20/10/1914 [North Sea] A new target for Germany’s U-boats

The German army is battling to bring the war to an end. The German navy is playing a less active role. Germany has a large fleet, but the British fleet is larger again. The Germans know that their fleet will be destroyed if it sails against the British, so they keep it in port. Germany is now being blockaded by the British, with the German fleet unable to strike back.

Germany does have one naval weapon that could perhaps turn the tables on Britain. The Germans have a number of U-boat submarines. Until now, these have been deployed against British military vessels. There have been some successes, but they have not managed to take out any British capital ships. The naval balance remains heavily skewed in Britain’s favour.

Britain’s merchant marine also presents a target to Germany’s U-boats. Today off Norway the U-17, under the command of Johannes Feldkirchener, sinks the Glitra, the first British merchantman to be lost to a U-boat. Feldkirchener does this in accordance with international law, stopping and searching the Glitra, then ordering its crew to abandon ship before scuttling it. Operating like this is risky and inefficient, but the Germans are sticking to international law for fear of alienating neutral opinion.

image source (Wikipedia)

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