5 MAY 1939, Page 6


IF I said—as I do say—that a man had died in the past week but for whom the Allies might have lost the Great War, many readers, I fancy, would be hard put to it to decide whom I meant. I mean the man who saved our shipping in 1917. In that year the German submarine had all but settled the issue. jellicoe gave an almost desperate report to the War Cabinet. Admiral Sims cabled home to America " I consider that at the present moment we are losing the War," owing to the success of the submarine cam- paign. All this time there was a young officer, of the rank of commander, at the Admiralty, who was convinced that the convoy system could save the situation. Everyone was against him. Lord jellicoe had a dozen reasons why the system was impossible. But the young officer never faltered. So far as his limited authority permitted he worked out plans for convoy. He got into unofficial touch with men high up in the Ministry of Shipping. They got in touch with General Smuts, then a member of the War Cabinet, and through him with the Prime Minister. The proposal was discussed ; jellicoe was prevailed on to give the system a trial ; the sink- ings, which had risen to no less than 25 per cent. of the ships bound to and from British ports, grew fewer ; ship-con- struction began to overtake ship-destruction ; the submarine was defeated. The young officer was given a modest C.B. at the end of the War ; ultimately he rose to be Third Sea Lord, and he died as Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson, K.C.B., on Tuesday of this week.

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