I’ve just finished reading Anne Perry’s five-book WWI series. It begins just as the war begins, with a locked-room mystery at Oxford. Book 2 is set in 1915, and so on. All of the novels are diverting enough, and No. 2, “Shoulder the Sky” has a crackerjack ending as one of the two brothers returns from Gallipoli and meets with a U-boat.
But No. 3, “Angels in the Gloom,” is just terrific. The hunt for a spy who may have killed a brilliant scientist and a mock flirtation with a beautiful Irish radical leads to one of the brothers trying to pass as a sailor and winding up at the Battle of Jutland. Perry’s descriptions are awesome — how the devil did any ship see to sink any other in the smoke and splashing of shells? The battle, in the North Sea off Denmark, began at 4:30 on May 31 and went on till nightfall, about 10 o’clock.
The battle pitted the British Grand Fleet against the German High Seas Fleet. It involved 250 ships and 100,000 men. By the time the fighting broke off, the British had lost 6,784 men and the Germans 3,058. The British lost 15 ships to the Germans’ 10, but the High Seas Fleet had many more ships that were badly damaged and basically was out of the war. From then on, Germany did its fighting on the sea via submarines.