Evasion or Enforcement – the complexity of the Blockade revisited: The bona fides of the Lavino Company across three continents in 1916

Stephen W.A. Cobb


The 10th Cruiser Squadron in the northern waters between Scotland and Iceland was the physical embodiment of the British blockade of Germany from 1914-17. The real work of the blockade, however, would always take place in Whitehall for it was simply impossible for a boarding officer at sea to know anything of the bona fides of a ship’s cargo without significant intelligence analysis and desk research.1 This article considers the global reach and complexity of these investigations as it relates to a year-long inquiry by British officials into the bona fides of one company in Philadelphia. Spanning three continents, the worldwide business dealings of E. J. LAVINO & Co. are investigated and the means by which the Ministry of Blockade operated are laid bare. 

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