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 Independent Scholar


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.</span><span>1 </span> <span>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.