A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 83

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COMPARISON OF NAVAL STRENGTH


and enthusiastic people steeled by the belief that might is right, small wonder that the directors of this carefully created machine viewed with elation rather than dismay the prospect of putting it to the task for which long years of thought and work had fitted it.

In comparison with Germany's might that of Austria was puny indeed, but it was by no means negligible. The dual monarchy could put about 2,000,000 men into the field, a force unable, by itself, to meet the Russian hosts with any prospect of success, but of high value as auxiliaries to the army of its ally.

To turn to an estimate of naval strength, which once more was to prove the truth of Bacon's remark "but this much is certain that he who commands the sea is at great liberty and can take as much and as little of the war as he will," the British navy, although weaker than many thought prudent, was still much the strongest in the world. Naval strength is usually reckoned in capital ships, although the attendant cruisers, destroyers and submarines must be taken into account. Capital ships are battleships and battle cruisers which can engage the most powerful vessels afloat, and obviously their standard of strength and efficiency is continually rising.

In 1914 the strongest class of capital ships were called Dreadnoughts, their special feature being that, unlike the earlier battleships, they carried all big guns. These guns were usually ten in number, mounted in pairs, with a calibre of 12 or 13.5 in. In addition Great Britain and Germany were building still stronger battleships called super-Dreadnoughts; these carried ten 15 in. guns, but in August, 1914, none of them was at sea. In July, 1914, Great Britain had 21 Dreadnoughts and seven battle cruisers, also carrying all big guns. She possessed 38 other capital ships, vessels that would at once become of high value if the Dreadnoughts were crippled or destroyed. Germany possessed 13 Dreadnoughts, five battle cruisers and 21 other capital ships. The figures for other classes are somewhat uncertain, but one authority gives them as follows. In cruisers, other than battle cruisers, Great Britain had 121 against Germany's 52. In destroyers the figures were 227 and 152, and in submarines 75 and 45. Both nations had other vessels building. The personnel of the British navy numbered 144,871 officers, seamen and marines, with reserves numbering 51,836. The German navy had 79,375 officers and men and about 110,000 reservists.

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