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Bayly's War (Hardback)

The Battle for the Western Approaches in the First World War

WWI Seaforth Naval

By Steve R. Dunn
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 304
ISBN: 9781526701237
Published: 22nd January 2018


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Colin Grazier lecture attracts history fans

Steve Dunn gives Colin Grazier Memorial Lecture part of the Tamworth Literary Festival

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Bayly’s War is the story of the Royal Navy’s Coast of Ireland Command (later named Western Approaches Command) during World War One.

Britain was particularly vulnerable to the disruption of trade in the Western Approaches through which food and munitions (and later soldiers) from North America and the Caribbean and ores and raw materials from the Southern Americas, all passed on their way to Liverpool or the Channel ports and London. After the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915 and the introduction of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans, Britain found herself engaged in a fight for survival as U-boats targeted all incoming trade in an attempt to drive her into submission. Britain’s naval forces, based in Queenstown on the southern Irish coast, fought a long and arduous battle to keep the seaways open, and it was only one they began to master after American naval forces joined in 1917.

Vice-Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly was the man appointed to the Coast of Ireland Command. A fierce disciplinarian with a mania for efficiency, and thought by some of his colleagues to be more than a little mad, Bayly took the fight to the enemy. Utilising any vessel he could muster – trawlers, tugs, yachts – as well as the few naval craft at his disposal, he set out to hunt down the enemy submarines. The command also swept for mines, escorted merchantmen and fought endlessly against the harsh Atlantic weather. Relief came When America sent destroyers to Queenstown to serve under him, and Bayly, to the surprise of many, integrated the command into a homogenous fighting force.

Along the way, the Command had to deal with the ambivalent attitude of the Irish population, the 1916 Easter Rising, the attempt to land arms on Ireland’s west coast and the resurgence of Irish nationalism in 1917.

Bayly’s War is a vivid account of this vigorous defence of Britain’s trade and brings to life the U-boat battles, Q-ship actions, merchant ship sinkings and rescues as well as the tireless Bayly, the commander at the centre.

The WWII Battle of the Atlantic has received much more coverage than the WWI Battle of the Atlantic. This new book gives a comprehensive coverage to the subject of the WWI anti-submarine warfare with fresh insight – Strongly Recommended.

Read the complete review here.


This is a fascinating narrative of a vital but too much neglected aspect of our fight for national survival - well researched, well ordered and well presented, with an interesting collection of contemporary photographs.

Robert Griffiths, Amazon

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About Steve R. Dunn

STEVE DUNN has a special interest in the Royal Navy of the late Victorian, Edwardian and First World War eras. His books include biographies of Admirals Cradock (The Scapegoat) and Troubridge (The Coward?) and the story of the first British battleship, Formidable, to be sunk by a torpedo. He lives in Worcestershire and southwest France.

Steve Dunn was nominated for the Maritime Foundation’s Mountbatten Maritime Award for Best Literary Contribution for their book 'Blockade: Cruiser Warfare and the Starvation of Germany in World War One'.

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