18/3/1915 Dreadnought v. U-boat

The British navy has not a had a good day of it at the Dardanelles, but it has more luck in the Pentland Firth that separates the Orkneys from northern Scotland. German U-Boat commander Otto Weddigen is patrolling here in the U-29. He made his name last September when he engaged British cruisers in the North Sea, sinking three of them. Perhaps in an attempt to replicate that success, when some British battleships appear in the Pentland Firth he fires off a torpedo at one of them. Unfortunately for him, the torpedo misses. Worse, he finds himself too close to the surface and the Dreadnought, another British battleship is able to ram the U-29. It sinks with all hands.

There is a certain grim irony to this. The Dreadnought was the first of the British super-battleships, but Weddigen’s coup last September seemed to imply that the age of the battleship was coming to an end. Now the Dreadnought reasserts the dominance of the battleship, but by ramming the U-29 it has reverted to the naval tactics of the ancient world.

Otto Weddigen (Wikipedia)

HMS Dreadnought (Wikipedia)

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