The War in The North Sea

The Royal Navy and the Imperial German Army 1914-1918

Quintin Barry

Date Published :
April 2019
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Illustration :
150 B&W photos and maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781912390540
Pages : 456
Dimensions : 9.75 X 6.75 inches
Stock Status : Available
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For years before the outbreak of the First World War, it was the expectation of most officers of the Royal Navy and the Imperial German Navy that very shortly thereafter; a decisive fleet action would be fought. This had a major impact on the strategic thinking on both sides of the North Sea. In fact, the unalterable geographic situation meant that for the Grand Fleet in its Scottish bases, the correct course to follow was not to seek a major fleet encounter. Essentially, it was by staying where it was that it could neutralise the High Seas Fleet and enforce an economic blockade of Germany.

The history of the war in the North Sea between 1914 and 1918 is a record of the attempts to break the deadlock - and it is also the history of the men who led the British and German navies. On both sides, the stresses of the huge burden which they bore led to a serious breakdown of trust in each other on the part of the admirals charged with the responsibility. Still more serious was the mutual loss of confidence between the admirals on the one hand and the politicians on the other; their letters and diaries reveal the bitter personal disputes that arose between them. The principal naval battle of Jutland occurred when the two most powerful fleets that the world had ever known clashed, almost by accident, in the North Sea on 31 May 1916. The outcome of the battle has prompted a minute examination of the tactics employed by the commanders, and a continuous debate as to who won, as well as a bitter controversy between the supporters of Sir John Jellicoe (the commander-in-chief of the Grand Fleet) and Sir David Beatty (the commander of the battle cruisers). Most British historians claim the battle as a British victory - a view which this book questions. It has been often suggested that after Jutland, the High Seas Fleet remained in harbour for the rest of the war, but as this book shows, the underrated Admiral Reinhard Scheer (its commander-in-chief) subsequently launched a number of major sorties. It was a series of chances that had determined the outcome of Jutland - and it was chance that repeatedly intervened to prevent a decisive encounter subsequently.

This book reviews the entire course of the war in the North Sea, from the first contacts between the fleets in the early days, to the ambitious (but abortive) mission planned at the end of the war for the High Seas Fleet - and, as a dramatic epilogue, its scuttling in Scapa Flow.

About The Author

Quintin Barry is a solicitor and retired Employment Judge. He has also held a wide varirty of offices in both the public sectors, including the NHS and local radio. Following a lifelong interest in military and naval history, he is the author of a number of books in both fields. These include an acclaimed two volume history of the Franco Prussian War of 1870-1871; a history of the Austro Prussian War of 1866; and the first modern history of the Russo Turkish War of 1877-1878. He has also written a number of books of naval history, including a well reviewed account of the war in the North Sea in 1914-1918.


"Certainly a book that will be a valued one on the Britain at War editorial office bookshelf and is one that will be turned to, time and again…the reviewer most highly recommends."

- Britain at War

“Another Quintin Barry book from Helion&Company, and again it is an excellent one… Everything you could wish to know about WWI in the North Sea is here. The author once again shows how well history can be written. The book itself is a marvel of how to write history correctly and enjoyably.”

- A Wargamers Needful Things

“This is an excellent book...The War in the North Sea follows academic conventions but is accessible to the lay reader: it would be valuable reading to students and professionals alike with an interest in the First World War, naval history more broadly or maritime strategy. This book is a commendable addition to any bookshelf.”

- The Naval Review

“This is a consummate history of the two most powerful navies the world has ever seen.”

- Military History Monthly

“Quintin Barry has already published several books on nineteenth-century European military land campaigns. Here he takes to salt water in this fine naval history of World War I in the North Sea. He has combined the strengths of the two main popular (albeit lengthy) histories—Arthur J. Marder’s five-volume From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow (the inner workings of the British Admiralty) and Julian Corbett and Henry Newbolt’s five-volume Naval Operations (a detailed operational history) into a single more accessible volume…. The War in the North Sea is, as with most Helion books, a handsome, hefty volume. The book is well illustrated, with an excellent collection of photos of ships and significant officers, and some good combat photos of Jutland, as well as a nice collection of naval paintings (reproduced in black and white).”

- The Nautilus: A Maritime Journal of Literature, History, and Culture, Vol. IX (Spring 2018)

“ … heavily detailed, documented, and most interesting… Barry has found the range and straddled his subject with his first salvo. This book will long stand as a definitive treatment of the Nova War in the North Sea.”

- Mariner’s Mirro

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