When you think of submarines during any war you think of Wolfgang Petersen’s Das Boot or Cary Grant in Destination Tokyo. Rarely do we think of the British Empire using submarines, and never more effectively than in World War I.
Innes McCartney, a historian and nautical archaeologist, brings this period to life in this short monograph British Submarines of World War I.
The boats initially developed for the Royal Navy reconsidered unwanted by most of the admiralty and very unBritish. Yet from the North Sea enforcing the blockade to cutting off Germany’s iron ore shipments in the Baltic the British submarines saw more action than their larger surface counterparts.
It is in the Dardanelles and Sea of Marmara that the British had some of their greatest results. While sinking the pre dreadnought Barbaros Hayreddin was impressive, the E Class submarines operating in these restricted waters had to cope with minefields, swift currents and limited information on the shipping in the Sea of Marmara.
Their adventures are worthy of movies (or at least a good RPG game). Examples include fighting off a cavalry patrol, attacking shipping with rifle fire or using a Turkish sailing vessel as a decoy.
This is a worthwhile read for those interested in The Great War, submarines or cutting edge (for the time) technology. It has me now looking for more books on this relatively obscure area of history.