22 July 1915 – Home Defence

The current approach to home defence is arbitrarily divided between the Admiralty and the War Office is helping no one. The system is dogged by all the evils of divided control—indecision, lack of co-ordination, conflict of purpose and of policy. The Admiralty never fully took full charge of the situation as they hoped it was temporary. There was no properly worked-out scheme for the air defence of the country, nor did the naval staff have much faith in the aeroplane as an attacking weapon against night-flying airships (which with existing technology was not unreasonable). The War Office never departed from the principle that home defence, by land or by air, was an army responsibility, and they watched the Admiralty with the critical eye.

In May 1915, the Admiralty decided to ask the War Office to relieve them of the responsibility for home air defence and the request was formally put forward on the 18 June. The ultimate decision was a matter for the Government, but meanwhile representa- tives of the two departments met to explore the problems of a possible transfer.

The War Office representatives were reluctant to accept the responsibility with no early prospect of having the material and personnel to discharge it efficiently. At the second of two conferences, in July 1915, it was stated, on behalf of the War Office, that if no fresh calls were made on the Royal Flying Corps the army might be in a position to meet home defence air requirements about January 1916, but the War Office representatives could express no opinion on the question of taking over anti-aircraft armament.

As a result the situation did not change.


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