The battle of Jutland of 31 May–1 June 1916 between the main British and German fleets was not to be the Trafalgar or, as it was then seen, sweeping victory hoped for by naval planners. Indeed, there was no decisive clash between the British and German fleets in the First World War (1914–18). Similarly, there was no decisive battle in that confl ict in the Adriatic between the Austrians and the Italians or, further east, involving the Turks. However, the lack of a decisive naval battle, and the extent to which the decision to put an army of unprecedented size into the field proved a major change in the British way of warfare,1 did not mean that naval power was unimportant in that war. Instead, thanks to the navy, the British retained control of their home waters and were, therefore, able to avoid blockade and invasion, to maintain a flow of men and munitions to their army in France unmolested, to retain trade links that permitted the mobilisation of British resources, and to blockade Germany.2 However, the very serious impact of the British blockade, which indeed violated the norms of commercial warfare, was lessened by Germany’s continental position and her ability to obtain most of the resources she required from within Europe.
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