HC Deb 18 February 1920 vol 125 cc870-1
22. Viscount CURZON

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can state when the official Naval History of the War and official account of the battle of Jutland will be published; whether the Admiralty have any German official accounts of the battle of Jutland: and, if so, whether they can also be published?

32. Rear-Admiral ADAIR

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether satisfactory progress is being made in compiling the history of the battle of Jutland; whether any despatches of the German Admiral Von Scheer are being utilised to check the information available from our own official despatches and records; whether any other information has been acquired from German sources as to the demoralising effect of the battle on the German navy; and whether the services of the officer selected by the Admiralty to collate the facts as to the battle are such as to render him thoroughly competent to deal with the task?


I understand that the first volume of the Naval History of the War, which is being compiled under the directions of the Committee of Imperial Defence, will be issued in about a month. The official narrative of the battle of Jutland will, I hope, be published shortly afterwards. The Admiralty are in possession of a report by Admiral von Scheer, the German Commander-in-Chief, on the battle, and have decided to publish it as an appendix to the official narrative. This report has been utilised to check the information available from our own records. There is a large amount of information, which is constantly being added to, which goes to show that the morale of the German fleet was very seriously shaken. As regards the last part of Question No. 32, I am grateful to my hon. and gallant Friend for giving me the opportunity to defend an officer who, in my opinion, has been most unfairly attacked. The preparation of the official account consists to a large extent in plotting the movements of the ships engaged, from a great mass of evidence available. For this work Captain Harper is admirably qualified, being a navigating officer of the highest standing, besides having hail staff experience afloat during the War.

Viscount CURZON

Would the right hon. Gentleman's remarks also apply to his assistants?


Obviously, as regards staff experience, I cannot apply my remarks to all his assistants, but as to their fitness and their claim to be released from this form of attack, I think their case is identical.

Commander BELLAIRS

Can my right hon. Friend say in what way Captain Harper has been most unfairly attacked, and where anybody has said that he is not fully qualified to produce a narrative of the battle of Jutland! This is not a substitute for a War staff report?


There may be a question of interpretation. I should be the last person to desire to interpret the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but certain statements were brought to my notice which Captain Harper felt very much indeed. I considered that they did not reflect upon him, and I said so.


Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange that hon. Members of this House do not write books before they know?

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