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At a meeting of the select sub-committee of the Committee of Imperial Defence that was held on August 23, 1911, the First Sea Lord Sir Arthur Wilson proposed that the Admiralty’s strategy in the event of war with Germany would be to initiate a close blockade of the German North Sea coast as well as launch a series of amphibious operations. The proposal provoked much anxiety amongst the committee with Winston Churchill saying, “I only hope that they [the Germans] may be filled with as much misgivings as I am.” In the aftermath of the meeting Churchill was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty charged with reforming the navy and its strategic planning. He dismissed Wilson shortly after his appointment, but recalled him to the Admiralty after the outbreak of the First World War.

David Gethin Morgan-Owen of King’s College London refutes criticism of Wilson’s strategic thinking in his article “Cooked up in the Dinner Hour? Sir Arthur Wilson’s War Plan, Reconsidered,” published in the August 2015 issue of the English Historical Review. The article includes a detailed discussion of Churchill’s thinking regarding amphibious and in-shore operations in the first months of the Great War. The English Historical Review’s web site is here.

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