Tributes to Lord Jellicoe
The Battle of Jutland
It was the author's curious fate to have been admitted to close coöperation and friendship with Lord Jellicoe; to have been entrusted with a confidential mission to him before Jutland was fought; and to have found himself in sharp controversy and estrangement in after years. It is a temptation to emphasize and qualify three points suggested by your admirable appreciation of his great career:—
First, it was surely a happy fate that one who had risked his.ife so often to save others in action shoold receive his mortal wound in the discharge of a last duty to his faithful legionaries.
Next, you do well to quote Scott's saying that. when Jeilicoe, he, and Hamilton had charge of naval gunnery in 1905, there was record progress, because never before had there been such harmonious working. The tragedy is that this conjunction never occurred again. His successors at Whitehall were not, despite their ability, gunnery men and the command at Whale Island was not again confided to a specialist. The Inspector of Target Practice thus played a lone hand until, just before the War, the office was abolished and criticism ceased.
Lastly, while it was inevitable that the controversy should start from the contrast between the offensive tactics of the battle cruiser leader and the determined caution of the Commander-in-Chief, this was both unfortunate and unjust. Jetlicoe was Fisher's selection as Commander-in- Chief in war because he exactly represented the Fisher policies. The Dreadnought Fleet had not been built to force action on a reluctant enemy, but to be definitely impregnable to an inferior enemy's attack. This, in the Fisher theory, was to be equivalent to victory. When victory was missed no one saw the fallacy involved more clearly than Jellicoe himself. Did not his signal to the Fleet say that it was the weather alone that had robbed us of the "complete victory that was essential to the safety of the Empire"?
If he is to be criticized for Jutland it can only be for his share, and that a small one, in prescribing the principles on which the force under his command was to be employed. The greatest of the injustices of which Lord Jellicoe was the victim was his final disownment by Lord Fisher. And it was the least deserved.