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Operations of the tenth cruiser squadron: a challenge for the Royal Navy and its reserves

Operations of the tenth cruiser squadron: a challenge for the Royal Navy and its reserves

Lilley, Terence Dawson (2012) Operations of the tenth cruiser squadron: a challenge for the Royal Navy and its reserves. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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The Tenth Cruiser Squadron provided a vital element to the Blockade of Germany, patrolling the seas between northwest Scotland, Iceland and Greenland. It was the longest continuous naval operation of the war lasting from 1914-1917. The Squadron’s resources were armed merchant cruisers manned by Naval Reservists and Mercantile Marine ratings all commanded by a Flag Officer and Royal Naval Commanding Officers. The thesis follows the Royal Navy’s deliberations to establish its Reservist elements and how the Navy assumed the men of the Mercantile Marine could be brought into naval service. A parallel debate in Parliament considered the viability of taking up ocean liners for conversion to armed merchant cruisers. Both sets of discussions lasted nearly fifty years.

Most existing Squadron literature is chronological, drawing heavily on official reports of proceedings. This thesis concentrates on analysing personal diaries and biographies and is focused on the crews’ daily work to reveal a broad picture of life in the Squadron. Topics included are pay, accommodation, feeding scales, daily routines, promotion, pastoral and medical welfare, and recreation. These issues were in addition to the daily threats from surface and submarine attack and the constant debilitating bad weather.

Although deemed successful, the thesis concludes, the blockade could have been tightened sooner if the Government had used statistics already held on imports and exports. The conclusion is also made that the Royal Navy’s failure to understand fully the shipping industry’s unique facets and the merchant seaman, created problems that could have been avoided.

The Squadron’s operational achievement was intercepting nearly 13,000 suspect vessels. Its patrols performed a constabulary function which encouraged ships to call voluntarily at examination ports to be searched effectively. Less tangible, but equally praiseworthy, was the successful cohesion built amongst crews of widely differing experience.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: naval blockade, First World War, Royal Navy, mercantile marines, Tenth Cruiser Squadron, naval reserves,
Subjects: V Naval Science > V Naval Science (General)
Pre-2014 Departments: Greenwich Maritime Institute
Last Modified: 27 Mar 2017 09:32

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