Page 3501

3501 THE TWENTIETH CENTURY-THE GREAT WAR,

retreated from before the enemy to Lough

Swilly. Regarding this matter Admiral

Jellicoe says:

"The anxiety of officers in command of

fleets or squadrons at anchor in any of

the bases used by the Grand Fleet was

immense. For my part, I was always

far more concerned for the safety of the

fleet when it was at anchor in Scapa Flow

during the exceedingly brief periods

which were spent there for coaling

during the early days of the war,

than I was when the fleet was at sea,

and this anxiety was reflected in the

very short time that the fleet was

kept in harbor. It was also the cause

of my taking the fleet to sea very

hurriedly on more than one occasion

owing to the report of the presence

of a submarine in the anchorage, and

considerable risks were accepted in

getting the fleet to sea in very thick

weather at night on at least one of

these occasions.

"I have often wondered why the

Germans did not make greater efforts

to reduce our strength and capital ships

by destroyer or submarine attacks

on our bases in those early days. They

possessed, in comparison with the uses

for which they were required, almost

a superfluity of destroyers, certainly a

superfluity as compared with ourselves, and they could not have put

them to a better use than an attack

on Scapa Flow during the early

months of the 1914-1915 winter."

Admiral Jellicoe attributes the German failure to attack the fleet at this

time to the fact that they doubtless

"credited us also with possessing

harbor defenses and obstructions, which,

in our case, were non-existent, although we

did our best in the fleet to give the impression that we had obstructed the entrances,

for, pending the provision of proper obstructions, we improvised various contrivances.

It may have seemed impossible to the German mind that we should place our fleet,

on which the Empire depended for its very

existence, in a position where it was open

to submarine or destroyer attack."

The fact that the British were forced

to occupy such distant bases enabled

the German fleet more than once to

carry out short raids against the English

coast, A grave fear existed in inner circles in England lest the Germans should

attack the transport of the Expeditionary Force to France. Admiral Jellicoe

says that the German failure to do so

surprised him and some other naval

officials. "The conditions for him were

distinctly favorable. He must have been

aware that our main fleet was based

far to the northward, and if he had timed

an attack on the cross-channel traffic for

a period during which he reckoned that

the destroyers were returning to the base

to fuel, he would have stood a good chance

of making the attack and returning to his

base before that fleet could intervene.