The Admiralty War Staff and its influence on the conduct of the naval war between 1914-1918
This thesis examines the structure and role of the Admiralty War Staff (Naval Staff from May 1917) between 1914-18. It analyses the means by which people were recruited to the Staff and challenges the accepted view that it was the depository of the 'nondescript' and the 'maimed and hurt'. It will also challenge the traditional view as to both the nature of that structure and work of the Staff during the war, and look at the relationship that the War Staff had with other principal agents in the conduct of the war at sea: the First Lord of the Admiralty, the First Sea Lord and the Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet. It will analyse how that relationship changed during the war, as a result of changing personalities as well as changing bureaucratic structures and strategic realities. In particular it will chart the development of the staff particularly while Jellicoe was First Sea Lord and show that, far from continuing a system of bureaucratic centralisation, this period brought about a decentralisation of Staff work that was not simply the result of the changes that took place in May 1917. It was also the result of a system that was maturing as growing manpower on the staff made decentralisation possible. The thesis will look at a number of key strategic issues and analyse the opinions that the Staff gave on these topics. It will look at: their opposition to Churchill's 1914 advanced base theories their role in the inception of the Dardanelles operation in 1915 their handling of the Grand Fleet, particularly the events surrounding the battle of Jutland the development of the economic blockade of Germany their opinions on the question of trade defence against submarines and their quest for new offensive possibilities in 1918.