From the publisher
With the advent of the Great War, naval technology, like those in other theatres of war, improved dramatically. The Royal Navy’s Dreadnought, launched in 1906, was to be the standard by which all other ships were measured as the major powers sought to develop their own fleets. Within ten years new battleships outclassed the Dreadnoughts, and became known as ‘Super Dreadnoughts’.
The advancing technologies would also herald a change in the rules of engagement, as well as codes of conduct. The harsh reality of war not only desensitised the men who ‘fought on the ground’ but also those who dictated policy. The chivalrous reputation of Graf Spee’s raiders, which earned them acclaim from enemies and countrymen alike at the outbreak of hostilities, would eventually give way to the German policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917. Under this policy, hospital ships became legitimate targets for U-boats, though the Germans would claim that the red cross-emblazoned, white-painted vessels were being used to carry munitions and un-wounded troops. The unrestricted sinking policy included the attacking of neutral shipping in the ‘war zone’, which led to the torpedoing of the passenger liner Lusitania off the coast of Ireland in 1915; an act that would be a catalyst for the Americans entering the arena in 1917.
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