British Merchant Shipping Losses During World War I
On the even of World War I Britain had by far the largest merchant marine in the world, upon which not only the survival of the British Isles depended. When the First World War broke out Germany promptly instituted commerce raiding. But problems soon arose. The traditional tools of raiding, the fast cruiser, soon proved inadequate, as the Royal Navy’s dominanc of the seas quickly drove Germany’s few raiders from the seas. So Germany fell back on submarines. These were highly effective, but quickly created political problems, that led ultimately to the intervention of the United States in the war, which proved the proverbial “last straw” in Germany’s bit for the mastery of Europe. But not before the dread u-boot almost brought Britain to its knees before the Royal Navy very belatedly instituted convoying.
|Causes of British Merchant Navy Losses, 1914-1918|
| Number|| G.R.T.|| Average|
|Merchant Ships Sunk|| 2,479|| 7,759,090|| 3130.0|
| By Submarine|| 2,099|| 6,635,059|| 3161.1|
| All Other Means|| 380|| 1,124,031|| 2958.0|
|Mercahnt Ships Damaged|| 1,885 ||8,007,967|| 4248.3|
|By Submarine|| 1,727|| 7,335,827|| 4247.7|
|All Other Means|| 158|| 672,140|| 4254.1|
|Fishing Boats Sunk|| 675|| 71,765|| 106.3|
|By Submarine|| 578|| 57,583|| 99.6|
|All Other Means|| 97|| 14,182|| 145.2|
|Note: G.R.T., gross registered tonnage. All Other Means, cruisers, surface raiders, mines, torpedo boats, aircraft. Average, indicates the average g.r.t. per vessel sunk or damaged.|
There are a number of interesting conclusions that can be drawn from this table. Thus, there was no significant difference in tonnage between the average ship sunk by submarine and that sunk by any other means. Nor between vessels only damaged by submarine and those damaged by other means. However, the average ship damaged, whether by submarine or other means, was about 35-percent larger than the average ship sunk. Since submarines frequently resorted to the use of gunfire or even scuttling to sink merchant ships, particularly early in the war, it’s probable that larger ships were able to absorb more punishment. On the other hand, the fact that the average fishing boat sunk by “other means” was nearly 50-percent larger than that sunk by submarine seems difficult to explain.
Senior Officers of the French Royal Navy
By the eighteenth century the senior officers in most navies were given some variant of the title “admiral,” itself derived from the Spanish almirante, which in turn derived from the Arabic emir. Thus various fleets had admiral or almirante or ammiraglio or admiraal and so forth. Not so, however, the French Royal Navy, a capable force, yet one which only rarely managed to get the better of its principal rival, Britain’s Royal Navy.
|Comparative Senior Naval Ranks France and Britain Mid-Eighteenth Century|
|Lieutenant-general des armees naval||Rear Adrmiral|
The rather unique title marechal – marshal – was awarded six times during the ancien regime, lastly in 1758, shortly before the Seven Yeas’ War in which France’s navy was once again trounced by the British.
Now since marechal is generally believed to have derived from mare as in “female horse,” perhaps had the French used a more suitably maritime designation for their seniormost naval officers they might have done better?