The convoy system in World War I involved organizing ships into large groups under the protection of armed naval vessels to provide better defense and countermeasures against German U-boat attacks. The ships protected were usually civilian merchant vessels, military supply ships and troop transports. Warships, such as destroyers, cruisers and torpedo boats, were used for convoy protection. They also sometimes deployed aerial reconnaissance to spot potential underwater U-boat movement.Continue Reading
German U-Boats were highly successful during the early years of World War I in disrupting the Allies' maritime supply lines. The armed submarines would emerge from under the sea, torpedo an unsuspecting vessel by surprise and then slink back under the surface without worry of retaliation. These tactics caused major damage to the Allies' war effort by targeting both combatant and neutral vessels. Losses for the Allies mounted to over 25 percent of shipping vessels.
The British admiralty was at first extremely reluctant to commit to convoy tactics, arguing that warships would be put to better use elsewhere. However, the successful use of convoys in protecting French coal shipments eventually convinced them otherwise. In less than a month, shipping losses dropped from over 25 percent to less than 1 percent thanks to convoy tactics.
Variations on the convoy system have been used by many nations in naval conflicts since the tactic's widespread use during World War II.Learn more about World War 1
Although the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand is cited as the main cause that thrust the world into war, many causes and events led up to World War I. Some of the secondary causes include the mutual defense alliances in place at the time, nationalism, imperialism and militarism.Full Answer >
World War I was considered a total war because all of the population of the main nations involved were called into service in one way or another. Even women, who typically were not involved in war, were responsible for growing food supplies and working in artillery factories.Full Answer >
The major combatants in World War I were the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria and the Ottoman Empire versus the Allied Forces of Great Britain, France, the United States, Russia, Italy and Japan. In addition, nearly 20 other countries and several colonies joined the conflict.Full Answer >
World War I arguably began in Sarajevo, as the proximate cause of the conflict was the assassination of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian nationalist. The killing exacerbated the existing tensions between Austria and Serbia, leading to the first declaration of war.Full Answer >