31/1/1917 On the eve of the U-boat war

Germany has decided on a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare. From tomorrow its U-boats will be allowed to sink enemy merchant ships without warning. They will also be able to attack neutral ships suspected of carrying war materials (broadly defined) to Germany’s enemies. This is likely to bring the United States into the war against Germany. However the U-boat campaign is expected to bring the war to a victorious end in five months or so, long before the Americans will be able to recruit and train an army.

Since October the U-boats have already been operating an escalated campaign against enemy shipping. This has been run according to traditional prize rules, whereby enemy ships are stopped and searched; if they are then sunk, their crew and passengers are allowed to abandon ship first. Enemy shipping losses have amounted to an impressive 360,000 tons a month since October, without antagonising the Americans. German leaders are confident that even more losses will be inflicted once the U-boats are able to strike without warning. These losses will devastate the British economy and starve its people into submission.

image source (Wikipedia)

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