A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 86

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THE OPPOSING FORCES


were building in this country for foreign Powers. The Turkish battleships Sultan Osman I and Reshadieh, the former carrying 14 and the latter ten heavy guns, were brought under the British flag, and renamed Agincourt and Erin respectively, while two large and fast destroyers which had been built for Chile were also appropriated and entered the British navy as the Faulkner and the Broke. The Dreadnoughts Benbow and Emperor of India, mounting ten 13.5 in. guns apiece, with sixteen 6 in. guns in addition, and the powerful battle cruiser Tiger, were rapidly approaching completion.

The ships nearing completion for Germany at the outbreak of war were the battleships Markgraf, Grosser Kurfürst and König, both of 25,500 tons, and mounting ten 12 in. guns which could be changed for more powerful weapons. In addition to these was the battle cruiser Derfflinger, of about 28,000 tons, armed with eight 12 in. guns, some smaller weapons, and with a speed of nearly 30 knots.

By a remarkable stroke of good fortune the British Admiralty had decided six months before war became even a possibility that every available warship in home waters should be placed on a war footing during that summer. On March 17, 1944, Mr. Churchill, the first lord of the Admiralty, announced that every ship in the Home fleet would be placed on a war footing between July 15 and 25, and that "the whole of the royal fleet reserve" — some 30,000 strong — would be called out for eleven days. The result was that when the German attitude towards Belgium made it impossible for Great Britain to remain a passive onlooker, the British fleet was in a condition of readiness for war such as it could not possibly have enjoyed for more than four weeks out of any average year. The whole of the fleet that is ordinarily kept in full commission was concentrated at Portland under its commander-in-chief, and on July 29 this force of 150 ships — battleships, cruisers and destroyers — steamed out to take up its position in readiness for war.

The French navy in July, 1914, consisted of seven Dreadnoughts, 22 pre-Dreadnought battleships, 19 armoured cruisers and 22 protected cruisers. It operated almost entirely in the Mediterranean. Russia had a navy which was divided between the Baltic and the Black Seas. In the Baltic were 4 Dreadnoughts, 5 pre-Dreadnought battleships, 3 armoured cruisers, and 6 protected cruisers. In the Black Sea were 3 Dreadnoughts.

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