Bayly’s War, The Battle for the Western Approaches in the First World War


The WWII Battle of the Atlantic has received much more coverage than the WWI Battle of the Atlantic. This new book gives a comprehensive coverage to the subject of the WWI anti-submarine warfare with fresh insight – Strongly Recommended.

NAME: Bayly's War, The Battle for the Western Approaches in the First 
World War
FILE: R2664
AUTHOR: Steve R Dunn
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Seaforth Publishing
BINDING: hard back
PAGES:  304
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War One, First World War, World War 1, naval 
warfare, submarines, U-Boats, naval blockade, anti-submarine warfare, 
convoy escort, unrestricted submarine warfare, IRA, espionage, 

ISBN: 978-1-52670-123-7

IMAGE: B2664.jpg
DESCRIPTION: The WWII Battle of the Atlantic has received much 
more coverage than the WWI Battle of the Atlantic. This new book 
gives a comprehensive coverage to the subject of the WWI anti-
submarine warfare with fresh insight – Strongly Recommended.

WWI was to see the first widespread use of submarines to attempt a 
blockage of the British Isles, and the increasingly successful anti-
submarine warfare operated out of Queenstown on the Southern Irish 
coast. The British commander, Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly was to 
pioneer tactics with a motley selection of vessels and set the 
tactics that were required again in 1939.

In 1914, the submarine and the warplane were two very young weapons 
that had never been used in any real conflict before. As a result, 
both sides were pioneering new forms of warfare that had no 
precedent. The submarine was not yet a robust weapons system and 
even in WWII, the U-Boat was still really a submersible torpedo boat 
armed with guns and torpedoes that spent much of its time on the 
surface. The accepted rules of war still called on a submarine 
skipper to surface and challenge a target before opening fire. That 
placed the submarine at a disadvantage and meant that many U-Boat 
victories in the early years were achieved by gunfire rather than 
torpedo. Naturally, submarine commanders on all sides pressed for 
permission to attack targets covertly while submerged. That passed 
the advantage to the submarine, but at considerable cost, forming a 
key part of the justification for the US to enter the war on the 
side of the British and French.

There was not much difference between the U-Boats of WWI and their 
successors through much of WWII. They were fewer in numbers and 
lacked some of the WWII innovations of the snorkel, the radar 
detector, and the equipment of some larger U-Boats with an autogiro 
glider to spot for targets, but generally the real submarines only 
started to enter German service in the closing months of WWII when 
the war was already lost.

Generally, the U-Boats operated in the Western Approaches, 
relatively close to the British coast where they could lie in wait 
for ships leaving British waters, or arriving from Empire and North 
American ports. That meant that the Germans often had difficulty in 
identifying exactly what their targets were and meant that neutral 
flagged ships were as likely to be attacked as ships of the Allies. 
Deciding what was a passenger or hospital ship that should be 
avoided, and what was a vessel carrying war materials and supplies 
was not easy. As some targets had been marked by Irish insurgents 
there was also potential for a ship to be attacked because the IRA 
had been less than competent in their intelligence gathering.

The British not only had to fight the U-Boats, but also operate in 
a community that was demanding home rule and happy to collaborate 
with the Germans. They also asked Germany for arms so that part of 
the Royal Navy resources had to be expended in patrolling Irish 
coasts to prevent German gun runners landing weapons for the IRA.

Admiral Bayly set up his headquarters in Queenstown and began 
collecting vessels from any source open to him to augment the small 
number of warships allocated to him. This saw trawlers, tugs and 
yachts joining the force. Armament was improvised and new tactics 
developed from experience. His achievement under these circumstances 
was all the more remarkable and one of his innovations was the 
Q-Ship, which looked like a harmless merchant vessel but was packed 
with timber to keep it afloat if attacked and mounting hidden 
weapons, serving as a decoy that a submarine skipper might consider 
a soft target for a surface action and suffering for his mistake.

The author has told the story well and included a review of the US 
Navy vessels that  operated alongside the RN in the later stages 
of the war. Illustration is confined to a single photo plate 
section with some very interesting images, together with a chart 
of the Western Approaches.