Planning for war in the North Sea 1912-1914

The Germans’ original plan was to nibble at the edges of the Grand Fleet until they reached some parity, but that failed to take into account that the British and her allies could outbuild Germany 2-1. The big sweeps might have worked, but only if the Germans were determined to have a big fleet battle close to the Bight. Wilhelm forbade that.



On the morning of November 3rd 1914 German battle cruiser bombarded the popular resort town of Yarmouth on the Norfolk Coast. The Daily Mail reported how the German ships ‘appeared suddenly out of nowhere, revealed in the dim haze of dawn to steam drifters five miles of Lowestoft, fired on a British warship, and dropped shells almost on the sands of Yarmouth and Lowestoft, and then disappeared again.’ A similar attack on Scarborough and Whitby the following month left 137 dead, the majority of them civilians. Coming on the back of accusations of German atrocities in France and Belgium, such brazen attacks on a non-military targets provoked the ire of the British public. Imbued with patriotic indignation, The Spectator struck a typically defiant tone. ‘There is no agreement as to what the Germans were trying to do’, the naval correspondent wrote;

to prove that German ships…

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