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The War at Sea and in the Colonies
The declaration of war by Great Britain on 4 August converted the conflict into one unlike any other that had been waged since Napoleon was sent to St. Helena in 1815; and sea-power was once more revealed to a somewhat purblind world. There had, indeed, been wars in which navies had been engaged, and Japan in 1904 had exhibited the latest model of a naval battle. But Japan only commanded the sea in Far Eastern waters; and the wars in which Great Britain herself was engaged since 1815 had displayed her command in limited spheres and at the expense of enemies who had no pretensions to be her naval rivals. But in 1914 the second navy in the world seemed by the conduct of Germany to challenge the first, and for nearly four and a half years there were hopes and fears of a titanic contest for the command of the sea. But in fact the challenge was not forthcoming, and from first to last the command remained in our hands through Germany's default. There was no Trafalgar because no one came forth to fight, and in the end the German Navy surrendered without a struggle.
But while our command of the sea was not disputed in deed by the Germans, it was disputed in word by domestic critics and denied by loquacious generals; and the exploits of German submarines, airships, and aeroplanes lent some colour to the denial and to the assertion that England had ceased to be an island. Both contentions were the outcome of inadequate knowledge and worse confusion of thought. Islands are made by the sea and not by the air; even if the Germans had secured command of the air, which they did not, that command would not have given them the advantages which accrue from the command of the sea. It might please pessimists to believe that England would be cowed into submission by air-raids, but the most inveterate scaremongers hesitated to assert that armies with their indispensable artillery and equipment could be dropped on British soil from the skies. Belgium and France were far more troubled than we by aircraft; but it was not aircraft that carried German armies to Brussels and near to the gates of Paris, and London was saved from the fate of Louvain by British command of the sea. Nor was that command abolished or even threatened by submarines, and the fear lest it was came of the mentality which denies the existence of a power on the ground that it is not perfect. Command of the sea never has been and never can be absolute. French privateers had never been more active nor British losses at sea more acute than after Trafalgar, when no French Navy ventured out of port; and the destruction of every German Dreadnought would not have affected by one iota the success of German submarines.
The command of the sea does not mean immunity from the risks of naval warfare or from loss by the capture or sinking of merchant vessels. It does not imply absolute security for British coasts, for British coasts have been raided in every great war that Britain has waged. It does not even involve the defeat or destruction of the enemy's naval forces, or it would be a simple task for any naval Power to deprive us of the command of the sea by locking its fleets in harbour, and on that theory the forts of the Dardanelles would have enabled Turkey to deny the command of the sea to the combined fleets of the world. The meaning is familiar enough to intelligent students of history. Bacon sketched it three hundred years ago when he wrote, "He that commands the sea is at great liberty and may take as much and as little of the war as he will ... and the wealth of both Indies seems in great part but an accessory to the command of the seas." "Both Indies" have grown to-day to include the resources of nearly the whole extra-European world which the command of the sea placed at the disposal of the Entente and denied to the Central Empires; and the last great war, like those against Napoleon, Louis XIV, and Philip II, was decided by the same indispensable factor in world-power. Others might control for a time a continent; only those who command the sea can dispose of the destinies of the world.
But while an essential factor in world-power, the command of the sea is not its sum; and the war throughout its course illustrated the weakness of attack by sea against a well-defended coast. No attempt was made to land an army on German territory, and complete command of the Ægean did not avail for the capture of Gallipoli. It could not turn sea into land nor enable a navy to do an army's work, and command of the sea while a more extensive is a less intensive kind of power than command of the land. The nature of the command varies, indeed, with the solidity of the element in which it is exercised: land is more solid than water, and water than air; the command of the land is therefore more complete than command of the sea, and command of the sea than command of the air; and endless confusion arose from the use of the same word to describe three different degrees of control. Victory can be achieved on sea, conquest only on land; and nothing like victory, let alone conquest, in war has yet been won in the air. Conquest, however, while it cannot be effected, can be prevented on sea, as it was at Salamis in 1588, at Trafalgar, and Navarino; for sea-power, while conclusive for defence, is merely conducive to offence, and that is why it has ever been a means of liberty rather than of despotism. Armies are the weapons of autocracy, navies those of freedom; for peoples do not live upon water, and only armies command their homes. Command of the sea is a sufficient protection for an island-empire; to conquer others it needs a superior army, and the absence of such an army proved the defensive aims of the British Empire before the war. World domination could only be secured by the combination of a dominant army with a dominant navy, and hence the significance of the German naval programme designed at least to prevent the counteraction of one by the other.
But while a supreme navy suffices to protect an island empire, it does not suffice to defend continental states; and the importance of British sea-power was that it gave us and other oversea peoples the liberty to take as much or as little part as we chose in a war to defend states that were threatened on land. The existence of that facility did not determine the extent to which it might be used by ourselves or by allies. That would depend upon the size of the armies we raised and the labour we spent upon their equipment; and we might have restricted our expeditionary forces to the numbers we sent under Marlborough against Louis XIV or under Wellington against Napoleon. But we could not have sent any without the command of the sea; and the essence of that command is that, firstly, it prevented the enemy from using his armies to invade our shores, and, secondly, it enabled us to send whatever forces we liked to whatever sphere of operations was not commanded by the enemy's armies. Philip II had demonstrated once for all the emptiness of the invasion scare when he sent a superb military expedition, the Spanish Armada, across a sea which he did not command; and the efforts of German submarines failed to affect the transport of our own and our Allies' troops or seriously to impede their communications.
The command of the sea was, in fact, abandoned by the Germans when on 26 July 1914 their fleet was recalled from the Norwegian fiords; and the cruisers which the outbreak of war found beyond reach of German territorial waters were in turn and in time destroyed. One Dreadnought, the Goeben, and a light cruiser, the Breslau, escaped to play a chequered part in the war. Caught by its outbreak in the Mediterranean, they attempted to make the Straits, were headed off by the British, and gained Messina on 5 August. Evading the British Fleet under circumstances which were held to cast no reflection on the British commander, and with assistance which it was deemed impolitic to make public, they pursued their flight eastward, gallantly assaulted by the smaller and slower Gloucester off Cape Matapan, until they reached the Dardanelles and took the Turkish Government under their charge. Out in the Atlantic the swift Karlsruhe caused some anxiety till she was wrecked in the West Indies, and the Geier was interned at Honolulu by the United States. A few converted merchantmen also pursued a brief career as raiders: the Cap Trafalgar was disposed of in a spirited action by the converted Cunarder Carmania on 14 September off Brazil; the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse was sunk by the Highflyer off Cape Verde Islands on 27 August; and the Spreewald was captured in the North Atlantic by the Berwick on 12 September. For the rest, the German mercantile marine was interned in neutral ports or restricted to Baltic waters, and apart from Von Spee and the submarines the German flag disappeared from the seas.
The Germans had realized from the start a vital difference between war on sea and war on land. The land affords some protection to the weaker combatant especially on the defensive; the sea gives none. There are no trenches in the sea, but only graves. It is merciless to the vanquished, and the casualties in a beaten fleet are total losses; instead of prisoners, fugitives, and wounded, there is one vast list of drowned. Ships that are sunk do not return to the battle- line, and their loss takes long to repair. Years are required to build a Dreadnought, and years to make a seaman. Armies are easier to create and more difficult to destroy than fleets, and the sailor's fight is ever one to a finish, with little chance of escape from the dread alternative. It is a case of all or nothing; there are no water-tight compartments in sea- power, no fluctuating spheres of power, no divided areas in some of which one and in some the other combatant may be supreme. Apart from land-locked waters the sea is one and indivisible, and he who has the command, commands it everywhere. The battle at sea is a battle without a morrow for those who lose; and from the day when the Germans wisely withdrew into Kiel and Wilhelmshaven there was little chance that they would come out to fight to a finish except as a counsel of despair or until they could by mine or submarine or skilful raid reduce the disparity of force. That was the purpose of their early naval strategy; it proved ineffective owing to British skill and caution, and it became hopeless when it appeared that we could build ships much faster than the Germans could sink them or build ships themselves; and the Germans then turned from the task of destroying the British Navy to that of destroying the commerce on which we depended for subsistence, from the hope of securing the command of the sea for themselves to that of turning it into a "no man's land," a desert which no allied or neutral ship could cross.
The mine-sowing began the moment war was declared, and on 5 August the Konigin Luise was sunk in the nefarious act of sowing loose mines in the North Sea. Fixed mines for coast and harbour defence or minefields at sea are legitimate means of war, provided that warning is given of the dangerous area; loose mines are prohibited by international law, because they can make no distinction in their destruction between neutrals and belligerents, merchantmen and men-of-war. But the German flag having practically disappeared from the seas, the Germans paid little heed to the risks of other people. On 6 August a light cruiser, the Amphion, struck one of these mines and was sunk, and on 3 September a gunboat, the Speedy, met with a similar fate. A more serious loss, though only one man was killed, was that of the super-Dreadnought Audacious, which struck a mine to the north of Ireland on 27 October and sank as she was being towed into harbour; and a mine caused the loss of the Hampshire, with Lord Kitchener on board, in June 1916.
The submarine proved, however, the greater danger, and there was nothing illegal in the sinking of men-of-war or transports. On 5 September the Pathfinder, a light cruiser, was torpedoed and sunk, and on the 13th the British retaliated by sinking the German light cruiser Hela near Heligoland. The warning, however, had not been taken to heart, and on 22 September the German submarine commander, Otto Weddigen, successively sank the Aboukir, the Hogue, and the Cressy, three old but substantial cruisers on patrol duty off the Dutch coast. The Hogue and the Cressy were lost because they came up to the rescue and were protected by no screen of destroyers, and 680 officers and men were drowned. A fourth cruiser, the Hawke, was torpedoed off Aberdeen on 15 October, and on 1 January 1915 the Formidable, of 15,000 tons, was sunk off Start Point on her way to the Dardanelles, with a loss of 600 of her crew. The Germans were not, however, immune in their submarine campaign. H.M.S. Birmingham rammed and sank a German submarine on 6 August, the Badger did the like on 25 October, and U18 was sunk on 23 November; Weddigen himself was rammed, with the loss of his submarine and all on board, later on by the Dreadnought.
The British losses by mine and submarine created some discontent on the ground that our naval strategy was defensive rather than offensive; and military critics, whose notions of naval warfare were derived from the study of German text-books on the principles of war on land, continually pressed for a more active policy, and asked why our superior navy did not treat the German Fleet as the German Army treated its enemies in France and Belgium. It was forgotten that he who possesses all must always be on the defensive; there must be something tangible to attack before there can be an offensive, and there could have been no Trafalgar had Napoleon kept his fleet in harbour. The abandonment of the high seas by the German Navy precluded a naval battle, and the defensive strength of harbour defences which kept Nelson outside Toulon had so increased as to make it vastly harder for Jellicoe to penetrate Wilhelmshaven or Kiel. Naval power, which the war proved to be more than ever effective on sea, was shown to be more than ever powerless on shore. The mine and the submarine made the sustained bombardment of land fortifications a dangerous practice, and moving batteries on shore were more than a match for ships, because they could not be sunk and could be more easily repaired or replaced. There were wild dreams of British forces landing on German coasts, and still wilder alarms about German armies descending on British shores; but the only landing effected on hostile territory during the war was at Gallipoli, and it did not encourage a similar attempt against the better defended lands held by the Germans. We had to content ourselves with the practical realization in war of our continual claim in peace that sea-power is an instrument for the defence of island states rather than one for offence against continental peoples. Only when and where those peoples wished to be defended and opened their ports to their allies, was it found possible to land a relieving force. The British armies which liberated Brussels had to travel via Boulogne and not Ostend; and the German ships which sheltered in port had to be routed out by the pressure of Allied arms on land.
The naval actions of the war were therefore of the nature of outpost raids and skirmishes rather than of battles. The first that developed any serious fighting took place in the Bight of Heligoland on 28 August. Apparently with the design of inducing the Germans to come out, a flotilla of submarines under Commodore Keyes was sent close in to Heligoland, with some destroyers and two light cruisers, the Arethusa and Fearless, behind them, and more substantial vessels out of sight in the offing. Presently there appeared a German force of destroyers and two cruisers, the Ariadne and the Strassburg; they were driven off mainly by the gallant fighting of the Arethusa; but thinking there was no further support the Germans then sent out three heavier cruisers, the Mainz, the Koln, and apparently the Yorck. The Arethusa and Fearless held their own for two or three hours until Beatty's battle-cruisers, led by the Lion, came safely through the German mine-fields and submarines to their assistance. The Lion's 13.5-inch guns soon settled the issue: the Mainz and the Köln were sunk, while no British unit was lost, and the casualties were 32 killed and 52 wounded against 300 German prisoners and double that number of other casualties. The overwhelming effect of heavier gunfire had been clearly demonstrated, and it was further illustrated on 17 October by the destruction of four German destroyers off the Dutch coast by the light cruiser Undaunted accompanied by four British destroyers; but the next exhibition of naval gun-power was to be at our expense.
Among the incidental advantages which the adhesion of Great Britain brought to the Entente was the intervention of Japan, which, apart from its alliance with us, had never forgiven Germany the part she took in depriving Japan of the fruits of her victory over China in 1894, and regarded as a standing offence the naval base which Germany had established at Tsingtau and the hold she had acquired on North Pacific islands. On 15 August Japan demanded within eight days the surrender of the lease of Tsingtau and the evacuation of Far Eastern waters by German warships. No answer was, of course, returned, but the German squadron under Von Spee wisely left Tsingtau in anticipation of its investment by the Japanese. It began on the 27th, and troops were landed on 2 September: on the 23rd a British contingent arrived from Wei-hai-wei to co-operate, and gradually the lines of investment and the heavy artillery were drawn closer. The final assault was fixed for 7 November, but the Germans forestalled it by surrender; there were 3000 prisoners out of an original garrison of 5000, and Germany's last overseas base, on which she had spent £20,000,000, passed into the enemy's hands. Australian troops had already occupied without serious opposition German New Guinea, the Bismarck archipelago, and the Gilbert and Caroline Islands, while Samoa surrendered to a New Zealand force, and the Marshall Islands to the Japanese.
Von Spee's squadron was thus left without a German naval base; but one of its vessels was to show that there was still a career for a raider, and the others were to demonstrate the paradox that neutral ports might be more useful than bases of their own, inasmuch as they could not be treated like Tsingtau. On fleeing from the Japanese menace Von Spee had steamed eastwards across the Pacific, but two of his cruisers, the Königsberg and the Emden, were detached to help the Germans in East Africa and to raid British commerce in the Indian Ocean. On 20 September the Königsberg sank H.M.S. Pegasus at Zanzibar, but failed to give much assistance in the projected attack on Mombasa, and was presently bottled up in the Rufigi River. The Emden under Captain Müller had better success. Throughout September and October she haunted the coasts of India and harried British trade, setting fire to an oil-tank at Madras, torpedoing a Russian cruiser and a French destroyer in the roadstead of Penang, and capturing in all some seventeen British merchantmen. She had, however, lost her own attendant colliers about 25 October, and a raid on the Cocos or Keeling islands on 9 November was interrupted by the arrival of H.M.S. Sydney, which had been warned by wireless, on her way from Australia. In less than two hours the Sydney's 6-in. guns had battered the Emden to pieces, and with only 18 casualties had killed or wounded 230 of the enemy. Müller became an honourable prisoner of war; he had proved himself the most skilful of German captains and the best of German gentlemen.
Meanwhile Von Spee had gained the South American coast and made himself at home in its friendly ports and islands. He had with him two sister cruisers, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, each of 11,400 tons and an armament of eight 8.2-inch guns, and three smaller cruisers, the Dresden, Leipzig, and Nürnberg, each about the size of the Emden, from 3200 to 3540 tons, and carrying ten 4.1-inch guns; none of them had a speed of less than 22 knots. To protect the South Pacific trade the British Government had in August sent Admiral Cradock with a somewhat miscellaneous squadron, consisting of the Canopus, a pre-Dreadnought battleship of nearly 13,000 tons, with 6-inch armour, four 12-inch guns, and a speed of 19 knots; the Good Hope, a cruiser of 14,000 tons, with two 9.2-inch and sixteen 6-inch guns, and a speed of 22 knots; the Monmouth of 9800 tons, fourteen 6-inch guns, and the same speed as the Good Hope; the Glasgow of 4800 tons, with two 6-inch and ten 4-inch guns, and a speed of 25 knots; and the Otranto, an armed liner. Reinforcements were expected from home, and possibly from Japan; but the squadrons were not unequally matched in weight of metal, though the British were handicapped by the diversity and antiquity of their armament. The balance was, however, destroyed before the battle, because, as Cradock in the third week of October made his way north along the Pacific coast, the Canopus developed defects which necessitated her being left behind for repairs.
The squadrons fell in with one another north-west of Coronel late in the afternoon of 1 November. Cradock had turned south, presumably to join the Canopus, but Von Spee secured the inestimable advantage of the in-shore course, and as the sun set it silhouetted the British ships against the sky while the gathering gloom obscured the Germans. The fight was really between the two leading cruisers on each side, the Good Hope and the Monmouth against the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. The Germans got the range first, and the Good Hope's two 9.2-inch guns were soon put out of action in spite of their superior weight. At 7:50 she blew up, and the Monmouth was a wreck. The lightly-armoured Glasgow had no option but to use her superior speed and escape to warn the Canopus. This she did, and the two got safely round Cape Horn to the Falkland Isles, leaving for the time the Germans in command of the South Pacific coast. Sixteen hundred and fifty officers, midshipmen, and men lost their lives with Cradock, and none were rescued by the Germans. There was hardly a parallel in British naval history for such a defeat.
Prompt measures were taken to retrieve it. Lord Fisher had succeeded Prince Louis of Battenberg at the Admiralty on 30 October, and one of his first acts was to dispatch on 5 November a squadron under Admiral Sturdee, comprising the Invincible and Inflexible, and four lighter cruisers, the Carnarvon, Kent, Cornwall, and Bristol; the Glasgow was picked up in the South Atlantic, while the Canopus was at Port Stanley in the Falklands. The Invincible and Inflexible were the two first battle-cruisers built; each had a tonnage of 17,250, a speed of 27-28 knots, and eight 12-inch guns which could be fired as a broadside to right or left; and there would be little chance for Von Spee if he encountered such a weight of metal. Sturdee reached Port Stanley on 7 December. Von Spee, who had been refitting at Juan Fernandez, left it on 15 November, possibly fearing the Japanese approach, and made for Cape Horn and the Atlantic. His plan was to snap up the Canopus and the Glasgow, get what he could out of the Falklands, and then proceed to support the rebellion in South Africa. Early on 8 December he unsuspectingly approached Port Stanley, not discovering the presence of Sturdee's squadron until it was too late. He then made off north-eastwards with the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau, while his lighter cruisers turned south-eastwards. The former were sunk in the afternoon by the two British battle- cruisers and the Carnarvon, while the latter succumbed in the evening to the Kent, Glasgow, and Cornwall; only the Dresden escaped, to be sunk in five minutes on 14 March 1915 at Juan Fernandez by the Kent and the Glasgow. The Invincible had no casualties, the Inflexible one man killed; the Kent had four killed and twelve wounded, and the Glasgow nine and four. About two hundred Germans were saved from drowning, but they did not include Von Spee.
Such were the effects upon human life of a disparity of weight of metal in naval action. No skill could avoid the brutal precision of mechanical and material superiority. Von Spee had it at Coronel, Sturdee at the Falklands, and there is no reason to suppose that if the persons had been exchanged, the result would have been any different. It is the romance of the past which attributes naval success mainly to superior seamanship or courage; the "little" Revenge was the super-Dreadnought of her time, and the victories of the Elizabethan sea-dogs were as surely won by superior weight of metal as those of Nelson or to-day. Von Spee and his men fought as bravely and as skilfully as Cradock and his; and the war for command of the sea went against the Germans because while the Germans were building pre-Dreadnoughts and casting 8-inch guns, we were building Dreadnoughts and casting 10 or 12-inch guns; and while they were constructing their Dreadnoughts, we were building super-Dreadnoughts with 13.5 and 15-inch guns. Success in naval warfare goes not so much to the brave as to those who think ahead in terms of mechanical force.
The last German cruisers outside harbour were now destroyed, and barely a raider remained at large, while the British went on gathering the fruits of their command of the sea by mustering in Europe the forces of the Empire and acquiring abroad the disjointed German colonies. Naval strategy was reduced to the dull but arduous task of blocking the exits from the North Sea and guarding against the furtive German raids. The battle-fleet was stationed in Scapa Flow, the cruisers off Rosyth, while little more than a patrol--backed by a squadron of pre-Dreadnoughts in the Channel--was left to watch the Straits of Dover and supplement the mine-fields. Both combatants drew advantage from the narrow front of Germany's outlook towards the sea; the exits were easier for us to close than Nelson had found the lengthy coast of France, and no German Fleet slipped across the Atlantic as Villeneuve did in 1805. On the other hand, the narrow front was easier to fortify, protect with mine-fields, and defend against attack. If there was to be a conclusive naval battle, the field would be in the North Sea, and the only hope of success for the Germans lay in the dispersion of our battle-fleet.
This was the object of the German raids on Yarmouth on 3 November, and on Scarborough, Whitby, and the Hartlepools on 16 December. The former effected nothing except sowing of some floating mines which subsequently sank British submarine and two fishing-smacks, while one of the participating cruisers, the Yorck, struck a German mine and sank on entering Wilhelmshaven. The December raid was more successful in its murderous intention of extending the schrecklichkeit practised in Belgium to civilians on British shores. British delegates had insisted at The Hague in 1907 on large rights of naval bombardment, and the Germans expanded the plea that the presence of civilians does not exempt a fortified town from bombardment into the argument that the presence of a soldier or even of war-material justifies the shelling of a crowd of civilians or a watering-place. There was a cavalry station at Scarborough, a coastguard at Whitby, and some infantry and a battery at Hartlepool; Scarborough also had a wireless installation, and Hartlepool its docks, and both were undoubtedly used for purposes of war. The truth is that war tends to pervade and absorb the whole energies of the community, and the only legitimate criticism of German methods is that they pushed to extremes of barbarity premisses which were commonly admitted and could logically lead in no other direction. The old restriction of war to a few actual combatants disappeared as manhood took to universal service, womanhood to munition-making, and whole nations to war-work, and as the reach of artillery and aircraft extended the sphere of operations hundreds of miles behind the battle-lines. Eighteen were killed at Scarborough, mostly women and children, and 70 were wounded; Whitby had 3 killed and 2 wounded, but the damage at Hartlepool was serious. Six hundred houses were damaged or destroyed, 119 persons were killed, over 300 were wounded, and the mines the Germans scattered sank three steamers with considerable loss of life. The raiders escaped by the skin of their teeth in a fog which closed down just as two British battle-cruisers appeared on the scene of their retreat. That the raid had been effected at all evoked some protest from a public unaware that such incidents have always been an inevitable accompaniment of all our naval wars; and critics declared that we had lost the command of the sea in the first great war in our history in which not an enemy landed on English soil except as a prisoner. It was the German plan to provoke such comment, a feeling of insecurity, and a demand for the scattering of our Grand Fleet along the coasts for defence in order that it might be dealt with in detail; but the design was happily defeated by the restraint of the people and the sense of better judges.
The Germans, however, were encouraged by their success to repeat the attempt once too often, and on 24 January 1915 a more ambitious effort was made by Admiral Hipper to emulate these raids, or perhaps rather to lure the British on to mine-fields north of Heligoland which he extended before he set out. He had with him three of the best German battle-cruisers, the Derfflinger, Seydlitz, and Moltke, with speeds ranging from 27 to 25 knots, tonnage from 26,000 to 22,000, and 12 or 11-inch guns; the Blücher of 15,550 tons, 24 knots, and 8.2-inch guns; six light cruisers and a torpedo flotilla. The Germans rarely if ever came out without information of their intended movement preceding them, and Beatty put to sea within an hour of their start. His flagship was the Lion, 26,350 tons, 29 knots, and eight 13.5-inch guns, and he had five other battle-cruisers, the Tiger, 28,000 tons, 28 knots, and the same armament as the Lion; the Princess Royal, a sister ship of the Lion; the New Zealand, 18,800 tons, 25 knots, and eight 12-inch guns; and the Indomitable, sister to Sturdee's Invincible and Inflexible. There were also four cruisers of the "town" class, three light cruisers, and torpedo flotillas. The fight was, however, mainly between the battle-crusiers. As soon as Hipper heard of Beatty's approach he turned south-east. Gradually he was overhauled, each of the leading British cruisers, Lion, Tiger, and Princess Royal firing salvos into the slower Blücher as they passed on to tackle the Moltke, Seydlitz, and Derfflinger. The Blücher was finally reduced to a wreck by the New Zealand and Indomitable, and then torpedoed by the Meteor; bombs from German aircraft prevented our boats from rescuing more than 120 survivors from the sinking ship. Meanwhile the Lion was damaged by a shell and had to fall behind, and an hour and twenty minutes passed before Beatty could return to the scene of action; he found that his second in command had broken off the fight out of respect for the German mine-field, which seems, however, to have been still thirty or forty miles away. The German battle-cruisers, which might apparently have been destroyed, thus got home with a severe battering which incapacitated them for action for some months. No British ship was lost, and our casualties were about a score of men.
The result was disappointing in the escape of the German cruisers, but it left no doubt about the command of the sea. It was, indeed, being daily demonstrated by the security of the Channel passage, the muster of forces from oversea, and the conquest of German colonies. These were mainly in Africa, and consisted of Togoland, the German Cameroons, German South-West Africa, and East Africa. The tide of conquest flowed in this order round Africa from north-west to south-east, and Togoland, which was also the smallest, was the first to be subdued. It was about the size of Ireland, and was hemmed in on all sides, by British sea-power on the south, Nigeria on the west, and French colonies on the north and east; and converging attacks forced the handful of German troops to unconditional surrender on 27 August, The Cameroons were larger than the German Empire in Europe, and the first attacks, being made with inadequate preparation, were repulsed in the latter days of August. On 27 September, however, by co-operation between French troops and two British warships, Duala the capital was captured and the whole coast-line was seized.
The conquest of German South-West Africa was a more serious matter, not only because the Germans were there more numerous and better organized, but because the task was complicated by the politics of the Union. It was not a Crown colony subject to the orders of the Imperial Government; troops could only move at the instance of a responsible local administration, and the back-veld Boers, led by Hertzog and De Wet, were strenuously opposed to participation in the war on the British side. Fortunately, perhaps, the Germans began hostilities by raiding the frontiers of Cape Colony, and on 18 September the British retaliated by seizing Luderitz Bay, which, like their other port, Swakopmund, the Germans had abandoned to concentrate at their inland capital, Windhoek. On the 26th there was a small British reverse at Sandfontein, which was followed by the more serious news of Maritz' rebellion in the Cape. Maritz had fought against the British in the Boer War and for the Germans against the revolted Hereros; he now held the ambiguous position of rank in the German Army and command of British forces, but came down on the German side of the fence. Botha ordered his arrest, and Maritz, with German assistance in arms and ammunition, attempted to overrun the north-west of Cape Colony. A fortnight's campaign in October ended with the dispersal of his commandos by Colonel Van Deventer.
Maritz was the stormy petrel of a far more serious disturbance. While the grant of self-government to the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony in 1908 had placated the great majority and the better-educated Boers, tradition and prejudice kept their hold upon the more conservative minority; and some like Beyers, who had once been received by the Kaiser, looked to a war with Germany to restore their ancient independence. On 24 October De Wet seized Heilbronn in the Orange State, and Beyers Rustenburg in the Transvaal. Botha's appeal to the loyal Boers met, however, with an effective response, and soon he had 30,000 men at his disposal. He acted with remarkable swiftness: on the 27th he dispersed the commandos of Beyers and Kemp, and on 7 November General Smuts announced that there were but a few scattered bands of rebels in the Transvaal. De Wet made a longer run by his elusive heels, but found the motor-transport of his enemies an insuperable bar to the repetition of his exploits of 1900-2. He had a slight success at Doornberg on 7 November, when his force amounted to 2000 men; but Botha now came south into the Orange State and completely defeated De Wet on the 11th to the east of Winburg. De Wet himself escaped and attempted a junction with Beyers who had fled south from the Transvaal. But he was gradually driven westward into the Kalahari desert and overtaken by Colonel Jordaan's motors a hundred miles west of Mafeking on 1 December, while Beyers was drowned in trying to cross the Vaal on the 8th. De Wet was once more given his life, and the other rebels were treated with a lenience which nothing but its wisdom could excuse.
The rising put off to another year the conquest of German South-West Africa. The conquest of East Africa (see Map, p. 249) was postponed for a longer period by the inherent difficulties of the task and the imported defects in its management. German East Africa was actually and potentially by far the most valuable of German oversea possessions. Twice the size of Germany, it had a population of eight million natives and five thousand Europeans. Although tropical in its climate, high ground, and especially the slopes of Kilimanjaro, provided inhabitable land for white men, and its wealth in forests, gold and other minerals, pastoral and agricultural facilities was considerable. There were four excellent ports, and from two of them, Tanga and the capital, Dar-es-Salaam, railways ran far into the interior. On the north it was bounded by British East Africa and Uganda, on the west by the Belgian Congo State, and on the south-west by British Nyasaland and Northern Rhodesia, while on the south Portuguese Mozambique provided some means of supply and an ultimate refuge in defeat. The German forces were greatly superior to those of the British in East Africa, and the Uganda railway from Mombasa to Lake Victoria Nyanza running parallel with the frontier was a tempting object of attack. The Germans took the offensive against the British north and south-west, without achieving any great success. But only the arrival of reinforcements from India on 3 September and the failure of the Konigsberg to co-operate prevented the fall of Mombasa, and only the inadequacy of the British maps, on which the Germans had for once to rely, frustrated their attack on the Uganda railway. Karungu was also besieged on Lake Victoria Nyanza, but relieved by a couple of British vessels; the invaders of Northern Rhodesia were beaten back; and a naval force bombarded Dar-es-Salaam and destroyed the wireless installation. The arrival of a second expeditionary force from India on 1 November was the prelude to a greater reverse. Landing at Tanga on the 4th, it was met by a German force, superior in the art of bush fighting if not in numbers which hurried down from Moschi, and was compelled to re-embark with a loss of 800 casualties. During the brief span of their colonial experience the Germans had learnt as much about colonial warfare as we could teach them after centuries; for traditions are not an unmixed blessing in the art of war.
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