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BEF Interdicted August 1914

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  • BEF Interdicted August 1914

    For over week in August 1914 the BEF was embarked in Britians southern ports and carried across the Channel to the French channel ports. The Royal Navy stood ready to protect this from any interception by the German fleet

    Germanys submarine fleet was relatively small, and limited to action as a fleet support unit. No doctrine for use as a separate strike force, or inclination for such use, existed in the minds of the German naval leaders. Had such a notion existed far enough in advance how practical would it have been for the U Boats to have deployed to the Channel in August 1914, and how much could they have accomplished?

  • #2
    I've never heard of subs as effective counters to surface naval vessels, much less the capital ships that the RN would have. I wanted to make a thread on it, but I'll ask here: can subs actually go toe to toe with Naval vessels and win? If so, why was there no sub fights during the landings in Sicily, Salerno and Normandy in WWII? I would have used them aggressively there if only because it represented Germany's only form of naval strength. But as far as I know, no sub ever was sent to stop these landings, and I must ask why.
    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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    • #3
      Something could have been done... and that makes me wonder, once again- why is it that Zeppelins never fulfilled the role of scouts or spotters for the High Seas fleet?
      "Why is the Rum gone?"

      -Captain Jack

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      • #4
        In 1914, countersub technology was pretty infant. To the point that submarines could have possibly caused the BEF to be abortive. However, submarines had such short underwater endurance that they could easily be located and destroyed by virtually any surface combatant the RN had in the inventory. Packing enough of them into the channel to seriously threaten the BEF would have simply resulted in the largest countersub sweep ever. Communications were so weak that submarines couldn't support each other effectively, and every torpedo launched would risk hitting a German Sub as much as a British vessel in the crowded melee. When the subs surfaced everything from Armored Cruisers to torpedo boats would pound them into submission. In addition, torpedo technology for submarines really wasn't up to snuff. They had virtually no guidance system, which pretty well excluded destroyers from possible victims (unless they got ambushed or shot at night). They also didn't have a lot of firepower, or a good magnetic detonator, so it would take a subs worth of torps to sink a battleship unless a lucky hit was made. They would have made short work of transports, but the sheer number of escorts would have made any run on the BEF a suicide mission.

        By WWII, Submarines had finally reached a point where they could viably fight against a major surface combatant and win. However, by this same point, anti-sub technology and tactics had also evolved to the point that if a submarine attempted to function as a defensive unit, it would be isolated and destroyed in short order.

        In WWI or WWII, communications technology and submarine propulsion technology had not reached a level where submarines could function in a fleet action. Wolf Packs were close, but still no where near the sophistication necessary for the instantaneous or 'within minutes' requirements of a fleet action in the age of steel ships. IIRC it wasn't until the 60s that submarines reached the point where they were fleet elements as opposed to loosely attached scouts/solitary raiders.
        Tacitos, Satrap of Kyrene

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Wolery View Post
          I've never heard of subs as effective counters to surface naval vessels, much less the capital ships that the RN would have. I wanted to make a thread on it, but I'll ask here: can subs actually go toe to toe with Naval vessels and win? If so, why was there no sub fights during the landings in Sicily, Salerno and Normandy in WWII? I would have used them aggressively there if only because it represented Germany's only form of naval strength. But as far as I know, no sub ever was sent to stop these landings, and I must ask why.
          I dunno. Thats something of a different question than mine. But, to answer it one could take a look at any attacks the submarines attempted on ships in 1914 and compare the sucess in attempts on cargo ships vs warships.

          Originally posted by TacCovert View Post
          In 1914, countersub technology was pretty infant. To the point that submarines could have possibly caused the BEF to be abortive. However, submarines had such short underwater endurance that they could easily be located and destroyed by virtually any surface combatant the RN had in the inventory. Packing enough of them into the channel to seriously threaten the BEF would have simply resulted in the largest countersub sweep ever.
          How many subs did Germany have in August 1914? I was thinking a maximum of six could be stationed in the channel any particular day. Or likely fewer. How many ships sunk in the first couple days would it take to panic the Brits in charge of the movement to France? I doubt one or two would do that. Three perhaps, four?

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          • #6
            This should be easy to check. Been told the U18 & U19 both entered the Channel in September 1914 and spent several days each there. The U 18 fire a torpedo at a British cruiser and missed. Both were operating under the traditional regulations for attacking merchant ships. Both captains apparently took no shots at the various cargo ships they sighted as they could not identify them as carrying military cargo.

            If this is correct is tells me the submarines of 1914 could possiblly operate in the Channel in 1914. The same friend also thinks only two German subs ran aground in the Channel during the entire war.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
              For over week in August 1914 the BEF was embarked in Britians southern ports and carried across the Channel to the French channel ports. The Royal Navy stood ready to protect this from any interception by the German fleet

              Germanys submarine fleet was relatively small, and limited to action as a fleet support unit. No doctrine for use as a separate strike force, or inclination for such use, existed in the minds of the German naval leaders. Had such a notion existed far enough in advance how practical would it have been for the U Boats to have deployed to the Channel in August 1914, and how much could they have accomplished?
              Given a doctrine for SS warfare existed in 1914 maybe they could have put down some of the transports going to France. Add an Crusier or BC/BB strike force and maybe it gets worse heavier loses or the BEF is bottled up in UK. That is given that the Grand Fleet &/or BCF comes south to protect the shipping. And a German BC/BB force did approach the UK coast of Hartlepool & Scarbourgh , Yorkshire in 1914 and shelled those towns.
              How does this affect the first part of WW I ? Maybe the German army takes Paris or the channel ports and you get something asimilar to France June 1940. If they can keep the French down maybe the eastern segment of the army can attack again in Russia . Italy stay neutral maybe the soviet revolution of 1917 either never happens or fails and there would still be a Czar in Moscow. Maybe

              "To all who serve , have or will serve , Thank You"

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              • #8
                I dot think the BEF would have been bottled up in the UK. By shifting the embarkation/disembarkations ports to the west, ie: Liverpool/Brest, delivery could have been accompished. It would have delayed arrival in combat by at least a couple weeks. Exactly how important the BEF was to the Battles of August I wont judge at this moment. it would be missing from the border fight at Mons, and from the early part of the Marne battle. perhaps all the Marne battle.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                  I dot think the BEF would have been bottled up in the UK. By shifting the embarkation/disembarkations ports to the west, ie: Liverpool/Brest, delivery could have been accompished. It would have delayed arrival in combat by at least a couple weeks. Exactly how important the BEF was to the Battles of August I wont judge at this moment. it would be missing from the border fight at Mons, and from the early part of the Marne battle. perhaps all the Marne battle.
                  You well could be right .But if there was a delay that gives the German army more time to push towards either the Channel or Paris .

                  "To all who serve , have or will serve , Thank You"

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