The German Commerce Raider SMS Möwe

January 16th, 2016

By 1916 most of the German commerce raiding by surface ships had ended, being replaced by submarines. A few raiders though, disguised as neutral flagged merchants, continued to operate in areas outside of normal British patrol routes. One such raider was the SMS Möwe.

The Möwe started its career with a series of successes. On the second of January, 1916, the King Edward VII struck a mine she had sown and sank in Pentland Firth. She would gain further fame first by capturing the British steamship Appam (subject to a U.S. lawsuit concerning prizes captured by raiders, 243 U.S. 124 (1917)) and sink in a gun battle the armed merchant Clan Mactavish.

Kapitän Dohna-Schlodien, the commander of the SMS Möwe, sank 42 merchants, a battleship, captured a thousand allied sailors, and four times ran allied blockades. In addition her mines sank a British battleship and two other merchants.

Roland Leighton killed by a sniper while serving in the Worcestershire Regiment

December 23rd, 2015

In The Rose Garden

Dew on the pink-flushed petals,
Roseate wings unfurled,
What can, I thought be fairer
In all the world?

Steps that were fain but faltered
(What could she else have done?)
Passed from the arbour's shadow
Into the sun.

Noon and scented glory,
Golden and pink and red;
"What after all are roses
To Me?" I said.

The British Evacuate Gallipoli

December 20th, 2015

The Gallipoli campaign was an attempt to drive Turkey, a major German ally, from the war, and to solve the bloody inertia occuring on the Western and Eastern fronts.  Although many hands planned the campaign, Winston Churchill was a major proponent of the operation.  He felt that the United Kingdom was not using its obsolete battleships and armored cruisers to their maximum potential since the Naval commanders feared loosing the older units if they faced modern fighting ships of the High Seas Fleet.  These battleships, Churchill felt, would easily outgun Turkish shore batteries and make short work of fortifications guarding the Dardenelles.  Once these forces swept away opposition ground forces, most unused units from colonial forces not yet sent to the meat grinder of the Western Front, would quickly take Constantinople, causing the entire Ottoman empire to collapse.  The French, eager for any victory over Germany, likewise threw spare forces into the plan - placing the Oriental Expeditionary force under British command.

Although the strategic planning for the operation was sufficient and stood a good chance at success, the local command structure proved unable to carry out the attack rapidly enough toi achieve success, and the Turks showed themselves resourceful warriors.  The campaign started off bad when it was delayed by five weeks with loading inexperienced troops into makeship toop ships.  The importance of amphibious engineering, surprise, intelligence, and logistical planning proved beyond the British commanders, who were in turn timid and then reckless as the battle immediately turned against them.  The Turks were able to use field artillery, shooting and running, to delay and stop ship movement in the straight.  Troops were not told the importance of gaining objectives in a timely manner, and were often stalled by minor issues, allowing rapidly moving Turks to take up defensive positions.  Finally, poorly thought out mine and submarine countermeasures meant that the attacking force suffered relatively heavy losses of ships.

Gallipoli was finally evacuated by the 20th of December, having achieved little and cost more than 50,000 Allied lives.

John French removed as head of the British Expeditionary Force. His replacement is Douglas Haig

December 19th, 2015

Formal signature of Pact of London by Great Britain, France, Russia, Japan and Italy: each declares it will not make separate peace.

November 30th, 2015