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Since 1897 Germany had been building up her Imperial Navy. The cost in taxes to the German people was high, but the Emperor Kaiser Wilhelm II and Admiral von Tirpitz told them that a stronger navy was essential to defend the country. Britain soon saw the danger to her own sea power and in 1904 Admiral Sir John Fisher became First Sea Lord in charge of the British Royal Navy. He reorganized the navy by scrapping over 150 old ships, moving more ships into the North Sea and introducing a revolutionary new battleship, HMS ‘Dreadnought’, in 1906. This new battleship made every other battleship in the world out of date. She carried ten 12-inch guns and had a speed of 21 knots. Building battleships was costing great sums of money and so, in 1909, a naval pageant was arranged. The Home and Atlantic Fleets took up their station in the Thames, from Westminster to the Nore, from July 17th to July 24th. “in order to give the people of London an opportunity of seeing and visiting that bulwark of their security, of which they hear and read so much, and for the upkeep of which they are required to contribute”. There were 150 ships of war, stretching down a waterway of fifty miles. Towards Westminster were the smaller craft, such as submarines and torpedo boats, and the size of vessels gradually increased as the river widened eastward into the estuary. Off Southend, for exanple, were stationed the giant ‘Dreadnought’ and her three companion ships, the ‘Superb’, ‘Bellerophon’ and ‘Temeraire’. The ILN published a
‘Naval Display’

double number on the inauguration day, July 17th, to celebrate this maritime event. (Appendix list no. 49). It contains illustrations of vessels representative of every class of warship to be seen on the Thames, a history of the British Navy, the Thames in the history of the Navy and dozens of other pictures of fighting ships and their amour. The cover of this number, in red, white and blue, shows the flagship of the Home Fleet, the ‘Dreadnought’, ploughing through the waves escorted by two of her sister battleships. Standing dramatically to the left is a flagstaff with the White Ensign flying aloft and lying along the bottom of the design is the crossed over flag rope. This issue is number 3665, vol. 135 (pages 69-116) measures 30 x 42 cm and was priced at one shilling.

 

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