The Spectator

The Spectator at war: Something pleasing for our sailors

From The Spectator, 24 October 1914:

The Germans, as we write, have got as far as Nieuport, which is, roughly, south-west of Ostend. There they have come into the “sphere of influence” of eleven British vessels, including three river monitors bought by the Admiralty at the beginning of the war from Brazil, for whom they were being completed. These vessels, which are armoured, are powerfully armed with 6-in. and 4.7-in. guns, but, best of all, only draw some six feet of water, and therefore can be taken quite near inshore. Their guns are howitzers, or, at any rate, some of them, and therefore, though they lie under the dunes, they have been able to send their shots far inland, and even to destroy a German transport column which had come too near. One of the shells, indeed, is said to have killed a General and the whole of his Staff, though this may possibly be an error. Bluejackets and Marines might very easily mistake an Uhlan patrol for a General and his Staff. The Germans have, of course, fired back with their heavy guns, but do not appear to have injured our flotilla.

This entry of the Navy into the land war has immensely pleased our sailors, who deep down in their hearts always cherish the belief that they have an extraordinary aptitude for shore fighting, though they cannot get a sceptical military world to believe it. Every naval man from Admiral to blue- jacket loves “a battle lark ashore,” and firing at cavalry and infantry and field artillery is a very near approach to this bliss. The fact that for three days our ships have been able to carry on this amphibious war without any interruption from submarines is a remarkable proof of the splendid vigilance of our patrols, and also a proof of how difficult a weapon a submarine is to use, tremendous though its powers be.

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