The work done during the First World War by the 10th Cruiser Squadron was a key part of defeating the German forces. Secrecy, however, meant it was hushed up at the time.
It was, writes E. Keble Chatterton, ‘the greatest and most devastatingly effective blockade since ships first sailed the seas’. He pieces together the attack from private letters, personal conversations and diaries of those who saw action.
The author begins with a terrific survey of the principles of a blockade and all historical precedents, before placing the status of the 10th Cruiser Squadron in the context of the overall naval battle.
Keble Chatterton is a vivid storyteller, placing up right inside the ships in their attempts to block German supplies coming from America. The Germans launched counter-blockades and U-boats in the interim, as their morale plummeted in desperation against the Grand Fleet and the Squadron, who confiscated cotton and other contraband goods and prevented them from reaching land.
In a little over six months the Squadron had intercepted over 1600 vessels who had tried to run the blockade. Throughout the whole operation almost 9000 ships were stopped. It was stationed in the North Sea, monitoring Scandinavia and the Shetlands while the men on board coped with the darkness and the mist, and the boredom of being on the ocean for months at a time.
The Squadron comprised a mixture of freight ships, passenger ships and tourist vessels, all of which are personified and described in detail as if they are themselves loyal naval commanders. The 24 ships included the Alsatian, Alcantara and Teutonic.
A book for the general reader of naval history when it was published in 1932, the daring and derring-do still emerge today, a century after the famous blockade.
Author: E. Keble Chatterton
Title: The Big Blockade
First Published by: Hurst & Blackett