Conference | The First World War at Sea: Conflict, Culture and Commemoration

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Essential information

Date and time: 
Thursday to Saturday, 8-10 November 2018
£150 | £120 - seniors, students and Members | £75 - speakers
National Maritime Museum
Talks & courses

Focused on both naval and mercantile marine contexts, the conference will place the experience of the maritime war within the historical settings of the years preceding and following the conflict. Conference themes will provide a forum for interdisciplinary research and new perspectives on the subject.

Keynote speakers

Professors Andrew Lambert, King’s College London; Jan Rüger, Birkbeck, University of London and Matthew Seligmann, Brunel, University of London.

This conference is held in partnership with Gateways to the First World War, an Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded centre for public engagement with the First World War Centenary.

What should I expect?

The conference fee includes refreshments and lunch on all three days as well as a reception on Thursday evening.


  • Global contexts of commemoration

The memorialisation of African, Asian and Caribbean seamen after WWI; Commemorating WWI in a neutral country; The Battle of the Coronel

  • Strategy and Power Projection

German Naval Policy during the Great War; Lessons in modern power projection

  • Social histories

African and Arab merchant seamen interned in Germany during the Great War; Lascar seafarers in the First World War; The Mixed Crews of Portugal and Britain

  • War and culture: journalism

The First World War at Sea in the fiction of a British Boys’ magazine; British Newspapers and the Battle of Jutland; the story of the Dreadnought in The War Illustrated, 1914-1918


  • The naval war: lessons learned

Reflection, Ritual, and Innovation: The Jutland War Game and the Interwar Education of Navy Leaders at the Naval War College; The Great War at Sea: The Search for Meaning

  • The non-British maritime war

Submarine attacks, shipwrecked people and Allied Navy pressures. Argentina impossible neutrality during WWI; Otranto: The Adriatic Sea as a Battlefield in World War I and the Hungarian Remembrance of the Battles of the Strait of Otranto; The Strait of Messina during the First World War

  • Naval archaeology and material legacies of the war

Cromarty Firth – ‘a great war harbour’; Commemorating the War at Sea: 1914–18 U-boat Project; Where history and archaeology diverge: the German submarine war through official history and U-boat wrecks today

  • Gender and the maritime war

The Women’s Royal Naval Service Old Comrades Association, 1919–39; Seafaring laundresses in WWI; When Women Join the U.S. Navy


  • British contexts of commemoration

Remembering Sailors and Airmen of the First World War; The Imperial War Graves Commission and the War at Sea; The Significance of the Manning Port Memorials; Royal and merchant navy memorials of the First World War

  • War and culture: literature

The Great War at Sea in children's books and magazines, 1914-1935; German Inter-war Literature and the First World War at Sea; How advertisers sold everything from toothpaste to ladies’ garters, using images of the Royal Navy, 1914-1918

  • Challenges to institutional practices

Temporary Admiralty offices in the First World War, bombing, and the geography of naval administration; Converting the British Royal Navy from Coal to Oil and Its Impact on Eurasian Geopolitics and Naval Warfare, 1911-1918

Full programme

The outline above gives a flavour of the conference, which includes parallel sessions throughout the three days. Please see here for the full programme, and please note this is a draft version and subject to change.

FileThe First World War at Sea - Abstracts

Banner image: Converting the SS 'Naneric' into an Armed Cruiser by John Everett