Annual Manoeuvres of 1912

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The intended outline of the Royal Navy's Annual Manoeuvres of 1912 was vaguely described in The Times in mid-July. The lack of detail is unusual for such exercises, and reference is made to secrecy.[1][2]. This was probably owing to the sensitivity of the exercise, which was to investigate the vulnerability of Great Britain to raid or invasion by Germany. The Army was arguing that its role would be in France in the event of a war, and that the Navy had to protect Britain from invasion. The Navy believed that its role would be following the traditional strategy of blockade and using the Army as an amphibious force, which had proved successful in war since the seventeenth century.[3]

Planning and Conduct of the Manoeuvres

The manoeuvres for 1912 were mainly designed to explore the Navy’s ability to prevent a hostile landing and to protect trade. After a review of the fleet at Spithead on Tuesday 9th July, the ships departed for their preliminary positions in the exercise which began on Thursday 11th July.[4]

Admiral Sir George Callaghan was in charge of the attacking Red forces, operating against the defending Blue forces commanded by Admiral H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battenberg. The umpire was Admiral Sir William May in HMS Euryalus.

Blue territory was all of the United Kingdom and Ireland with the exception of the coast between Flamborough Head and Dungeness. Red territory was the coastline from Yarmouth Pier to Dungeness. The coast between Flamborough Head and Yarmouth Pier was neutral territory.

On the declaration of war, it was known to Red that a Blue fleet was cruising off the Scottish coast, with its HQ at Rosyth. A second Blue fleet was cruising off the west coast of Scotland and Blue cruisers and destroyers had been sighted in the North Sea. Red battleships were known to be in Dover Harbour and at the Nore.

The orders for the Red force were to achieve one or all of the following:

  1. To cover the descent of a military expedition on the Blue coast;
  2. To interrupt Atlantic trade, in sufficient strength to ensure that only battleships could engage them;
  3. To interrupt Atlantic trade with cruisers, in sufficient strength to divert the attention of the Blue battle fleet.

Instead of chartering transports, battleships were used to represent transports when they flew the Transport flag. Each 'transport' was assumed to carry 3,000 men including cyclists but no horses. Transports were assessed as being able to unload 500 men per hour in daylight, or two hours at night.

In the event of naval engagements, the limit of effective fire was set at 9,000 yards range, and less than 3,000 yards at night. Torpedo craft were not allowed to approach the enemy closer than 500 yards. Submarines could only attack by day and at less than 1,200 yards. After an attack, or when within 1,000 yards of a ship, submarines were required to surface thereby precluding multiple attacks.

Conclusions Drawn from the Manoeuvres

The main event of the 1912 manoeuvres was the successful landing of a raiding force at Filey by Red forces.[5] This success caused concern in the Government, although the defending submarines claimed that they had only failed to attack the 'transports' as they were unable to identify that the enemy battleships were acting as transports.[6] In order to investigate this, a similar scenario was repeated in the Annual Manoeuvres of 1913 in which, to prevent the recurrence of a similarly equivocal result, real transports were chartered and supplied with troops from the Army and Royal Marines.

Order of Battle

The Blue Force, consisting of 26 battleships, 21 armoured and six protected cruisers under the command of Prince Louis of Battenberg would be the defending force. The Red Force, under Sir George Callaghan, would be the attacking force and would consist of 15 battleships, ten armoured and three protected cruisers.

The secrecy maintained through this exercise appears to have extended to the Service Records of R.N. personnel.

Blue Fleet

The Blue Fleet was to be the defending fleet, under Commander-in-Chief Admiral Admiral H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battenberg.

Blue Fleet
Ship Attached
Second Battle Squadron
H.M.S. Thunderer H.M.S. Bristol (Light cruiser)
H.M.S. Monarch H.M.S. Falmouth (Light cruiser)
H.M.S. Orion H.M.S. Assistance (Fleet repair ship)
H.M.S. Hercules
H.M.S. Colossus
H.M.S. Lord Nelson
H.M.S. Agamemnon
Third Battle Squadron
H.M.S. Africa H.M.S. Dartmouth (Light cruiser)
H.M.S. Britannia H.M.S. Weymouth (Light cruiser)
H.M.S. Commonwealth
H.M.S. Dominion
H.M.S. Hibernia
H.M.S. Hindustan
H.M.S. King Edward VII
H.M.S. Zealandia
Fourth Battle Squadron
H.M.S. Cornwallis H.M.S. Doris (Second class cruiser)
H.M.S. Duncan
H.M.S. Exmouth
H.M.S. Russell
Fifth Battle Squadron
H.M.S. Bulwark H.M.S. Hyacinth (Second class cruiser)
H.M.S. Formidable
H.M.S. Implacable
H.M.S. Irresistible
H.M.S. London
H.M.S. Prince of Wales
H.M.S. Queen
H.M.S. Venerable
Ship Ship
Second Cruiser Squadron
H.M.S. Indomitable H.M.S. Cochrane
H.M.S. Warrior H.M.S. Natal
H.M.S. Achilles
Third Cruiser Squadron
H.M.S. Shannon H.M.S. Argyll
H.M.S. Black Prince H.M.S. Duke of Edinburgh
Fifth Cruiser Squadron
H.M.S. Antrim H.M.S. Carnarvon
H.M.S. Devonshire H.M.S. Roxburgh
H.M.S. King Alfred
Sixth Cruiser Squadron
H.M.S. Aboukir H.M.S. Sutlej
H.M.S. Cressy H.M.S. Triumph
H.M.S. Swiftsure
Independent battlecruisers
H.M.S. Lion H.M.S. Indefatigable
First Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Blonde H.M.S. Pathfinder
H.M.S. Venus H.M.S. Ferret
H.M.S. Acheron H.M.S. Hind
H.M.S. Sandfly H.M.S. Forester
H.M.S. Defender H.M.S. Jackal
H.M.S. Ariel H.M.S. Archer
H.M.S. Lapwing H.M.S. Hornet
H.M.S. Tigress H.M.S. Druid
H.M.S. Phoenix H.M.S. Attack
H.M.S. Goshawk H.M.S. Hydra
H.M.S. Lizard
Second Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Bellona H.M.S. Attentive
H.M.S. Blake H.M.S. Cameleon
H.M.S. Ruby H.M.S. Larne
H.M.S. Lyra H.M.S. Nemesis
H.M.S. Nymphe H.M.S. Alarm
H.M.S. Rifleman H.M.S. Martin
H.M.S. Minstrel H.M.S. Nereide
H.M.S. Brisk H.M.S. Comet
H.M.S. Redpole H.M.S. Acorn
H.M.S. Goldfinch
Third Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Boadicea H.M.S. Patrol
H.M.S. Blenheim H.M.S. Wolverine
H.M.S. Mosquito H.M.S. Racoon
H.M.S. Basilisk H.M.S. Harpy
H.M.S. Grasshopper H.M.S. Beagle
H.M.S. Bulldog H.M.S. Foxhound
H.M.S. Scorpion H.M.S. Renard
H.M.S. Nautilus H.M.S. Pincher
H.M.S. Redpole H.M.S. Acorn
H.M.S. Scourge H.M.S. Savage
H.M.S. Rattlesnake
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Diamond H.M.S. Foresight
H.M.S. St. George H.M.S. Exe
H.M.S. Erne H.M.S. Swale
H.M.S. Rother H.M.S. Dee
H.M.S. Teviot H.M.S. Ure
H.M.S. Cherwell H.M.S. Wear
H.M.S. Foyle H.M.S. Nith
H.M.S. Ness H.M.S. Moy
H.M.S. Kale H.M.S. Doon
H.M.S. Derwent H.M.S. Eden
H.M.S. Liffey H.M.S. Arun
H.M.S. Boyne
Eighth Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Amethyst H.M.S. Forward
H.M.S. Tyne H.M.S. Aquarius
H.M. T.B. 3 H.M. T.B. 4
H.M. T.B. 5 H.M. T.B. 13
H.M. T.B. 14 H.M. T.B. 15
H.M. T.B. 16 H.M. T.B. 21
H.M. T.B. 24 H.M. T.B. 25
H.M. T.B. 27 H.M. T.B. 28
H.M. T.B. 29 H.M. T.B. 30
H.M. T.B. 31 H.M. T.B. 32
H.M. T.B. 33 H.M. T.B. 34
H.M. T.B. 35 H.M. T.B. 36
Third Submarine Flotilla
H.M.S. Forth (Submarine depot ship) H.M.S. B 2
H.M.S. B 3 H.M.S. B 4
H.M.S. B 5 H.M.S. C 14
H.M.S. C 15
Fourth Submarine Flotilla
H.M.S. Hazard (Submarine depot ship) H.M.S. C 16
H.M.S. C 17 H.M.S. C 18
H.M.S. C 31 H.M.S. C 32
H.M.S. C 33 H.M.S. C 34
H.M.S. C 35
Sixth Submarine Flotilla
H.M.S. Thames (Depot ship) H.M.S. Hebe (Depot ship)
H.M.S. C 7 H.M.S. C 8
H.M.S. C 9 H.M.S. C 10
H.M.S. C 12 H.M.S. C 13
Seventh Submarine Flotilla
H.M.S. Vulcan (Depot ship) H.M.S. Alecto (Depot ship)
H.M.S. C 19 H.M.S. C 20
H.M.S. C 21 H.M.S. C 22
H.M.S. C 23 H.M.S. C 24
H.M.S. C 25 H.M.S. C 26
H.M.S. C 27 H.M.S. C 28
H.M.S. C 29
Miscellaneous Vessels
Minelayers representing an Unarmoured Cruiser Squadron Minesweepers
H.M.S. Iphigenia H.M.S. Circe
H.M.S. Latona H.M.S. Seagull
H.M.S. Thetis H.M.S. Jason
H.M.S. Apollo
H.M.S. Naiad
H.M.S. Intrepid

Red Fleet

The Red Fleet was to be the "attacking fleet," falling under the overall direction of Commander-in-Chief Admiral Sir George Callaghan.

Red Fleet
Ship Attached
First Battle Squadron
H.M.S. Neptune H.M.S. Gloucester (Light cruiser)
H.M.S. St. Vincent H.M.S. Liverpool (Light cruiser)
H.M.S. Collingwood H.M.S. Swift (Flotilla leader)
H.M.S. Dreadnought H.M.S. Cyclops (Depot ship)
H.M.S. Superb R.F.A. Maine (Auxiliary)
H.M.S. Temeraire
H.M.S. Bellerophon
H.M.S. Vanguard
Seventh Battle Squadron
H.M.S. Caesar H.M.S. Talbot (Protected cruiser)
H.M.S. Hannibal
H.M.S. Illustrious
H.M.S. Majestic
H.M.S. Prince George
H.M.S. Victorious
Ship Ship
H.M.S. Inflexible H.M.S. Invincible
Training Squadron Mediterranean Cruiser Squadron
H.M.S. Leviathan H.M.S. Suffolk
H.M.S. Berwick H.M.S. Hampshire
H.M.S. Donegal
H.M.S. Essex
H.M.S. Cornwall
H.M.S. Cumberland
Fourth Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Blanche (Scout cruiser) H.M.S. Hecla (Destroyer depot ship)
H.M.S. Crusader H.M.S. Maori
H.M.S. Mohawk H.M.S. Amazon
H.M.S. Saracen H.M.S. Afridi
H.M.S. Zulu H.M.S. Nubian
H.M.S. Cossack H.M.S. Viking
H.M.S. Tartar H.M.S. Ghurka
H.M.S. Fury H.M.S. Hope
H.M.S. Sheldrake H.M.S. Staunch
Sixth Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Topaze (Third class cruiser) H.M.S. Sentinel (Scout cruiser)
H.M.S. Skirmisher H.M.S. Bat
H.M.S. Peterel H.M.S. Star
H.M.S. Syren H.M.S. Falcon
H.M.S. Leven H.M.S. Osprey
H.M.S. Gipsy H.M.S. Ostrich
H.M.S. Fairy H.M.S. Albacore
H.M.S. Bonetta H.M.S. Fawn
H.M.S. Flying Fish H.M.S. Mermaid
H.M.S. Greyhound H.M.S. Cheerful
H.M.S. Racehorse H.M.S. Kangaroo
Seventh Destroyer Flotilla
H.M.S. Sapphire (Protected cruiser) H.M.S. Adventure (Scout cruiser)
H.M.S. Leander (Destroyer depot ship) H.M.S. Dove
H.M.S. Vigilant H.M.S. Thorn
H.M.S. Express H.M.S. Locust
H.M.S. Quail H.M.S. Griffon
H.M.S. Orwell H.M.S. Thrasher
H.M.S. Lively H.M.S. Sprightly
H.M.S. Seal H.M.S. Panther
H.M.S. Violet H.M.S. Sylvia
H.M.S. Success H.M.S. Arab
H.M.S. Avon H.M.S. Leopard
H.M.S. Bittern
Eighth Submarine Flotilla
H.M.S. Bonaventure (Submarine depot ship) H.M.S. Adamant (Depot ship)
H.M.S. D 1 H.M.S. D 3
H.M.S. D 4 H.M.S. D 5
H.M.S. D 6
Aeroplanes: 2


  1. "The Naval Manoeuvres." The Times (London, England), Monday, July 15, 1912, Issue 39951, p.8.
  2. "Naval & Military Intelligence." The Times (London, England), 19 June 1912, p. 6.
  3. For a detailed discussion of the clash of approaches see Andrew Lambert's "The British Way of War: Julian Corbett and the Battle for a National Strategy", (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2021).
  4. Most of the following information comes from Admiralty, “Naval Manoeuvres, 1912”, June 1912, plus “Errata and Addenda”: ADM 116/1176B, TNA.
  5. "The Naval Manoeuvres." The Times (London, England), Monday, July 22, 1912, Issue 39957, p.5.
  6. Arthur J. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Vol 1: The Road to War, 1904-1914, (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 352.

Annual Manoeuvres of the Royal Navy
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