SUBMARINE WARFARE!

 

Why was it allowed to be used by WW2 combatants as it was in WW1,  especially when the Germans voted to abide by the new rules enshrined in International Law from 1936 onwards?

 

 Like so many of you, I have acquired a knowledge on several subjects which have interested me over the years, some so much so, that I often feel confident to stand on my feet enjoying the role as a raconteur, if invited of course!  There have been exceptions to this rule though, one being a couple of years ago whilst attending a parochial village meeting where the invited guest speaker [at a cost of course] didn't turn up so I offered my services [at no cost!]. My subject was funerals, Royal funerals to be precise, where I talked much about the Royal Navy's role drawing strength from my own experiences of taking on a leading role for Lord Mountbatten's Royal Ceremonial funeral in 1979. I was on very safe ground, and the audience obviously loved it, enquiring about other subjects I was able to rattle off the top of my head, with or without the proverbial speakers preparation, usually accompanied with relevant artefacts. Surprisingly I was able to suggest several subjects of 'general interest' all of which appeared suitable for a 40-10 split, female to male membership, and since that time, for the same audience, I have talked about women at sea and the "obvious" effect it has on men, who hitherto, had accepted their lot that once the final line had been cast and the vessel was away from terra firma, sex was locked away and the Bell Howell movie projector provided the corporate entertainment involving women, in lieu! Of course 'sex' was replaced with 'fun' in my references, like for example the crib-board which was just about tolerated,  providing stiff pegs and holes into which they fitted in their imagination and not in my spoken delivery. Above all else I had to avoid embarrassing my wife [sitting in the audience] and this I manifestly did for there were many more laughs than there were facial contortions conveying a dislike of an inappropriate subject. One lady, giving as good as she got, asked if I have a "blue" version of the talk and how much would I demand as a fee? I could see my wife slowly nodding her head saying in her body- language, don't you dare! I didn't and don't!

 

However, when it is known that one has been targetted to give a talk, the preparation bit kicks in. It was known that my subject[s] would be Naval [what else?] and this time the men [husbands] brought the split up to more-or-less 50-50.

 

The subject, as hinted at above, was 'Why was submarine warfare allowed to be used by WW2 combatants, when the whole world had been shocked by the brutality of submarine warfare during WW1' specifically [and almost entirely from the German side], this when all maritime nations had agreed [1936] to abide by a new set of International Rules forbidding and outlawing such a submarine modus operandi ?

 

I have always liked this subject, and being an ex-submariner, it helped my credentials to be upright on my feet at the lectern.  I knew that despite the audience [as long as it was fundamentally of the 'silver hair brigade'] the subject would be of great interest for the majority of the audience, as researched showed, that hitherto, it was almost a hidden and unknown subject, particularly the part played by Germany!

 

The introduction was easy - just a mention of the hapless liners 'California' - 'Laconia' -  'Lusitania' stopped the shuffling and polarised their concentration on my laptop projection. The California was famous for the rescue of the Liner 'Titanic' in 1912 - the Laconia was sunk with a terrible loss of lives mostly American women and children passengers, and the sinking of the Lusitania when so close to home, is legend and needs no further amplification here.

 

I have two website http://www.godfreydykes.info/WW1%20PART%20ONE%201914%20UNTIL%20THE%20USA%20ENTERED%20THE%20WAR.htm and http://www.godfreydykes.info/THE%20INEVITABLE%20EVIL%20OF%20SUBMARINE%20WARFARE.htm both of which I raided to form  my introduction which by design shocked, yes shocked my audience, pointing to the murderous "Ubootwaffe" and their continuous high-sea crimes, and it was an excellent start to my main subject question. Just why were they [Germans and the U-Bootwaffe] allowed to continue doing what they did in WW1 in WW2?  I made my verbal introduction short and brief but DID NOT PULL ONE PUNCH. My wife told me that I had the audience in my palm after just three sentences!

 

That said, I think it necessary for you [if you want, my new audience for this story] to read those two relatively short web pages for it sets the scene about the bestality, the cruelty and pirate attitudes of the Germany navy, in both cases WW1 = IGN {Imperial German Navy or Kaiserliche Marine]  and WW2 =  [Kriegs Marine of the Nazi Third Reich]  using their submarines because they had lost their surface fleet better known as "RAIDERS" both, remember, at the hands of the British [Royal Navy mostly, but also the RAF] manifest in the loss of their Fleet at the Falklands and shortly afterwards Jutland, and the barricading in their ports thereafter; the destruction of their so-called super stars the Tirpitz, Bismarck [on her very first sea voyage], Scharnhorst, and her other big-hitters destroyed by the RN and by the RAF in the next world war. Germany, often referred to as a 'clever race, ergo a clever navy' employed no carriers in a combat role, a blunder not repeated by any other maritime nation of prominence! Incidentally, one of the things that got me going [annoyed] was an invite for me to join The SHARKHUNTERS. This is an online paid membership group of people who idolise the U-bootwaffe. I think there are five [5] British members, and literally hundred of members from Germany, Austria and the USA. The memberships fees are given to the German navy per se to support memorials, graves, sites and buildings associated with the U-Bootwaffe, and knowing what these U-Boot crews did, it is sickening!

 

Totally out of context simply because I have no other webpage which could carry this snippet, is this important Admiralty issued FACT. Just about everybody knows of the Russian Convoys, the Atlantic Convoys and the Malta Convoys all of which brought the Royal Navy and other participants to great prominence for their unprecedented sheer guts and unimaginable bravery, but did you know that Montgomery personally thanked the Royal Navy for its major input in winning the Desert War? Despite supply lines of just a few hundred miles across the Mediterranean, Axis forces [Germans and Italians] in North Africa were plagued by shortages compared to the British, whose supplies often travelled 14,000 miles (22,530 km) around Africa. This was the Royal Navy's contribution to the ‘Desert Victory’.

In addition, again with no 'home' as such, is this snippet from The Times newspaper of 02-07-1938 which brought a wry smile to my face!

This great reduction was way in advance of WW2 starting proper, which was ten months after the Phoney War [1 September 1939 to 10 May 1940] i.e., recognised as starting on the 10th May 1940. However, we all know to our cost that individual acts of war  preceded this date, chief of which was probably  the destruction of HMS Royal Oak at Scapa 0n 14th October 1939!

 

Come the armistice in 1918, the disarmament and all the social troubles which followed, you know, "Homes for Hero's" and all that garbage, things turned bad and rightly for the Government in the UK, but very much worse in every respect for the German's where many scores of  thousands literally starved to death such was the effect of our locking up their navy, and once the USA had joined the war on our side, the rapid demise of the German submarine and the murderers who crewed them resulted in their remains being encased in their Krupp steel coffins, wise heads were creating thoughts and swapping ideas of further wars especially with the arrogant Prussians and their lackey, the Austrians. By 1921, the Entente Allied Powers were already making in-roads into controlling the size of war-fleets, their composition and which nations would be allowed to have them and which would be persona non grata.

 

That leads me into why submarines were allowed to repeat their WW1 tactics during WW2.


 Parts only  of what follows were used for the talk, made short enough to be of interest but not boring or technical!
No where near the detail manifest in this webpage.

 

Despite the coming together of wise heads in the early 1920's in Washington,  it wasn't until the true measure of European unrest becoming daily news in in late 1929 early 1930, that these thought were discussed with a view to making them the subjects of international law, albeit, not for the want of trying in 1921 - read on.

 

Naval Conferences of the world's FIVE MAJOR POWERS met [at Plenary Sessions, this one on 2nd February 1930] to discuss naval matters concerning the vessels each nation should have and their corresponding displacement. The Plenary was chaired by the British Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. The five powers were Great Britain, France, USA, Japan  and Italy [the Entente' chief Allies of WW1] with each power representing its associated allies.  At the fourth Plenary, the BIG ISSUE was the banning of submarines and its associated warfare in all future altercations, applicable to all nations. Such was the importance of the Naval Conferences that in Great Britain they were convened in St James's Palace in London, the Seat of the British Monarchy to which all Ambassador's to Great Britain meet the Monarch to hand over their credentials of ambassadorial privilege and eminence.

 

No general opinion could be reached on the banning of this vessel, and both Japan and France opposed the ban. Great Britain [representing itself Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, South Africa and Irish Free State [which in 1922 became Eire] was led by the First Lord of the Admiralty A V Alexander, stated that Great Britain/UK,  agreed to the ban [complete abolition] with all but South Africa agreeing with him, they saying  that they could not agree whole heartedly with the delegates point of view.  If however, there is a total abolition, South Africa would go along with it and limit their submarines fleet accordingly. The Chairman ordered that the vote details be passed immediately to a higher authority [The First Committee] so that a new Plenary could be immediately convened that afternoon of the full Naval Conference Delegates to allow a new vote with the highest authority to be taken. At that Plenary, the USA backed Great Britain. France and Japan were opposed to it and Italy voted to keep an open mind. All five amicably agreed that if the submarine was not to be banned that it must be a point of International Law that its conduct of war must be exactly the same as for a surface warship. The banning was rejected!

 

The views of each separate power were:-

 

Great Britain -

1. The use of submarines for war purposes should be totally abolished.
2. For purposes of coast defence the submarine is comparatively ineffective, but its special capacity for long endurance and its increasing torpedo and gun armaments constitute powers for offensive action of no mean order.
 3. The retention of submarines will always be a danger that their employment in the hands of an unscrupulous enemy will lead to methods of attack which civilised nations regards with horror.
4. While British shipping suffered most severely in the last war, any one of the Powers might be in a  equally difficult position if war broke out again.
 5. If the submarine could be regarded as a defensive weapon, the British Empire could show a greater need than any other Power.  Yet we are prepared unreservedly to surrender such protection as submarines are argued to afford.
6. The conditions under which submarine crews have to live are hardly in keeping with the improved conditions for industrial workers which  all nations consistently urge at Geneva.
7. In 12 mishaps to submarines of the Five Powers since 1918, 570 men have lost their lives.
8. If the Conference fails to abolish the submarine it will miss a great opportunity but the British Government will then endeavour to confine the submarine to defence by limiting it strictly both in size and in numbers.
9. We should seek to revive the agreement signed in Washington in 1922 but not fully ratified by the signatory Powers, to regulate the attack  of merchant ships by submarines.

 

United States -

1. The American Delegation is in favour of the abolition of the submarine.
2. Offensive use has been made of it at great distances from its home ports
3. Ton for ton it is more costly than any type of surface craft  and approximately twice as costly  as the largest ships of war.
4. The essential objection to the submarine is that it is a weapon particularly susceptible to abuse.
5. The threat of its unrestricted abuse against merchant ships brought America into WW1
6.  Its abolition will suppress costly weapons  and eliminate the dreadful experiences of the past.

 

France -

1. France' Metropolitan and Colonial  situation required the use of the submarine.
2. Its use can be controlled and regulated like any other warship.
3. It is a defensive weapon which a navy  of the lesser order cannot do without.
4. It would be impossible to reduce or abolish  defensive weapons without the risk of giving a dangerous advantage to "offensive needs."
5. France expects from the submarine the only protection against a long distance blockade by surface fleets.
6. The French Government is of the opinion that unrestricted submarine warfare against  seafaring trade should be outlawed. The right to visit, search, seizure, should be exercised by submarines under the rules which have to be observed by surface warships.
 7.  Whilst France cannot accept abolition of the submarine , she is ready to concur in an international agreement regulating its use.

 

Italy -

1. The Italian Government believe that in the present state of armaments the abolition of submarines would favour the stronger navies over the disadvantaged of the less powerful. On the other hand, the Italian Delegation would fail in its duty of cooperating in the solution of the general problem of disarmament;  if it disregarded the general problems of disarmament brought forward by the advocates of total disarmaments. 
2. The submarine is the only weapon which can be used with some chance of success against the  battleships which the less powerful navies do not possess.
3.  The Italian Government are prepared to renew an agreement  restricting  the use of submarines against merchant ships.
4.  They keep an open mind on the question of abolition and a discussion on the subject would be in the interests of disarmament.
5.  They do not object to the principle of abolition if all the naval powers concur, and if abolition is to exert a decisive influence towards drastic reduction of armaments.

 

Japan -

1. A submarine has its proper legitimate uses.
2. It is an appropriate medium of defence as a scout and an instrument to ward off an offensive attack.
3.  Japan sees in the submarine a convenient and adequate means of national defence and desires to retain submarines solely for that purpose.
4. Japan will give her full support to an undertaking to outlaw the illegitimate use of a legitimate agency of war.
5.  Aeroplanes and airships have a wider of action than submarines and could play havoc not only at sea, but on land.

 

TWO RESOLUTIONS

 

Two resolutions have been tabled, and it was agreed that both should be examined by the First Committee. The first, submitted by the French Delegation suggested the preparations of an agreement, open to signature by all Naval Powers, forbidding all submarines to act towards merchant ships otherwise than in strict conformity with the rules to be observed by surface warships. The American Delegation proposed that the Committee should report on three points - the abolition of submarines, the regulation of its use, and the regulation of its unit size.

In conversation  with representatives of the Press after the Plenary meeting yesterday, Mr Stimson spoke of the "definite decision" of the Five Powers  - "not a tentative one, a definite one" -  to restrict the use of the submarine against merchant ships as the same rules which are applied to surface vessels.  Mr Stimson added:-

I regard that single incident as worth the visit of the American Delegation here to London. That marks a step forward in a matter that our country once went to war about.  There was an agreement. The other things have been referred to sub-committees to investigate and report, but this, if you read the language  of the resolution offered by the French, and agreed to by everybody, was the direction to the Committee to draft a paper.  The second thing I want to call your attention to is the impetus which was received for the movement for the eventual abolition of submarines. I think this debate showed a rising tide in the desire on the part of the nations for the eventual abolition of that weapon of warfare and marks a step in that direction.  I want to say also that I am very much pleased that the motion to restrict the use of the submarine against merchant ships came from the French Delegation.  I think that it was a very happy augury of the leadership of M. Tardieu.

 

By common agreement, it was recommended that the following rules and regulations should be enshrined into international law to be made binding on all seafaring nations operating submarine fleets.

A merchant ship must be ordered to submit to visit and search before it can be seized; it must not be attacked unless it refuses to submit to visit and search after warning and to proceed as directed after seizure; it must not be destroyed unless crew and passengers have been placed in places of safety.

 

The TREATY then declared :-

Belligerent submarines are not under any circumstances exempt from universal rules above stated; and if a submarine cannot capture a merchant vessel in conformity with these rules the existing law of nations requires it to desist from attack and seizure, and to permit the merchant vessel to proceed  unmolested. That statement then led onto to piracy.

 

PIRACY:-

Desiring to ensure the enforcement of these "humane rules of existing law", the Signatory Powers declared that persons violating them no matter whether or not they were acting under the orders of a Governmental superior, should be deemed to have violated the laws of war, and should be liable to trial and punishment for piracy.  Moreover, recognising the "practical impossibility of using submarines as commerce destroyers without violating, as they were violated during the 1914-1918 war,  the requirements universally accepted by civilised nations for the protection of the lives of neutrals and non-combatants", the Signatory Powers agreed  to prohibit the use of submarines of commerce destroyers, and invited all other nations to do the same.  These "Root Resolutions" as they are called, were signed by all the Powers concerned, but the agreement did not become operative because it was not ratified by France. The United States would "gladly agree" to the abolition of the submarine if the other Powers would consent. Failing that the Americans suggest the "lowest tonnage possible."  They, too, would subject submarines to the same rules as surface craft in operations against merchant vessels.  The French, like the British and Americans, would be prepared to welcome an agreement that would "humanise" the use of submarines against merchant shipping; but they are not likely to accept the old Washington agreement without modification. For the rest, the French regard the submarine as an indispensible weapon for coastal defence and for the defence of convoys, and also for scouting duties. The French "Institut Naval" of December 1924, authorised a tonnage of 96,000 for large submarines. Over and above this however, it is understood that France requires 30,000 tons of small submarines.  The Italian view is that the submarine is primarily is a defensive weapon, and Italy is in favor of a reduction. The Japanese want submarines of "reasonable size" to supplement  their surface craft in keeping enemies from home waters. 

 

SUBMARINE STRENGTHS:-

The following table shows the submarine strengths of the Five Powers taking part in the Conference.

    Built Building Projected Total and Note [see below]
British Empire   53 10 3 66[a]
United States   122 5 - 127[b]
Japan   64 7 - 71[c]
France   52 47 - 99[d]
Italy   53 14 - 67[e]
           
Note A: Includes one cruiser submarine [X1of 2425 tons] with 4 x 5.2" guns. 48 overseas patrol craft of between 760 and 1700 tons [nine dating from 1918 which would then reach the age limit of 13 years by 1931; and 17 smaller coast defence craft [5 dating from 1918].
Note B: Includes 3 large vessels [1 a minelayer] each  of about 2700 tons. armed with 2 x 6" guns; 3 of 1960 tons; 53 overseas patrol boats of between 750 and 1026 tons, and 65 small coast defence craft of which 45 date from 1918 or before.
Note C:  Includes 4 vessels of 1970 tons; 13 of 1650 tons;  and the remainder between 665 and 1400 tons. All date from 1919 or later.
Note D: Includes 1 cruiser submarine [the Sureouf] of 2880 tons; 54 overseas patrol boats of between  748 and 1384 tons; 38 smaller defence craft with 23 dating from 1918 or before.
Note E:  Includes 31 overseas patrol boats of between  709 and 1369 tons and 26 smaller defence craft. 20 date from 1918 or before.

Note the low score for the British Empire which of course was spread around the Old Commonwealth countries leaving the UK with even less than recordecd.

 

The British Memorandum:-

 

The Memorandum declaring the policy of the British Government was issued as a White Paper [cd 3485] and apart from changes in phraseology it does not differ in any material respect from the summary which was published in the Times.  Mr MacDonald explained in the House of Commons why the regular practice of acquainting the House of Commons with the contents of a State document before it is published generally was not followed in this case. He said that as a result of a publication of a document given in some detail the views of the American Delegation it was decided not to withhold the statement of British views.  He made it clear that the Memorandum had not be drawn up in agreement with any other delegation.  The Prime Minister was able to inform the House that progress is being made "all the way along the line", and that everything is being done to prevent waste of time. But he reminded the House that to rush delicate negotiations of this description in which five powers are concerned would be to court disaster, and that there was no disposition in any section of the House to challenge his appeal for patience if progress did not always seem to be rapid.

 

U.S. and a RODNEY -

 

It is understood that the American claim to have the right to build a battleship of the 'Rodney' type [a British battleship] - which as announced in the Times on Monday, was included in Mr Stimson American Memorandum, though not in the published summary - is the outcome of American interpretation of parity in regard to capital ships.  It was found that parity in this class of vessel  might be reached at once, so far as number of crafts were concerned  if Great Britain should scrap five and the USA three, leaving each nation with 15 battleships.   There would remain however, a disparity in total tonnage in Great Britains favour of - according to American calculations - 6000 tons, and it was  to provide for the permissive correction  of this disparity that the American proposal was made.

 

The United States would engage to scrap 3 vessels, but desire the optional choice to scrap a fourth vessel  - a vessel of the Wyoming Class - and to utilise the tonnage thus represented together with the 6000 tons mentioned above in the construction of a battleship of the 'Rodney' type. In other words it is the desire of the American Delegation to secure an 'optional right' which might eventually be taken up as 'Congress right', or might not see fit!

The American interpretation of parity, it will be seen,  leaves gun power [note for the speed-reader NOT gunpowder!!] out of account. It has already been pointed out in the Times that the United States now posses 24 16" guns, 8 in her three largest battleships, whilst Great Britain has only 18 9 in each of the Rodney and the Nelson; if an American 'Rodney' were built, the USA would have 33 16" guns to the British 18.  The Americans argue that their superiority in gun power is offset by the great speed of the British battleships.

 

No surprise is felt in American circles in London that our Washington Correspondent should have found it necessary to report yesterday that "no knowledge" of the proposal that the United States should have the right to build a 'Rodney', was admitted by the State Department.  A firm understanding is said to exist that negotiations on behalf of the USA shall be conducted entirely in London, without the accompaniment of official comment from Washington.

 

British Opposition -

 

The Prime Ministers visitors at the House of Commons yesterday afternoon included Mr Simson a 3.30 and M. Tardieu and M. Briand two hours later.

It is understood that Mr MacDonald's talk with Mr Simson dealt with a number of points in the American memorandum, including the suggestion that America should  have the right to build a new battleship of the 'Rodney' type. British opinion remains entirely opposed to the suggestion.  

 

Mr MacDonald asked M. Tardieu before he left for Paris at the week-end to prepare figures for insertion in the Table of global tonnage, and it is believed that this question  was the main subject under consideration at the meeting between the Prime Minister and the French Delegates yesterday afternoon. The French, it is understood, wish to have the right to build up to 724,000 tons by 1936.

 

The Japanese Delegation proposes  through its principal member Mr Wakatsuki, to issue, at what it considers to be  appropriate moment, a memorandum on the lines of the statements already issued by Great Britain and the United States. It will make it clear that Japan's attitude has not changed since the start of the Conference. She still asks for 70% of the cruiser tonnage required by Great Britain and by the United States. Her demands for 78.000 tons of submarines remains unaltered, and similarly there in no change in her other requirements. It is thought possible that Japan would be prepared to consider the division of the submarine category into two categories, large and small vessels, but she maintains that the question of a submarines radius of action does not enter into the discussion. It is pointed out that during WW1 Japanese submarines escorted Australian vessels to England and also acted as convoys in the Mediterranean. Japan resolved not to answer or reply to the U.S., proposals but gave latitude to their conference delegate Mr Wakatsuki to act as he saw fit: he took the Japanese Government line! However, history was created at this time, for an arrangement was made for him to talk direct to the Japanese people by radio. He went to the international hotel in Park Lane, the Dorchester [11th February 1930],  where his voice was beamed by short wave [HF = High Frequency] to Yokkaichi on the Japanese island of Honshu which was converted and simultaneously rebroadcasted on domestic Medium Wave radio to the peoples of Japan. It was a very successful experiment although the message conveyed did not auger well for the Conference outcome or for the oncoming WW2!

 

But, the foregoing was of 1930 time, and the Naval Conference had many obstacles to surmount resulting in many more Plenary Session yet to come, so let's fast forward to 1936 [yes, six laboured years ahead] when  not only the Conference Five Powers but others were prepared to [join in] all now involved willing to issue a statement which was thought to be absolutely waterproof and for the good of the worlds mercantile fleets, the very reason for convening the very first Plenary on the subject of the 1930 London Naval Conference. It was a long old pull, but this is what was issued and set in concrete{?} even by Germany, still not, because of their atrocities of WW1, a "Naval Power",  but yet materially a naval power by Third Reich arrogance at 'cocking a snook' against the bonafide "Five Powers"  again much to the fear and gross disappointment by many!

 

This was the announcement made on the 27th March 1936 - Note Bismarck's keel was laid down on the 1st July of that year!


From what follows you will note that the abandoning of submarines, well supported in the first Plenary's, had long been vetoed by an increasing number of nations, Japan in particular, friend and ally in WW1, but since her invasion and bestial atrocities on the Chinese mainland from the early 1930 factually recorded in such books as the 'Knights of the Bushido' and the 'Rape of Nanking', now viewed with great suspicion as being a nation on the path to total dominance, certainly of Asia, and who knows what would follow that. In several ways, the Japanese pre-WW2 actions were akin with German's actions, the latter honing Lutwaffe skills against the Internationalist during the Spanish Civil War, both having an insatiable appetite for blood by their respective entries into WW2.

 

SUBMARINE WARFARE

 

In his speech at the closing session of the Naval Conference, Lord Monsell announced that a protocol, embodying the rules contained in Part IV of the London Treaty of 1930, for the treatment of merchant ships by submarines in time of war, would shortly be signed by all the Washington Powers, without exception.   The Rules read as follows:-

The following are accepted as established rules of international law:-

[1]. In their action with regard to merchant ships, submarines must conform to the rules of  International Law to which surface vessels are subject.

[2]. In particular, except in the case of persistent refusal to stop on being duly summoned, or on active resistance to visit and search, a warship, whether surface vessel or submarine, may not sink or render incapable of navigation without having first placed passengers, crew, and ship's papers in a place of safety.  For this purpose the ship's boats are not regarded as a place of safety unless the safety of the passengers and crew  is assured, in the existing sea and weather conditions, by the proximity of land, or the presence of another vessel  which is in a position to take them onboard.

The negotiations for the conclusion of the Protocol are well advanced and their conclusion awaits decision on certain purely formal points of drafting. As soon as it has been signed by the Washington Powers, the accession to it by all the maritime Powers will be invited.

 

 THE SUBMARINE PROTOCOL

 

In continuation from above.

 

Under International Law as generally accepted up to 1915, men of war possessed in time of war the right to visit and search of merchant vessels and, if the results of that process justified it, the right of arrest pending the decision  of a Prize Court. If a merchant ship failed to stop when summoned or resisted visit and search, the man-of-war might use that degree of force necessary to overcome her resistance to search, but no greater degree. In certain exceptional circumstances the man-of-war might destroy the merchant vessel instead of sending her into port for prosecution, but only if all her occupants and the ship's papers were first removed to a place of safety.
It was always the contention of the British Government, and those which this country was allied with during the late war, that submarines were just as much bound by these rules as were warships of any other type;  British submarines always acted in accordance with them during the late war, when, as in the Baltic, they operated against enemy merchant ships.   Several attempts have been made to embody the rules in specific treaties applying to submarines, to which it was hoped that the adherence to all Powers would would be obtained in due course. They were embodied in the Washington Treaty No of 1922, which was signed by the United States, Japan, France, Italy, and the British Empire. But that treaty never came into force, not having been ratified by some of the signatories for the reason that, in addition to the submarine rules, it contained certain provisions dealing with chemical warfare which proved on examination not to be then acceptable. The rules were then engaged in Part IV of the London 1930 Conference and by that instrument are binding in perpetuity on the United States, Japan and the British Empire; but France and Italy, although in sympathy,  with this part of it, did not ratify the treaty as a whole, again for reasons unconnected from this subject.


Profiting by these experiences, the Powers that assembled at the Conference just concluded, have not attempted to tack the provision regulating the action of submarines, upon which there is general agreement, on to an instrument dealing with more controversial matters.  The subject as Lord Monsell said at the closing session on Wednesday, was therefore not treated as being before the Conference, and indeed could not be so treated after the withdrawal of Japan. The agreement will be contained in a separate Protocol , embodying the rules set out in Part IV of the London 1930, which will shortly be concluded by all the signatories of the Washington Treaty. They have already, as was announced by Mr Baldwin in opening the Conference last December, intimated their willingness to accede to it.  The German Government, too, in the conversation which culminated  in the conclusion of the Angle-German Naval Agreement of last June [1935], expressed its willingness to  subscribe to such an instrument. *


As soon as the form of Protocol is settled , it is to be signed by the Washington Powers, the accession to it by all other Powers will be invited, and there is every reason to expect that it will be generally accepted. If so, a notable advance in the application of the principles of civilisation will have been achieved.  Germany accepted it fully, without reservation, comment or argument!

 

*Of the three chief Axis Powers during WW2, the Italian's kept a naval low profile despite Mussolini's claim of Mare Nostrum [Latin for "our sea"] meaning the Mediterranean which his navy chiefs did their very best to hide from, so their submarines were inept if not hapless, and didn't get a chance to break the International Agreement of submarine hostile activity; the Japanese had opted out of the agreement so their bestiality was expected, leaving the German's who broke the Treaty from day one of the war and throughout prosecuted the war with total barbarism and debauched indifference just the same as they had done during WW1. A disgusting nation worthy only  of ridicule and hatred who lost two world wars, and rather than starting a third world war, formed a club called the European Union, designed specifically to make sure that Europeans would never again fight one another. No wonder they are leading protagonists of the EU for it protects them from yet a third defeat!

 

If you had a penny [1d] in 1936 you could have purchased a document published by HMSO as a White Paper [Cmd 5302] which was what is called a Procès-Verbal [in English simply meaning RECORD]. This is what British mercantile sailors, ship owners and maritime authorities per se, men of the sea who more than anybody else [any other nation] suffered the most from WW1 German submarine atrocities, read, and were mightily  pleased with what they read. But oh my God{!},  how wronged they were by the beast of the land called Germany!

 

The Procès-Verbal

 

Whereas as the Treaty for the Limitations and Reductions of Naval Armament signed in London on the 22nd April 1930 has not been ratified by all signatories;
and whereas the said Treaty will cease to be in force after December 31st 1936, with the exception of Part IV thereof which sets forth rules as to the action of submarines with regard to merchant ships as being established rules of International Law, and remains in Force without limit of time;
and whereas the last paragraph of Article 22 in the said Part IV states that the High Contracting Partners invite all other Powers to express their assent to the said rules;
and whereas the Governments of the French Republic and the Kingdom of Italy have confirmed their acceptance of the said rules resulting from the signature of the said Treaty;
and whereas all the signatories of the said Treaty desire that as great a number of Powers as possible should accept the rules  in the said Part IV as established rules of International Law;
The undersigned, representatives of their respective Governments, bearing in mind the the said article 22 of the Treaty, hereby request the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland forthwith to communicate the said rules as annexed hereto  to the Governments of all the Powers which are  not signatories to the said Treaty, with an invitation to accede thereto definitely and without limit of time

 

The Procès-Verbal is signed on behalf of;-

The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France, the United Kingdom, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan,  South Africa and India

 

In summary, this was written in the Times.

 

At the Foreign Office yesterday, the United States, France, Italy, Japan, and Members of the British Commonwealth of Nations, formally declared their acceptance of certain Rules of International Law the formulation of which was first undertaken when those same Powers were assembled in the Washington Conference of 1921. The delay in this consummation has not been due to any differences of opinion regarding the rules themselves; on the contrary,  all the present signatories have been in full agreement on the subject for twenty years, and so far as is known there is no Power today which does not share their agreement. It has been solely to endeavours misguided as they now appear, to obtain assent to other proposals which were still controversial.  Thus, there was no disagreement between the Allies of the late war, that under International Law, men-of-war possess no greater rights against merchant ships in time of war of those of visit and search and, if the results of the search justifies it, arrest pending decision of a Prize Court.
The rest of the script I have written above in some form or another.

 

It concludes by saying that had the Washington Conference of 1921 included only the submarine  vis-à-vis  merchant ships issue instead of adding other issues, there can be no doubt that it would have been ratified by all signatories and would have long ere now have been accepted by the rest of the world. But as it contained certain other provisions which did not then command general acceptance, it never came into force even between original signatories. The question was taken up again in 1930 and Part IV of the London Naval Treaty did consist of a simple definition of law. It too, if it had stood alone, would no doubt have come into force.  But it was part of a Treaty France and Italy could not accept as a whole and as such, share the fate of its predecessors. In effect the new Procès-Verbal re-enacts the substance of Part IV of the 1930 Conference by which the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom are already bound, as a separate instrument to which France and Italy are able to accede on its merits, without committing themselves to acceptance to other provisions. There is, so far as can be seen, no obstacle to its general acceptance by all maritime Powers, which is to be invited forthwith.  The difficulty in achieving issues which are even commonly agreeable to all parties, and it suggests that the British Government are well advised of seeking the extension of intricate business of naval agreements by the method of bilateral pacts rather than that of multilateral conferences

 

The British Government is to be congratulated on the patience and perseverance which have at last resulted in success.

 

Regrettably, we all know differently and that as in WW1, it was the British mercantile fleet which once again in WW2, was most affected by the inability of stopping Powers from cocking-a-snook even at so-called International Law.

 

 The office of the Registrar General of Shipping and Seamen calculated that 144,000 merchant seamen were serving aboard British registered merchant ships at the outbreak of World War II and that up to 185,000 men and women served in the Merchant Navy during the wartime.  36,749 seamen and women were lost by enemy action, 5,720 were taken prisoner and 4,707 were wounded, totaling 47,176 casualties, a minimum casualty rate of over 25 percent. Mr Gabe Thomas, the former Registrar General of Shipping and Seaman (Great Britain) stated that "27 percent of merchant seamen died through enemy action"

 

In WW1 -

In WW2 -

 

Here, I have to tell you

 
Good bye for now.