|British E-Class Submarine|
When Churchill was appointed to the Admiralty in 1911, this scope and potential was barely appreciated. Although Britain had substantially more U-Boats than Germany, they were primitive and short range – thought to be of use only for the defence of home ports. In fact Germany had more of the sea-going quality vessels, and much more incentive for developing them. It was the British Empire’s vast merchant fleet that would be most vulnerable to hostile action from U-Boats. Overall, the Admiralty underestimated this threat - viewing it as both cowardly and inhuman, and therefore unlikely. Only Admiral Fisher (at that time First Sea Lord) differed. His memorandum of 1913 warned of precisely what would happen, but he was overruled. Partly, this was because there was not much that could be done about the German U-Boat threat. Britain building bigger and better U-Boats would not negate the German threat, and they would have no comparable targets to speak of (Nevertheless, they would prove their skills and worth during the Dardanelles campaign).
|German UC-1 Class U-Boat|