SUPERIOR FORCE : The Conspiracy Behind the Escape of Goeben and Breslau © Geoffrey Miller



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SUPERIOR FORCE : The Conspiracy Behind the Escape of Goeben and Breslau © Geoffrey Miller




Chapter 17




Court Martial





On 12 August 1914 the Admiralty signalled Milne that, as the German cruisers were ‘disposed of’, the British armoured cruisers, except Defence, would be withdrawn from the Mediterranean and the supreme command would become vested in the French C-in-C. As he was senior to Lapeyrère, Milne was directed to return to England in Inflexible leaving Troubridge and Sackville Carden, the Admiral Superintendent of the Malta Dockyard, under French orders; the remaining two battle cruisers would continue to maintain a watch on the Dardanelles.[1] To Milne’s supporters at the time ‘the consequences of this were very bad on our Admiral, especially in view of our failure with the Goeben, as a bad construction was very generally put on a step rendered necessary; that is, his withdrawal from the station to give a free hand to his junior, the French admiral’.[2] This account is correct in that the reason for Milne’s recall was generally ascribed, especially among the junior officers, not to a pre-war naval convention but to a want of confidence in him by the Admiralty. When news was received that Admiral Jackson was proposed as a replacement for Milne, Lieutenant Parry recorded that ‘From all accounts he couldn’t be worse than Berkeley Milne who seems to have been making a pot mess of everything and is particularly unpopular at the Admiralty now for having let the Goeben and Breslau escape…’[3] Equally, when news of the ‘sale’ of the German ships became known it was thought ‘really rather funny but somewhat of a blow to Sir Archibald!!’[4] Nevertheless, by the time Inflexible returned to Malta from the Dardanelles on 14 August, Milne was described as ‘very affable’ and showing little sign of the storm that was about to break around him.[5]

                While at Malta Milne bade farewell, by letter, to Troubridge, sending him ‘a few disjointed lines’. Although he was glad Troubridge was going to the Dardanelles, and quite understanding Troubridge’s reply of 7 August about not engaging Goeben and Breslau, Milne ‘still wished you had and knocked 3 or 4 knots speed off of them: all this ‘to do’ would not now have happened – but there it is – I have wired you to send me in a full report to Admiralty regarding the events of those nights, and the night when Goeben left Messina’.[6] Troubridge replied four days later, already sensing that trouble was afoot, and began to lay the groundwork for his defence:

I confess I cannot see your point [he wrote] that you wanted Goeben attacked by the lighter & slow ships – we all expected the B.C’s to come back to my flag after their chase, as I had made it clear at Malta I could hope to do nothing to Goeben with [First Cruiser Squadron] & you replied it was all right I should have 2 B.C’s with them joined to me or even supporting Gloucester she was a gift – otherwise had I attacked she [Goeben] would have been just where she is now & probably two of us at the bottom & all the prestige of a victory with her. No doubt you had very good reasons for keeping the B.C’s with you…’

Troubridge also maintained that the French C-in-C ‘actually sighted smoke of Goeben’ on the morning of 4 August, which, as has been demonstrated, is a claim that could not be correct. Troubridge then went even further and, with a generous helping of hindsight, argued that, as Lapeyrère’s fleet effectively blocked the way west, ‘it was certain she [Goeben] was coming East.’ Following their discussion regarding dispositions in Malta on Sunday 2 August, Troubridge admitted he was ‘surprised’ by the signal that Milne had sent after he (Troubridge) had abandoned the attempt to intercept the German ships. It was all so puzzling; Troubridge could not

for the life of me understand the [German] policy that made no use of Goeben & Breslau who ought have been [sic] such a thorn in our side all over the Mediterranean. I think the Turks when they man her will not even fulfil their bargain & side with Germany.

For Troubridge, what was past was prologue. ‘All good fortune attend you wherever you are’, he ended cheerily; it was, the Rear-Admiral recorded somewhat optimistically, ‘all over now.’[7]

                On the journey back to England Milne busied himself with his Report of Proceedings to the Admiralty. This factual statement, which commenced at 27 July when he received the war warning telegram, ran to 50 paragraphs covering dispositions and orders but only incidentally gave reasons for his actions. Overall he managed to compress these into a simple statement: ‘My first consideration was the protection of the French transports from the German ships. I knew they had at least 3 knots greater speed than our battle cruisers and a position had to be taken up from which Goeben could be cut off if she came westward’.[8] Troubridge’s contribution featured briefly: according to Milne, the Rear-Admiral had first gone north ‘with the intention of engaging the German ships in the entrance to the Adriatic and then, in view of their alteration of course, came southward hoping to cut them off in the dim light of dawn. Finding, however, that he could not do so before daylight, he considered it inadvisable to engage Goeben with her longer ranged guns and withdrew northward.’[9]

                Inflexible arrived in the forenoon of 24 August at Devonport, where Milne’s flag was due to be struck at sunset; the Admiral had, in the meantime, travelled up to the Admiralty to report. However, soon after Milne had set off, a telegram was received on board Inflexible that the flag was to remain hoisted, pending further instructions — apparently an earlier telegram, which would have directed Milne to stay where he was, had failed to arrive. Clearly, Milne was not welcome at the Admiralty, and when he did arrive ‘a proper reception was refused him’ and he was sent back to his ship. ‘This, we all supposed,’ wrote the Fleet Paymaster, ‘was because they had made up their minds over the Goeben affair in his disfavour without waiting for full reports.’[10] A special messenger arrived from the Admiralty the following day with two supplementary questions for Milne to answer: why did Indomitable, after coaling at Bizerta, then accompany the other two battle cruisers to Malta to coal again; and second, why was Gloucester recalled and, if the recall was imperative, why was Dublin not sent to replace her?[11]

                Milne answered the questions on 26 August. He argued that it was his belief that the battle cruisers should be kept together, being the only way to counter Goeben’s supposed 3 knot advantage in speed; and he brilliantly turned the tables on the Admiralty by pointing out that, if Indomitable had set off from Bizerta in hot pursuit, before she could ever have reached the Aegean she would have been recalled to the Adriatic when the Austrian ‘war’ telegram was received. Understandably, the Admiralty did not press the point. If only Milne could have been as imaginative in actual command as he was in defence of it. Gloucester’s recall was easily dealt with: she was running short of coal, would soon not be able to steam at full speed, and so was vulnerable, while, due to the uncertainty regarding Austrian intentions, Dublin could not be spared.

                Milne took the opportunity so provided by the Admiralty to go further, beyond the bounds of the two questions, and present a general justification for his actions. He submitted that the Board of Admiralty consider the following, each of which was the subject of either a definite order or general Admiralty policy:

(a). The Goeben and Breslau to be prevented from interfering with the transport of French troops. The completion of this duty was not notified to me until 10th August. (Admiralty telegram No. 183 of 30 July.)

(b). The Goeben and Breslau to be prevented from leaving the Mediterranean by the Straits of Gibraltar. (Admiralty telegram No. 207 of 3 August.)

(c). The Goeben and Breslau to be prevented from entering the Adriatic and Austrian ships to be watched if they left it. (Admiralty telegrams Nos. 196, 204, and 222 of 2nd and 6th August.)

(d). Trade in the Eastern basin of the Mediterranean to be protected.

(e). The possibility of Italy joining Austria and Germany. (Admiralty telegrams No. 183 of 30 July and No. 196 of 2nd August.)

(f). The neutrality of Italy to be ‘rigidly’ respected and no ship to go within six miles of the Italian coast. (Admiralty telegram No. 215 of 4th August.)[12]

Clearly, the Admiralty was going to have trouble with Milne who had spent the time since the escape well, preparing a solid defence, and who quite obviously realized that, if blame was going to be apportioned, the Admiralty was extremely vulnerable. Besides, the Admiral had a friend at Court. It took precisely one day for Battenberg to study ‘carefully’ Milne’s original report and supplementary explanations and to write his own long minute which fully vindicated the Admiral. According to Battenberg, up until 6 August, when Souchon left Messina, Milne’s dispositions ‘were the proper ones’, proof of which was evident as the French transports were not interfered with.

                As Souchon could not, Battenberg argued, go anywhere but ‘south (Egypt)’ because of enemy ships barring his way in each of the other directions, ‘There was therefore no particular object in detaching one of the 3 battle-cruisers (Indomitable) to the eastward.’ That the German ships did escape was due to Admiral Troubridge who ‘signally failed in carrying out the task assigned to him by his C-in-C. The road to the east was open to the enemy and he took it…’ Only with the recall of Gloucester did Battenberg find fault: Milne’s reasons, he decided, were not ‘singly or collectively, sufficiently strong to make the recall imperative.’ Yet even here, the First Sea Lord tempered his judgment for, once Goeben and Breslau were in the Aegean, ‘they entered waters where their presence was of less consequence to us, while the need for light cruisers off Adriatic was still great. This recall of Gloucester can therefore be passed over.’ Battenberg was in no doubt where the blame lay — at Troubridge’s feet. Churchill was not so certain: ‘The explanation is satisfactory,’ he minuted tersely, ‘the result unsatisfactory.’[13]

                Notwithstanding Churchill’s unease, an official letter was sent to Milne the same day in which he was informed that the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty had considered his reports and decided —

1. Your general dispositions and the measures taken by you from July 27th until you handed over the command in the Mediterranean to the French Admiralissimo are fully approved by Their Lordships.

2. That the two German cruisers were not brought to action and disposed of is of course to be regretted, but Their Lordships note that this was primarily due to the failure of Rear Admiral Troubridge to carry out your instructions. Their Lordships intend dealing with this matter independently.

3. Their Lordships request that you will now strike your flag and report yourself at the Admiralty on the termination of your command.[14]

Battenberg had done his job well: despite his awkward reception at the Admiralty three days previously, Milne was now, officially, off the hook. With the Board’s letter to Milne went a second, private, one from Battenberg:

It is with the greatest satisfaction that our official letter is now going to you, which expresses full approval of all you have done. Having had no inkling of Troubridge’s amazing misconduct, the whole situation was wrapt in mystery. The slowness of our ships is disgusting & must have been exasperating to you in your difficult situation. I trust you understand that in not seeing you the other day I was bound by Board decision. Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow.[15]

                Battenberg’s open support of Milne placed Churchill in an awkward position. Milne was in no sense a favourite of Churchill, who now, possibly, recalled Fisher’s ranting against the Admiral; Troubridge, on the other hand, had worked harmoniously with Churchill at the Admiralty during his time as C.O.S. This stood for little in the wake of Battenberg’s onslaught. Troubridge’s first report, dated 16 August, recorded his movements from 2 to 15 August and presented a preliminary explanation for his failure to intercept Goeben and Breslau: he had, he maintained, gone into the problem of fighting these ships ‘most exhaustively’ with the conclusion that they could only be engaged successfully by night, in half-light, or in navigation waters. None of these conditions prevailed when the Rear-Admiral realized he would not come across Goeben until 6 a.m. and, as he maintained, 80 miles from land.[16] Unimpressed, the Admiralty requested that Troubridge amplify his statement and he therefore, while still off the Dardanelles, prepared a supplementary report which was ready by 26 August. However, before this second report was received in London, Battenberg prepared a devastating minute on Troubridge’s first report:

In this report Rear Admiral Troubridge states that with 4 armoured cruisers he could never bring to action in daylight the German battle cruiser Goeben. He consequently failed to carry out his clear duty, both tactically in declining to attack the enemy, and strategically in not heading off the enemy (for which he was very favourably placed) and driving him back into the arms of the superior force under the C-in-C…Not one of the excuses which Adl. Troubridge gives can be accepted for one moment…The escape of the Goeben must ever remain a shameful episode in this war. The flag officer who is responsible for this failure cannot be entrusted with any further command afloat and his continuance in such command constitutes a danger to the State.

Battenberg proposed that Troubridge should be directed to return to England to face a Court of Inquiry.[17] In the face of this indictment, and despite his own earlier professed misgivings regarding small cruisers which would ‘all be gobbled up by “Goebens” ’,[18] Churchill could do little other than agree: ‘Proceed as proposed with regard to R. Admiral Troubridge’, minuted the First Lord. In the meantime, the Dardanelles’ command was still of the greatest importance. ‘Who is the senior Captain?’ asked Churchill with a hint of desperation, ‘Is he the best. Can he be relied on — Full & clear orders must be sent him afresh’.[19]

                Throughout the fiasco of early August, the performance of Captain Howard Kelly in HMS Gloucester shone out like a beacon; however, when his Report of Detached Service was received in London (included in a submission from Troubridge) it presented the Admiralty with something of a problem. The first reactions were, as one would expect, enthusiastic: ‘Excellent work which should be noted’, minuted Battenberg, while even the overbearing Sturdee grudgingly recorded, ‘Good shadowing. No fear of responsibility, never lost sight of the cruisers main object — to shadow Goeben.’ Churchill was in no doubt; he informed Battenberg on 14 September that ‘A C.B. should be conferred on Cpt Kelly for the extraordinary combination of restraint and daring which characterised his manoeuvres’.[20] An official letter of approbation was prepared on 19 September and was about to be sent to Kelly[21] when Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, working at the Admiralty in an unofficial capacity, raised a discordant note. ‘I am inclined to think’, he informed Churchill and Battenberg, ‘that until the Court of Inquiry into Admiral Troubridge’s proceedings has been held it would be better not to publish this account by Cpt Kelly. It is forwarded by Admiral Troubridge without comment, which is rather remarkable.’[22] The point was taken and the letter of approbation was not sent until January 1915 when the wording of the original draft was altered to account for the delay. As far as publishing Kelly’s report was concerned, that was out of the question. By the start of 1915, the Goeben incident lived on only in the memory of those felt wronged by it and the Admiralty preferred to leave it that way; publication of the report, it was argued, would ‘only cause a demand for more information and reports on the whole incident.’[23]


The Court of Inquiry to which Admiral Wilson had referred was held at the Navigation School, Portsmouth on 22 September 1914 with Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux as President and Admiral Sir George Callaghan as the other member; evidence was heard from Milne and Troubridge only. From the outset Troubridge’s strategy was clear as he sought to enlarge the scope of the proceedings, illustrating points by referring to Admiral Togo (‘with whom I was in Japan’), and, in particular, highlighting the events before leaving Malta on 2 August, which led him to believe that he was to have the battle cruisers and that Milne was cognisant of his views regarding any attempt by the First Cruiser Squadron to engage an enemy battle cruiser. Unfortunately, Hedworth Meux and Callaghan preferred not to go into these matters, ‘but confine ourselves entirely to the question as to whether Rear-Admiral Troubridge, with his cruiser squadron, should or should not have endeavoured to engage the Goeben.’[24] Within the confines of this narrow interpretation Troubridge virtually condemned himself by his answers to questions 47 and 48:

47. Are we to understand then that your giving battle to the Goeben with the cruisers you had with you and destroyers would have destroyed your squadron without serious damage and loss of power and speed to the Goeben?

A.  Yes. I prefer that there should be no allusion to the destroyers; they had not enough coal for me to take them near the Goeben. Her speed is 27 knots, and I did not think it proper to bring them by daylight up to the Goeben.

48. You think they [Goeben and Breslau] would have destroyed your squadron without serious damage [to themselves]?

A.  I do not say they would have destroyed my squadron. I say they would have disabled my squadron without experiencing any damage to her themselves, that the whole matter was in her hands. If she was pressing on for Constantinople, they would do little damage; if they had hours to spare, they would do a great deal of damage; if they had half a day to spare, they might sink us all. I do not think, considering everything, that any particular damage could have been suffered by the Goeben, and that is the reason why I decided that she was a superior force. The decision was left to me, and I made it. I was told to avoid action with a superior force. I did so. That is all.[25]

The Court reported to the Admiralty that, although Troubridge had been obsessed with his personal opinion that in the open sea Goeben was superior to any number of ‘non battle-cruisers’, they themselves did not admit this alleged superiority. To support their argument the weight of the combined broadside of the First Cruiser Squadron was cited as being equal to Goeben’s but having a greater rapidity of fire which would assist in offsetting Goeben’s heavier armour and greater speed. Hedworth Meux and Callaghan also refused to accept Troubridge’s contention that the German long range shooting was overwhelmingly accurate:

9. We are of opinion [they concluded] that although Goeben might through superior speed have declined action, yet if she had accepted battle the four cruisers, possibly assisted by Gloucester and Dublin (with long range torpedoes), and her two Torpedo-boat Destroyers Beagle and Bulldog, had a very fair chance of at least delaying Goeben by materially damaging her.

10. Further we regret that Rear-Admiral Troubridge did not beforehand make it clear to his Commander-in-Chief that he had no intention to engage Goeben in open water in daylight with his squadron unless supported by a battle-cruiser.

11. And it should have been clear to him that the Admiralty telegram (No. 183 of 30th July) – which he had seen and which ordered the Commander-in-Chief ‘not to be brought at this stage to action against superior force’ – clearly referred to Austrian battleships, as shewn by the sentence ‘The speed of your squadron is sufficient to enable you to choose your moment.[26]

                As a result, Troubridge was summoned to attend a Court Martial to answer a charge under Section 3 of the Naval Discipline Act that ‘on the 7th day of August 1914, from negligence or through other default, [you did] forbear to pursue the chase of His Imperial German Majesty’s ship Goeben, being an enemy then flying.’ Troubridge was at least fortunate in being tried under the slightly lesser charge of negligence for, under Section 3, he could equally have been charged either with acting traitorously or from motives of cowardice. This decision was not as clear cut as it might have seemed; at the Admiralty, as is evident from Battenberg’s minutes, Troubridge had already been adjudged guilty before any evidence had been heard. Consequently, pressure was put on the prosecutor, Rear-Admiral Sir Sydney Fremantle, to try Troubridge on a charge of cowardice which, if proved, could attract the death penalty. Fremantle, knowing of Troubridge’s unquestioned personal bravery, flatly refused to countenance such a course: it would be quite impossible to prove cowardice and he would not ‘inflict on such an officer the indignity of even being tried on such a charge.’[27] The lesser charge of ‘negligence or other default’ did, however, cover an error of judgment.

                Still, Troubridge was not without his supporters: not knowing of Milne’s successful defence of his own position, Lieutenant Parry recorded in his diary that ‘Troubridge is going to be courtmartialled…and most people now think that this will be followed by another on Sir Berkeley Milne. And the opinion of the Mediterranean Fleet is certainly all on the side of the former.’[28] The Court Martial lasted four days, beginning 5 November, and covered the ground in great detail, with a particular emphasis on the technical aspects of gunnery in an attempt to try to resolve the question of ‘superior force’ and for which Troubridge tried to enlist the support of the Navy’s foremost gunnery expert, Admiral Sir Percy Scott.[29] Unfortunately, Scott could not attend as a witness for the defence, but sent Troubridge a letter detailing the maximum ranges of the guns of Goeben (which he put at over 25,000 yards) and Defence (16,000 yards). This letter, regarded by Troubridge’s counsel as being ‘of vital importance to the case’, was questioned by the Prosecutor as not being admissible as evidence — Fremantle argued that an Admiralty expert gunnery witness was in attendance and was, therefore, available for examination and cross-examination which Scott was not. This satisfied the President of the Court: ‘I don’t think we want to have this letter’, he ruled.[30]

                But all this missed the point, which was not whether, according to a minute study of the technical aspects, Goeben did, or did not, constitute a superior force to the First Cruiser Squadron but whether Troubridge believed that she did, and, in the conditions prevailing on the morning of 7 August 1914, this was quite clearly his belief. After hearing the evidence[31] the Court’s deliberations lasted four hours — Troubridge was acquitted. Put quite simply, in view of the instruction that the First Cruiser Squadron was not to get seriously engaged with a superior force, ‘the Court are of the opinion that, under the particular circumstances of weather, time, and position, the accused was justified in considering the Goeben was a superior force to the First Cruiser Squadron at the time they would have met, viz. 6 a.m. on the 7th August, in full daylight in the open sea.’[32] Whether they realized it or not, the implication of the Court’s finding in effect placed the blame at Churchill’s door, a direct result of his clumsy drafting of operational telegrams.

                Nevertheless, it had been a close run thing. Troubridge’s defence was conducted by Leslie Scott, K.C., M.P. who had ‘expected an acquittal on the charge as framed, but if Troubridge had been tried for vacillation, no counsel could have saved him.’[33] The Prosecutor’s private opinion was:

(1) That the Admiralty telegram was badly worded, and should have been restricted to stating the known facts and the relevant considerations, and should not have cramped the decision of the man on the spot by giving him direct instructions as to whether or not to engage.

(2) That Troubridge assumed too readily that the Goeben could steam at her full reputed speed, that her guns were in good order, that she had plenty of coal, and no anxiety as to replacing the large amount of ammunition which would inevitably be expended in long-range firing. He was also inclined to magnify the effect of the deficiencies, of which of course he had full knowledge, in his own ships. The Goeben’s destination was unknown, but it was evident that, whatever it was, she would have the power to do considerable damage to the Allied cause, Milne with his three battle cruisers was within 200 miles. Troubridge should have maintained his original, and instinctive, decision to bring her to action at daylight, and hoped for the best. The Goeben, far from her home bases, could not have afforded the great expenditure of ammunition which is required in very long-range firing, so she would probably have closed to a range within that of the cruisers. Troubridge might well have expected to lose one or two ships, but he might also have expected to do the Goeben such damage as would make it possible for Milne with the battle cruisers to come up and finish her off. If the Goeben elected to use superior speed to evade the Third [sic, should be First] Cruiser Squadron by steaming round them, at any rate some time would have been gained.[34]

Reactions in the Admiralty were as one would expect. Fisher, having now replaced Battenberg, blamed Milne, who it would be fair to say he despised, for not having had his battle cruisers (‘even if short of coal’) off Messina while Goeben was coaling there; he did not mention Troubridge’s part. Wilson gave a more considered appraisal, agreeing with Fremantle that Troubridge assumed too great a German superiority, but arguing that the decision of the Court Martial had little bearing on the escape as once Souchon had left Messina unhindered he could have avoided battle at any time due to his greater speed. This ignores the chance presented while Souchon coaled at Denusa.

                The Second and Third Sea Lords, Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Hamilton and Rear-Admiral Frederick Tudor, both wrote similar minutes singling out the unhappy contribution of Troubridge’s Flag Captain, Fawcet Wray. Hamilton had no time for legal niceties: ‘The Court has been entirely led off the track by a clever lawyer.’ He believed that Milne’s dispositions, and by inference Milne himself, were being tried, but as it was Troubridge in the dock it seemed ‘very unfair’ to judge Milne ‘without letting him have an opportunity to defend himself. In point of fact his dispositions were very sound.’ Hamilton then thought better of the last sentence [italicized] and deleted it from his final minute. In fact, in draft form at least, his defence of Milne went a good deal further: he specifically answered Fisher’s charge. ‘The C-in-C was criticised’, Hamilton had originally written, ‘for not having his battle cruisers close to Messina…[but] if they had been close up nothing could have prevented Goeben from breaking out in the dark, and thanks to her superior speed getting away without being engaged. Keeping them away to the westward made it almost certain that one of the light cruisers shadowing the Goeben…would have enabled the C-in-C to bring her to action with one or more of his battle cruisers…’[35] Did Hamilton cut this offending paragraph after seeing Fisher’s minute? While it seemed unfair to Hamilton to try Milne, this scruple did not apply to Fawcett Wray, who would be damned by Hamilton to remain unemployed, ‘as it is decidedly dangerous to have an officer of his opinions in a responsible position.’

                In spite of almost universal condemnation, Wray was given a lowly command at Gallipoli, where he distinguished himself. Troubridge was sent to Serbia in January 1915 as head of the British Naval Mission where he also performed a valuable service in that isolated post.[36] Only Milne remained unemployed — Churchill wrote him on 19 November that, as ‘Circumstances have been entirely altered by the war’, he could not now appoint Milne, as he had intended, as C-in-C, Nore. This was not good enough for Milne who promptly sought an interview with the First Lord in an attempt to clarify these new circumstances; when challenged Churchill was forced to admit, feebly, that these amounted to no more than that Admiral Callaghan was now going to Chatham to make room for Battenberg to go to Portsmouth ‘after the war was over.’[37] With his protector, Battenberg, now out of the way and Fisher back at the Admiralty, Milne was going to get nowhere. As late as 22 December Fisher, the resurrected First Sea Lord, seemed ‘at this supreme juncture…more busy in getting at his enemies than at those of his country. He is after “Sir Berkeley Goeben” as he calls him, at this moment, and also Sturdee…’[38] The wisest course for Milne would have been silence; he chose not to take it.





[1]    Admiralty to C-in-C, Medt, no. 248, 12 August 1914, PRO Adm 137/HS19; Lumby, no. 402, p. 435.

[2]    Rear-Admiral Henry Horniman, Smiling Through, typescript autobiography, p. 99, IWM PP/MCR/46.

[3]    Parry, diary, entry for 15 August 1914, IWM 71/19/1. Note: Admiral Sir Henry Jackson was due to replace Milne that summer as Milne’s term was set to expire. The new appointment had been agreed upon by the Admiralty on 22 July 1914 and on the last day of that month Churchill suggested to the King that Jackson assume command of Sultan Osman, now HMS Agincourt, and take the vessel to the Mediterranean as his flagship. The outbreak of war put paid to Jackson’s chances. ‘It is presumed,’ wrote an Admiralty clerk on 4 August on the orders detailing the changes, ‘these orders are superseded by Sir H Jackson’s later appointment additional to War Staff.’ — Minute by W F Nicholson, 4 August 1914, PRO Adm 137/881. Jackson was set to work instead planning the seizure of Germany’s colonies.

[4]    Captain H W Wyld, HMS Pincher, diary entry, IWM 76/231/1.

[5]    Admiral Sir Gerald Dickens [then in command of HMS Harpy], diary entry for 16 August 1914, IWM PP/MCR/93.

[6]    Milne to Troubridge, 17 August 1914, Lumby, pp. 311-2 [emphasis in original]. Troubridge’s counsel cited this letter in his defence at the Court Martial: see, questions 336-342, ibid.

[7]    Troubridge to Milne, 21 August 1914, Milne mss., NMM MLN 209/7.

[8]    Milne to Admiralty, 20 August 1914, para. 20, PRO Adm 137/879; Lumby, no. 374, pp. 213-22.

[9]    Ibid., para. 25.

[10]  Horniman, Smiling Through, p. 100.

[11]  Admiralty to Milne, 25 August 1914, PRO Adm 137/879; Lumby, no. 375, p. 222.

[12]  Milne to Admiralty, 26 August 1914, para. 2, PRO Adm 137/879; Lumby, no. 376, pp. 223-6.

[13]  Minutes by Battenberg and Churchill, 27 August 1914, PRO Adm 137/879; Lumby, no. 378, pp. 230-2.

[14]  Admiralty to Milne, 27 August 1914, PRO Adm 137/879; Lumby, no. 379, p. 232.

[15]  Battenberg to Milne, 27 August 1914, Milne mss., NMM MLN 207/3.

[16]  Troubridge to Milne, 16 August 1914, para. 8, PRO Adm 137/879; Lumby, no. 373, pp. 205-12. At the court martial Troubridge was forced, under cross-examination, to amend the distance from land to 60 miles; he refused though to accept 40 miles which appeared to be the distance indicated on the chart drawn up for the court. See, Court Martial, questions 855-8, Lumby, p. 381.

[17]  Minute by Battenberg, 7 September 1914, PRO Adm 137/879.

[18]  See, Fisher to Churchill, 31 March 1913, WSC Comp. vol. II, part iii, p. 1937.

[19]  Minute by Churchill, ibid. Battenberg suggested Captain Sowersby, ‘in whom Adl Milne has absolute confidence.’

[20]  Minutes by Sturdee, 12 September, and Battenberg and Churchill, 14 September 1914, PRO Adm 137/3105.

[21]  Draft letter, based on Churchill’s wording, 19 September 1914, ibid.

[22]  Minute by Sir Arthur Wilson, 19 September 1914, ibid.

[23]  Admiralty minute, 9 January 1915, ibid.

[24]  Court of Inquiry, Final Report, para. 2, 23 September 1914, Lumby, no. 386, pp. 270-1.

[25]  Proceedings of the Court of Inquiry, qus. 47-8, Lumby, p. 268.

[26]  Court of Inquiry, Final Report, paras. 9-11, Lumby, p. 271.

[27]  Admiral Sir Sydney Fremantle, My Naval Career, 1880-1928, (London, 1949), p. 173.

[28]  Parry diary, entry for 27 October 1914, IWM 71/19/1.

[29]  ‘The 11 inch German Gun is a very good Gun,’ Scott replied in answer to Troubridge, ‘and I understand can be given sufficient elevation to obtain a range of over 25,000 yards…’ By contrast Defence’s guns had a range, according to Scott, of no more than 16,000 yards. Scott to Troubridge, 3 November 1914, Troubridge mss., NMM MS 78/134, folder S7.

[30]  Minutes of Proceedings at a Court Martial, 5-9 November 1914, qu. 244, Lumby, p. 301.

[31]  The full transcript of the evidence is available in Lumby, pp. 272-396.

[32]  Finding of the Court Martial, para. 11, Lumby, p. 395.

[33]  Quoted in Fremantle, My Naval Life, p. 175.

[34]  Ibid., p. 174.

[35]  Draft minute by Hamilton, December 1914, Hamilton mss., NMM HTN 125.

[36]  An account of Troubridge’s work in Serbia can be found in The Mariners’ Mirror, vol. 73, no. 3 (August, 1987), pp. 297-312.

[37]  Churchill to Milne, 19 November, and note by Milne on his conversation with Churchill, Milne mss., NMM MLN 207/4.

[38]  Marder, Portrait of an Admiral, Richmond diary entry for 22 December 1914.



First Class Armoured Cruiser HMS Devonshire

Ships of the Victorian & Edwardian Navy :


I have been drawing the ships of the Victorian and Edwardian Navy for twenty years for my personal pleasure and I am including some of these drawings on this site in the hope that others may find them of interest. The original drawings are all in pencil. Reducing the file size and therefore the download time has resulted in some loss of detail.

A set of postcards featuring eight of my drawings is now available for £2.50, which includes postage anywhere in the world.

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SUPERIOR FORCE : The Conspiracy Behind the Escape of Goeben and Breslau © Geoffrey Miller

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As the range of our activities is so diverse, we have a number of different websites. The site you are currently viewing is wholly devoted to the first of the three non-fiction books written by Geoffrey Miller, and deals specifically with the escape of the German ships Goeben and Breslau to the Dardanelles in August 1914. The main Flamborough Manor site focuses primarily on accommodation but has brief details of all our other activities. To allow for more information to be presented on these other activities, there are other self-contained web-sites. All our web-sites have a LINKS page in common, which allows for easy navigation between the various sites. To find out where you are, or to return to the main site, simply go to the LINKS page.


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HMS Berwick : Original artwork © 2004 Geoffrey Miller
HMS Berwick
[Original artwork © 2004 Geoffrey Miller]

  Geoffrey Miller can be contacted by:
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The Manor House,
East Riding of Yorkshire, YO15 1PD
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