Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, October 5, 2015

HMS Dreadnought at War

When the great struggle finally came, Dreadnought was a bit "long in the tooth." Serving in the Third Battle Squadron of the home fleet for most of the war, the ship did accomplish a singular feat of arms. On 18 March 1915 she rammed and sank U-29. in the North Sea. HMS Dreadnought thus holds the distinction of being the only battleship to sink a submarine in combat.


  1. So was the dreadnought ultimately just a counter in the arms race game, or did she play any meaningful combat role other than quashing a single U-Boat?

  2. No meaningful role I think. Her purpose was to be part of the line of naval design that lead to the big newer battleships and Cruisers of the two sides main fleets. She was obsolete by the beginning of the war but still on active service. She just didn't do much- except- by sheer luck- She is the only Battleship to ever sink and enemy sub. Odd distinction indeed.

  3. Fascinating.
    Obsolete already - could the Admiralty have sent her along with rest of the old ships' fleet to Gallipoli?

  4. It has been near impossible to have the right or superior forces at the beginning of a war - especially as the aggressor. If you have the most modern fleet, the enemy builds a newer one to engage you and yours become obsolete. If you wait to build your fleet like Spain at Manila Bay, you are caught with obsolescence forces. The best option is a continuous program to upgrade and build new warships based on the changing principals of war. Even the Japanese wanted to sink our obsolescence battleships and missed the carriers - which was the new ship of the line for naval warfare.

  5. "a continuous program to upgrade and build new warships" - I think the US and USSR chose this strategy at different phases of the Cold War.