4.3 A war at sea

People mainly focus on the First World War being fought in the trenches on the Western Front. But a very important war was also being fought at sea off the coast of the UK and into the North Sea and the Atlantic. The films on this page show snapshots of this war at sea.

1 MIN 32 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1915

The film begins with various shots of the passenger liner RMS Lusitania setting sail from New York.

We see passengers playing games on the deck of the ship.

We then see panic aboard ship. Given the next caption, this must be a reconstruction: No photographic record of the actual sinking exists but the following scenes show the wreckage on the Irish coast and a few of the more fortunate of the survivors.


1 MIN 24 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

Footage of the German navy sinking ships during the First World War. We see German sailors manning the gun of a U-boat and firing on a vessel, which sinks stern-first. We then see what appears to be another ship sinking in the same fashion.



1 MIN 08 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

A film demonstrating how aeroplanes can be used in the war at sea. A plane releases a large amount of smoke, which descends to engulf a warship. The ship is then sunk after a series of explosions.



2 MINS 11 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

This film shows a warship ploughing through the water. It fires a gun from amidships. We see splashes in the water, followed by the launching of two torpedoes from a ship's torpedo tube. After the conning tower of a U-boat disappears beneath the surface, a ship drops depth charges into the water, which explode in its wake. The scene then shifts to an aerial attack on a warship with some dramatic footage of bombs dropping and the wounded vessel overturning. The final scene features three warships firing salvos, creating a large amount of smoke.



1 MIN 40 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

This film uses a football match as a metaphor for the war at sea between the Germans and the British. It shows 'The Hun Team', 'The British Team', and 'The Game In Our Shipyards'.

All rights reserved. Use of footage from this site requires a licence.

Your download will start shortly, please do not navigate away from this page until the download prompt has appeared. Doing so may cause your download to be interrupted.