The Curmudgeon


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Better in the Long Run

Among the small mercies of the Great War must now be counted the Royal Navy's lack of spectacular success in the Battle of Jutland, which means that its centenary has passed in a somewhat less rah-rah fashion than one or two others we might mention. In terms of tonnage sunk the Germans had the best of it, whether because of superior seamanship, better ships or Churchill's mismanagement of the Admiralty; but the British fleet was larger and could better afford its losses. The Germans failed to achieve their strategic goals and the High Command was driven to adopt the propaganda disaster that was unrestricted U-boat warfare. None of this is exactly the sort of stuff one can summarise on a commemorative coin or sloganise with a bit of poppy-porn. Possibly the comparative lack of rah-rah simply reflects the fact that historical analysts of the Gove-Johnson calibre have other things to jabber about at the moment. Then again, perhaps it reflects the diminished status of the Royal Navy, which nowadays has trouble finding aircraft carriers with matching aircraft or U-boats that can find a target smaller than Scotland; and which, far from thrashing terrorists like the RAF or teaching Saudi head-choppers the art of war like the army, was recently employed in the inglorious pursuit of fishing a bunch of migrants out of the Mediterranean.


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