Based on gripping first-hand testimony from the archives of the Imperial War Museum, this book reveals what it was really like to serve in the Royal Navy during the First World War. It was a period of huge change – for the first time the British navy went into battle with untried weapon systems, dreadnoughts, submarines, aircraft and airships. Julian Thompson blends insightful narrative with never-before-published stories to show what these men faced and overcame.
Officers and men, from admirals down to the youngest sailors faced the same dangers, at sea in often terrible weather conditions, with the ever-present prospect of being blown to pieces, or choking to death trapped in a compartment or turret as they plunged to the bottom of the sea. In their own words they share their experiences, from from long patrols and pitched battles in the cold, rough water of the North Sea to the perils of warfare in the Dardanelles; from the cat-and-mouse search for Vice-Admiral Graf von Spee in the Pacific to the dangerous raids on Ostend and Zeebrugge. We see what it was like to spend weeks in the cramped, smelly submarines of the period, or to attack U-boats from unreliable airships.