was replaced by a 'sound, but lethargic, administration' headed by Arthur Balfour and Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Jackson. At the point of Churchill's departure the Grand Fleet's numerical advantage was 25 dreadnoughts to 17, and 9 battlecruisers to 5. The lead was increasing, with 7 more dreadnoughts due to complete by the end of 1915. Following the Dogger Bank action little happened at sea.

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War at Sea 1914-1945 by Bernard Ireland


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