Book: The World Crisis, Vol. 2: 1915

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APPENDIX H
FIRST LORD’S MINUTES

DOVER DEFENCES

January 2, 1915.

I have asked on other papers that a précis should be made of the past history since the War began of the Dover Harbour defences. Every anticipation with regard to progress has been falsified. The extent of the preparations of the ships to be sunk has been extended, and work has been pushed on very leisurely with them. Delays have been continual, and now, finally, when the Montrose was prepared for sinking, the opportunity of a good day was missed, and the vessel has been allowed to remain in a position where she has broken adrift and is probably on the Goodwins. I cannot think that this is a creditable performance. I wish also to receive a full report of the circumstances under which the Montrose was allowed to remain in a dangerous position when the weather was getting continually worse, and who is responsible for it.

W. S. C.

FLEET STRENGTH AND THE MANNING POLICY

Secretary.
First Sea Lord.
Chief of the Staff.

January 13, 1915.

A decision is required in regard to the strength of the War Fleet we should aim at for the 1st January, 1916, in order that manning arrangements may be adjusted. So far we have simply commissioned every ship we could lay our hands on, and only laid up the ‘Edgars.’ But the great numbers of fine ships completing during the present year make it necessary that we should set a limit to the number of ships maintained in full commission, and lay up a certain number of old ships as new ones join. It is not desirable, if it can be avoided, that officers and men should be sent to sea in vessels of such low fighting quality that they are an easy prey.

The accession of twenty new cruisers between the declaration of war and the end of this year should make it possible to lay up a certain number of the oldest cruisers, particularly the ‘P’ class and the ‘Didos.’ Other ships that deserve scrutiny from this point of view are, for instance:—

Sutlej, Amphitrite, Europa, Argonaut, Euryalus, Charybdis, Bacchante, Eclipse, Highflyer, Challenger, Dwarf, Hyacinth, Astræa, and Fox.

These vessels carry a great number of men in the highest state of efficiency. A good many of them are no doubt required for particular operations in connection with colonial expeditions and against the Turks. But we must recognize that none of them is any use against the only kind of light cruiser which the Germans would break out with, and every one of them would be an easy prey to a battle-cruiser.

The sound principle promulgated by Lord Fisher of using the fewest number of good ships to do the work on foreign stations, and of resisting a tendency to take comfort from the mere possession of numbers of unsuitable vessels, is applicable in war no less than in peace. We have also in commission forty-two armed merchant cruisers, which are much better suited to producing numerical strength than these old light cruisers. It is not suggested that any of these old ships when laid up should be dismantled. On the contrary, they should be kept with reduced nucleus crews ready for special service if required, or to replace casualties. But each should be the subject of careful examination, and a roster of withdrawals from active commission should be prepared and fitted in so as to make trained and seasoned complements, who have worked together as ships’ companies, available for the splendid new vessels coming forward.

With regard to the old battleships of the ‘Majestic’ and ‘Canopus’ classes, of which, including the Revenge, there are sixteen, these are required for special bombarding purposes, but they will not all be required at once, and in May or June, when the monitors arrive, at least half should be placed in reduced nucleus crews (Third Fleet scale), and kept in the highest state of readiness so as to take the places of sister ships damaged or lost in actions; twelve or fifteen old ships thus placed in reserve will give us, with other increases of our personnel resources, the means of manning the new ships which are coming forward with crews of the highest efficiency.

W. S. C.

THE TRENCH-ROLLER

Director of the Air Division.
Director of Contracts.
Third Sea Lord.

January 18, 1915.

I wish the following experiment made at once:—

Two ordinary steam-rollers are to be fastened together side by side by very strong steel connections, so that they are to all intents and purposes one roller covering a breadth of at least 12 to 14 feet. If convenient, one of the back inside wheels might be removed and the other axle joined up to it. Some trenches are to be dug on the latest principles somewhere handy near London in lengths of at least 100 yards, the earth taken out of the trenches being thrown on each side, as is done in France. The roller is to be driven along these trenches, one outer rolling wheel on each side, and the inner rolling wheel just clear of the trench itself. The object is to ascertain what amount of weight is necessary in the roller to smash the trench in. For this purpose as much weight as they can possibly draw should be piled on to the steam-rollers and on the framework buckling them together. The ultimate object is to run along a line of trenches, crushing them all flat and burying the people in them.

If the experiment is successful with the steam-rollers fastened together on this improvised system, stronger and larger machines can be made with bigger driving wheels and proper protection for the complements, and the rollers of these machines will be furnished with wedge-shaped ribs or studs, which can be advanced beyond the ordinary surface of the wheel when required, in order to break the soil on each side of the trench and accentuate the rolling process.

The matter is extremely urgent, and should be pressed to the utmost. Really the only difficulty you have got to surmount is to prevent the steam-rollers from breaking apart. The simplicity of the device, if it succeeds, is its virtue. All that is required is a roller of sufficient breadth and with wheels properly fitted, and an unscaleable bullet-proof house for the crew. Three or four men would be quite enough, and as the machine is only worked by night it would not be required to stand against artillery.

In a fortnight I wish to see these trials.

W. S. C.

THE MANNING POLICY

February 6, 1915.

Director of the Mobilization Department.

The procedure which should be adopted in regard to manning ships like Warspite, Canada, and other new ships of the highest power, should be as follows:—

A new crew should be prepared at the depots for the oldest First Fleet battleship convenient—say, King Edward VII—instead of, as now, for the new ship. When the training of this new crew is complete, they should relieve the old crew of the King Edward VII, and this relieved crew should go on board the new ship, plus any additions that may be required, which additions must have been carefully considered beforehand. In this way a first-class complement of active service ratings will be provided for a ship of the greatest power, with good and highly trained officers acquainted with Grand Fleet work, who know each other and have been accustomed to work together.

W. S. C.

AIRSHIPS AND AEROPLANES

Secretary.
First Sea Lord.
Fourth Sea Lord.
Director of the Air Division.

January 18, 1915.

The general condition of our airship service, and the fact that so little progress has been made by Vickers in the construction of the rigid airship now due, makes it necessary to suspend the purely experimental work in connection with airships during the war, and to concentrate our attention on the more practical aeroplane, in which we have been so successful.

1. The Director of Contracts should, in conjunction with the Director of the Air Division, make proposals for suspending altogether the construction of the Vickers rigid airship. The material which has been accumulated should be stored, and the shed in which it is being constructed should be thus set free.

2. The repairing staff of the airships, which is now at Farnborough, should be moved with the utmost despatch to Barrow, and should be accommodated in the neighbourhood of the new rigid airship shed and make the shed their repairing shop. Arrangements should be made to this effect with Vickers, so that we take over this shed completely from them during the war.

3. The Farnborough sheds are to be handed back to the Army as soon as possible, thus meeting their urgent demands.

4. Messrs. Vickers are to be urged to expedite as much as possible the two non-rigid airships they are building in the old Admiralty shed at Barrow. These, when completed, will give us five airships—three Parsevals and two Astra Torres, besides the small military ones. These five airships will be accommodated, three in the wooden shed at Kingsnorth, and two in the old Admiralty shed at Barrow. The iron shed at Kingsnorth will thus become available for the large numbers of aeroplanes which are now being delivered. All necessary steps must be taken to enable aeroplanes in skilful hands to alight or ascend from the neighbourhood of Kingsnorth.

5. Temporary housing accommodation for the aeroplane staff is to be at once provided near Kingsnorth, which is to become an aeroplane as well as an airship base.

7. The personnel of the Royal Naval Airship Service is to be reduced to the minimum required to man and handle the five airships. The balance, including especially the younger naval officers, are to be transferred to the aeroplane section. The military officers are to remain with the airships. I am not at all convinced of the utility of keeping this detachment at Dunkirk, and unless they are able to show some good reason for their existence they should be withdrawn.

W. S. C.

AEROPLANE POLICY

Director of the Air Division.

April 3, 1915.

1. The paper handed in by Commander Longmore should be approved in principle, and should guide us in the types of machines to be developed. The Curtiss machine should be fully tested and worked up here, being replaced by other machines at Dunkirk. In particular, the following two types should be developed:—

(a) The heavy bomb-dropping type, capable of carrying upwards of 500 lb. of explosives for a 150-mile journey there and back; and

(b) The superlative small fighting machine with great rising power and speed, single-seater, and with a Lewis gun firing through a deflector propeller.

2. I attach great importance to the development of photography. It is certain to be required for important reconnaissances from May onwards. You must take steps to make sure that in this and in artillery spotting we are kept fully abreast of the latest Army progress. They have had more experience, and we should take every opportunity of learning from them.

3. The torpedo seaplane must be strenuously pressed forward, the object being to use at least ten machines carrying torpedoes for a night attack on German ships-of-war at anchor.

4. Whenever possible all machines should be constructed so as to use their weight-carrying powers in different ways, so that, according to the service required, fuel, arms, a gun, explosives, or a passenger can be carried.

5. The object now to be aimed at from June will not be reconnaissance and patrolling, but the attacking with bombs on the largest possible scale of military points on enemy territory. For this, weight of explosives and numbers of machines are more necessary than skill of pilots or special fighting qualities in the machines. We shall by then have passed the stage of daring exploits, and must acquire the power to strike heavy blows which will produce decisive effects on the enemy’s fighting strength. The carrying of two to three tons of explosives to a particular point of attack in a single night or day is the least we should aim at as an operation in the future. All possible objectives should be studied and special reports made upon them. The capacities of machines should be considered in relation to these definite tasks.

6. Every effort should be made to reach 1,000 aeroplanes and 300 seaplanes as early as possible before the end of the present year; 400 pilots will be required and all arrangements should be made to procure and train them.

7. The progress made so far, and the great expansion of the Air Service which is in progress, is considered very satisfactory, and reflects great credit on all concerned.

W. S. C.

A MINING PROJECT

Secretary.
First Sea Lord.
Chief of the Staff.

January 20, 1915.

This is a proposal to lay 57 miles of mines in two or three rows at the southern end of the existing minefields, with a view to blocking the entrance to the English Channel. This would, no doubt, be an effective barrier against enemy heavy ships, but are they likely to come there? and would it not be very satisfactory to us if they did? What would they do when they got there? How would they get back? Is not the existing minefield a sufficient deterrent, having regard to the military unwisdom of the enterprise?

Against submarines, on the other hand, the minefield would be no barrier at all. Zeebrugge has already been encircled with French and British mines without preventing the submarines from going in and out with impunity. Our submarines have repeatedly traversed German minefields in the Heligoland Bight. Two of them went in through the Libau minefield. If there were good grounds for thinking that mines laid at 50 yards’ intervals would stop submarines the case would be made out. But these are the only craft we are likely to want to stop, and these are the very craft we cannot stop. It is a delusion to suppose we can.

2,500 mines, approximately, would be required at 50 yards’ intervals. It is therefore 4 or 5 to 1 in favour of the submarine—even if the field is quite intact—passing any particular line. Experience shows that the minefield will not remain intact, and that great gaps will soon be made by mines exploding in rough water or breaking adrift. Moreover, the 20-feet rise and fall of the tide renders the minefield harmless to small craft like submarines at each high water. It is no barrier—it is no deterrent. If the mines are to be placed at intervals of 25 yards the protection would be greater, but 5,000 mines would be required. That would exhaust our whole stock. To get over the tide difficulty, two, if not three, mines should be fastened on one string—i.e., 15,000 mines would be required, or three times what we have.

The objection taken by the Chief of the Staff as to danger to our own ships from drifting mines and hampering our operations also seems to me very serious.

W. S. C.

CORDITE

Secretary and others.

January 25, 1915.

The position set forth in these papers is serious, and calls for prompt action.

I understand that, since the Director of Contracts’ minute of the 9th January was written the War Office have written officially to say that, after careful consideration by their experts, American gun-cotton cannot be used for the manufacture of cordite, and that this affects the estimated output from Nobel’s during 1915. Consequently there is very little chance of our obtaining for the Navy this year from Nobel’s any part of the 1,800 tons included in the 4,000 tons that the proposals put forward in these papers were intended to provide. The net result is that of the additional 10,000 tons of cordite required for the Navy by the end of this year we are not likely to get more than 2,200 tons from three firms (Curtis & Harvey, National Explosives Company, and the Cotton and Powder Company), and then only with the assistance of Government subsidies to the extent of £275,000.

If it is the case that it is impossible for Nobel’s to deliver any part of these additional requirements for the Navy during 1915, it is clearly a waste of money to subsidize the firm to the extent of the £850,000 proposed. This money could be put to better use by starting a naval factory of our own; and I wish to have proposals worked out and submitted to me with the least possible delay. The object to be attained is the establishment of an independent naval factory that will begin to produce cordite at the rate of 400 or 500 tons a month from June or July onwards.

In the meantime the proposals put forward in these papers (excepting that relating to Nobel’s) are approved, and every effort should be made to enable the three remaining firms to increase their estimated output.

W. S. C.

Secretary.
Third Sea Lord.
Director of Naval Ordnance.
Director of Contracts.

February 12, 1915.

The cordite question must be grappled with with more vigour and on a larger scale. If the establishment of a factory to produce 500 tons a month is not sufficient, why is the factory not established on double or treble the scale? Whatever delays there may be in bringing deliveries into effect can certainly be overcome by the autumn of the present year. We have very large reserves of propellent at hand to last us through the earlier parts of the year, and what you are responsible for is to make sure that we are in a position to cope with all emergencies that may arise in the latter part. Do not, therefore, hesitate to make proposals to meet the deficiency which you have shown on the current paper. Very large quantities of ammunition of all kinds and propellent will certainly be required during the closing months of this year.

Please report further.

W. S. C.

Secretary.
First Sea Lord.

February 12, 1915.

In view of the apprehended shortage of cordite towards the end of the year, the expenditure of no less than 2,000 tons of practice ammunition should be reconsidered. It does not appear to me to be equally important that all ships should fire their full allowance. The best ships should be given the preference, and of these ships, those which have had opportunities of firing in action, whether at land or sea targets, do not surely require to repeat all their practices.

W. S. C.

FINANCIAL PROCEDURE

Secretary.

February 12, 1915.

This minute of the Treasury should be circulated to all departments concerned, and initialled by all Admiralty officers involved. It is of the highest importance that Admiralty contracts made during the war should, after a fair allowance for the exceptional conditions prevailing, stand the severe subsequent parliamentary scrutiny to which they will certainly be subjected.

W. S. C.

EXCHANGE OF PRISONERS

Secretary.

February 13, 1915.

The Admiralty are of opinion that an exchange of military prisoners of war, man for man, particularly officers, would be beneficial to this country.

First, because, owing to the size of our Regular Army before the war, an exchange of equal numbers secures us a return of a larger proportion of our trained fighting strength.

Secondly, as the enemy will receive an equal number of mouths to feed in exchange, the difficulties of his food problem are not lessened.

Thirdly, when a belligerent is being reduced by process of famine, it is undesirable that large bodies of prisoners of war should be in his hands, as the temptation to expose these to undue suffering is obvious.

Finally, we have more German prisoners of military age than they have of our men, and therefore when the exchanges were completed there would still remain a balance in our hands in case of exceptional action on the part of the enemy, and we should not be leaving a balance of prisoners in his hands for the treatment of whom we should have no security.

But if the principle of exchange of prisoners is to be adopted, it should be upon a regular system and on a large scale, and the pairing off of individual Admirals and Generals or of persons of distinction on either side is to be strongly deprecated as affording no real diminution of human suffering while involving unnecessary and undesirable parleyings with the enemy. These should always be kept at the minimum.

W. S. C.

ANTI-MINE AND ANTI-TORPEDO DEVICES

March 22, 1915.

I am sure it is perfectly easy to fit temporary wooden mine-fenders on to ships of war, and there must be many ways of doing this. All proposals, however, are always derided and broken down by the naval constructors and naval officers because it is said that they will not stand the stresses which arise in a seaway. The consequence is that, though for seven or eight months this clear remedy has been staring us in the face, very little progress has been made and no real result achieved. Here, in the Dardanelles, the operations will take place in landlocked waters, where no violent motion can be expected, and it is to my mind most deplorable that invaluable makeshifts adapted to smooth water should have been ruled out just because perfection for ocean purposes has not been obtained. I have tried my best time after time during the last six months, and have made numbers of suggestions, and so has Sir Arthur Wilson; but the only result is that things are brought to a standstill by the sterile criticisms of persons who make no positive proposals themselves, and by general inertia. If the deep-keeled caissons which I proposed two years ago, and which were assented to six months ago, had been carried through, we should now have a certain means of passing the torpedo-tubes of the Narrows, and also a means of mooring two of them into a V-shaped shield in front of the bows of a battleship while engaged with the forts.

It is too late to do anything for the Dardanelles now. Can we not turn over a new leaf, however, in regard to the future, and make proper temporary attachments for ships which will have to work in submarine- and mine-infested areas? Never mind if this reduces the speed of the ships, or if it spoils the look of the ships, or if it cannot be used except in fine weather. It is better to have a ship which will do what you want safely in fine weather than a ship which you dare not use in any weather for necessary purposes for fear that she should be sent to the bottom. Let us now resolve that the Director of Naval Construction’s proposal to fit sections of bulges around the sides of ships shall be applied without delay to at least a dozen of the older battleships, and that all the new battleships shall be fitted with the necessary rail and rack to take them, and let orders be given to prepare the necessary caissons in large numbers. Let the deep-keeled detached caissons, approved by the Treasury in November, be now proceeded with, so that they can be moored alongside bombarding ships.

Has any report been received from the Conqueror about the S.C.W.’s proposals? How you can be content to let these great ships, which are your pride and on which so many millions are spent, be ruled off the warpath by mine and torpedo without regarding the remedy against these dangers as the first charge on naval inventiveness, beats my civilian mind.

W. S. C.

BARRIER-BREAKERS

Secretary and others.

March 22, 1915.

It appears to me that a number of tramps and old steamers should be collected at Malta without delay and filled up with barrels and wood offal, so as to render them as far as possible unsinkable, and that fourteen or fifteen of these vessels should be held in readiness to act as “barrier-breakers” when the fire of the forts at the Dardanelles has been quelled. If anything like a rush is required at the critical moment, the whole fleet of these vessels, manned by small crews of volunteers, driven on in front of the fleet and in front of the fleet sweepers, may be an indispensable precaution. Numbers will count both as offering distracting targets for the enemy and exploding more mines in the channel.

W. S. C.

INTERCEPTING AMMUNITION

Director of the Intelligence Division.

March 23, 1915.

It now becomes of the utmost importance to stop the passage of war material for Turkey through Roumania and Bulgaria. The Governments of both these countries have declared their intention of stopping it, but no doubt there is a lot of corruption among the smaller people, and smuggling under one form or another of ammunition and arms must be going on. It is essential that this should be stopped. Discuss the matter with the Foreign Office this morning, and make me proposals which commend themselves to them. Numbers of suitable Roumanian and Bulgarian agents should be engaged by us to watch the railways and canals ceaselessly, and money should be freely spent to make it worth while for Roumanians and Bulgarians employed on the railways to give us timely information of any wagonloads of ammunition passing. With this information our Ministers can put the Governments in motion. Not a day should be lost in instituting this most necessary service.

W. S. C.

THE SMOKE FLOTILLA

April 5, 1915.

1. The attached telegram should be sent to the Admiral-Superintendent, Malta. The Chief Inspector of Naval Ordnance will insert full description of the method and appliances. Director of Transports will provide the vessel. Director of Stores will provide the benzol. Malta Yard will make all preparations meanwhile.

Let me have dates of sailing and arrival at Mudros, where the prepared cone-bearing ships will await her. The whole matter is most urgent.

2. A telegram should be drafted by the Chief Inspector of Naval Ordnance to the Russian Admiralty cancelling our last recommendation, and giving the details of the improved method. Let me see draft.

3. Another complete outfit of eight small vessels with three cones apiece is to be prepared for home service and for experiments, and all the necessary stores are to be purchased. Meanwhile further experiments are to continue with a view to improvements. A smoke flotilla is to be definitely constituted; an intelligent young officer to be put in charge, with the smoke vessels manned like the trawlers; the whole to be well organized and to practise making smoke. This flotilla will be stationed on the West Coast of Scotland, where it can practise in smooth waters without attracting undue attention.

4. Proposals should be also put forward for four fast motor-boats to burn one cone each, it being essential to have the power to throw smoke quickly from a particular point under fire under cover of this smoke before the slower vessels arrive to complete the obscurity.

5. Proposals are to be put forward showing what alterations would be required in four ex-coastal destroyers taken from the Nore defence to enable them to burn two cones for eight hours. The Director of Naval Construction will report on this and what time it would take to fit these vessels when the order is given.

These proposals supersede the previous proposal.

All proposals, whether for the organization of personnel or matériel, to be put forward immediately. Naval Secretary to co-ordinate. Action to proceed in anticipation of further sanction.

W. S. C.

THE ARMAMENT OF THE LATEST GERMAN BATTLESHIPS

March 27, 1915.

This is a very alarmist letter, and twists all the facts into the most unfavourable position. The Commander-in-Chief assumes that six new Dreadnoughts, all armed with 15-inch guns, will have joined the German Fleet before a single British Dreadnought so armed has joined it. This is absurd. Warspite joins (us) in the next few days. Lützow has not yet joined (them). The question of the ‘König’ class having 15-inch guns was searchingly investigated by the Admiralty Committee in October last. I have seen no evidence of these ships having been laid up since the war began for any period long enough to admit of such a change. They have been doing their practices and moving about quite regularly. The calculations of the Committee were made on the basis of 14-inch guns. If 15-inch guns were employed the weights would be much more seriously affected and the argument against their employment would become even more formidable. I do not believe there are any solid grounds for assuming that either the ‘Lützow’ or the ‘König’ class are armed with 15-inch guns, but in view of the evidence and this letter of the Commander-in-Chief, the Director of Naval Ordnance’s Committee of October should reassemble and make a further report on the subject.

With regard to the Third Sea Lord’s minute, I wish to receive a report from him and the Director of the Intelligence Division as to what is known of the possibility of completion of the Ersatz Hertha and Nos. 25, 26, and 28. Our own experience of the completion of ships should teach us that battleships cannot be fitted for war service, however great are the efforts made, irrespective of a certain minimum period of time. The new battleship Kron Prinz may be approaching completion, but Nos. 26 and 28 cannot be in the line for many months to come.

Queen Elizabeth must sail for home the moment she can be spared. Meanwhile, no time is being lost, as until her turbine is repaired she could not in any case join the Grand Fleet. Warspite can join as soon as is convenient. I agree fully that Barham, Valiant, and Malaya should be brought forward with the utmost rapidity. It is to the gun-mountings that the delay is due. I cannot understand why a small point like this cannot be overcome. If men are taken off the turrets of later ships and set to work in three reliefs on the turrets of these ships, or if by taking special pains and care the turrets could be erected in the first instance on board the ship and not erected, taken to pieces, and re-erected, a couple of months could easily be saved. Canada also is a vessel very near completion, and the most strenuous efforts should be made to bring her into the line.

W. S. C.

THE SEARCH FOR GUNS

April 3, 1915.

1. The Director of Naval Ordnance has been instructed to make proposals for increasing the number of small guns available for trawlers, drifters, and merchant ships. He is to have regard to the following sources:—

(a) All the guns now assigned to monitors, fleet sweepers, and river gunboats, other than the six accelerated monitors which are to be ready in May, can be appropriated. Other ships will be laid up before these latter vessels are commissioned and a further supply of 12-pdrs. will be released.

(b) Ships on the North American Station, which are not exposed to torpedo attack, should surrender a part of their anti-torpedo armament.

(c) Ships undergoing a long refit (Drake, King Alfred, Sutlej) should surrender on loan their suitable small guns.

(d) The sixteen 12-pdrs. now in the possession of the Royal Marines and formerly used by Colonel Osmaston’s batteries, should be supplied with ship’s mountings at the earliest possible moment and made available.

(e) Sixteen armed trawlers attached to the Commander-in-Chief have two guns apiece. One of these should be surrendered at once.

(f) The proposals in regard to the 1-inch aiming rifle put forward by the Naval Secretary at the conference on the 2nd instant should be studied and immediately developed.

(g) A ship mounting should be designed forthwith for six and three sub-calibre guns, and trial mountings put in hand.

(h) The despatch of the American guns purchased at Bethlehem Works should be hastened by every means, and Sir Trevor Dawson should be instructed to search for any other guns in other American works.

(i) A careful scrutiny should be made of the 6- and 3-pdr. anti-aircraft guns with a view to seeing if they can be dispensed with. Some of these guns are very ineffective against aircraft, and a few 3-inch high-angle guns would be found much more effective at certain points. This, however, is the last resource.

2. Guns from the existing reserve and any obtained from the above sources will be distributed as follows:—

Fifty 12-pdrs. should go to Captain Webb for the arming of merchant steamers plying in home waters.

Half the 4.7’s in reserve, together with any that can be obtained by taking one from the existing Self-Defence merchant ships, should be made available for arming ships coming home from distant voyages. The best arrangements possible should be made at London and Liverpool in regard to the 12-pdrs. at Port Said and Gibraltar, and with regard to the 4.7’s, to secure, by transferring the guns to ships entering the submarine area, the greatest possible usefulness of the weapons.

All the rest of the guns are to be handed over to the Fourth Sea Lord for arming yachts, trawlers, and drifters.

Detailed proposals on both heads are to be submitted.

3. The Straits of Dover must be regarded as the main area of anti-submarine operations, and every effort must be made to render its passage by submarines difficult and dangerous. To this end, the number of armed trawlers and drifters available in the Dover patrol should be raised as speedily as possible to 100. A weekly report on the strength available should be furnished to the Board.

The indicator net defence should be carried forward on both sides to the shore, as proposed by Sir Arthur Wilson.

4. Every effort must be made to complete the cross-channel anti-submarine net. This work is of very great importance and, even if it is not wholly successful, it will be found to be a great check. The material will always be available for use elsewhere, should the tactical situation admit.

5. I am awaiting proposals for a watch being kept by our submarines on the exits from Ostend and Zeebrugge, and the proposals for laying Sir Arthur Wilson’s nets in the Channel should go forward as arranged.

6. I wish to receive a report on the working of our submarine decoy and trap vessels, including the trawlers. What have they done? Where have they been working?

W. S. C.

SUNDAY LABOUR

Third Sea Lord.
Additional Civil Lord.
Financial Secretary.
Director of Works Department.

April 8, 1915.

Proposals should be submitted to me as soon as possible for the abolition of Sunday labour on Admiralty work in private shipbuilding yards throughout the country. The only exception should be urgent fleet repairs or work on vessels being specially accelerated; and with regard to these Board authority should be obtained.

Although the contractors will be thus precluded from Sunday labour, we shall not agree to the extension of the contract time for delivery, experience having shown that more work will be done without Sunday labour than with it. I do not exclude the possibility of work beginning with the night shift on Sunday night, if that is thought to be more desirable.

This matter should be settled with the utmost speed.

W. S. C.

WIRELESS FOR SUBMARINES

April 23, 1915.

I await a special report on the fitting of oversea submarines and selected destroyers with special long-distance wireless. It is indispensable that a submarine should be able to communicate with our receiving stations when operating in the Heligoland Bight. It is also necessary that a certain number of destroyers should have the special faculty of long-distance communication in order that they may be used in connection with submarines.

The matter is urgent.

W. S. C.

MINE FENDERS

April 24, 1915.

This paper shows that there are now fifteen different types of bow mine-catching gear which are being experimented with in addition to the timber nose-caps and the net wings; total, seventeen. Side by side with these numerous suggestions, and after very many months’ work, there is an almost total absence of definite results. I consider that concentration upon the three or four best types is now necessary. A small committee of four (consisting of the Third Sea Lord, Admiral Charlton, the Director of Naval Construction, and the Naval Secretary) should sit to review the whole subject, and should make proposals for concentration on the most promising results in the shortest possible time.

W. S. C.

SOUND SIGNALLING

Secretary.
First Sea Lord.
Sir Arthur Wilson.
Assistant Director of Torpedoes.

April 24, 1915.

…The system of sound signalling, enabling one submarine to communicate with another, has been toyed with for a long time, and it is necessary now to produce practical results, even if of a crude and imperfect character, which can be made rapidly effective. A report should be furnished within three days, stating what is possible and making proposals for action.

W. S. C.

AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHY

Director of the Air Division.

April 24, 1915.

What are you doing about photography from aeroplanes? I am informed that you have only got one officer actively engaged in this, and that no satisfactory photographs have yet been taken by the Naval Wing. This matter is of great importance and urgency. After the assistance which we have given to the Army in the matter of aeroplanes, we may expect from them every possible aid in repairing our deficiencies in this branch of aerial work. Pray see General Henderson yourself without delay, and make sure that we are in a position, either by borrowing a couple of cameras or photographers from the Army or by any other method which is effective, to take the photographs required any day after the 1st May. Report to me that this will be done.

W. S. C.

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