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GERMANY'S HIGH SEA FLEET IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR

Germanys High Sea Fleet in the First World War

Author(s)                 Reinhard Scheer
Publisher Frontline Books
Date 2014
Pages 396
Format epub
Size 1.4 Mb

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   If, as Winston Churchill famously remarked, Admiral John Jellicoe was the only man on either side who could have lost the Great War in an afternoon, then by extension Admiral Reinhard Scheer was the only man who could have achieved victory in so few hours. Reinhard Scheer, the longest serving of the four wartime commanders of Imperial Germany's High Sea Fleet, was the most influential wartime German naval officer. His thirty-two months commandine the fleet covered some of the most important events not only of the war at sea, but also the entire conflict - the Battle of Jutland or Skagerrakschlacht, 31 May to 1 June 1916. and the German resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare on 1 February 1917 which was instrumental in bringing in the United States on the side of the Entente powers. In August 1918 Scheer was promoted to Chef des Admiralstabs (Chief of the Naval Staff) after the incumbent. Admiral Hennine von Holtzendorff. tendered his resignation to the Kaiser in late July owing to ill-health. He remained in this position until the end of the war, before resigning from his post on 14 November, and retiring from the naw on 17 December. Born in 1863, Scheer joined the Imperial Navy as a cadet in 1879 and his career path followed the usual combination of RMS Lusitania caused a diplomatic crisis with the United States in May 1915. In January 1916 von Pohl was taken ill and relieved of his command. He would die of liver cancer before the end of February. On 18 January Reinhard Scheer was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet. Within the navy he was widely acknowledeed as beins the best choice and a man of action. Scheer was determined to inject a new lease of life into the German naval campaign in the North Sea and while the Grand Fleet still needed to be avoided, except for in favourable circumstances, he envisaged a much more aggressive use of surface and U-boat forces backed up by Zeppelins for advanced reconnaissance. The Kaiser approved Scheer !s plans and the first operation in late April was another coastal bombardment by German battlecruisers. this time of Lowestoft and Yarmouth, designed to destroy any forces sent out to defend against the German attack. In the event the bombardment did little damage while an opportunity was missed to inflict damage on the weaker British Harwich Force, consisting of light cruisers and destroyers...

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