31/3/1917 The U-boat war’s progress

The second full month of Germany’s unrestricted U-boat war draws to a close. Holtzendorff, the German navy’s chief of staff, had predicted that if 600,000 tons of British shipping were sunk by the U-boats per month then after five months their total merchant fleet would be reduced by 39%. Facing starvation and financial ruin the British would then be forced to make peace.

Allied shipping losses this month come to some 555,000 tons. This is short of Holtzendorff’s target but is still very impressive. Germany’s leaders hope that if maintained they will force Britain out of the war. With the recent revolution in Russia suggesting that its commitment to the war may now be wavering, it looks as though 1917 might well turn out to be the year of German victory.

image source:

U-Boot versenkt Truppentransporter (Wikipedia; painting by Willy Stower, 1917)

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