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battleships, which were put aside for sale and which it was announced would never again hoist the pennant, have steamed thousands of miles and rendered manifold services. Their efficiency and use entirely depend on the watch kept by modern craft on the North Sea. But what of that watch itself, if it once broke down because a sailor refused to take risks? Are we not painfully familiar with the loss of service in twenty ships searching for a single raider ?
It should be borne in mind that, though none of the essential facts have yet been revealed, it is quite possible for such tactics to be employed by a 25-knot fleet (which Beatty possessed throughout) as to keep them in action with only a portion of the enemy fleet, now reduced to 19 knots by their slower ships. While crossing the bow, say, of the leading enemy ship at 9000 yards, his rear ship might be 12,000 yards from the sixth ship in the enemy's line, leaving the remaining ships in that line at unsuitably high ranges if the conditions were really those of low visibility. Even after the loss of the Indefatigable' and 'Queen Mary,' four of his remaining ships would be armed with 15-inch, three with 131-inch, and one with 12-inch guns, as against 12-inch and 11-inch in the German van. The operation in question would require great skill and courage, and involve establishing a moral effect by gun-fire, since the defensive qualities of his ships in armour had necessarily been sacrificed to obtain the speed.* The use of the gun, then, must compensate for the deficiency of armour, while speed gives the favourable position. Beatty appears to have employed the manoeuvre of crossing the T. This means leading the ships across the enemy's van, concentrating fire on his leading ships, and forcing him to turn or be enfiladed by the British line; and the object would be to make the inevitable turn one that would facilitate the subsequent action of the Grand Fleet. The mere alteration of course forced on the enemy is also highly unfavourable to aiming. The operation is one undoubtedly feasible with
* Some idea of the necessary diminution of armour for the sake of speed may be gathered from the fact that the weight of the engines has to be increased by 30 per cent. in order to get 27 instead of 21 knots out of a 30,000 ton ship.
a six-knot advantage of speed. The unexpectedly daring character of the manoeuvre is not the least of its recommendations. If the enemy had expected these tactics at this stage of the fight, he would not have stationed his fast but weakly-armoured battle-cruisers in the van, but would have kept them in the rear of the battleships; nor would he have exposed to loss the very ships on which he probably depended for the success of his ulterior purpose, the enterprise directed north.'
We have not dealt consecutively with the battle because it is impossible to give a connected account until the despatches are published, but a few remarks may be made on its opening phase when we incurred our first heavy losses. The Germans adopted Togo's tactics in concentrating salvos on single ships, tactics which have been preached again and again to the text, Fight neither with great nor with small, save only with the King of Israel. We hope that, so far as the first thirty minutes of the action are concerned, some proof may be forthcoming that the Hindenburg' was present and armed with 15-inch guns, otherwise it will be on record that 28 (or 24 according to the bearing) 11-inch and 16 12-inch guns eliminated from a British squadron, carrying 32 134-inch and 16 12-inch guns, one-fourth of the larger and one-half of the smaller guns mentioned in half an hour. It may be that a similar fate befell one of the German battle-cruisers before the arrival of the battleships; but, if so, the point has not been made in the published accounts. In any case, we have here a fresh proof of the need of that margin of safety which the Navy possesses simply because public opinion resolutely fought the Liberal policy of reduction of armaments; and we should bear in mind that the alliance with France and Italy has enabled us to bring into home waters four battle-cruisers and four of our largest armoured cruisers, which were in the Mediterranean at the beginning of the war and prior thereto, while the Australia' has also been brought from the Pacific.
If a certain anxiety is caused by this lesson, it is associated with a far greater gain of confidence when one studies the moral rather than the material factors. The superiority of the British personnel was never
better shown than by the fact that not only was the Admiral resolute in face of his severe losses, but the British gunnery improved while the German gunnery appears to have gone to pieces as soon as the four fast British battleships, under Evan-Thomas, got into action. This is not merely a testimony to the courage of the men but a proof of their faith in the leader. His losses were sustained in no dare-devil action. There is nothing to show that, in the subsequent period when the four * Barhams' or later when the three 'Invincibles' joined, and the whole High Seas fleet was kept in play while waiting for the Grand Fleet under Jellicoe, any undue risk was run. The net result was that the Grand Fleet was able to come into action, if only for a short time.
How the High Seas Fleet escaped its clutches we do not know. The Admiralty communication says it was due to low visibility and mist.' It may be so, but we confess to being a little tired of Admiralty communications blaming the weather. It is alien to the spirit of the sailor. When the three Cressys were sunk, because they were unaccompanied by destroyers, the blame was put on the weather, just as was the case when the • Hampshire' went down with Kitchener on board. The Dardanelles failure was a long-drawn tale about the weather. We had from the India Office something in the same vein about the relief which never got to Kut. After the Scarborough bombardment, the German armoured ships escaped because of the low visibility and mist. In no circumstances is one allowed to blame an administrative act or defect, such as the failure to provide Zeppelin scouts-of which the Germans appear to have made considerable use-or sufficient high fuelendurance destroyers; but the clerk of the weather is fair game. Let us say plainly that the sea in all its aspects is always the ally of the best-trained and bestequipped navy.
The only discussion about naval preparations that we have had during the war was over the Zeppelins, partly because they are so big that they cannot escape attention, and because they have been very attentive to us. Mr Churchill's excuse for abandoning the intention to build them is that Parliament would not have given the money to build as many as Germany. Over two years
at the Admiralty failed to teach him the meaning of co-ordination of effort, and to show him that a few Zeppelins, basing their efforts on our superior fleets and squadrons afloat, and returning to their protection when outnumbered, would have been able to render our fleet most valuable assistance, though Germany might possess three or four times as many. We could have hampered the enemy's freedom of action by Zeppelins, possibly on May 31 as well, if we had only possessed a few of them.
We have done our best to obey Mr Balfour's counsel in this preliminary survey, and we await the despatches as to the battle itself. We have found cause for great satisfaction, but none for boasting ; for the time has not yet come when we can relax in any way our prepared. ness, and what we already know has confirmed the belief of all our best gunners, that we have still something to learn in the art of gunnery on the material side. We have fought a foe who in this battle proved himself not only a brave but a skilful fighter. It is doubtful if this could have been said of the brave French sailors in our last great maritime war, for the skill had departed with the Royalist officers Neither Tsushima nor Lissa can show the requisite conditions of fairly matched personnel ; and one has to travel back to the time of Rodney for such battles between fleets. But the country knows that its Navy has proved itself a sure and safe defence; and its satisfaction is sweetened by the thought that the force which defeated the enterprise of the enemy was an imperial fleet in which the gift ships of New Zealand and the Malay States lay in the line of battle.
POSTSCRIPT.—As we go to press, Admiral Jellicoe's despatch has appeared. To begin with, it forms a complete vindication of Sir David Beatty, who once again showed his fine qualities of gallant leadership, firm determination, and correct strategic insight.' His maneuvre of forcing the enemy van to turn redressed those unfavourable conditions of light to which his ships were at first exposed. The use of a seaplane to obtain intelligence, and its return within 22 minutes with valuable information, is very suggestive, especially when we hear that it got within 3000 yards of the enemy's screen of light cruisers, and descended to a height of
900 feet so as to be below the clouds. No Zeppelin could have performed this feat, because at that height she would have offered far too easy a target. On the other hand, during the night, while our Grand Fleet lay between the enemy and Heligoland, a Zeppelin was observed at about 4 a.m. Our position was thus made known to the enemy; and to this fact he probably owes his escape. If the British fleet had possessed airships, his free use of them would, as we have suggested, been much hampered, while we should have had a good chance of discovering the enemy fleet.
The use of destroyers by both sides so soon in a daylight action) as 27 minutes after its commencement is a noticeable feature. The attack of the British destroyers frustrated a similar attempt by the Germans, while our own was pressed home by seven destroyers in two groups, of which one came into action with the German battleships even before they had come to the support of their cruisers. We appear, both then and later, to have scored successes with the torpedo, whereas the only torpedoed ship on our side was the battleship Marlborough,' which subsequently fired fourteen salvos and then returned safely to port. Two other features deserve special mention, viz. the splendid work of the engine-room staffs, who brought the ships into action at record speeds, and so gained invaluable time; and the dash and determination of the destroyer flotillas. As to the gunnery, we may quote two noteworthy extracts, in one of which, dealing with the earlier part of the action, we read that our fire began to tell, the accuracy and rapidity of the enemy depreciating considerably'; while in the other, referring to the intermittent battleship action late in the day, the Admiral says that the enemy were 'constantly hit,' while his return fire was not effective, and the damage caused to our ships was insignificant.'