01 - 07 November, 1917

The following summation is from Brooks Rowlett, and was originally posted on WWI-L 07 November, 1996:


On 1st November Admiral John Jellicoe departs from his flagship HMS IRON DUKE at Cromarty journeying to the Admiralty to confer with the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr Balfour. In Jellicoe's book THE GRAND FLEET he assserts that he (a) recommended formation of an antisubmarine committee largely staffed with "some of the clever and younger officers who had shown marked ability in studying new ideas",and (b) suggested that the Grand Fleet part with some of its destroyers to supplement anti-submarine forces, because even if the High Seas fleet >did< seek battle again, an event Jellicoe thought unlikely, the Grand Fleet now had numerical superiority, and could afford to sail without one battle squadron if necessary.

Jellicoe returned to the fleet on 5 November.

Jellicoe's book states the following: On 2nd-4th November the 2nd Battle Squadron, 4th Light Cruiser Flotilla and 11th Destroyer Flot. conduct a training cruise east of the Shetland Islands.

On the 3rd of November BOTHA (Destroyer leader) and 4 vessels of the 14th Flotilla left Scapa for a sweep northward along the Norwegian coast from a position near Udsire Lighthouse, seeking U-boats returning to their bases. On the same day leader FAULKNOR and 6 destroyers of the 12th Flotilla from Cromarty carry out a similar sweep northward from the vicinity of Little Fisher Bank. The First Light Cruiser Squadron and 8 destroyers of the 13th Flotilla from Rosyth are at sea in support. He then reports _J-1_'s exploit.

The rest of the story, revealed after the British admitted that they had been reading German naval codes for most of the war, is as follows, from Halpern, with further details from Scheer:

On 2 November, the _U-30_ had a breakdown of her diesel engines while operating off the Norwegian coast approximately 25 miles west of Bergen. The U-boat wirelessed for aid, and _U-20_, returning from SW of Ireland and about 40 miles away, heard the message and came to assist. The British also heard the message and sent destroyers to sweep along the Norwegian coast. They were too late, for the 2 U-boats had proceeded in company towards Bovsbjerg on the Jutland peninsula where _U-30_ was to be met by tugs. On the evening of June 4 as they reached the vicinity of Bovsbjerg a fog came up and both U-boats went aground. _U-30_ managed to free herself but damage made it too risky for her to submerge; she remained to assist the still stranded _U-20_. The Germans feared the British patrols would catch the submarines, or that the Danes would intern _U-20_ if not soon freed. High Seas Fleet Commander Admiral Reinhard Scheer sent the 4th Destroyer Half-Flotilla (Korvettenkpitan, = Commander, Dithmar) covered by the Third Battle Squadron (the 4 KONIG and 4 KAISER class battleships) and battlecruiser MOLTKE. The 4th Half Flot. arrived at 7:20 AM, anchoring 500 metres from _U-20_; but despite an increasing southwest swell and occurrence of high tide at 11:00 am, three attempts to free _U-20_ ended in failure as the cables and chains broke each time. As further efforst seemed useless, the crew was removed and _U-20_ was blown up. Thus perished the u-boat which had sunk the LUSITANIA.

The British radio interceptions led them to send submarine _J-1_, nearest patrolling vessel, to meet the Germans. Commander N.F. Laurence seeing 4 KAISER class battleships at Lat 56.6N, Long 6.53E (on their return trip) attacked despite a considerable sea which made it difficult to prevent _J-1_ from breaking the surface at periscope depth. _J-1_ fired all four bow torpedo tubes in one spread at 400 yards. At 1:05 pm the GROSSER KURFURST (umlaut over first _U_) was hit by one torpedo, followed almost immediately by KRONPRINZ hit similarly. Scheer's book says KRONPRINZ was hit under the bridge with slight damage, but GROSSER KURFURST was hit on the steering gear and port helm was useless. However, she was soon able to steam to catch up to the squadron, proceeding at 19 knots (KRONPRINZ was able to maintain the squadron speed of 17 knots) Both vessels returned home, but Scheer was later chastised by the Kaiser for risking the battleships 'just to save a u-boat'.


The British 10th Cruiser Squadron, Armed Merchant cruisers of the Northern Patrol, experienced gales on 4-6 November.


7 November the new Russian destroyer LETUN had her stern blown off by the only mine laid off Wulf-Bake by _UC-27_ on 28th October. She is not repaired. On the German side the minesweepoing boat _F 2_, 18 tons, is destroyed by a mine near Irben.


The Russians attribute the sinking of the _U-56_, 715 tons, to gunfire of GROZOVOY northwest of Kolafjord while escorting a convoy from Vardo. U-voats caused no further losses along the Murman coast in 1916.


Due to the rapid Romanian retreat from Constanta, much fuel oil was left to fall into German hands. The Russians carry out a bombardment by cruiser PAMIAT' MERKURIA on 1 November but abandon ther effort after a (false) submarine alarm. Destroyers BISTRYY and POSPEZHNYY attack again on 2 November but cause no notable damage. Finally on 4 November PAMIAT' MERKURIA returns and expends 231 shells destroying 15 of the 37 fuel tanks.

On 2 November the Russians carry out a 'commando attack' on the camouflaged anchorage of Turkish coastal craft in the mouth of the Terme. Destroyers STROGYY, KAPITEN SAKEN, LEITENANT ZAKARENNYY and transport SVIATOGOR land some 190 men. A total of 20 Turkish sailing craft are destroyed.

On nights of 5 & 6 November the Russian minesweeper _T 234_ lays two mine barriers off Varna. _UB 45_ (305 t) is lost on the northerly one on the morning of 6 November After this Varna is no longer used as a U-boat base.

On 7 November _UB-46_ sinks three-masted schooner MALANIYA (116 grt) off Cape Tarchankut, the only German submarine success in the NW sector of the Black Sea in November, and the last in 1916.


French RAdm Fatou, Admiral of Patrols, in Paris conducting meetings with Italian naval CinC the Duke of Abruzzi. During this time the French naval attache' cautions Fatou not to give Abruzzi the verbatim text of a message he has been cabled, to avoid allowing Italy, France's ally, an opportunity to break the attache' code. At the same time, certain informatin is noticed by Italiin Navy Lieutenant Mario Arlotta, the Italian naval attache' in Athens, during a visit to Paris. This information will allow the Italians to realize that the French are reading the _Italian_ codes!

(Non-naval) In Greece, a Venizelist detachment clashes with a loyalist force at Ekaterini near Mount Olympus on 2 November

Merchant losses

Accidental on 3 November British oiler PONUS wrecked in Falmouth Bay. On same day Commissioned Trawler GLENPROSEN 224 grt mined and sunk off Cross Sand Light Vessel. Hired trawler KNOT 168 grt is likewise wrecked on North Carr Rock, while CANTATRICE is mined near Yarmouth.

Between 1-7 November 9 British merchants totalling 34312 GRT are lost to enemy action, 1 mined, 4 torpedoed with no warning, rest captured and sunk, by U-boats. 16 Fatalities including 2 masters.

Jellicoe THE GRAND FLEET 1914-1916
Greger THE RUSSIAN FLEET 1914-1917
Tarrant THE U-BOAT OFFENSIVE 1914-1945

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Last Updated: 27 January, 1997