Grand Fleet

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Grand Fleet
The fleet from within. Being the impressions of a R. N. V. R. officer (1919) (14582307917).jpg
The Grand Fleet in the Firth of Forth
Active1914–1919
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Type Fleet
Size~160 ships
Engagements Battle of Jutland
Commanders
Commander-in-Chief
1914–1916
Sir John Jellicoe
Commander-in-Chief
1916–1919
Sir David Beatty

The Grand Fleet was the main fleet of the Royal Navy during the First World War.

Naval fleet formation of warships

A fleet or naval fleet is a large formation of warships, which is controlled by one leader and the largest formation in any navy. A fleet at sea is the direct equivalent of an army on land.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years' War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Contents

History

The 2nd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet in 1914. From left to right the ships are: King George V, Thunderer, Monarch and Conqueror. 2nd Battle Squadron.jpg
The 2nd Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet in 1914. From left to right the ships are: King George V, Thunderer, Monarch and Conqueror.
The Grand Fleet sailing in parallel columns during the First World War British Grand Fleet.jpg
The Grand Fleet sailing in parallel columns during the First World War

Formed in August 1914 from the First Fleet and elements of the Second Fleet of the Home Fleets, the Grand Fleet included 25–35 state-of-the-art capital ships. It was initially commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. [1] He was succeeded by Admiral Sir David Beatty in December 1916. [2]

The First Fleet was a formation of the Royal Navy that briefly existed before the First World War from 1912 to 1914.

The Second Fleet was a reserve formation of the Royal Navy that briefly existed before the First World War.

Capital ship leading or primary ship in a naval fleet

The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they are generally the larger ships when compared to other warships in their respective fleet. A capital ship is generally a leading or a primary ship in a naval fleet.

The Grand Fleet was based first at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands and later at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth. It took part in the biggest fleet action of the war – the Battle of Jutland  – in June 1916. [1]

Scapa Flow bay

Scapa Flow is a body of water in the Orkney Islands, Scotland, sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy. Its sheltered waters have played an important role in travel, trade and conflict throughout the centuries. Vikings anchored their longships in Scapa Flow more than a thousand years ago; more recently, it was the United Kingdom's chief naval base during the First and Second World Wars, though the facility was closed in 1956.

Rosyth town in Fife, Scotland

Rosyth is a town on the Firth of Forth, three miles (4.8 km) south of the centre of Dunfermline. According to the census of 2011, the town has a population of 13,440.

Firth of Forth Estuary or firth of Scotlands River Forth

The Firth of Forth is the estuary (firth) of several Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south. It was known as Bodotria in Roman times. In the Norse sagas it was known as the Myrkvifiörd. An early Welsh name is Merin Iodeo, or the "Sea of Iudeu".

In April 1919 the Grand Fleet was disbanded, with much of its strength forming a new Atlantic Fleet. [3]

Atlantic Fleet (United Kingdom) early 20th century formation of the Royal Navy

The Atlantic Fleet was a major fleet formation of the Royal Navy. There have been two main formations in the Royal Navy officially called the Atlantic Fleet. The first was created in 1909 and lasted until 1914. The second lasted from 1919 until 1932.

Order of battle

Not all the Grand Fleet was available to put to sea at any one time, because ships required maintenance and repairs. At the time of the battle of Jutland in May 1916, it had 32 dreadnought and super-dreadnought battleships. Of these 28 were in the Order of battle at Jutland.

Battle of Jutland 1916 naval battle during World War I

The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle fought between Britain's Royal Navy Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, during the First World War. The battle unfolded in extensive manoeuvring and three main engagements, from 31 May to 1 June 1916, off the North Sea coast of Denmark's Jutland Peninsula. It was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. Jutland was the third fleet action between steel battleships, following the long range gunnery duel at the Yellow Sea (1904) and the decisive Battle of Tsushima in 1905, during the Russo-Japanese War. Jutland was the last major battle in world history fought primarily by battleships.

This is the complete order of battle for the Battle of Jutland fought between 31 May and 1 June 1916. The battle involved 250 warships of the British and German navies, and, in terms of combined tonnage of vessels engaged, was the largest naval battle in history.

The order of battle of the Grand Fleet at the end of the war appears in the Naval order of 24 October 1918. [4]

Naval order of 24 October 1918 military order

The naval order of 24 October 1918 was a plan made by the German Admiralty at the end of World War I to provoke a decisive battle between the German High Seas Fleet and the British Grand Fleet in the southern North Sea. When the order to prepare for the sortie was issued on 29 October, mutiny broke out aboard the German ships. Despite the operation being cancelled, these in turn led to the more serious Kiel mutiny, which was the starting point of the November Revolution and the proclamation of the Weimar Republic.

The actual strength of the fleet varied through the war as new ships were built and others were sunk, but the number of battleships steadily increased as the war progressed and the margin of superiority over the German fleet progressed with it. After the United States entered the war, United States Battleship Division Nine was attached to the Grand Fleet as the Sixth Battle Squadron, adding four, and later five, dreadnought battleships. [5]

Related Research Articles

John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe Royal Navy officer

Admiral of the Fleet John Rushworth Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe, was a Royal Navy officer. He fought in the Anglo-Egyptian War and the Boxer Rebellion and commanded the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916 during the First World War. His handling of the fleet at that battle was controversial. Jellicoe made no serious mistakes and the German High Seas Fleet retreated to port, at a time when defeat would have been catastrophic for Britain, but the public was disappointed that the Royal Navy had not won a more dramatic victory. Jellicoe later served as First Sea Lord, overseeing the expansion of the Naval Staff at the Admiralty and the introduction of convoys, but was relieved at the end of 1917. He also served as the Governor-General of New Zealand in the early 1920s.

Reinhard Scheer German admiral

Carl Friedrich Heinrich Reinhard Scheer was an Admiral in the Imperial German Navy. Scheer joined the navy in 1879 as an officer cadet; he progressed through the ranks, commanding cruisers and battleships, as well as major staff positions on land. At the outbreak of World War I, Scheer was the commander of the II Battle Squadron of the High Seas Fleet. He then took command of the III Battle Squadron, which consisted of the newest and most powerful battleships in the navy. In January 1916, he was promoted to Admiral and given control of the High Seas Fleet. Scheer led the German fleet at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May–1 June 1916, one of the largest naval battles in history.

Home Fleet fleet of the Royal Navy

The Home Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy that operated in the United Kingdom's territorial waters from 1902 with intervals until 1967. Before the First World War, it consisted of the four Port Guard ships. During the First World War, it comprised some of the older ships of the Royal Navy. During the Second World War, it was the Royal Navy's main battle force in European waters.

Ernle Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Alfred Ernle Montacute Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield, was a Royal Navy officer. During the First World War he was present as Sir David Beatty's Flag-Captain at the Battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914, at the Battle of Dogger Bank in January 1915 and at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. After the war he became Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet and then Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet before serving as First Sea Lord in the mid-1930s in which role he won arguments that the Royal Navy should have 70 cruisers rather than the 50 cruisers that had been agreed at the Naval Conference of 1930, that the battleship was still had an important role to play despite the development of the bomber and that the Fleet Air Arm should be part of the Royal Navy rather than the Royal Air Force. He subsequently served as Minister for Coordination of Defence in the early years of the Second World War.

Dudley Pound Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alfred Dudley Pickman Rogers Pound, was a senior officer of the Royal Navy. He served in the First World War as a battleship commander, taking part in the Battle of Jutland with notable success, contributing to the sinking of the German cruiser Wiesbaden. He served as First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy, for the first four years of the Second World War. In that role his greatest achievement was his successful campaign against the German U-boats and the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic but his judgment has been questioned over the failed Norwegian Campaign in 1940, his dismissal of Admiral Dudley North in 1940, Japan's sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse in late 1941. His order in July 1942 to disperse Convoy PQ 17 and withdraw its covering forces, to counter a non-existent threat from heavy German surface ships, led to its destruction by submarines and aircraft. His health failed in 1943 and he resigned, dying shortly thereafter.

Henry Oliver Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Francis Oliver, was a Royal Navy officer. After serving in the Second Boer War as a navigating officer in a cruiser on the Cape of Good Hope and West Coast of Africa Station, he became the first commanding officer of the new navigation school HMS Mercury in the early years of the 20th century. He went to be commanding officer first of the armoured cruiser HMS Achilles and then of the new battleship HMS Thunderer before becoming Director of the Intelligence Division at the Admiralty.

Admiral Sir Frederic Charles Dreyer, was an officer of the Royal Navy. A gunnery expert, he developed a fire control system for British warships, and served as flag captain to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe at the Battle of Jutland. He retired with the rank of admiral in 1943, having served through two world wars and having already retired once.

Rosslyn Wemyss, 1st Baron Wester Wemyss Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Rosslyn Erskine Wemyss, 1st Baron Wester Wemyss,, known as Sir Rosslyn Wemyss between 1916 and 1919, was a Royal Navy officer. During the First World War he served as commander of the 12th Cruiser Squadron and then as Governor of Moudros before leading the British landings at Cape Helles and at Suvla Bay during the Gallipoli Campaign. He went on to be Commander of the East Indies & Egyptian Squadron in January 1916 and then First Sea Lord in December 1917, in which role he encouraged Admiral Roger Keyes, Commander of the Dover Patrol, to undertake more vigorous operations in the Channel, ultimately leading to the launch of the Zeebrugge Raid in April 1918.

Sir Charles Madden, 1st Baronet Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Edward Madden, 1st Baronet was a Royal Navy officer who served during the First World War as Chief of the Staff to Sir John Jellicoe in the Grand Fleet from 1914 to 1916 and as Second-in-Command of the fleet under Sir David Beatty from 1916 to 1919. He was Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet after the war and served as First Sea Lord in the late 1920s. In that role, in order to avoid an arms race, he accepted parity with the United States in the form of 50 cruisers defending his position on the basis that he only actually had 48 cruisers anyway.

Frederick Field (Royal Navy officer) British Royal Navy officer

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Frederick Laurence Field, was a senior Royal Navy officer. He served in the Boxer Rebellion as commander of a raiding party and in the First World War as commanding officer of the battleship HMS King George V, flagship of Admiral Martyn Jerram at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet before serving as First Sea Lord during the early 1930s in which role dealt with the response to the Invergordon Mutiny in September 1931 and ensured the abandonment in 1932 of the 'ten year rule', an attempt by the treasury to control defence expenditure by requesting the Foreign Office to declare whether there was any risk of war during the next ten years.

Cecil Burney Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Cecil Burney, 1st Baronet, was a Royal Navy officer. After seeing action as a junior office in naval brigades during both the Anglo-Egyptian War and the Mahdist War, he commanded a cruiser in operational service during the Second Boer War. As a flag officer he commanded the Plymouth Division of the Home Fleet, the 5th Cruiser Squadron, the Atlantic Fleet and then the 3rd Battle Squadron.

Charles Forbes (Royal Navy officer) Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Morton Forbes, was a Royal Navy officer. He served in the First World War, seeing action in the Dardanelles Campaign and at the Battle of Jutland and, as captain of a cruiser, was present at the surrender of the German fleet. During the Second World War, he served as Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet: his fleet suffered heavy losses including the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious and nine destroyers during the Norwegian Campaign in Spring 1940. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in May 1941 and in that capacity he organised the defence of Plymouth from air attack, prosecuted attacks on enemy shipping using the harbour at Brest as well as other ports along the French coast, and also initiated the St Nazaire Raid in March 1942 before retiring in August 1943.

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon Usborne Willis was a Royal Navy officer. He served in the First World War and saw action at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. He also served in the Second World War as Commander-in-Chief, South Atlantic in which capacity he led actions against German and Japanese raiding ships. He continued his war service as Flag Officer commanding 3rd Battle Squadron and Second in command of the Eastern Fleet and then as Flag Officer commanding Force H, the force which covered North African Operations, the Allied invasion of Sicily in July 1943 and then the Allied invasion of Italy in September 1943. He spent the final years of the war as Commander-in-Chief, Levant, in which capacity he conducted naval operations in support of the Dodecanese Campaign, and then as Second Sea Lord, in which capacity he arranged the manpower for the campaign in the Pacific Ocean against the Imperial Japanese Navy. After the war he served as Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet, in which role he was faced with unrest in Mandatory Palestine, before he became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth.

3rd Battle Squadron Naval squadron of the British Navy

The 3rd Battle Squadron was a naval squadron of the British Royal Navy consisting of battleships and other vessels, active from at least 1914 to 1945. The 3rd Battle Squadron was initially part of the Royal Navy's Home Fleet. During the First World War, the Home Fleet was renamed the Grand Fleet. During the Second World War, the squadron covered Atlantic convoys.

Osmond Brock Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Osmond de Beauvoir Brock, was a Royal Navy officer. Brock served as Assistant Director of Naval Intelligence and then as Assistant Director of Naval Mobilisation at the Admiralty in the early years of the 20th century. During the First World War Brock commanded the battlecruiser HMS Princess Royal at the Battle of Heligoland Bight and at the Battle of Dogger Bank. He then commanded the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron with his flag in HMS Princess Royal at the Battle of Jutland.

United States Battleship Division Nine (World War I)

United States Battleship Division Nine was a division of four, later five, dreadnought battleships of the United States Navy's Atlantic Fleet that constituted the American contribution to the British Grand Fleet during World War I. Although the U.S. entered the war on 6 April 1917, hesitation among senior officers of the U.S. Navy as to the wisdom of dividing the American battle fleet prevented the immediate dispatch of any capital ships for service in the war zone. Following a direct request from the British Admiralty and a series of high level staff meetings, American opinion changed, and Battleship Division Nine joined the Grand Fleet on 7 December 1917. Within that organization, the Division served as the Sixth Battle Squadron.

High Seas Fleet Naval battle during WWI

The High Seas Fleet (Hochseeflotte) was the battle fleet of the German Imperial Navy and saw action during the First World War. The formation was created in February 1907, when the Home Fleet (Heimatflotte) was renamed as the High Seas Fleet. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz was the architect of the fleet; he envisioned a force powerful enough to challenge the Royal Navy's predominance. Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German Emperor, championed the fleet as the instrument by which he would seize overseas possessions and make Germany a global power. By concentrating a powerful battle fleet in the North Sea while the Royal Navy was required to disperse its forces around the British Empire, Tirpitz believed Germany could achieve a balance of force that could seriously damage British naval hegemony. This was the heart of Tirpitz's "Risk Theory," which held that Britain would not challenge Germany if the latter's fleet posed such a significant threat to its own.

II Battle Squadron

The II Battle Squadron was a unit of the German High Seas Fleet before and during World War I. The squadron saw action throughout the war, including the Battle of Jutland on 31 May – 1 June 1916, where it formed the rear of the German line.

7th Battle Squadron

The 7th Battle Squadron was a squadron of the British Royal Navy assembled prior to World War One it was assigned to the Third Fleet and consisted of pre-dreadnought type battleships the oldest ships in fleet it existed from 1912 to 1914.

References

  1. 1 2 Heathcote, p. 130
  2. Heathcote, p. 25
  3. Heathcote, p. 26
  4. "The Pink List: Position and Movement of H.M. Ships, 11th November 1918 8 a.m." The Admiralty. Retrieved 13 February 2015 via naval-history.net.
  5. Jones, p. 25

Sources