CaptHawkeye wrote:The idea that Jellicoe was some sort of coward though is totally unfounded. We all saw how well Beatty's impatience and arrogance frequently worked out.
...That seems like a total non sequitur from what I was talking about. My point is simple. Because
the Germans had a large battle fleet, it was possible for Britain to "lose the war in an afternoon." Bad luck, or enemy secret weapons, or any of a dozen X-factors could have shifted the balance of power to the point where the German surface fleet could
have contested British naval superiority, threatening the island's ability to supply itself and continue the war.
This has nothing to do with Jellicoe being brave or cowardly, or good or bad, or any other personal quality of the man at all. The only reason I even used his name is because the simplest, clearest-written description of just what was at stake happens to be associated with his name- Jellicoe was
the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon, if he'd happened to make a serious mistake or if he'd been particularly unlucky. Almost any other mistake would be reparable or recoverable for the nation making it- losing naval superiority might not be recoverable for Britain.
When you think about the strategy this imposes on the British, it becomes totally obvious why the Royal Navy played up the German naval threat and demanded vast increases in construction. They were trying to rebuild the margin of superiority that the construction of the HSF was taking away from them, so that in the event of war they'd have a margin of error.
No war planner is going to be all that comfortable going into a war where they depend on naval superiority for basic survival needs, if they only have a 16:12 advantage in battleships. They will want more battleships as a matter of course, and that
is what "preys on their minds."
Stark wrote:Did Simon Jester just misinterpret Churchill's quote?
Churchill said that Jellicoe could 'lose the war in an afternoon', because if he engaged and the fleet took heavy losses, the UK was fucked. Therefore, without engaging he had already won, and by engaging he stood to lose a great deal and gain not much. He was certainly not calling Jellicoe out for personally losing the war by calling a retreat; protecting the fleet that bottled up the HSF was arguably his number one responsibility.
just misinterpreted me
. Or more likely, saw a quote and decided to leap on it without bothering to check the context I was using it in.
My point all along* was that the historical HSF was strong enough that one bad day in a war with Germany could lose the war for Britain. One unexpected X-factor, or one German tactical success, and the comfortable margin of British naval superiority could vanish. Which was exactly the point Churchill made in The World Crisis
, that you so kindly just explained to me.
The only I am applying this observation to the strategic level (the Admiralty's construction plans), not the tactical level (Jellicoe's decisions at Jutland). As long as there existed an enemy battlefleet strong enough that Britain could
lose the war in an afternoon, the British were forced to adopt a conservative strategy for the use of their fleet. In that respect, the German "fleet in being" doctrine worked- Britain was forced to keep its battleships ready to counter a sortie by the High Seas Fleet.
This is not to say the conservative British strategy adopted de facto
(over the objections of hotheads like Beatty and Churchill) was bad. This is not to say that said strategy didn't work, but I didn't say any of that.
*and this will be supported if you read my post instead of just spotting the quote, asserting that I didn't understand it, and then explaining to me what it means.