Wielding the Dagger: The Marinekorps Flandern and the German War Effort, 1914-1918

By Mark D. Karau | Go to book overview

4
The Year of Transition

1916 proved to be a year of transition for the MarineKorps Flandern. The appointment of Admiral Reinhard Scheer as the new commander of the High Seas Fleet initially led to a new and more aggressive stance for the German battle fleet. It was a stance, however, that did not carry over to the MarineKorps. It remained a secondary command, the primary purpose of which was to carry out submarine attacks on British shipping and lay mines along the British coast. This role was occasionally expanded in early 1916 when the UBs were sometimes used as support craft during Scheer's forays into the North Sea. Then, following the indecisive Battle of Jutland on 31 May, the German navy turned once again to the submarine as their best hope for victory. With that change in strategy the bases of the MarineKorps took on new importance, and both sides began to focus more attention on the Flanders theater. On the German side the change was demonstrated by the dispatch of entire Torpedo-boat flotillas to the Flanders front late in the year.

1916 can be broken down into three distinct phases during each of which the role of the MarineKorps changed: a period from early March to 1 June, wherein the MarineKorps remained an auxiliary force; a period from June to October which saw a gradual increase in importance for the Flanders theater while important decisions were made regarding the submarine war; and a third period from October 1916 to 9 January 1917 during which the Germans began to launch destroyer raids into the Channel. On the latter date, the Germans took the fateful decision to renew the unrestricted submarine campaign and ushered

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