Keyes and Chatfield Memorandum to Beatty, 14 August, 1922

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Memorandum from Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff Keyes and Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff Chatfield, dated 14 August, 1922 and reproduced in The Beatty Papers Volume II, pp. 455-456.




1st. Sea Lord

The following opinion on the difficult question of the issue of this book is put forward for your consideration.

2. While not approving the tone in which this book is written. which is not suitable for what should be an expression of unbiassed technical opinion, nor in all respects with the criticism of the tactical ideas of the Commander-in-Chief, (eg: the criticism of the single line) we are in entire agreement with the main conclusions of the writer, both as regards:

(1) The failure of Lord Jellicoe to seize the great opportunity before him on the 31st May. and.

(2) His failure to make any disposition or give any instructions that would bring the enemy to action at dawn on the 1st June.

3. It is not considered however that any sufficient cause exists at the moment to justify the issue to the Fleet of a book that [456] would rend the Service to its foundations. To issue the book expurgated by D.T.S.D. would be equally unsatisfactory, as it would not be the true opinion of the present Naval Staff. To issue a half-hearted and obviously incomplete appreciation would be merely to mislead those serving, and would therefore fail in its main object. Further, however carefully it was worded, the composition of the present Naval Staff would cause it to be received with hostility and suspicion in certain quarters. Discussion in the Service and elsewhere would ensue, and we might then be compelled to defend an incomplete and half-hearted book which did not adequately express our personal convictions.

4. Nevertheless, although it is true that no vital need exists at the moment for drawing the unfortunate lessons learned from the action, we do not consider that the matter can be abandoned indefinitely. The Naval Staff have a duty to see that the causes of failure are analysed and not lost to posterity.

5. For the moment, war is not on the horizon, the Admiralty is in safe hands and those in command are likely to command our fleets in the near future, have their own war experience to guide them. But this will not always be so.

6. We therefore advise:—

(a) That no expurgated edition should be printed.

(b) That the book as written should not be issued at present; that all proofs should be recalled: that, say 6. copies be retained in the possession of the 1st Sea Lord's office, and the remainder destroyed.

(c) That steps be taken to see that the printers break up the type and do not retain any copies.

(d) That on your vacating the position of 1st Sea Lord, you should place the book in the hands of the C.I.D with a recommendation as to action according to the general situation at the time.