||Pen & Sword Mairitime
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The initial setting for Act One was the Mediterranean on which the curtain was rung up early, several days before Britain's declaration of war. Here the Admiralty's plans to withdraw all their dreadnoughts to Home waters had gone awry. France had been slow to build such ships; by July 1914 she had completed no more than four, of which only one had been transferred from Brest to Toulon. Since Germany's partners in the Triple Alliance, Austria-Hungary and Italy, each had three dreadnoughts in the Mediterranean, the Admiralty had to leave a squadron of battlecruisers at Malta. The Inflexible, Indefatigable and Indomitable, with eight 12-inch guns and a designed speed of 25.5 knots, were supported by the 1st CS of four armoured cruisers, Black Prince, Defence, Duke of Edinburgh and Warrior, which bristled with 9.2-inch, 7.5-inch and 6-inch guns, but could go no faster than 23 knots.* These seven ships, together with four 25.5-knot, 6-inch-gunned light cruisers of the 'Town' class and a flotilla of destroyers, came under the command of Admiral Sir Berkeley Milne, who owed his rank and his appointment more to his talents as a courtier than to his professional ability. As Fisher wrote to Churchill in 1912: 'In regard to what you have done in the appointment of Sir Berkeley Milne, you have betrayed the Navy. You are aware that he is unfitted to be the senior admiral afloat, as you have now made him.'..