The Last Days of the High Seas Fleet, From Mutiny to Scapa Flow

The German High Seas Fleet was a major investment that failed to provide a return, a sad part of German history. This balanced account of a chapter in history that has received remarkably little attention but left a dark stain on the record of German arms – Very Highly Recommended

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NAME: The Last Days of the High Seas Fleet, From Mutiny to Scapa Flow
FILE: R2918
AUTHOR: Nicholas Jellicoe
PUBLISHER: Pen and Sword, Seaforth
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 351
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War One, World War I, World War 1, the Great War, war 
at sea, Jutland, Armistice, German surrender, morale, Communism, social disorder, 
rebellion, mutiny, captivity

ISBN: 978-1-5267-5458-5

IMAGE: B2918.jpg
BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/yxhhl3r4
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: The German High Seas Fleet was a major investment that failed to 
provide a return, a sad part of German history. This balanced account of a chapter 
in history that has received remarkably little attention but left a dark stain on 
the record of German arms   –  Very Highly Recommended

For the second time, Germany tried to establish mastery of Europe and an Empire to 
rival that of Britain. It ended very badly for Germany but it also damaged the rest of 
Europe, only to be exceeded by the third attempt under Hitler and perhaps the forth 
attempt under Von Der Leyen. In 1914, war was a result of miscalculations by 
several nations but the core was the personal ambition of the Kaiser and his feeling 
of inferiority. For no better reason that to compete with his British cousins, he started 
an arms race which centred on the construction of a navy to equal the Royal Navy.

Germany had some naval successes during WWI, but not with the High Seas Fleet. 
Small squadrons and independent warships were able to prey on merchant vessels 
and old axillary warships in the further oceans from the European fighting. The 
German submarines also enjoyed some success until the Royal Navy introduced 
convoys and developed new anti-submarine weapons. The High Seas Fleet, at 
considerably more cost than its productive detached warships, spent the war almost 
entirely mouldering in port. There was the brief foray for the Battle of Jutland but 
although some vulnerabilities were exposed in the British Fleet, the Germans were 
forced back into port to sit out the war.

The years of sitting around doing nothing, other than to consume resources, was 
naturally demoralizing. Even if nothing else had influenced matters, mutiny was 
always the risk in a fleet without real purpose and action. As it was, social change 
was in the air from before 1914, particularly in Russia. This generated unrest across 
Europe and German began to suffer. When the Allies forced surrender on Germany, 
they were initially too soft in allowing German troops to head home with their 
weapons, and then too harsh in the terms they forced through in 1919. The result was 
that the dangerous myth grew that Germany was undefeated in battle but betrayed by 
the Jews and the politicians. Burning resentment spread across the German military 
and the civilian population, leading to the formation and growth of Communist forces 
and the matching growth of right wing military groups in the form of the Friekorps, 
leading in to the founding of the NSDP.

The German High Seas Fleet became subject to these tensions early and by the time 
they were required to sail to Scapa Flow and surrender, the situation was already 
poisonous. Sitting in Scapa Flow with nothing to do but sulk and agitate, the German 
sailors were forming soviets and the officers' resentment was turning to a plan to 
scuttle the entire fleet. For the British, the scuttling of the High Seas Fleet was a win 
because they had no need for the vessels but held the responsibility of the crews who 
had to be kept on their vessels and fed.

What should not be overlooked is the potential for dissent to transfer to the British 
sailors guarding the impounded German ships, spreading through the British Fleet 
and then infecting the civilian population. One Midshipman was reprimanded by his 
Captain for permitting his whaler crew from singing. The Midshipman thought the 
sailors were just in good spirits and perhaps that was all, but the Captain recognized 
the 'Red Flag' being sung and saw this as almost mutiny.

The result was that the High Seas Fleet had been a costly failure, its scuttling casting 
a stain on German arms. It became in interesting scrapyard where British divers 
learned new methods of salvage, helping the Royal Navy in a number of ways. One 
invention being the hollow rivet fired into a ships hull and then connected to an air 
hose to force water out of a sunken vessel. This and other inventions became 
important tools in salvage work and also in damage control on a warship.