On Our Scope

Also appearing in Proceedings ’ pages were the pointed Jutland opinions of civilian observers—including one whose brainchild is the subject of a tantalizing historical “what if.” In the years before World War I, inventor and businessman Arthur Pollen developed an analog fire-control computer for long-range gunnery, the Argo Clock. But the Royal Navy rejected it in favor of a cheaper system devised by Captain Frederic Dreyer, a protégé of future Grand Fleet commander John Jellicoe. Whether or not the Argo Clock would have improved poor British gunnery at Jutland is a hot topic among historians.

During the war, Pollen turned to journalism, becoming the naval writer for Land and Water magazine. It’s no surprise that Jellicoe, who’d played a role in the clock’s rejection, was a frequent target of his criticism and that Pollen championed that admiral’s rival, Vice Admiral David Beatty. He’s the hero of Pollen’s initial account of Jutland, which appeared in the July–August 1916 Proceedings .

Shortly thereafter the writer caught wind of U.S. Captain William Sims criticizing Beatty for risking his battlecruisers at Jutland. Pollen’s Land and Water response, reprinted in Proceedings’ November–December issue, belittled the captain’s observations, stating that they “illustrate . . . the astonishing difference between the point of view of those who only talk and reason about war, and of those who are faced with its realities.”

Some six months later—by which time Sims was facing those realities as a vice admiral in command of U.S. naval forces operating from British ports and Pollen was actively campaigning for Jellicoe’s removal as First Sea Lord—the writer had a chance to drive home his points at a London dinner party. Ethel Beatty recounted the evening in a letter to her husband, the admiral: “I talked to Pollen and he says in another two months Jellicoe will go [he would be sacked seven months later]. . . . The American admiral [Sims] was there. . . . Pollen had been putting him right about the battle of Jutland.”

Richard G. Latture


The Naval History staff is pleased to announce that the magazine’s 2015 Author of the Year is Vice Admiral Robert F. Dunn, USN (Ret.), for his December article, “Navy Air Strike: North Vietnam,” and his assistance with that issue’s special gatefold, “122 Days on Yankee Station.” Proceedings ’ Author of the Year is Lieutenant Commander Brian Smicklas, USCG, and Vincent P. O’Hara was selected as the Naval Institute Press Author of the Year.



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