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Title: A True Account of the Battle of Jutland, May 31, 1916
Author: Frothingham, Thomas Goddard
Language: English
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MAY 31, 1916



Captain, U. S. R.

Author of
_A Guide to the Military History of
The World War

Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bacon & Brown

Copyright, Bacon & Brown


The following is an account of the essential facts of the Battle of
Jutland, amplified from the review in the author’s book, _A Guide to
the Military History of The World War, 1914-1918_, published this year
by Little, Brown & Co. This gives a greatly needed description of the
events of the naval action, with the forces of both sides placed in
true relation, one to the other.

No previously published account had contained an adequate treatment of
the manœuvres of both fleets, as certain important events of the action
were not understood, and it had been assumed that situations existed
for which there was no foundation in fact. All this has resulted in a
mass of confused and erroneous narratives--and the Battle of Jutland
has become one of the most misunderstood actions in history.

The British Admiralty has announced that an official record of the
Battle of Jutland would not be given out. Instead of this, the official
dispatches covering the action have been issued in the form of a
Blue-book. The publication of these documents does not help to solve
many vexed questions--and the need is all the more evident of a
trustworthy account of the action.

The reader may feel sure that the real course of the great naval battle
has been traced in the present version, and that the facts here given
have been established beyond dispute. In this way a reliable basis has
been provided for reading narratives of the action, for studying the
details of its varying fortunes--and for correcting many erroneous
impressions which have been current.

A portion of the text was published in the Boston Evening _Transcript_
of October 9, 1920. Two of the charts have been reproduced from _A
Guide to the Military History of The World War_, and the thanks of the
author are given to Messrs. Little, Brown & Co. for their courtesy in
allowing use of the text of the book.


  Table I. The British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland          6

  Table II. The German High Seas Fleet at the Battle of Jutland      7


  Chart showing the Battle of Jutland, in relation to the
  surroundings on the North Sea                                      9

  Chart No. 1. Typical British Chart, of the later manœuvres
  of the action which are in dispute                                31

  Chart No. 2. The Battle of Jutland                    facing      54

  Chart No. 2 is so placed that it can be opened
  outside the pages for use as the text is being read.


MAY 31, 1916

  Authorities quoted in the text are indicated as follows: Admiral
  Jellicoe (J), Vice Admiral Beatty (B), Admiral Scheer (S).

The Battle of Jutland has been made a matter of bitter controversy, and
accounts of the action have been so molded to fit partisan theories
that the actual events have become obscured. Yet these events can now
be determined through means that were never before available in the
case of a great naval battle. Both commanders have published their
detailed accounts, and there is no longer any reason for uncertainty as
to the essentials of the action. Many of the tales from Germany were
obviously untrue, but Admiral Scheer, the German Commander-in-Chief,
has given a straightforward story of the battle which supplements the
version of Admiral Jellicoe, the British Commander-in-Chief.

When the wide field of operations is taken into account, the two
narratives of the rival commanders agree to a surprising extent as to
the events of the early stages of the action. The engagement between
the two advanced forces, the advent of the German High Seas Fleet, and
the running fight to meet the British Grand Fleet, are related in
confirmation of Lord Jellicoe’s report, and of the account in his book.
Concerning the events of these first phases of the battle the various
British narratives also practically agree.

Most of the differences and controversies relate to the ensuing stages.
Concerning these events of the latter part of the action Admiral Scheer
supplies much needed data, throwing new light upon manœuvres which
had not been understood by the British--and no narrative has yet been
published which covers this ground.

To understand the battle, it is necessary to remember that it had
become the custom of the British fleet to leave its safeguarded bases
in the north of the British Isles and make periodical sweeps through
the North Sea. The Admiralty had ordered the Grand Fleet to begin such
a sweep on May 30.[1] At the beginning of his Report of the battle
Admiral Jellicoe thus describes the situation:

    [1] “In accordance with instructions contained in their Lordship’s
        telegram, No. 434, of 30th May, code time 1740, the Grand Fleet
        proceeded to sea on 30th May, 1916.” (J)

“The Ships of the Grand Fleet, in pursuance of the general policy
of periodical sweeps through the North Sea, had left its base on
the previous day in accordance with instructions issued by me. In
the early afternoon of Wednesday, May 31, the 1st and 2nd Battle
Cruiser Squadrons, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Light Cruiser Squadrons, and
destroyers from the 1st, 9th, and 13th Flotillas, supported by the
Fifth Battle Squadron, were, in accordance with my directions, scouting
to the southward of the Battle Fleet.” (J)

On May 31 the German High Seas Fleet was also on the North Sea. There
had been an insistent demand from the German people for activity on
the part of the battle fleet. In response, the new Commander-in-Chief,
Admiral Scheer, had taken his battleships to sea at times. This
change of tactics was a demonstration deliberately planned for effect
in Germany, but Admiral Scheer had taken great pains to improve the
efficiency of his command, and on that day he had with him all the
strength he could muster, even including the available predreadnoughts.
He was thus prepared to fight, if he could manœuvre to engage the
British fleet in part or under conditions advantageous for the Germans.
This sortie of May 31 brought on the Battle of Jutland.

For some time after the action there were tales of other
objectives,--to cover the escape of raiders, to get ships out of the
Baltic, etc. Even Lord Jellicoe indulged in theories as to the object
of the German sortie and the movements that led to the engagement. This
question has been ended by Admiral Scheer’s account of his definite
order of May 18, 1916, for a raid on the east coast of England at
Sunderland, including the dispositions of U-boats. Such a raid “would
be certain to call out a display of English fighting forces as promised
by Mr. Balfour.” (S) After a delay on account of bad weather, this plan
was modified in the operation of May 31, off the Skagerrak--and it was
carried out with the hope, frankly expressed by the German Admiral,
that his enemy “would afford us an opportunity to engage part or the
whole of his fleet in battle under conditions favorable to ourselves.”
(S) This situation tended to bring on a naval action, especially as the
Admiralty telegram gave the intimation that German naval forces would
be out.

The opposing fleets in the Battle of Jutland were as follows:

1. An advance British force under Vice Admiral Beatty, consisting of
six battle cruisers (four _Lions_ of 28 knots speed, each carrying
eight 13.5-inch guns, and two _Indefatigables_ of 25 knots speed, each
carrying eight 12-inch guns), supported by the Fifth Battle Squadron,
under Rear Admiral Evan-Thomas (four 25-knot battleships of the _Queen
Elizabeth_ class, each carrying eight 15-inch guns, _Barham_ (F),
_Valiant_, _Malaya_, _Warspite_).

The fleet speed of this advance force was 25 knots.

2. The main body of the British Grand Fleet, under Admiral Jellicoe,
flying his flag in the _Iron Duke_, consisting of a fast wing under
Rear Admiral Hood (three 26-knot battle cruisers of _Invincible_ class,
each carrying eight 12-inch guns), a division of four armored cruisers
under Rear Admiral Arbuthnot, and twenty-four dreadnoughts in three
squadrons commanded by Vice Admirals Burney, Jerram, and Sturdee.

The fleet speed of this main body was 20 knots, and its formidable
armament will be found in Table I.

3. Twenty-five light cruisers, and seventy-eight destroyers, “47 with
the Battle Fleet, 31 with Battle Cruisers.” (J)

The German strength comprised:

1. An advance force under Vice Admiral Hipper, consisting of five
battle cruisers (three _Derfflingers_ of 28 knots speed, each carrying
eight 12-inch guns, and two _Moltkes_ of 27 knots speed, each carrying
ten 11-inch guns).

The fleet speed of this advance force was 27 knots.




        1 Div.                  2 Div.             3 Div.      ^
  [3]KING GEORGE V (F)    [4]ORION (F)       [2]IRON DUKE (FF) ^
     10 13.5-inch            10 13.5-inch       10 13.5-inch   ^

     AJAX                    MONARCH            ROYAL OAK
     10 13.5-inch            10 13.5-inch        8 15-inch

     CENTURION               CONQUEROR       [5]SUPERB (F)
     10 13.5-inch            10 13.5-inch       10 12-inch

     ERIN                    THUNDERER          CANADA
     10 13.5-inch            10 13.5-inch       10 14-inch

        4 Div.                  5 Div.             6 Div.
  [6]BENBOW (F)           [7]COLOSSUS (F)    [8]MARLBOROUGH (F)
     10 13.5-inch            12 12-inch         10 13.5-inch

     10 12-inch              10 12-inch          8 15-inch

     TEMERAIRE               NEPTUNE            HERCULES
     10 12-inch              10 12-inch         10 12-inch

     VANGUARD                ST. VINCENT        AGINCOURT
     10 12-inch              10 12-inch         14 12-inch

    [2] Fleet Flagship--Flag of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe,

    [3] Flagship of Vice Admiral Sir W. Jerram, Commanding 2nd
        Battle Squadron.

    [4] Flagship of Rear Admiral A. C. Leveson, Rear Admiral in
        2nd Battle Squadron.

    [5] Flagship of Rear Admiral A. L. Duff, Rear Admiral in 4th
        Battle Squadron.

    [6] Flagship of Vice Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, Commanding
        4th Battle Squadron.

    [7] Flagship of Rear Admiral E. F. A. Gaunt, Rear Admiral in
        1st Battle Squadron.

    [8] Flagship of Vice Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, Commanding 1st
        Battle Squadron and second in command of the Grand Fleet.




 <<<<   Squadron III              Squadron I            Squadron II

  [12]KÖNIG (F)             [10]OSTFRIESLAND (F)  [11]DEUTSCHLAND (F)
        10 12-inch                12 12-inch            4 11-inch

        10 12-inch                12 12-inch            4 11-inch

      MARKGRAF                  HELGOLAND             SCHLESIEN
        10 12-inch                12 12-inch            4 11-inch

      KRONPRINZ                 OLDENBURG             SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN
        10 12-inch                12 12-inch            4 11-inch

  [13]KAISER (F)            [14]POSEN (F)         [15]HANNOVER (F)
        10 12-inch                12 11-inch            4 11-inch

        10 12-inch                12 11-inch            4 11-inch

      KAISERIN                  NASSAU
        10 12-inch                12 11-inch

           ----                 WESTFALEN
                                  12 11-inch
        10 12-inch

    [9] Fleet Flagship--Flag of Admiral Scheer,

   [10] Flagship of Vice Admiral Schmidt commanding Squadron I.

   [11] Flagship of Rear Admiral Mauve commanding Squadron II.

   [12] Flagship of Rear Admiral Behnke commanding Squadron III.

   [13] Flagship of Rear Admiral Nordmann.

   [14] Flagship of Rear Admiral Engelhardt.

   [15] Flagship of Rear Admiral Lichtenfels.

2. The main body of the German High Seas Fleet, under Admiral Scheer,
consisting of sixteen dreadnoughts [“_König Albert_ absent” (S)] and
six predreadnought battleships.

The fleet speed of this main body was 17 knots, because the German
dreadnoughts had been eked out with predreadnought battleships of less
speed. Its less powerful armament will be found in Table II.

3. Eleven light cruisers and about seventy-eight destroyers, divided
between the advance force and the main body. (Admiral Jellicoe gives
the Germans eighty-eight destroyers, but it is known that all were not
in action.)

The above-described make-up of the opposing fleets must be kept in
mind, when studying the course of the action. The day of the battle
was cloudy, but the sun shone through the clouds most of the time. At
no time was there anything approaching a sea. Visibility was reported
as good in the first stages of the action, but later in the afternoon,
there being little wind, mist and smoke hung heavy over the surface of
the sea. These conditions must also be remembered, as the increasing
mist had a great influence on the course of the action.

The following outline will bring the action to the stage at which
detailed comment should begin.

[Illustration: From _A Guide to the Military History of The World War,

Chart showing the Battle of Jutland, in relation to the surroundings
on the North Sea. (1) The Battle Field, May 31, 1916. (2) Position of
British Fleet “at about 2.47 A.M.,” (J) June 1, 1916. (This chart is
diagrammatic only.)]

In the sweep through the North Sea, with the main body of the British
Grand Fleet some seventy miles distant, Vice Admiral Beatty’s advance
force was cruising to southward of Admiral Jellicoe May 31, 1916,
when, at 2.20 P.M., the presence of enemy ships was reported by a
light cruiser. Admiral Beatty altered course “to the eastward and
subsequently to northeastward, the enemy being sighted at 3.31 P.M.
Their force consisted of five battle cruisers.” (B) This was the German
advance under Vice Admiral Hipper.

It is stated in Vice Admiral Beatty’s report that it was over an hour
after the first news of the vicinity of enemy ships before he increased
speed to 25 knots to engage, “at 3.30 P.M.” (B) Yet Vice Admiral Beatty
reports that Rear Admiral Evan-Thomas’s Fifth Battle Squadron (the
four _Queen Elizabeths_) was still 10,000 yards away when he made this
move to engage the Germans with his battle cruisers. Consequently Vice
Admiral Beatty failed to impose his whole strength upon his enemy’s
detached force.

It is hard to explain this situation except by believing that Vice
Admiral Beatty was confident that his six battle cruisers alone would
be able to cope with the enemy. Allowing his force to remain divided by
such an interval was unfortunate, and it cannot be said that the best
use was made of the British advance force in the first stage of the

At 3.48 “the action commenced at a range of 18,500 yards, both sides
opening fire practically simultaneously.” (B) The British battle
cruisers fought on a course curving to the southeast, and then on a
south-southeast course, and the five German battle cruisers fought
them on a parallel course, instead of edging away from the superior
British force. It is now easy to see that the trend of the action was
absolutely in the direction of the approaching main body of the German
High Seas Fleet, but this, very naturally, was not apparent at the time
to Vice Admiral Beatty.

The first phase of the battle may properly be studied as a fight
between the British and German battle cruisers, in consequence of the
before-stated gap separating the two parts of Admiral Beatty’s command.
This interval of 10,000 yards prevented the Fifth Battle Squadron of
_Queen Elizabeth_ dreadnoughts from being a factor at the time. Vice
Admiral Beatty reports that this squadron “opened fire at a range
of 20,000 yards,” and he continues: “The Fifth Battle Squadron was
engaging the enemy’s rear ships, unfortunately at very long range.”
Only two of the German ships were really under fire from the Fifth
Battle Squadron, and these two battle cruisers were but slightly
injured in the run to the south.

In this part of the action came the first of the many upsets of
prewar calculations. Comparing the given strength of the two opposing
squadrons in action, it will be seen that the British battle cruisers
were greatly superior; in fact, the odds would have been considered
prohibitive before this battle. Yet it was the British squadron that
suffered, losing one-third of its ships. “At about 4.06” (J) the
_Indefatigable_ was sunk, and “at about 4.26” (J) the _Queen Mary_ met
the same fate. In each case there was a great explosion up through
the turrets, suggesting that a weak turret construction is really a
dangerous conductor of fire to the magazine in case of a heavy hit, and
pointing to the need of better separation of the supply of ammunition
from the magazine.

At 4.15 there were attacks “simultaneously” (B) by British and German
destroyers which resulted in a lively fight, but no damage to any
of the capital ships. Yet the possibilities of such torpedo attacks
were so evident, here and later in the battle, that the destroyer at
once attained a greater value as an auxiliary of the battleship. A
British airplane had been sent up from a mother ship just before the
engagement, though Admiral Beatty reports that it was forced to fly
low on account of the clouds, and had a hard task “to identify four
enemy light cruisers.” (B) There was apparently no chance of a wide
observation that would have warned Admiral Beatty of the approaching
German High Seas Fleet. In this short hour were concentrated many new
problems of naval warfare.

The advancing German High Seas Fleet was reported at 4.38 by a light
cruiser, the _Southampton_, and sighted at 4.42 by the British battle
cruisers. A few minutes later Vice Admiral Beatty’s ships turned right
about (180 degrees) in succession. The German battle cruisers also
turned to a northwesterly course.

One great advantage was gained for the British in this manœuvre. By
the turn in succession the four _Queen Elizabeth_ battleships, the
Fifth Battle Squadron, were brought into position to fight a rearguard
action against the greatly strengthened force of the enemy. The leading
German battleships, which were of the _König_ class, fell into line,
closely following Admiral Hipper’s battle cruisers, and the battle was
continued at 14,000 yards on a northwest course.

In the meantime, from the north, the British Grand Fleet had been
closing at utmost fleet speed on south and southeast by south courses,
disposed in six divisions, numbered from port to starboard, on parallel
courses as shown in Table I. Admiral Jellicoe had received no certain
information from Vice Admiral Beatty as to the positions of the
engaged ships, and he had been proceeding in the general direction of
the running fight, instead of having in mind any definite point for
joining forces with Vice Admiral Beatty. It must also be realized that
conditions of increasing mist and intermittent fog, which rendered
observation very uncertain, had become prevalent.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is from this stage of the action that the tactics of the battle have
become involved in controversy--and a new account of the ensuing events
of the battle is greatly needed.

In the first place, it should be stated that a broad tactical situation
existed that was almost beyond the hopes of the British. This was
irrespective of any moves of the British Commander-in-Chief, or of
the Commander of the British advance force. By its own act the weaker
German fleet was out in the North Sea, committed to an enterprise which
had taken it away from its bases. Not only that--but, by bringing
out the squadron of predreadnoughts, Admiral Scheer’s fleet speed
was reduced to 17 knots. Casting aside all details of tactics, this
constituted the established condition that the weaker fleet of inferior
speed had offered the opportunity to the British fleet--and evasion
by flight alone was impossible. Looked at in this light, it was a
better chance than could ever have been expected. Yet a combination
of circumstances, including weather conditions, tactics, and methods,
prevented a decision, where such a result seemed to be insured.

This is the underlying tragedy of Jutland--and this is why all the
accounts have to deal with explanations and justifications.

One very unfavorable situation was being developed at this stage, at
the time when the British advance force was seeking a junction with
the Grand Fleet. As has been said, Lord Jellicoe was not receiving
information that would enable him to join forces effectively with Vice
Admiral Beatty. The original disposition of the British naval strength,
with the advance force flung ahead of the Grand Fleet, was sound, if
there were tactical coördination between the separated parts. It is
impossible to say that this existed, and the imperfect information
given by Vice Admiral Beatty to the Commander-in-Chief is a notable
feature of the battle.

With all due allowance for interference and damage to the wireless,
especially on the _Lion_, it is hard to see why Lord Jellicoe should
have been so badly informed as to the positions of the ships engaged,
and why definite information should have been so long delayed. In this
important phase of the tactics of the battle we are forced to the
conclusion that all means had not been taken to insure the coördination
of the British advance force and the Grand Fleet through linking up
ships and other methods.

This disposition of the British forces had often been used, and the
logical aim of the sweep of the North Sea was to find and engage the
enemy. Yet, when the enemy actually was found, it became evident that
methods had not been developed for using the whole British force as
parts of one great manœuvre. With the uncertain information that
Admiral Jellicoe possessed as to what was going on, any such joint
manœuvre could only have taken place through a miracle of luck. As a
matter of fact, there was an error of twelve miles to the eastward in

       *       *       *       *       *

After the turn to the north, in the running fight in pursuit of Vice
Admiral Beatty’s force, the German fleet was approaching the British
Grand Fleet, which drew near in the increasing mist. To understand the
course of the action at this critical stage, the reader should realize
that the Germans possessed a fleet manœuvre which had been carefully
rehearsed for such a contingency, in sudden contact with a superior
enemy force. This was a simultaneous “swing-around” (S) of all the
ships of the fleet, to turn the line and bring it into an opposite
course. Admiral Scheer emphasizes the pains that had been taken to
develop the ability to carry out this manœuvre, which had before been
considered impracticable for a fleet in action. “At our peace manœuvres
great importance was always attached to their being carried out on
a curved line and every means employed to ensure the working of the
signals.” (S) He is certainly justified in adding the statement that
“the trouble spent was now well repaid,” as the German Admiral was
by this means enabled to carry out an unexpected and very effective
manœuvre on two occasions when his fleet would have been in cramped
positions without this recourse. Admiral Scheer was also able to use
this identical manœuvre in an attack.

The British did not have any idea that the German Command would
be able to carry out this change of direction of the German line.
Consequently, in the smoke and mist, these thrice-executed movements
were not suspected by the British. With such an important part of the
German tactics unnoticed, and not taken into account in relation to the
British movements, the reasons are evident that make necessary a new
story of these phases of the action.

At this stage of the running fight, the British battle cruisers, on
a northwesterly course, had drawn ahead. The four _Queen Elizabeth_
battleships of Evan-Thomas’s Fifth Battle Squadron were following them
and “thereby played the part of cover for the badly damaged cruisers.”
(S) The fight had “developed into a stern chase,” (S) with Hipper’s
battle cruisers engaging the British battle cruisers, and the German
Main Fleet pressing on in chase of the Fifth Battle Squadron. The
German fleet was disposed in this order: Squadron III, Squadron I,
Squadron II, (predreadnoughts).[16]

   [16] See Table II.

Squadrons III and I had opened fire at 4.45, but although they showed
“speed much in excess of that for which they were designed,” (J) the
German battleships were gradually falling behind the fast British
ships. Admiral Beatty’s cruisers had drawn clear and shortly after 5.00
were free from the fire of Hipper’s battle cruisers. His increase to
full speed enabled Vice Admiral Beatty to draw ahead. He again opened
up a gap between his battle cruisers and the Fifth Battle Squadron,
taking a course that curved to the north and northeast, in search of
Admiral Jellicoe’s battle fleet, which was hastening to his assistance.

The ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron were also drawing away from the
German battleships and were soon only under fire from the German battle
cruisers and the leading division of Squadron III. As the British
battleships continued to distance their pursuers, and the fire even of
this leading German division grew ineffective, Admiral Scheer at 5.20
signaled to Vice Admiral Hipper “to give chase.” Hipper had already
been outdistanced by the British battle cruisers. He was “forced, in
order not to lose touch, to follow on the inner circle and adopt the
enemy’s course.” (S) As Beatty swung by the north to a northeasterly
direction, Hipper conformed to his course. At this stage the weather
grew hazy. The wind changed from northwest to southwest, and smoke hung
over the water.

The German advance was soon in a position where it could not engage to
any advantage in the mist “with the sun so low on the horizon.” (S)
Hipper was also in danger from torpedo attacks, and at 5.40 the German
Vice Admiral was compelled to turn his battle cruisers to starboard,
“and finally bring the unit round to S. W.” (S), to close up with the
German battleships. This manœuvre was observed in the mist by the
British, but not until some time after it was being carried out, as
Lord Jellicoe placed it “between 6 and 6.16.” (J) At the same time the
leading German battleships had also begun to veer around to starboard,
to conform with the course of the British advance, which was swinging
from northeast to an easterly direction. Observing this, Admiral Scheer
states that at 5.45 the order “Leaders in Front” was signaled, “and
the speed temporarily reduced to fifteen knots to make it possible for
the divisions ahead, which had pushed on at high pressure, to get into
position again.” (S) By this means, and through the early closing up of
Hipper’s battle cruisers, as described, Admiral Scheer’s whole command
was more in hand than had been believed. The intervals were closed and
the German fleet in better readiness for its rehearsed manœuvre, to
change direction of the line. These alterations of speed and direction
also probably increased the difficulties of the British in locating the
German fleet at this time, of which Lord Jellicoe writes in describing
this stage of the action.

Still thinking that the German fleet would be encountered more to the
eastward, Lord Jellicoe had altered the course of the Grand Fleet to
south and then to southeast. (6.02 and 6.08.) The _Lion_ had been
sighted, and at 6.06 had signaled that “the enemy’s battle cruisers
bore southeast.” (J) At 6.14 the _Lion_ signaled, “Have sighted the
enemy’s battle fleet bearing south-southwest.” (J) Lord Jellicoe
writes: “This report gave me the first information on which I could
take effective action for deployment.” At 6.16 Lord Jellicoe made
signal to the Grand Fleet to form line of battle on the port wing
column on a course southeast by east.

In the meantime the light German forces had become involved in a fight
between the lines and were withdrawing under cover of smoke screens and
torpedo attacks. The cruiser _Wiesbaden_ was reported disabled at 6.02,
and Scheer turned his fleet two points to port “to render assistance
to the _Wiesbaden_” (S)--a strange reason for such a move at such a
time! This brought on what Admiral Scheer called “heavy fighting round
the damaged _Wiesbaden_,” from 6.20. Yet this eccentric thrust of the
German fleet actually resulted in heavy damage to the British.

At this time the Grand Fleet was deploying as described, but not yet
seriously engaged. Lord Jellicoe reports the _Marlborough_ as opening
fire at 6.17, the _Iron Duke_ firing a few salvos at 6.20. But Vice
Admiral Beatty’s four remaining battle cruisers were in closer action,
as Beatty was crossing the German van on a course turning from east to
southeast. The speed of the deploying Grand Fleet had been reduced to
14 knots to allow Beatty’s cruisers to pass ahead, “as there was danger
of the fire of the Battle Fleet being blanketed by them.” (J) The Fifth
Battle Squadron had been left behind Beatty’s battle cruisers by a long
interval, and was making a turn to port (at 6.19) to form astern of the
Grand Fleet.

Rear Admiral Hood’s Third Squadron of three battle cruisers which had
been ordered to reinforce Beatty’s advance, was far ahead of the Grand
Fleet, and had overrun to the southeast in the error as to location.
On realizing this mistake, Hood had turned back in the direction of
the British advance. Hood’s squadron was signaled by Vice Admiral
Beatty “to form single line ahead and take station” (J) ahead of
Admiral Beatty’s four remaining battle cruisers, which were turned to
a southeast and southerly course across the van of the German fleet.
In obedience to this signal, Rear Admiral Hood turned to take station
ahead (6.21), closing to a range of 8,000 yards (6.25). “At about 6.34”
(J) his flagship, the _Invincible_, was sunk by gunfire.

Almost at the same time three of Rear Admiral Arbuthnot’s armored
cruisers, _Black Prince_, _Warrior_, and _Defence_, “not aware of the
approach of the enemy’s heavy ships,” (J) were put out of action.
(_Defence_ was sunk; _Warrior_ sank while attempt was being made to
tow her home; _Black Prince_ was sunk later.) In the turn of the
Fifth Battle Squadron to take position astern of the Grand Fleet the
_Warspite_ had jammed her helm and was out of control for a while.
She was a good deal damaged by gunfire, but was extricated from her
predicament and taken back to the British base.

By this time the German Commander-in-Chief had received information
from his torpedo flotillas of the presence of “more than twenty enemy
battleships following a southerly course.” (S) His van was under
heavy fire. “Following the movements of the enemy they had made a
bend which hindered free action” (S) of his torpedo flotilla, and his
cruisers were also cramped between the fire of both lines. In this
awkward situation Admiral Scheer resolved to make use of his prepared
manœuvre, to change the direction of his line. Accordingly at 6.35
“the swing-around was carried out in excellent style,” (S) the ships
turning simultaneously to starboard, putting the whole German fleet on
a westerly course.

This manœuvre was covered by the use of dense smoke screens, and the
pressure on the German fleet was relieved at once. Admiral Scheer
states that “the enemy did not follow our veer around,” and he
strongly insists that the British should have held firmly to his line
by executing a similar manœuvre. But he really gives the true state of
the case when he writes: “It may be that the leader did not grasp the
situation.” In fact none of the British commanders realized what had
taken place under cover of that smoke screen.

After the sinking of the _Invincible_, although Vice Admiral Beatty
was reported as turning to starboard, there was no further aggressive
action on his part--and, in the next fifteen minutes (6.50), he
signaled the two remaining battle cruisers of the Third Squadron to
take station astern of the last ship of his line, the _New Zealand_.

At the same time (6.50) the Grand Fleet, which had completed deployment
at 6.38, altered course to south by divisions to close.

These movements of the British forces naturally did not succeed in
bringing any pressure upon the Germans, as Admiral Scheer’s whole fleet
was then safely on a westerly course, as a result of the simultaneous
swing-around of his line--and the German fleet was concealed by
dense smoke screens, which left the British in ignorance of Scheer’s
manœuvre. Encouraged by this successful result of his move, and finding
his ships all able to keep their places in the line, “fully prepared
to fight,” (S) the German Admiral decided upon an unexpected course of
action. His change of tactics was so remarkable that his reasons should
be quoted at length:

“It was still too early for a nocturnal move. If the enemy followed
us, our action in retaining the direction taken after turning the
line would partake of the nature of a retreat, and in the event of
any damage to our ships in the rear the Fleet would be compelled to
sacrifice them or else to decide on a line of action enforced by
enemy pressure, and not adopted voluntarily, and would therefore be
detrimental to us from the very outset. Still less was it feasible
to strive at detaching oneself from the enemy, leaving him to decide
when he could elect to meet us the next morning. There was but one way
of averting this--to force the enemy into a second battle by another
determined advance, and forcibly compel his torpedo boats to attack.
The success of the turning of the line while fighting encouraged me
to make the attempt, and decided me to make still further use of the
facility of movement. The manœuvre would be bound to surprise the
enemy, to upset his plans for the rest of the day, and if the blow fell
heavily it would facilitate the breaking loose at night.” (S)

To carry out these ideas Admiral Scheer at 6.55 executed a second
swing-around of his whole fleet turning ships-right-about to starboard
as before. This put the German fleet again on an easterly course and
launched its van in an attack against the deployed British line, “to
deal a blow at the centre of the enemy’s line.” (S) Ahead of the fleet
there was sent forward a determined attack by the German torpedo
flotillas, all of which “had orders to attack.” (S) In the words of
Admiral Scheer, “This led to the intended result, a full resumption of
the firing at the van.”

The practical effect in action, so far as the German Battle Fleet
was concerned, was to subject the van of the German fleet to heavy
damage, without doing any compensating harm to the British ships.
Admiral Scheer admits this damage to the German fleet, especially
the battle cruisers, and it is established that the German fleet did
not score upon the Grand Fleet. On the other hand, the accompanying
sudden torpedo attacks, emerging from the smoke directed against the
British battleships, did actually accomplish the result of making the
Grand Fleet turn away and open the range. Admiral Scheer claims that
putting the van of his fleet again into action “diverted the enemy
fire and rendered it possible for the torpedo-boat flotillas to take
so effective a share in the proceedings,” (S) but of course it is a
question whether the same result might not have been obtained by the
use of the torpedo flotillas alone.

In any case, it must be acknowledged that Admiral Scheer’s
extraordinary manœuvres had accomplished a surprise effect upon his
enemy as, besides forcing the Grand Fleet to turn away, the moral
effect of this torpedo attack had a great influence upon the British
conduct of the rest of the action. It is also evident that the British
had not comprehended the tactics of the Germans.

One phase of the situation at this time has not been understood--but
should be strongly emphasized. The fact is that the German Admiral, by
his own act, had again placed his fleet in the same position from which
he had once withdrawn--and this second creation of the same situation
(6.55) was _after_ the Grand Fleet had deployed and was in line of
battle. Consequently, in view of the way the battle was really fought,
many of the long arguments as to the so-called crucial situation at
the time of the British deployment are wasted words. Now that it is
known that Admiral Scheer came back again to attack the fully deployed
British fleet, the much-discussed method of deployment can no longer be
considered all-important. Even if the deployment had not come to the
Germans, the Germans had gone to the deployment--and the same situation
existed. In their ignorance of the German Admiral’s smoke-screened
manœuvres, both sides of the heated British controversy have missed the
essential fact of this unusual duplication of a battle situation, which
actually occurred at Jutland.

This lack of understanding of Scheer’s turn and return is plainly shown
by Admiral Jellicoe, who writes, concerning the situation after 7.00:
“Our alteration of course to the south had, meanwhile, brought the
enemy’s line into view once more.” The British Command did not realize
that his enemy had actually voluntarily come back into the former
position, and this was the real reason the German ships had reappeared.

At 7.05 the whole British battle line had been turned together three
more points to starboard. But at 7.10 the sudden attack of the German
torpedo flotillas was sighted, and shortly afterwards the British
fleet was turned away to port two points, and then two points more, to
avoid the run of the torpedoes. Admiral Jellicoe states that this move
enabled his battleships to avoid many torpedoes, and that the range
was opened by about 1,750 yards. The German Admiral claims that “the
action of the torpedo-boat flotillas had achieved its purpose.” (S)

After accomplishing this result of making his enemy turn away, Admiral
Scheer at 7.17 for a third time successfully executed the same
manœuvre of ships-right-about (in this third turn Scheer’s flagship,
_Friedrich der Grosse_, was cramped and made the turn to port), and
again his fleet was on a westerly course screened by dense smoke. This
swing-around again had the same effect of freeing the German fleet from
the gunfire of the British fleet. The British Command again did not
grasp the full import of the German move. He writes of the difficulty
of observation in the mist and smoke. Some of his subordinates reported
that the Germans had turned away at this time, but none realized that a
ships-right-about had been carried out. It was not until 7.41 that the
British battle fleet was altered by divisions three points to starboard
to close.

Shortly after (at 7.47), Vice Admiral Beatty made signal to Lord
Jellicoe: “Urgent. Submit that the van of battleships follow the
cruisers. We can then cut off the whole of the enemy’s battle fleet.”
Much has been made of this signal by ill-advised critics. In fact it
will be self-evident that, at the time Beatty’s signal was sent, the
German fleet was not in the assumed position, but had long before been
extricated from its dangerous contact by the third “swing-around” (S)
at 7.17, and the Germans ships were again safely proceeding on their
altered course.

It is a strange comment on the battle to realize that the thrice
executed German manœuvre of ships-right-about was not observed by
anyone on the British fleet. None of the British maps or charts of the
action shows any sign of these movements. Chart No. 1 is a typical
British diagram of this stage of the action. It will be noted that the
times (6.15 to 7.41) in the indications of the course of the German
fleet include the times of all three turns of ships-right-about. (6.35,
6.55, 7.17.) Yet there is no trace of these German manœuvres on the
plan. Chart No. 2 shows the contrast between the supposed movements of
the Germans and their actual manœuvres in the battle.

[Illustration: CHART NO. 1

Typical British Chart, of the later manœuvres of the action which are
in dispute.

It will be noted that, in the time covered, between 6.15 and 7.41, the
course of the German Fleet gives no indication of the thrice executed
change of direction of the German line by ships-right-about. All of
these were carried out within this period (6.35, 6.55, 7.17).

Lord Jellicoe’s own maps show this lack of knowledge of the German
manœuvres of ships-right-about, as they do not indicate these important
moves of the Germans. In his report Admiral Jellicoe spoke of the
“turn-away under cover of torpedo-boat destroyer attacks” (J) as
“difficult to counter” (J)--but he did not understand the real reason
that made the difficulty.]

One reason for the failure of the British to understand these manœuvres
of Admiral Scheer was the fixed conviction of the British that such
a simultaneous turn of all the ships of a fleet was impracticable
in action--consequently they did not expect it to be used by their
enemies. This doctrine has been stated by Lord Jellicoe in explaining
his own movements in the battle. “The objection to altering by turning
all the ships together was the inevitable confusion that would have
ensued as the result of such a manœuvre carried out with a very
large fleet under action conditions in misty weather.” This positive
statement was made by the British Commander-in-Chief in perfect
unconsciousness that his antagonist had in fact successfully carried
out such a turn three times under the identical conditions described!

After the turn to a westerly course, the German fleet was brought
around to a southwesterly, southerly, and finally to a southeasterly
course “to meet the enemy’s encircling movements and keep open a way
for our return.” (S) From this time Admiral Scheer’s fleet was not in
great danger, nor even seriously engaged. As the twilight advanced
the German Command could prepare for the night. He found all his
battleships in condition to do 16 knots “the speed requisite for
night work, and thus keep their places in the line.” (S) Vice Admiral
Hipper’s flagship the _Lützow_ had been so badly damaged that he had
changed his flag to the _Moltke_ (7.00).[17] At 7.30 the _Lützow_ could
do 15 knots, and her condition grew worse steadily, but she was the
only ship that could not be relied upon to maintain fleet speed.

   [17] It was nearly two hours before Vice Admiral Hipper could
        get on board the _Moltke_.

Consequently Admiral Scheer was not hard pressed at this stage, but
only intermittently engaged. The order of the German fleet, after the
last turn to westerly, had been Squadron II, Squadron I, Squadron III.
Squadron II (the slower predreadnoughts) fell out to starboard, and
was passed by Squadrons I and III, giving support to Hipper’s battle
cruisers, which were engaged at 8.20. The Germans were all the time
making use of smoke for concealment, in addition to the mist and the
increasing darkness.

As a result of these tactics, the British Admiral was always groping
for his enemy in mist and smoke, with only occasional glimpses of the
German ships. Although he had not understood the German manœuvre, Lord
Jellicoe had become convinced that the Germans had turned away, and at
7.59 he had altered course by divisions to west to close his enemy.
It was again natural that he did not gain much actual contact. Lord
Jellicoe writes of the fighting, already mentioned, at 8.20, in which
the battle cruisers of both sides and the German predreadnoughts were
engaged, and explains the puzzling conditions of the action at this
stage. “At 8.30 P.M. the light was failing and the fleet was turned by
divisions to a southwest course, thus reforming single line again.” (J)
All this time his elusive enemy was screening his movements by the use
of smoke, and the German ships would only occasionally be visible in
the smoke and mist.

As the darkness came on, it is evident that these tactics on the part
of the Germans, with increasing threats of torpedo attacks, became more
and more baffling to the British Command, and then came the crucial
decision which ended the battle. Admiral Jellicoe reports:

“At 9 P.M. the enemy was entirely out of sight, and the threat of
torpedoboat-destroyer attacks during the rapidly approaching darkness
made it necessary for me to dispose of the fleet for the night, with a
view to its safety from such attacks, while providing for a renewal of
action at daylight. I accordingly manœuvred to remain between the enemy
and his bases, placing our flotillas in a position in which they would
afford protection to the fleet from destroyer attack and at the same
time be favorably situated for attacking the enemy’s heavy ships.”

Concerning this stage of the action Admiral Jellicoe in his report
quotes Vice Admiral Beatty as follows: “In view of the gathering
darkness and the fact that our strategical position was such as to
make it appear certain that we should locate the enemy at daylight
under most favorable circumstances, I did not consider it desirable or
proper to close the enemy battle-fleet during the dark hours.”

Here the British Admiral and his subordinate were in accord, but of
course the responsibility for the movements of the British fleet
rested with Admiral Jellicoe, as Commander-in-Chief. By his order the
British fleet steamed through the dark hours on southerly courses “some
eighty-five miles” (J) from the battlefield. Although the British fleet
was thus placed in the general direction of Heligoland, this meant that
Admiral Jellicoe relinquished contact, in a military sense, with the
German fleet. At the time it was undoubtedly Lord Jellicoe’s intention
to renew the action the next day, but it must be clearly understood
that this was to be in every way a new naval battle--not a battle
continued by keeping in touch with his enemy and reëxerting his force
on the following day.

Admiral Jellicoe himself is explicit upon this point, and states
that “at 9 P.M.” he ordered his fleet “to alter course by divisions
to _south_, informing the Flag officers of the Battle Cruiser Fleet,
the cruiser and light cruiser squadrons, and the officers commanding
destroyer flotillas, of my movements in order that they should
conform.” (J) Nothing could be more definitely established than the
fact that this broke off the action of fleets in every real sense of
the word. The British light craft were to conform to the movements of
the Battle Fleet, and there was no hint of maintaining a screen or
contact that would develop the position of the enemy fleet.

This situation should be kept clearly in mind. There were many
encounters throughout the night between British and German war-craft of
various types, but these fought on their own initiative, and there was
no concerted touch maintained with the German fleet--nothing that could
be called a part of a battle of fleets. The Germans simply ploughed
their way home through the stragglers left in the wake of the British
fleet, and Lord Jellicoe frankly states that he was out of touch with
his cruisers and destroyers. Consequently Lord Jellicoe’s decision, and
move to the south, ended the Battle of Jutland.

This should be recognized as the final decision of the battle, and the
British Commander-in-Chief makes it plain that he so considered it, as
he states the situation at the time and the reasons which influenced

At 9 o’clock the German fleet was to the westward. The British fleet
was between it and all its bases. The British fleet was superior in
speed, and had such an overwhelming superiority in ships and guns that
it could afford to discard its damaged ships without impairing this
superiority. The British Admiral had light cruisers and destroyers, to
throw out a screen and to maintain touch with the German fleet. There
was a proportion of damaged ships in the German fleet; and this, with
its original inferior fleet speed, would have made it a hard task for
the German fleet to ease around the British fleet and reach the German
bases. These conditions were in favor of keeping in touch with the
German fleet.

On the other hand, for Admiral Jellicoe to have kept his fleet in
touch with the German fleet through the dark hours, even by the most
efficient use of his screen of destroyers and cruisers, would have
meant taking the risk of a night action, which would have involved his
capital ships, as Admiral Scheer intended to fight his way through that
night. Above all things there was the ominous threat of torpedo attacks
in the night, with possibilities of disaster to the Battle Fleet upon
which depended the established British control of the seas.

Lord Jellicoe’s arguments show that he followed a line of conduct well
considered in advance,[18] and he writes with a sincere conviction
that his act in breaking off the battle was justified by the results.
In explaining the many advantages possessed by the weaker German fleet
Admiral Jellicoe also reveals disappointing conditions in backwardness
of methods on the part of the British Navy. There was not alone the
lack of modern methods in range-finding and director fire-control,
but also in torpedo attack and defense, and in preparation for action
“under night conditions.” (J)[19] It is something of a shock to read
that the stronger British fleet went into the Jutland battle with a
handicap in these essentials that became a factor to prevent a decisive
action.[20] Lord Jellicoe makes a very strong plea for his contention
that, under the existing conditions of smoke, mist and darkness, with
the German fleet skilfully taking advantage of these conditions, and
with the handicaps of the Grand Fleet in construction, equipment, and
methods to contend with these tactics and conditions, there was no
opportunity to force a decision without prohibitive risks of losing the
existing supremacy of the British Navy on the seas.[21]

   [18] Lord Jellicoe had sent to the Admiralty a formal dispatch
        (October 30, 1914) stating his conviction that the
        Germans would “rely to a great extent on submarines,
        mines and torpedoes,” (J) and defining his own “tactical
        methods in relation to these forms of attack.” (J) On
        November 7, 1914, the Admiralty approved the “views
        stated therein.” Lord Jellicoe in his book cites this
        Admiralty approval of 1914 as applying to the Battle of

   [19] “The German organization at night is very good. Their
        system of recognition signals is excellent. Ours are
        practically nil. Their searchlights are superior to ours,
        and they use them with great effect. Finally, their
        method of firing at night gives excellent results. I am
        reluctantly of the opinion that under night conditions we
        have a good deal to learn from them.” (J)

   [20] “The British Fleet was not properly equipped for fighting
        an action at night. The German fleet was. Consequently
        to fight them at night would only have been to court
        disaster. Lord Jellicoe’s business was to preserve the
        Grand Fleet, the main defense of the Empire as well as of
        the Allied cause, not to risk its existence.” Sir Percy
        Scott, _Fifty Years in the Royal Navy_.

   [21] See _A Guide to the Military History of The World War_,
        pp. 320-22.

Accordingly, at 9 o’clock Admiral Jellicoe disposed the British
battleships for the night in columns of divisions abeam one mile
apart, to insure the columns not losing sight of one another through
the dark hours. The destroyer flotillas were directed to take station
five miles astern. In this order the British fleet steamed through the
night at seventeen knots “some 85 miles” (J) on a southerly course.
The only British ship that is mentioned as having been given another
mission was the small minelayer _Abdiel_ which was sent to strew mines
in an area off the Vyl Lightship “over which it was expected the High
Seas Fleet would pass if the ships attempted to regain their ports
during the night via the Horn Reef.” (J) No other craft was assigned
to observe or harass the German fleet. The Sixth Division of the Grand
Fleet had fallen behind, as the _Marlborough_, which had been damaged
by a torpedo, could not maintain fleet speed. (This ship had to be sent
back after 2 A.M., and Sir Cecil Burney transferred his flag to the
_Revenge_.) The British light craft also became widely scattered in the
dark hours.

Within a few minutes of the time of Lord Jellicoe’s signal for the
move to the south, Admiral Scheer gave his order for the night (9.06),
“course S. S. E. ¼ E. speed 16 knots.” (S) The German Admiral fully
expected to be attacked by the British fleet and to meet strong
opposition, but he decided that the German “main fleet in close
formation was to make for Horn Reef by the shortest route.” (S) The
fleet was disposed in the same order, Squadrons I, III, II, with the
battle cruisers covering the rear--“out of consideration for their
damaged condition.” (S) The German Admiral placed these weaker ships in
the rear, as he thought his van would encounter resistance and might
be heavily engaged in the expected night action. His torpedo flotillas
were disposed “in an E. N. E. to S. S. W. direction, which was where
the enemy Main Fleet could be expected.” (S)

Thus disposed the German Battle Fleet moved through the dark hours, on
a straight course for Horn Reef, without meeting the expected attacks,
which the strong Squadron I in the van was prepared to ward off. There
really was no chance of engaging the British battleships, as the Grand
Fleet had moved to the south before the German fleet crossed Lord
Jellicoe’s course. The _Nassau_ got out of station, when she struck
a stray British destroyer in the darkness, and made for a morning
rendezvous. The rest of the dreadnoughts of the High Seas Fleet met no
delay nor mishap through the dark hours. Of the predreadnoughts, the
battleship _Pommern_ was sunk by a mine or torpedo, with loss of all

Many of the destroyers had fired all their torpedoes, and these craft
were used for emergencies. They were very necessary, as the disabled
cruisers _Rostock_ and _Elbing_ were abandoned and blown up, and these
destroyers did good service in taking off the crews. They also rescued
the crew of the disabled _Lützow_, which was towed through the darkness
until she was so down by the head that her screws spun in the air. She
was abandoned and destroyed by a torpedo at 1.45 A.M. Admiral Scheer
cites the fact that these events could happen, without disturbance by
the enemy, as “proving that the English Naval forces made no attempt
to occupy the waters between the scene of battle and Horn Reef.” (S)

As a matter of fact this did not need any proof, because the British
fleet held steadily on its southerly course, without regard to the
direction taken by the Germans. In the wake of the Grand Fleet were
left scattered cruisers and destroyers--and there were many clashes
between these and the Germans, but all were isolated fights and
adventures of lame ducks. Some of these encounters were reported to
Lord Jellicoe and there was much shooting, with explosions and fire
lighting up the darkness.

Admiral Scheer thought that all this must have indicated his position,
and, even after not encountering the expected night attacks, the German
Admiral expected the British to renew the battle promptly at dawn. But
in consequence of the British Admiral’s dispositions for the night, it
is evident that the position of the German fleet was not developed, as
Admiral Jellicoe himself says, until “the information obtained from our
wireless directional stations during the early morning.” (J)

As dawn was breaking, “at about 2.47 A.M.” (J) June 1, Admiral Jellicoe
altered course of his fleet to the north to retrace his path of the
night before. His Sixth Division of battleships had dropped astern,
out of sight. His cruisers and destroyers were badly scattered, and the
British Admiral abandoned his intention of seeking a new battle on the
first of June.

The straggling of portions of his fleet during the move through the
darkness is explained by Lord Jellicoe, and this caused him to delay
his search for the German fleet until he could pick up the missing
craft. His return to find these was the reason for retracing the course
of the night manœuvre. The following is quoted from Lord Jellicoe’s
book: “The difficulty experienced in collecting the fleet (particularly
the destroyers), due to the above causes, rendered it undesirable for
the Battle Fleet to close the Horn Reef at daylight, as had been my
intention when deciding to steer to the southward during the night.
It was obviously necessary to concentrate the Battle Fleet and the
destroyers before renewing action. By the time this concentration was
effected it had become apparent that the High Seas Fleet, steering for
the Horn Reef, had passed behind the shelter of the German mine fields
in the early morning on their way to their ports.”

Admiral Scheer’s fleet had arrived off Horn Reef at 3 A.M., where he
waited for the disabled _Lützow_. At 3.30 he learned that she had
been abandoned. Up to that time the German Admiral had expected a new
battle of fleets, but he soon divined that he was to be free from
pressure on the part of his enemy. This was confirmed when Admiral
Scheer learned through a German aircraft scout of the straggling of
Lord Jellicoe’s ships. (L 11 was the airship reported by the British
“shortly after 3.30.”) Admiral Scheer’s comment is: “It is obvious
that this scattering of the forces--which can only be explained by the
fact that after the day-battle Admiral Jellicoe had lost the general
command--induced the Admiral to avoid a fresh battle.” Both commanders
are consequently on record in agreement as to the reason for no new
battle of fleets.

The Germans were thus enabled to proceed to their bases undisturbed.
Admiral Scheer’s account of the return of the German fleet to its home
ports, and of the condition of his ships, is convincing--and there is
no longer any question as to the German losses. On the way home the
_Ostfriesland_ struck a mine, but was not seriously injured, making
port without difficulty. Outside of the destruction of the _Lützow_,
the German battle cruiser squadron was badly battered. The _Seydlitz_
had great difficulty in making her berth, and the _Derfflinger_
was also seriously damaged. To sum up the damage done to the battle
cruisers of both fleets makes a sorry showing for this type of warship,
which had so great a vogue before The World War.

Admiral Scheer states that, with the exception of his two battle
cruisers, the German fleet was repaired and ready to go to sea again
by the middle of August, and the _Bayern_ (the first German warship
to mount 38 c.m.-guns) had been added to the fleet. He also gives an
account of another sortie (August 18 to 20, 1916). Later in the year
the German fleet was reinforced by the _Baden_ (38 c.m.-guns) and the
battle cruiser _Hindenburg_, but at the end of 1916 the function of
the High Seas Fleet was to keep the gates for the U-boats in the great
German submarine campaign.

In this rôle of covering the operations of the submarines the German
Battle Fleet had a very important influence upon the ensuing stages of
the War. It was altogether a delusion to think that the career of the
German fleet had been ended at Jutland--and that it “never came out.”
On the contrary, Admiral Scheer’s fleet kept a wide area cleared for
the egress and entrance of the German U-boats in their destructive
campaign. If the German fleet had been destroyed in the Jutland
action, it would have been possible for the Allies to put in place and
maintain mine barrages close to the German bases. There is no need to
add anything to this statement to show the great results that would
have been gained, if the British had been able to win a decision in the
Battle of Jutland.

       *       *       *       *       *

The losses in the battle were as follows:


  QUEEN MARY    (_Battle Cruiser_)   26,350
  INDEFATIGABLE (_Battle Cruiser_)   18,800
  INVINCIBLE    (_Battle Cruiser_)   17,250
  DEFENCE       (_Armored Cruiser_)  14,600
  WARRIOR       (_Armored Cruiser_)  13,550
  BLACK PRINCE  (_Armored Cruiser_)  13,350
  TIPPERARY     (_Destroyer_)         1,430
  NESTOR        (_Destroyer_)           890
  NOMAD         (_Destroyer_)           890
  TURBULENT     (_Destroyer_)         1,100
  FORTUNE       (_Destroyer_)           965
  ARDENT        (_Destroyer_)           935
  SHARK         (_Destroyer_)           935
  SPARROWHAWK   (_Destroyer_)           935
                Total tonnage       111,980


  LÜTZOW        (_Battle Cruiser_)   26,180
  POMMERN       (_Predreadnought_)   13,200
  WIESBADEN     (_Cruiser_)           5,400
  ELBING        (_Cruiser_)           4,500
  ROSTOCK       (_Cruiser_)           4,900
  FRAUENLOB     (_Cruiser_)           2,700
  V-4           (_Destroyer_)           570
  V-48          (_Destroyer_)           750
  V-27          (_Destroyer_)           640
  V-29          (_Destroyer_)           640
  S-33          (_Destroyer_)           700
                Total tonnage        60,180

  Killed and wounded:
        British (approximately)       6,600
        German                        3,076

In the early British accounts of the battle there were fanciful tales
of pursuit of the German ships, through the night, and even after
Admiral Jellicoe’s Report the British public did not at first realize
the situation at the end of the action. But after a time, when this was
better understood, there arose one of the greatest naval controversies
that have ever agitated Great Britain, centered around the alleged
“defensive” naval policy for maintaining the supremacy of Great Britain
on the seas,--the pros and cons as to closing the Germans while there
was light, and keeping in touch through the dark hours.

This controversy as to the Battle of Jutland has been carried on
with bitterness in Great Britain, and volumes of matter have been
written that will be utterly useless, so far as a true story of the
action is concerned. Partisans have made the mistake of putting on
record arguments that have been founded on phases of the British
operations--with imaginary corresponding situations of the enemy,
which never existed in actual fact. The preceding account may be relied
upon as tracing the main events of the battle--and the real course of
the action shows that many briefs must be thrown out of court.

Putting aside these contentions, and seeking only to visualize the
truth, one is forced to the conclusion that the chief cause of failure
on the part of the British fleet was the obvious handicap that methods
had not been devised in advance for decisive operations under the
existing conditions.

The problem for the British was to unite two parts of a superior force,
and to impose this united superior force with destructive effect upon
the enemy. This problem was simplified by the fact that the weaker
enemy voluntarily came into contact in a position where escape by
flight was out of the question. On the other hand, the solution was
made difficult by unusual conditions of mist and smoke.

The decision was missed through the lack of rehearsed methods, not
only for effectively joining the British forces, but for bringing into
contact the superior British strength, against an enemy who actually
possessed the great advantage of rehearsed methods adapted to the
existing conditions. These conditions must be realized in order to
arrive at a fair verdict.

When considering the Battle of Jutland, we must not think in the old
terms of small dimensions, but we must picture the long miles of battle
lines wreathed in mist and smoke, the great areas of manœuvre--and
the complicated difficulties that must beset anyone who was called
to command in this first great battle of dreadnoughts. These widely
extended manœuvres of ships, only intermittently visible, must not be
thought of as merely positions on a chart or game-board.

Reviewing the course of the action, the conclusion cannot be avoided
that, on the day of the battle and under its conditions, the Germans
were better prepared in advance for a battle of fleets. In his book
Lord Jellicoe states many advantages possessed by the German fleet
in construction, armament, and equipment--but, as has been said, his
revelation of the British lack of methods is more significant.

All these deficiencies cannot be charged against Admiral Jellicoe, and
the persistent efforts to give him all the blame are unjust. Is there
any real evidence that another man would have done better under the
circumstances? The tendency of certain writers to laud Vice Admiral
Beatty at the expense of Admiral Jellicoe does not seem justified. As
has been noted, when contact was established with the German advance
force, Beatty failed to bring his full strength into action against
this isolated weaker enemy force. In the ensuing stages it cannot be
denied that haphazard methods were in evidence.

The idea must be put aside that the German ships were a huddled,
helpless prey “delivered” to the British Commander-in-Chief. On the
contrary, as stated, the German battle cruisers had already closed
up with the German battleships and the High Seas Fleet had been
slowed down to correct its formations. Consequently at this stage
the German fleet was in hand and ready to sheer off, by use of their
well rehearsed elusive manœuvre of ships-right-about, with baffling
concealment in smoke screens. It has been shown that _after_ the Grand
Fleet had completed deployment, the unsuspected situation existed
in which Admiral Scheer’s fleet was again in close contact with the
British fleet. It has also been explained that Vice Admiral Beatty made
his much discussed signal, to “cut off” the German fleet, long after
Admiral Scheer had put his fleet into safety by his third swing-around
of the German ships. With these situations totally uncomprehended, it
cannot be said that Vice Admiral Beatty had a firmer grasp upon the
actual conditions than anyone else. The simple truth is, the British
Command was always compelled to grope for the German ships, while his
enemies were executing carefully rehearsed elusive manœuvres concealed
in smoke--and the British were not prepared in advance to counter these

In the matter of signaling, the Germans were far ahead--in that they
had their manœuvres carefully prepared in advance, to be executed with
the minimum number of signals. The result was that, while the British
Commander-in-Chief was obliged to keep up a constant succession of
instructions by signals, the German Admiral was able to perform his
surprising manœuvres with comparatively few master signals.[22] Lord
Jellicoe also emphasizes the great advantage possessed by the Germans
in their recognition signals at night.

   [22] “Jellicoe was sending out radio instructions at the rate
        of two a minute--while von Scheer made only _nine_ such
        signals during the whole battle. This I learn on credible
        testimony.” Rear Admiral Caspar F. Goodrich, U.S.N.

Sir Percy Scott, as already quoted, bluntly states: “The British
Fleet was not properly equipped for fighting an action at night. The
German Fleet was.” To this should be added the statement that the
British fleet was not prepared in methods in advance to cope with the
conditions of the afternoon of May 31. The German fleet was. Herein
lay the chief cause for failure to gain a decision, when the one great
opportunity of the war was offered to the British fleet.

In the three decades before The World War great strides had been made
in naval development, with only the unequal fighting in the American
War with Spain and in the East to give the tests of warfare. In this
period it is probable that at different times first one navy would be
in the lead and then another. It was the misfortune of the British
in the Battle of Jutland that the Germans, at that time, were better
prepared in equipment and rehearsed methods for an action under
the existing conditions. This should be recognized as an important
factor--and the failure to win a decision should not be wholly charged
against the men who fought the battle.

The destroyer came to its own in the Battle of Jutland as an auxiliary
of the battle fleet, both for offense and defense. The whole course of
the action proved that a screen of destroyers was absolutely necessary.
For offense, it might be argued truthfully that, of the great number
of torpedoes used, very few hit anything. The _Marlborough_ was the
only capital ship reported struck in the real action,[23] and she
was able afterward to take some part in the battle, and then get back
to her base. But above all things stands out the fact that it was the
threat of night torpedo attacks by German destroyers, and the desire to
safeguard the British capital ships from these torpedo attacks, which
made the British fleet withdraw from the battlefield, and break off
touch with the German fleet. Lord Jellicoe states that he “rejected at
once the idea of a night action” on account of “first the presence of
torpedo craft in such large numbers.” (J)

   [23] The _Pommern_ was sunk in the night after the action of
        fleets had been broken off.

There is no question of the fact that this withdrawal of the British
fleet had a great moral effect on Germany. Morale was all-important in
The World War, and the announcement to the people and to the Reichstag
had a heartening effect on the Germans at just the time they needed
some such stimulant, with an unfavorable military situation for the
Central Powers. It also smoothed over the irritation of the German
people against the German Navy, at this time when Germany had been
obliged to modify her use of the U-boats upon the demand of the United
States. For months after the battle the esteem of the German people
for the German Navy remained high, and this helped to strengthen the
German Government. But the actual tactical result of the battle was
indecisive. It may be said that the Germans had so manœuvred their
fleet that a detached part of the superior British force was cut up,
but the damage was not enough to impair the established superiority of
the British fleet.

As a matter of fact the Battle of Jutland did not have any actual
effect upon the situation on the seas. The British fleet still
controlled the North Sea. The Entente Allies were still able to move
their troops and supplies over water-ways which were barred to the
Germans. Not a German ship was released from port, and there was no
effect upon the blockade. After Jutland, as before, the German fleet
could not impose its power upon the seas, and it could not make any
effort to end the blockade. The Jutland action had cheered the German
people but it had not given to Germany even a fragment of sea power.


  From _A Guide to the Military History of The World War, 1914-1918_.]



(This chart is diagrammatic only)

  Most of the published narratives have used many charts to trace the
  events of the action. It has been found possible to indicate all
  the essentials upon this one chart, which has been so placed that
  it can be opened outside the pages for use as the text is being
  read. It should be noted that superimposed indications have been
  avoided, where ships passed over the same areas (especially in the
  three German ships-right-about manœuvres). Consequently this chart
  is diagrammatic only.


(1) 3.30 P.M. Beatty sights Hipper.

(2) 3.48 P.M. Battle cruisers engage at 18,500 yds., “both forces
opening fire practically simultaneously.”

(3) 4.06 P.M. _Indefatigable_ sunk.

(4) 4.42 P.M. Beatty sights High Seas Fleet, and turns north (column
right about).

(5) 4.57 P.M. Evan-Thomas turns north, covering Beatty.

(6) 5.35 P.M. Beatty’s force, pursued by German battle cruisers and
High Seas Fleet, on northerly course at long range.


(7) 5.56 P.M. Beatty sights Jellicoe and shifts to easterly course at
utmost speed.

(8) 6.20-7.00 P.M. Jellicoe deploys on port wing column (deployment
“complete” at 6.38). Beatty takes position ahead of Grand Fleet. Hood
takes station ahead of Beatty. Evan-Thomas falls in astern of Grand

Scheer turns whole German Fleet to west (ships right about) at 6.35,
covered by smoke screens. Scheer repeats the turn of the whole fleet
(ships right about) to east at 6.55.

(9) 7.17 P.M. Scheer for the third time makes “swing-around” of whole
German Fleet (ships right about) to southwest, under cover of smoke
screens and destroyer attacks. Jellicoe turns away to avoid torpedoes

(10) 8.00 P.M.

(11) 8.30-9.00 P.M. Jellicoe disposes for the night.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

Punctuation, hyphenation, and spelling were made consistent when a
predominant preference was found in this book; otherwise they were
not changed.

Simple typographical errors were corrected; ambiguous hyphens at the
ends of lines were retained.

Table I on page 6 originally was six columns wide, but has been split
here to meet width limitation requirements.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A True Account of the Battle of Jutland, May 31, 1916" ***

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