Britain’s great weapon in its war against Germany is its navy. The British fleet is much stronger than its German counterpart, allowing it to control the high seas and block Germany’s overseas trade. Thus far the British have not had much success on land against the Germans, but they hope that cutting Germany and Austria-Hungary off from the world will strangle their economies and starve their people, leading ultimately to the defeat of their armies.
The blockade is already having some success, with German industries having to scramble around for new sources of raw materials. German and Austro-Hungarian civilians are also finding it harder and harder to adequately feed themselves. This is not just because they can no longer access American grain. Farmers in Germany and Austria-Hungary can no longer import the Chilean nitrates used to fertilise their land.
But there is still a sense in Britain that not enough is being done to completely close off the enemy’s overseas trade. To reinvigorate this economic war against Germany, Britain now establishes a Ministry of Blockade, under Lord Robert Cecil. Lord Cecil’s job is to make sure that the blockade becomes completely watertight. He hopes to clamp down on the illicit trade through neutral countries and to crush firms that are covertly trading with the enemy.
Lord Robert Cecil (Wikipedia)