Steve R Dunn
Steve Dunn is an author with a special interest in the Royal Navy of the late Victorian, Edwardian and First World War eras. His books include biographies of Admirals Cradock (The Scapegoat) and Troubridge (The Coward?) and the story of the first British battleship to be sunk by a torpedo (Formidable).
When not writing he is a company chairman, plays tennis and cooks. He lives in Worcestershire and South-West France.
Find him on Twitter @SteveRDunn.
Formidable is the third in a trilogy of naval history books by Steve R. Dunn in which he unpicks the far-reaching effects of the social and political climate under which the First World War began – a period that he calls ‘Vicwardian’. The stifling atmosphere of rigid social hierarchy, pointless deference, and refusal to update rules of engagement that were largely unchanged since Nelson led, Dunn argues, to defective decision making and, ultimately, disaster.
Formidable sailed to her doom under a vice admiral who did not accept the threat posed by new technology – submarines, the U-boats. The accepted rules of war were such that to ambush a battleship unseen, from below the surface, would be ungentlemanly and therefore unthinkable. To seek shelter in bad weather, whatever the threat from U-boats, would be unmanly. The vice admiral kept his ships at sea. As a result, a major ship of the British navy’s battle fleet was lost and 583 men and boys met their deaths.
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By the same author
Barely three days after Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914, Rear Admiral Ernest Troubridge – a rising star of the British Navy – made a decision that seemed inexplicable and was to dominate the rest of his life and naval career. Commanding the 1st Cruiser Squadron, heading for an engagement with the German battle cruiser Goeben in the Mediterranean and having clearly signalled his intention to engage the German ship, Troubridge suddenly changed his mind, turned his vessels away, and allowed the enemy ship to escape.
In the early days of the First World War, on 1 November 1914, in the seas off the Falkland Islands, the Battle of Coronel claimed 1660 lives, the worst British naval disaster for 100 years. Rear Admiral Sir Christopher Cradock, who died that day, had been badly advised and equipped, and sailed to engage with Vice Admiral Graf von Spee knowing that he and his men were almost certainly doomed.