Hut 11 – World War One
War at Sea
In the run up to WWI, Britain and Germany engaged in a Naval arms race. When war was declared in August 1914, the British Fleet had 20 big gun dreadnought and super dreadnought battleships, and four battle cruisers, in contrast to Germany’s 13 dreadnoughts and three battle cruisers. Throughout the war, the British Fleet remained superior to the German Fleet.
War in the Air
Despite the advances in aviation, military applications were not accepted in all quarters: Sir William Nicholson, British Chief of General Staff 1908-12, declared: ‘Aviation is a useless and expensive fad advocated by a few individuals whose ideas are unworthy of attention’. The Great War was soon to change all this.
Women at War
For women who wished to become directly involved in the war, there was the opportunity to join one of the women’s services. The first of these ‘armies’ in the field was the Women’s Land Army and the second was the Women’s Royal Naval Service. The Navy was surprisingly quick to make use of these new recruits. Wrens not only took over the role of cooks and clerks but became wireless telegraphists, writers, code experts, electricians, and performed many other tasks.
German U-boats were waging unrestricted war against all merchant ships sailing to and from Allied ports. Despite the introduction of the convoy system, large numbers of merchant ships continued to be sunk and the country remained perilously close to famine. Shortages of coal, sugar, potatoes and margarine (butter was by this time virtually unobtainable) meant the introduction of restrictions. The Government appointed a Food Controller and appealed to the public to eat less meat.