Notes on Jellicoe

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Bellairs on Jellicoe

"Lord Jellicoe worked with an amazing rapidity. When in harbour it was not his habit to sit at his ordinary large writing table, but at a tiny little affair in the middle of his cabin. To see him there reading despatches and memoranda, making pencil annotations and corrections, interrupted from time to time by the mass of matters and signals requiring immediate action, was to see a man who through years of training and control had brought the power of concentration to a fine art. Physical fitness was combined with this power of concentration. In the evenings in harbour he could be seen hard at the ball game, going at it with the terrific energy he put into everything he undertook. The exercise that he got out of a game of golf on the Flotta Links is well known, and certainly lives as on of the remembrances carried away by many who visited him in his flagship. This physical fitness combined with the mental and moral attributes he so abundantly possessed enabled him serenely to sustain his great responsibilities—responsibilities always great but greater perhaps in the early stages of the War when so much was in the making.

Never did the writer see him out of temper or ahnything but cheerful, and infusing everyone with the joy of carrying out the work in hand. His calm outlook never deserted him. Care and responsibilities were when possible thrown off the last thing at night by the reading of thrillers of a particularly lurid description. Whenever he could he would thus indulge for a short time in this complete relaxation and change from the work and anxieties of the day."(Marder. FDSF II, p. 443.)

Views of Jellicoe

"4/3/16 : — Scapa. Jellicoe and his chief of staff boarded us today, and walked around the ship. He is an alert active-looking man. His responsibilities don't seem to weigh too heavily on him".(University of Leeds, Liddle Collection, RNMN/Lorimer, p. 115)

Jellicoe on Keyes

"Keyes is a fine fellow but is not blessed with much brains." Jellicoe to Hamilton, 9 November, 1915. Jellicoe Papers I, p. 187.

Jellicoe Leaving the Grand Fleet

On the night of Monday 27th November, Admiral Jellicoe entertained a group of staff officers and other officers. He allegedly said "that the Submarine War was going to get so bad in 1917 that he would be blamed and not last as First Sea Lord for more than six months." Brand, Random Experience. WORLD WAR I, p. 16.

"I can definitely say that, as he went over the side, there was not a dry eye on that Quarter-Deck." Ibid.

In the summer of 1918 Jellicoe visited Iron Duke at Rosyth, and in plan clothes, gave a short speech in which he said at one point: "I only gave myself six months at the Admiralty and I managed to last a year [so] I didn't do too badly." which led to shout of "No, sir, you did not!" and similar outbursts from the sailors. At this point there only seven officers who had served with Jellicoe left in the ship. Brand, Random Experience. WORLD WAR I, p. 19.

Commander Matthew Robert Best wrote in his diary upon his departure;

"No one outside the service can, and ever will realise what the world owes to J.R.J. for producing it [the Grand Fleet], and no other man could possibly have done it.
He equals, if not excels Nelson professionally and has not the latter's weaknesses. He is a man whose whole heart is wrapped in his country. It is hard to appreciate what his feelings must have been in giving up the command of the fleet, which for nearly two and a half years, he has been preparing for the great day on which he had hoped to have led it to complete victory. I know the thought of that day never left his mind for one moment - I was privileged to get a glimpse of his feelings - I think it was the bitterest day of his life, and yet I know that he did not hesitate for one moment in taking the step which he felt was for his country's good.
The confidence the fleet had in him was unbounded and every single officer and man in the Iron Duke loved him, of that I am certain. In looking back through the time one has served him, one feels that his influence has the efect of a moral cleansing on one." "19th November and on." Entry in Best's diary. RNMN/BEST in the possession of the Liddle Collection, University of Leeds.

Dismissal of Jellicoe

"You kill him, I'll bury him." Northcliffe: an Intimate Biography (London, 1930), p. 185.

"...the change was due to Northcliffe's pressure on the Prime Minister." Jellicoe to Beatty. FDSF (London, 1969), p. 342.

Sims was "distressed...particularly when the efforts of all your anti-submarine efforts are showing such promising results of a complete success." FDSF (London, 1969), p. 343.

Jellicoe stated that "it was more dignified to say nothing at all on the subject at any rate while the war lasted." FDSF (London, 1969), p. 344.

Admiralissimo in the Mediterranean

"Although I am told the scheme is not dead I don't myself think it will ever mature." Jellicoe to W.H. Kelly, 29 August 1918. NWiM (London, 1987), p. 531.

Wemyss commented that had Jellicoe been Admiralissimo the enemy's warships would have been dealt with much easier. NWiM (London, 1987), p. 534.

French, Italian bickering over issue, American interference, British waiting and seeing. NWiM (London, 1987), pp. 522-534.

Norman MacLeod, Private Secretary to the Civil Lord

"Jellicoe performed a great service after returning to the Admiralty in placing the Naval Staff on a proper footing." MacLeod, Letter to Marder, 26 March, 1966. p. 17.