Dreadnought: The Ship that Changed the World by Parkinson Roger

Dreadnought: The Ship that Changed the World by Parkinson Roger

Author:Parkinson, Roger [Parkinson, Roger]
Language: eng
Format: azw3
Tags: World War I, Naval ships, Warfare, Military history, Maritime history, Japan, Naval forces, British history
Publisher: I.B.Tauris
Published: 2015-05-31T16:00:00+00:00

Throughout 1907 Dumas kept the Admiralty and the Foreign Office informed of naval developments in Germany. Dumas alerted the Admiralty to the second novelle on 3 October 1907 and said that by 1920 Germany would possess 38 battleships of 20 years old or less.26 In a report of 23 October 1907 he reviewed in some detail the ersatz programme for the years ahead. All 17 possible replacements discussed earlier were identified, with their replacement dates. Dumas remained as attaché until July 1908 and in a succession of reports warned of the big German building programmes.

In July 1908 Dumas was replaced by Captain Herbert Heath, who went about his work in much the same way as Dumas and started his period as attaché by visiting the various shipyards and commenting on them in some detail. By late October 1908 he was becoming convinced that Tirpitz was accelerating his naval building programmes. In a report dated 21 October 1908 he stated that two of the contracts for the 1909–10 programme had already been placed, six months before the money for their construction had been voted by the Reichstag.27 A further report dated 16 November stated that by October 1911 the German Navy might have ten dreadnoughts and three battlecruisers completed.28 This was overstated, as the actual number was seven dreadnoughts and two battlecruisers.29 By March 1909 Heath was reporting that by the beginning of 1912 Germany would have 13 battleships and battleship-cruisers ready for service.30 Britain would have 14 plus the ships of the 1909–10 programme. The attachés overestimated the building capacity of the German shipyards but rang some very necessary alarm bells. It is also clear that a ‘sweetheart’ relationship existed between the RMA and the shipyards. The shipyards knew well in advance of the orders being given that they would be awarded the contracts and were able to start new hulls in a leisurely way, minimising overtime payments and using common stock materials such as steel purchased at the previous year’s prices, thus maximising profits.

There were important differences in the way German and British attachés worked. The German naval attaché in London, Korvettenkapitän Widenmann, answered directly to Tirpitz and the Kaiser, not to the ambassador and the Kaiser endlessly backed the attaché against the ambassador. In the case of Britain, attachés held full diplomatic status and all attaché reports were submitted to the ambassador before onward transmission, not to the Admiralty, but to the Foreign Office. There were other worrying features that surfaced in 1908. In 1907 Britain had concluded an entente with Russia and in October 1908 Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina, backed by Germany. In the face of Austro-German unity, Russia, still recovering from her disastrous war in the Far East, was not prepared to go to war in defence of Balkan Slavs, but was not likely to forget the humiliation and unlikely to step down in some future Balkan crisis. Britain, France and Russia were now strongly united against Germany.

Krupp’s produced all the heavy guns for German dreadnoughts and in July 1908 had floated a loan of £2.


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