Jellicoe, Sir John

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Jellicoe, Sir John (1859–1935). Admiral. As commander-in-chief of the Grand Fleet until December 1916, Jellicoe knew that a single wrong decision could cost Britain the war by losing command of the seas. Confronted by a growing threat to his battleships from German mines and submarines, he was determined not to risk his ships unless he was certain of destroying the German high seas fleet. His handling of the Grand Fleet at Jutland was marked by excessive caution and he forfeited any chance of decisively defeating the Germans. He was a tired man in December 1916 when he was transferred to the Admiralty as 1st sea lord. Jellicoe lacked the political skills necessary to prosper in Whitehall. His natural pessimism, coupled with a reluctance to employ convoys to counter the German U-boat offensive against allied merchant shipping, cost him Lloyd George's confidence. He was dismissed in December 1917, and received his earldom, rather belatedly, in 1925.

David French

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