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"The Millstone"

RESURGAM BOOKS : The Manor House, Flamborough, Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire



Resurgam Books

Resurgam Books

Non-fiction Books by Geoffrey Miller

The Millstone



Cover of "The Millstone"





British Naval Policy in the Mediterranean, 1900-1914, the Commitment to France and British Intervention in the War


The third volume of the Straits Trilogy by Geoffrey Miller


Volume I: Superior Force : the conspiracy behind the escape of Goeben and Breslau


Volume II: Straits : British Policy towards the Ottoman Empire and the Origins of the Dardanelles Campaign


Volume III: The Millstone : British Naval Policy in the Mediterranean, 1900-1914, the Commitment to France and British Intervention in the War


Please note that The Millstone is now out-of-print



These books provide a comprehensive account of British naval and diplomatic policy in the two decades prior to the Great War, focusing in particular on the escape of the German ships Goeben and Breslau [Superior Force], the origins of the Dardanelles Campaign [Straits], and the political and diplomatic imperatives behind the British decision to enter the war in August 1914 [The Millstone].

Each non-fiction title by Geoffrey Miller has its own dedicated web-site.

On all of these sites the ENTIRE TEXT IS AVAILABLE.

For further information on each individual title, please select a link below or click on a cover to go to that book's web-site.


Please click to go to the Superior Force web site Please click to go to the Straits web site Please click to go to The Millstone web site
[Superior Force]
[The Millstone]






At half past two on the afternoon of Sunday, 2 August 1914, Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, informed the French Ambassador of the decision just reached by the British Cabinet — despite not yet being at war with Germany, if, nevertheless, the German High Seas Fleet ventured out from its base, the British fleet ‘would intervene … in such a way that from that moment Great Britain and Germany would be in a state of war.’ What led to the giving of this pledge? Was there an obligation on Britain’s part, or merely a commitment, moral or otherwise, to intervene in certain circumstances? The Foreign Secretary subsequently declared in his own defence that the promise to the French ‘did not pledge us to war.’ Grey was, however, wrong — once the promise was made, British entry into the war was certain. Despite this, a group within the Cabinet spent the afternoon of Sunday 2 August desperately searching for an issue around which they could group, and which would provide a more convenient excuse for British entry into the war than one based upon a moral commitment to France; that excuse was to be Belgian neutrality.
Two things virtually guaranteed British entry in the war: the secret Anglo-French military and naval talks, which commenced in 1906, and the naval position in the Mediterranean. With Austria and Italy both constructing dreadnoughts, and facing the German naval challenge, British command of the Mediterranean could no longer be guaranteed. Similarly over-extended, the French were unable to protect both their Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines. From strategic necessity came political expediency. The Millstone will show:

That Grey was more aware of what was settled by the secret military conversations than he pretended to be.

That the situation created by the German naval programme gave Britain no option other than to evacuate the Mediterranean.

That Anglo-French naval co-ordination and strategic planning remained chaotic.

That the Cabinet could not have prevented Britain’s entry into the war; all they could have done was to prevent the formation of a coalition Government.

That the pledge to France and consideration of British interests were the sole determinants of Britain’s entry.

That the German promise in August 1914 not to attack the French coast was irrelevant.

That, far from informing the German Government of the pledge given to Cambon as he claimed, Grey was determined to conceal this fact until Monday, 3 August.

That the issue of Belgian neutrality was used in August 1914 to assuage consciences and prevent the formation of a coalition Government, but was not crucial to the decision to intervene.

That the Continental policy, committing British troops to fight in Europe, was decided upon in August 1911 by a small inner circle of the Cabinet who knew precisely what it would entail.




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        Geoffrey Miller can be contacted by:

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