North Sea War

Topic 12: North Sea War

As a coastal county, Lincolnshire was immediately connected to events in the North Sea.

The first submarine attacks began in August 1914 and in November 1914 Britain unilaterally declared the whole of the North Sea a war zone.

The threat of German attack on Britain became a reality in December 1914, when the High Seas Fleet bombarded Hartlepool and Whitby. This was followed up in January 1915 by the commencement of airship raids and in February 1915 by Germany’s use of unrestricted submarine warfare.

In response to these developments, the Royal Navy armed a large number of fishing vessels and put them into service as auxiliary patrol ships. Home defence squadrons were established, a seaplane base was built at Killingholme and a kite balloon section was established in Skegness. In addition existing coastal batteries were put back into service and forts and an anti-submarine boom constructed in the Humber.

Grimsby trawler Athelstan, which was requisitioned by the Admiralty in 1914 for mine-sweeping duties. (Photo: Grimsby Trawlers)