Combined Force (Royal Navy)

From The Dreadnought Project
Revision as of 13:55, 15 July 2018 by Simon Harley (Talk | contribs) (History)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search

The Combined Force, also known as the Southern Force, was a formation of the Royal Navy during the early part of the First World War.


On 13 August 1914, Rear-Admiral Arthur H. Christian was appointed Rear-Admiral in command of a "Special Force", with his flag in Euryalus.[1] On 14 August Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, Vice-Admiral Commanding, Channel Fleet, and Rear-Admiral Henry H. Campbell, Rear-Admiral Commanding Cruiser Force C (Seventh Cruiser Squadron), were informed:

Cruiser Force C will be detached from your command and take a more advanced position under the general orders of Admiral Christian, who will be in command of a combined force, Flag temporarily in Sapphire.[2]

Initially this force consisted of Cruiser Force C, the Harwich Flotilla under Commodore Tyrwhitt and the Eighth Submarine Flotilla.[3] On 17 August Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, in command of the Grand Fleet, asked the Admiralty "Of what force is Rear-Admiral Christian in command?" The Admiralty replied the following day: "C Cruiser Force. Euryalus, Arethusa (when ready), 1st and 3rd T.B.D. Flotillas. Oversea submarines."[4]

The functions of the force were broadly defined by Sir Julian Corbett as:

to protect the Belgian coast, to prevent the Schelde being blocked, to keep a general command of our East Coast waters, and to give early notice of any attempt to interrupt our communications with France in the Channel. In carrying out this general idea the admiral was given a free hand in arranging patrols, subject only to orders from the Admiralty when special operations were required.[5]

The relevant volume of the Naval Staff Monographs comments:

The command never received an official designation, and although Corbett refers to it as the "Southern Force," this was not its official title, and it is very rarely referred to in this way. The Chief of the War Staff occasionally used the term "combined force".[6]

Rear-Admirals Christian and Campbell struck their flags on 6 October in the wake of the loss of Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue on 22 September.[7][8]


  1. Christian service record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42/157.
  2. Naval Staff Monographs. III. p. 37.
  3. Naval Staff Monographs'. III. p. 12n.
  4. Naval Staff Monographs. III. p. 41.
  5. Corbett. Naval Operations. I. pp. 81-82.
  6. Naval Staff Monographs. III. p. 112n.
  7. Christian service record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42/157.
  8. Campbell service record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42/299.


  • Corbett, Sir Julian S. (1920). Naval Operations. Volume I. London: Longmans, Green and Co..
  • Naval Staff, Training and Staff Duties Division (1921). Naval Staff Monographs (Historical). Fleet Issue. Volume III. Monograph 6.—Passage of the British Expeditionary Force, August, 1914. Monograph 7.—The Patrol Flotillas at the Commencement of the War. Monograph 11.—The Battle of Heligoland Bight, August 28th, 1914. Monograph 8.—Naval Operations Connected with the Raid on the North-East Coast, December 16th, 1914. Monograph 12:—The Action of Dogger Bank, January 24th, 1915. O.U. 6181 (late C.B. 1585.). Copy No. 127 at The National Archives. ADM 186/610.
  • Naval Staff, Training and Staff Duties Division (1924). Naval Staff Monographs (Historical): Fleet Issue. Volume X. Home Waters—Part I. From the Outbreak of War to 27 August, 1914. O.U. 5528 (late C.B. 917(H)). Copy at The National Archives. ADM 186/619.