The Influence of Dreadnoughts on the Outcome of the First World War - Conclusion
Patrick Harris -
Finally, dreadnoughts were not influential on the outcome of the First World War because the Royal Navy did not exploit its numerical superiority. This numerical superiority is deceiving, however, as the Royal Navy was a global force, spread out to different corners of the world. This resulted in dreadnought forces in the North Sea being roughly equal: “When the First World War began in 1914, the Royal Navy was by far the largest naval power in the world. Of course, this numerical superiority was misleading, as her forces were spread around the globe, protecting the sprawling sea lanes which bound together the British Empire” Konstam, Naval Miscellany, (2012) p. 209. Naval battles occurred as a result, which were indecisive for both sides, therefore reducing the influence of the dreadnought on the First World War.
The Royal Navy also did not exploit its numerical superiority through its timid commanders, who were afraid of losing ships one major example is Sir John Jellicoe. Jellicoe was no politician, and was heavily criticized for his indecisiveness, especially after the Battle of Jutland: “Jellicoe pursued a cautious strategy from the start of the war and he was ever conscious of Winston Churchill’s [then First Lord of the Admiralty] remarks: ‘He is the only one on both sides who can win or lose the war in an afternoon’. Jellicoe was not a very imaginative Admiral, as at the Battle of Jutland where he failed to keep the Germans from escaping in the middle of the night, instead of fighting a battle in the morning as he had thought they would. For this he received much criticism in both the British Government and the jingoistic British press.” Grant, Battle At Sea (2012) p. 268. Through Jellicoe and other British Admirals being unwilling to exploit the Royal Navy’s numerical superiority, major battles were not fought and won as they could have been, and the dreadnought was not influential in the end of the First World War.
Dreadnoughts were indeed very powerful. This did not, however, make them influential in the outcome of the First World War. Through relatively few being made, geographic limitations, the speed of dreadnoughts and the inability of the Royal Navy to exploit its numerical superiority, dreadnoughts did not leave as big a stamp on history as they could have. The dreadnought battleship did not affect the outcome of the First World War, dreadnoughts became just another horrific tool of destruction at the hands of humans.
Clarke, Michael. (2012) The Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved December 8th 2012 from
Grant, R.G. (2011) Battle At Sea. New York: Dorling Kindersley Limited
Grant, R.G (2009) The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Warfare. New York: Dorling Kindersley
Hore, Peter (2010) Battleships. London: Anness Publishing Limited
Konstam, Angus (2010) Naval Miscellany. New York: Osprey Publishing