Page:EB1922 - Volume 30.djvu/37

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

and mobilization. Its deficiencies may be briefly summarized: Firstly, the Chief of the War Staff was not a member of the Board, and could not act with Board authority; his function was merely advisory. Secondly, there was a great insufficiency of trained staff officers, and the War Staff proved quite inad- equate in numbers and training to deal with the business of war. Thirdly, the principles of staff work had not been studied, and the vital distinction between fighting and supply was not to be found. Fourthly, the system found little support either at White- hall or in the fleet at sea. There was no clear conception of con- ducting the work of a staff, or of grafting it on to the business system of the Admiralty. On the first day of war a number of sections were bundled into one big room in order to be as close as possible to one another to the serious dislocation of their work. The Operations Division was divided on the basis of types of ships rather than of areas. It soon became absorbed in current work, and had no time for the examination of large plans, which might require three months' work merely to reduce to terms of time and supply. The enormous importance to a staff of an operations chart clearly and continuously visualizing the situation was not appreciated. An operations chart was started, but gradually over-centralization and the obsession of secrecy came down on it like a thick fog and turned it into a fiasco. The movements of transports were kept a profound secret, and news of them was withheld. Secret telegrams (pink telegrams) were started about Nov. 1914 but were not passed to the War Room to be plotted on the chart, which degenerated into a paltry record of reports of mines sighted round the coast. Up to 1917 there was no chart to which a staff officer could go and see at a glance the actual situation at the moment in any and every area.

The work which ought to have been done by the staff was done by a small group of two or three flag officers acting in an advisory capacity to the Board, and the system seemed to be designed for the special purpose of making it as difficult as possible to obtain information. The Intelligence Division was expanding and developing under Capt. (later Adml. Sir) William R. Hall, but its sections had to fight hard to obtain information as to British movements. The flag officers worked for the Board, not for the staff, and no one quite knew what they did or where they did it.

Let us consider the constitution of the Admiralty Board when the war broke out. Under a patent of Dec. i 1913 it con- sisted of the First Lord, Mr. Winston Spencer Churchill (since Oct. 24 1911), Adml. Prince Louis of Battenberg (ist S.L., since Dec. 9 1912), Vice-Adml. Sir Frederick Hamilton (2nd S.L.), who had succeeded Vice-Adml. Sir John Jellicoe (July 30 1914), Rear-Adml. Archibald G. H. Moore (3rd S.L., since May 29 1912), Capt. Cecil F. Lambert (4th S.L., since Dec. i 1913), Mr. George Lambert, M.P. (Civil Lord, since Dec. 21 1905), Sir Francis J. S. Hopwood (Parliamentary and Financial Secretary since Jan. 18 1912, later created Lord Southborough), with Sir Graham Greene as Permanent Secretary. Its business was governed by an Order in Council of Aug. 10 1904, which made the First Lord responsible to His Majesty and Parliament for all the business of the Admiralty, and from time to time with his sanction various memoranda were issued regulating the distribution of business. The distribution of business had re- mained materially the same for many years, though the memo- randum actually in force at the outbreak of war was dated Jan. 1914.

The First Sea Lord was responsible for advising on prepara- tions for war, for the fighting and sea-going efficiency of the fleet, and for the superintendence of the War Staff. The 2nd Sea Lord was responsible for personnel; the 3rd Sea Lord for materials; the 4th Sea Lord for transport and stores, full and half pay, salvage and collisions. No one was specially responsible for the conduct of all operations of war, and though this pre- sumably rested with the Chief of the War Staff he was not a member of the Board, and at least two flag officers senior to him were acting in an advisory capacity to the Board. The First Sea Lord was responsible for the " fighting efficiency of

the fleet," a phrase covering an immense technical scope and opening out an endless vista of all sorts of considerations.

It is interesting to observe that the distinction between fighting and supply, which lies at the basis of modern staff organization, existed in a simpler form in the organization of Henry VIII., which continued in force in the British navy down to 1832. In this organization the Lord High Admiral or Com- missioners of the Admiralty exercised the function of general control and was responsible for the conduct of a war, while the actual supply services were performed by four principal officers, namely, the Treasurer, Comptroller, Surveyor and Clerk of the Acts, responsible respectively for finance, supervision of accounts, building and upkeep of ships, and record of business. These officials came to be known as the Navy Board, and the organiza- tion of the Admiralty f rom 1 546 to 1832 was roughly as follows :

Lord High Admiral

or Commissioners for executing his office


of Officers

Supply Navy Board


I Operations

and Movements

Victualling Board

Sick and Hurt Board

Pay, Stores (other than

Ordnance and Victual- ling) Manning, Ship- building, Dockyards

Here the work of supply is kept distinct from the business of fighting, and it was under this dual organization, in which the Navy Board was responsible for the multifarious requirements of war, that the earlier wars were fought.

Unfortunately, the supply system was often bad and in- sufficient and corrupt, though its defects were due just as much to limitations of the time as to the system. The work was not closely coordinated, with the result that Sir James Graham in 1832 merged the functions of the Navy Board and the Admiralty, an amalgamation which was regarded as a master stroke at the time and had distinct advantages, but unfortunately neglected to retain the principle of distinction between the Admiralty and supply, with the result that it was not the Ad- miralty that swallowed the Navy Board but the Navy Board that swallowed the Admiralty. The general constitution of the Board, though it varied from time to time, may be repre- sented as follows:

Board of Admiralty First Lord


First Sea Lord:

Preparation for

war, fighting



and Sea





Civil Lord: Works

3rd Sea 4th Sea Lord : Lord :

Material Transport and Stores Permanent Secretary Financial Secretary Note. According to the Order in Council of Aug. 1904 the First Lord is practically supreme as being responsible to the King and Parliament, but according to the terms of the Patent " two or any more of you " can exercise the office.

In 1860 commenced that vast multiplication and develop- ment of technical crafts and branches which began with the steam engine (the last sailing ship of the time, the Ganges, was paid off in 1861), and exercised an enormous influence on the navy and naval thought. The result in conjunction with Sir James Graham's amalgamation was inevitable. Between 1860 and 1900 the study of strategy and of staff work, which is the business side of war, was practically ignored. All the talent and brains of the navy flowed to the great technical schools. The whole trend of thought for forty years was exclusively technical. It was supposed that war and the conduct of war was quite a simple matter for any flag officer and needed no study. This simple creed received a rude shock at the time of the Agadir crisis when the Admiralty plans for war were torn to shreds by the General Staff. A War Staff was then instituted. But the War Staff had hardly been weaned and had not yet found its