Archive for the 'World War I' Category

Oct 21

The Great Mine Barrage

Friday, October 21, 2016 4:18 PM


Mk 6 mines, with floats attached and resting on box-like anchors, are ready to be dropped from a U.S. minelayer into the North Sea. As each mine went over the stern, another would be raised from below and placed on tracks at the end of the line. (U.S. Official Pictures of the World War)

When the United States entered World War I, the Allies viewed America as the world’s leading industrial power and a vast source of fresh manpower. Much of the U.S. contribution to the naval side of the conflict would be in line with the first view, of the United States as the home of mass production. The best-known examples are the floods of merchant ships, intended to make up for losses to U-boats, and of destroyers and subchasers. Less well known was an imaginative U.S. naval initiative to produce and lay a mine barrier to close off U-boat routes out of… Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 12

The Great Naval Act of 1916

Friday, August 12, 2016 3:27 PM


President Woodrow Wilson addresses a crowd in January 1916 during the period he was lobbying hard for his naval-expansion legislation. (Library of Congress)

  A century ago President Woodrow Wilson signed into law what at the time was the largest expansion of the U.S. Navy. In previous years, Congress had generally appropriated, say, two battleships and a destroyer flotilla, which left the Navy lobbying in vain for the cruisers that the battleships needed to scout for them. Now, at one stroke, Capitol Hill and President Wilson promised the service 10 battleships, 6 battleship-sized battle cruisers, 10 light cruisers, 50 destroyers, and 30 submarines, plus lesser ships. The origins of the act are traced to pressures generated by World War I. As a major… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 16

Cruise of the USS U-111

Thursday, June 16, 2016 4:11 PM


U-111 flying the American flag and German ensigns. Courtesy F A. Daubin. Naval Institute Photo Archive

“In 1919,” Rear Admiral F. A. Daubin reflected in 1957, “Diesel engine designing and production in our country was in swaddling clothes, barely creeping. Trucks, power plants, and railroads equipped with Diesels were not even a dream, and our Diesel-powered submarines were not sufficiently trustworthy to go to sea without the services of a nearby tender.” At the time of which he wrote of, Daubin was the assistant to the captain in charge of the submarine section of the Chief of Naval Operations. He suggested to his commander that “the Germans had good engines in their submarines. They cruised all… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 10

Contrasting Battlecruisers

Friday, June 10, 2016 11:42 AM


Joining the German High Seas Fleet in 1911, the battlecruiser MOLTKE featured a longitudinal bulkhead, 15 watertight compartments, and a double bottom. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

On 10 August 1904, at the Battle of the Yellow Sea during the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese discovered that the armaments of their armored cruisers were outranged by those of the Russian battleships. The Japanese response was swift. While the war still raged they laid down new armored cruisers armed with 12-inch guns. The first, the Tsukuba, carried the same armament as contemporary battleships, was two knots faster than them, but had belt armor two inches thinner than most battleships’. The Tsukuba could be regarded as the first battlecruiser. In March 1905 the U.S. Congress authorized the new “all-big-gun” Michigan-class… Read the rest of this entry »

May 2

On Naval History’s Scope

Monday, May 2, 2016 12:01 AM



  In Naval History, we try to recognize small but significant naval anniversaries as well as large and momentous ones, such as the centennial of the Battle of Jutland. It was expected to be a cataclysmic fight—the upstart German fleet against the traditional ruler of the waves, the British fleet. But the World War I battle didn’t quite live up to its billing. Jeremy Black argues in “Jutland’s Place in History” that although it lacked the decisiveness of the Royal Navy’s great victory at Trafalgar, the battle greatly influenced the war at sea and the Imperial German Navy’s ultimate defeat…. Read the rest of this entry »

Mar 24

The Russian Intervention of 1918-1919

Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:01 AM


Marines from the USS Brooklyn (ACR-3) are put ashore as part of the Intervention, ca. 1918. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Though the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps have had a long history of interventions in other countries, none perhaps has made such a long-lasting impact on world history as that which followed the Russian Revolution in 1917. In the following excerpts from his 1969 Proceedings article “Our Russian War of 1918-1919,” Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley (1908-2000) discusses the causes and events of the war that “soured U. S.-Soviet relations for almost a generation” and beyond. Fighting and dying in the swamps and forests were Russian patriots, both Red and White, Americans, French, British, Serbians, Italians and Finns. There were many threads… Read the rest of this entry »

Feb 8

A Lack of Seatbelt Saves a Life

Monday, February 8, 2016 12:01 AM


De Havilland DH-4

Colgate W. Darden, a U.S. Navy aviator during World War I, received his wings in 1918 and went to France as a Marine Corps flier. Shortly before the end of the war, he was involved in a terrible plane accident. He was sitting in the rear of a De Havilland DH-4 with pilot and Medal of Honor recipient Second Lieutenant Ralph Talbot (USMCR) on 25 October 1918. Darden, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was flung from the airplane, which burst into flames, killing Talbot. Below is an excerpt from Darden’s Oral History conducted by Dr. John T. Mason in… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 14

A Story in a Spoon

Thursday, January 14, 2016 12:01 AM



“Our country is at WAR,” read the memorandum to the employees of Buffalo, New York’s, Republic Metalware Company shortly after the United States declared war against Germany in April 1917. “Some of our boys are in the Army or the Navy; others will go when called for. The rest of us—women and older men—will fight the enemy in Buffalo. How shall we do this? “War is not only a series of battles between armies or fleets. It is a conflict in which the whole strength of a nation . . . fights the whole strength of another nation. Everyone helps… Read the rest of this entry »

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