Negotiations in the Forth

Article XXI of the Armistice required the surrender of the entire German submarine fleet and a total of seventy four  ships, including ten named battleships, six named battlecruisers, eight named light cruisers and fifty modern torpedo-boat destroyers. These were to be interned in neutral ports, or failing them, allied ports. The Germans were warned that the Allies would seize Heligoland if the ships were not ready to sail by 18th November.

Admiral David Beatty, the Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet,  was given the task of organising the surrender and Rear Admiral Hugo Meurer was appointed by the German navy as their representative. 

Meurer left Wilhelmshaven aboard the light cruiser Königsberg on the 13th and was met by HMS Cardiff and her escorts and led into the Firth of Forth on the evening of the 15th. He was then transferred with his staff to HMS Queen Elizabeth to present himself to Admiral Beatty.

Admiral Meurer boarding HMS Queen Elizabeth

IWM Q19282

He had been accompanied on his journey by three representatives of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils but Beatty refused point blank to meet them.

Negotiations took place over the next two days, although they were negotiations in name only. Beatty effectively issued orders and expected them to be followed and Meurer was in no position to argue.

Admiral Beatty reading out the terms.

(A Tuck’s postcard from a painting by Sir John Lavery)

On the two days that the Konigsberg was in the Forth many people tried to see her but the fog was too thick. On the 16th Meurer was unable to leave his ship on time because of the fog and was two hours late for his meeting aboard Queen Elizabeth. (It sounds like one of those November fogs that we know well in Queensferry; when you can walk under the Forth Bridge and not see it!)

He returned to Germany on the 17th aboard the Königsberg.