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Battle of Jutland 31st may 1916.

Battle of Jutland, theNaval Battle which took place on the west coast of Jutland, Both the Germans and the British claimed victory. The Germans because they sank more ships. The British because the German High seas fleet would never again venture from there ports for the rest of the war.  The German main fleet consisted of 16 Dreadnaught Battleships and 6 pre dreadnaught battleships, 11 Light Cruisers and 72 destroyers. The British Fleet consisted of Admiral Jellicoe's fleet of 28 Dreadnaught battleships and 3 battle cruisers and Admiral Beatty's force of 6 battle cruisers and 4 fast battleships.

The Germans had planned to sail from the Baltic to the north sea with the plan to engage the British Battle Cruisers in Norwegian waters. But due to German radio messages being intercepted by the British the British Grand fleet were alerted.

British Battleships and Cruisers at The Battle of Jutland

1st Battle Squadron.  HMS Iron Duke (Flagship), HMS Agincourt, HMS Colossus, HMS Hercules, HMS Marlborough, HMS Neptune, HMS Revenge, HMS St. Vincent.
2nd Battle Squadron. HMS King George V, HMS Ajax, HMS Centurion, HMS Conqueror, HMS Erin, HMS Monarch, HMS Orion, HMS Thunderer.
4th Battle Squadron, HMS Royal Oak, HMS Bellerophon, HMS Benbow, HMS Canada, HMS Superb, HMS Temeraire, HMS Vanguard
5th battle Squadron,  HMS Valiant, HMS Barham, HMS Malaya, HMS Warspite
1st Battle-Cruiser Squadron,  HMS Lion (Flagship,  HMS Princess Royal, HMS Queen Mary (Sunk)   HMS Tiger
2nd battle-Cruiser Squadron.  HMS Indefatigable (Sunk)   HMS New Zealand, 
3rd battle-Cruiser Squadron,  HMS Indomidable,  HMS Inflexible,  HMS Invincible (Sunk)
1sr Cruiser Squadron,  HMS Black Prince (Sunk),  HMS Defence (Sunk)  HMS Duke of Edinburgh,  HMS Warrior (Sunk)
2nd Cruiser Squadron,  HMS Cochrane,  HMS Hampshire, HMS Minotaur,  HMS Shannon,
Light Cruisers.  Active, Bellona, Birmingham, Birkenhead, Boadicea, Calliope,  Canturbury, Caroline, Castor, Champion, Chester, Comus, Constance, Cordelia, Dublin, Falmouth, Fearless, Galatea, Gloucester, Inconstant, Nottingham, Phaeton, Royalist, Southampton, Yarmouth

7 destroyers were lost from the Flotillas, of 1st, 4th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th , and 13th Flotillas.

 

GERMAN FLEET

1st battle Squadron. Friedrich der Grosse (Flagship) Heligoland, Nassau, Oldenburg, Ostfriesland, Posen, Rheinland, Thuringen, Westfalen.
2nd Battle Squadron,  Deutschland, Hannover, Hessen Pommern (sunk), Schlesen, Schleswig-Holstein
3rd Battle Squadron, Konig, Grosser Kurfurst, Kaiser, Kaiserin, Kronprince William, Markgraf, Prinzregent Luitpold
Battle-Cruiser Squadron.  Derflinger,  Lutzow (sunk) Moltke, Seydlitz, Von der Tan.
Light Cruisers,  Elbing (Sunk)  Frankfurt, Frauenlob (sunk), Hamburg, Muenchen, Pillau, Regensburg, Rostock (sunk) Stettin, Stuttgart, Wiesbaden (Sunk)

2 Destroyers were lost from the 1st,2,d,3rd,5th,6th,7th and 9th Flotillas

Extracted from Deeds That Thrill The Empire. Volume V.

The Battle Of Jutland Bank

            It is not always realised by “the man in the street” that in the exercise of sea power, actual fighting plays a relatively small part.  In land warfare, under modern conditions the opposing forces are in absolutely continuous contact, and the ebb and flow of battle never ceases until one side is annihilated or driven to surrender.  Naval war has never been like that.  The ultimate object of the superior fleet is to control the seas-that is, to close the ocean highways completely to the enemy-and whether that control is secured either by the destruction of the hostile fleet or by instilling in it a healthy dread of putting its fate to the test of battle in the open is a matter of relative indifference.

            These few general remarks are necessary to preface the story of the greatest naval action of the first two years of war-and one, further, of the fiercest and most costly of which history has any record.  In the early afternoon of May 31st 1916, the light cruiser scouts of the British Grand Fleet encountered off the northwestern coast to Denmark some similar vessels belonging to the German navy.  It transpired later that the German High Sea Fleet was “out” in its full available strength, though with what object it had put to sea had not even yet been divulged.  It is unlikely that the intention of its commander-in-chief, Admiral von Scheer, was to throw down the gage of battle to Sir John Jellicoe, nor, if he new anything of the organisation of our North Sea patrol, could we have hoped to cut off any appreciable part of our forces before reinforcements came up sufficient to deal comfortably with the German navy.  Speculation on these points is not of very much use.  The facts-which are all that we have to deal with-are that when the advanced flotillas of the Germans fleet were somewhere near the Skagerrak-the first gateway into the Baltic-they found themselves engaged with the light craft standing out ahead of Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty’s Cruiser Division.

             It was at 2.20 in the afternoon that the curtain went up on a drama that was to prove to the hilt the valour and the effiency of the British seaman of the twentieth century.  At that hour the light cruiser Galatica, Commodore E. S. Alexander Sinclair, senior ship in the fringe of scouts, wirelesses to the battle cruisers astern that enemy ships were in sight.  It was not a very uncommon message-indeed, it had been heard so often without any sequel of importance that at first it quite failed to arouse any excitement.  This time, however, events developed rapidly.  As our scouts pushed on and extended their formation, they discovered the enemy to be in greater and still greater strength.  From the seaplane carrier Engadine an aerial scout was sent up, with Lieutenant F. J. Rutland (an officer promoted from the ranks) as pilot, and Assistant Paymaster G. S. Trewin as observer; and although the clouds were so low that they had to fly at a height of only 900 feet, they were able to send back a message to the effect that the enemy was out in considerable force.

            Meantime, Sir David Beatty was bringing down his battle cruiser, so that they could not get back to their bases in the Bight of Heligoland without a battle.  Shortly after 3.30 he sighted five German battle cruisers steaming full speed in a southeasterly direction-i.e. Towards home-but the range of 23,000 yards was too great for effective gunfire.  He closed in towards the enemy, which was none other than the battle cruiser squadron of the High Sea fleet, under the command of Rear Admiral Hipper, and in a quarter of an hour, when the distance between them had been reduced to 18,500 yards the battle began.  Before going any further, let it be said that there are two versions of this phase of the fight.  One is that the Germans, finding themselves intercepted by superior forces, fled for their home waters for all they were worth.  The other is that their intention was not so much t get home as to entice Beatty’s ships down under the guns of the battle squadrons of the High Sea Fleet, which were coming up from the south under Von Scheer.  Whatever the intentions were, however, it is the battle that matters.

            Sir David Beatty’s flagship was the Lion, and with him were the Queen Mary, Princess Royal, tiger, Indefatigable, and New Zealand.  Bringing up the rear, at a distance-unfortunately-of from 10,000 to 20,000 yards, was a division of fast battleships of the Queen Elizabeth class, under Rear-Admiral H. Evan Thomas.  The exact composition of the German battle cruiser force is not certain, but it consisted of five ships, which are believed to have been the Lutzow, Derflinger, Seydlitz, Moltke and Von der Tann.  In any case, Sir David Beatty, even without the fast battleship division, had a very appreciable superiority, whether measured by numbers, the size of his ships, r the calibre of his guns.

            As the two forces ran south they fought with ever increasing intensity.  Our own ships had the superiority in gun powder, but the Germans were stoutly built and thickly armoured, and the high state of perfection to which their gunnery implements had been brought enabled them to inflict serious damage before our own gunnery began to tell upon their moral.  The battle cruisers Queen Mary (Captain C. I. Prowse) and Indefatigable (Captain C. F. Sowerby) were destroyed.

            That the Germans suffered heavily need not be emphasized.  Time after time our salvos were seen to strike the enemy’s ships, and although at this stage none was seen actually to sink, a vessel cannot sustain the impact of a number of 850, 1,250 or 1,400 lb shells without severe damage.  Our admirals were exceedingly reserved in their estimates of the injury inflicted on the enemy, and made no claim to have sunk a German ship unless it was actually seen to go down.  It is obvious however that when a battle is being fought at the pace of twenty-eight miles an hour in a gathering, patchy mist, it is quite possible for an enemy ship reported as having been ” seen to leave the line ”to have sunk a few minutes after without its last moments coming under the observation of the vessels responsible.

           Some of our destroyers too had a busy and fruitful time during this run south.  Nominally, they accompanied the battle cruisers in order to protect them against submarine attack (in which they succeeded to perfection), but opportunity came to them for still more effective work.  At 4.15 a division of these vessels, under the command of Commander The Hon. E.B.S. Bingham, in the Nestor, moved out towards the enemy with the object of delivering a torpedo attack.  On the way they met a flotilla of hostile destroyers setting out towards our own battle line with a similar object, and a fierce fight ensued between the opposing craft, in which two of the enemy’s vessels were sunk without loss to us.  The hostile attempt to attack our battle cruisers was thus frustrated, and our boats pressed on with their original plan.  The Nesdtor, Nomad and Nicator rushed in at the enemy under a terrific fire and discharged torpedoes at them.  By all the rules of the game they should have been sunk with every man onboard, and, as it was, the only one of the three to escape was the Nicator, whose commanding officer, Lieutenant Jack Mocatta, was rewarded with the D.S.O.  The Nestor and Nomad were both disabled within easy reach of the enemy’s guns, ad neither of them survived the experience, although, happily, many of those onboard were saved by the enemy.  These included Lieutenant Commander Paul Whitfield, in command of the Nomad, who was specially promoted to the rank of commander, and Commander Bingham, of the Nestor, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for “the extremely gallant way in which he led his division in their attack, first on the enemy destroyers, and then on their battle cruisers.  He finally sighted the enemy battle fleet, and followed by the one remaining destroyer of his division (Nicator), with dauntless courage he closed to within 3,000 yards of the enemy in order to attain a favourable position for firing the torpedoes.  While making this attack, Nestor and Nicator were under concentrated fire of the secondary batteries of the High Sea Fleet.  Nestor was subsequently sunk.”

            In the meantime, our battle cruisers, with the light cruisers of Commodore W. E. Goodenough’s squadron spread out ahead, were still hotly engaged with Hipper’s force.  The battle was still travelling south at a high speed, and the German admiral doubtless thought he was leading Beatty on into a trap from which he would be unable to extricate himself.  Soon after 4.35, however, the Southampton Goodenough’s flagship in the scouting squadron-signalled the approach from the south of the German battle fleet.

           It was one of the crucial moments of the fight.  If Beatty, who now had the enemy battle cruisers well in hand, had gone on, he would certainly have been annihilated; but the obviously had nothing to gain by throwing his ships away.  He might have turned off sharp to the right-to the west making for England and safety; but that was not the game.  From the British point of view the battle was only beginning.  Our battle cruisers turned a complete half circle.  Where they had been running almost due south, they turned almost to due north.  Where they had been steaming down into the jaws of the High Sea Fleet’s battle squadron thy now began to play a game of their own-to lead the Germans back to main divisions of the Grand Fleet.  When the battle began sir John with his battle squadrons had not been very far behind the battle cruisers, but the high speed of the latter had widened the gap by many miles.  It was 4.42 when sir Beatty turned his squadron about to avoid the German battle fleet, and another hour and a quarter passed, with hot fighting every inch of the way, before the leading battleships of the Grand fleet were sighted five miles to the north.

           The action was now reaching its real culminating point.  In spite of the loss of two of his ships, Sir David Beatty was gradually driving the enemy further and further towards the Danish coast, and when our battleships were sighted he saw that the supreme moment had arrived.  He put on speed, and turning sharp to the east, drove straight across the head of the enemy’s line.  As he did so, a fresh division of battle cruisers, led by Rear Admiral the Hon Horace hood in the Invincible, took station ahead of Beatty’s division and although the Invincible was destroyed in the close range melee that followed, the German force was thrown into the utmost confusion by our tactics.  So completely were they demoralised that two of our most lightly armed cruisers, the Yarmouth and the Falmouth, carrying only eight 6-inch guns apiece, stood in towards the leading ships of the enemy, which carried 11 and 12-inch guns, and fired their guns and torpedoes at them for some time without sustaining any injury themselves.     

            For some time now the weather had been growing unfavourable.  Before the Grand Fleet came in sight the sea was covered with a patchy fog that enabled our ships to get only an occasional glimpse of the enemy, and as our battleships came down from the north they found it difficult to tell friend from foe-for one ship is very much like another in a mist at 20,000 yards.  Nevertheless, the Grand Fleet came into action magnificently, and it was only robbed by the fortune of war from reaping the full harvest of Sir David Beatty’s gallantry and skill.  The latter officer had himself escaped from the trap the Germans had prepared for him.  More than that, he had led the Germans on into such a position that, with ordinary luck on our side or with an absence of luck on either side-the enemy could have looked for little short of annihilation. 

            Then it was that Nature had her say.  The mists deepened.  Our leading battleships had not been in action more than a few minutes before the sea became obscured that the battle degenerated into a sort of blind man’s buff.  By this time it is beyond the slightest doubt that the enemy had no other thought than to escape the overwhelming force arrayed against him-and the circumstances were all in his favour.  From the easterly course on to which he had been driven by sir David Beatty, he turned first to the south and then to the southwest, and when, towards nine o’clock at night, our main squadrons caught their last glimpse of the enemy, he was apparently heading for the open sea.  Throughout the night there were occasional bursts of fighting as opposing groups of single ships sighted each other for a few minutes in the darkness, but under such conditions there could be no approach to organised battle.  In the misty night the enemy-or what remained of him-succeeded in getting back to his ports, and although our ships scoured the scene of action until well past noon on June 1st, no trace of a hostile ship was found.  If, therefore, it had been the intention of the enemy to challenge our command of the sea, he had suffered a signal defeat, for he had been pulled up within two challenge our command of the sea, he had suffered a signal defeat, for he had been pulled up within two hundred miles of his bases-and on his own side of the North Sea-and compelled to abandon all pretence of commanding even the immediate neighbourhood of his own waters. 

            It is still to early to say what were the material results of the action.  On our own side we lost the battle cruisers Queen Mary, Indefatigable and Invincible, the armoured cruisers Defence, Black Prince and Warrior, and the destroyers Ardent, fortune, Nomad, Nector, Shark, Sparrowhawk, Tipperary and Turbulent.  Sir John Jellicoe’s estimate of the German losses was as follows; two battleships of the Dreadnought type and one pre-Dreadnought were seen to sink, and another Dreadnought was so severely damaged that her survival was doubtful.  One battle cruiser (the Lutzow) was sunk, and another probably sunk. Five light cruisers were sent to the bottom, six destroyers were seen to sink, and three more were so damaged that they could hardly have survived the drubbing.  Finally, one submarine was sunk.

            When it was realised that practically the whole of the first line fighting strength of the British and German navies was engaged in this action, it will be understood that it is impossible to chronicle here even the names of those who were rewarded for their distinguished service.  The incident which appealed most strongly to the nation was one in which the hero was one of the most junior ratings in the fleet.  This lad, “Boy (First Class) John Travers Cornwell,” was the only person, other than an officer, mentioned in the original dispatches of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and Vice-Admiral sir David Beatty, and these were the words that were used; “The fortitude of the wounded was admirable.  A report from the commanding officer of the Chester” (a light cruiser) “gives a splendid instance of devotion to duty.  Boy (First Class) John Travers Cornwell, of the Chester, was mortally wounded early in the action.  He, nevertheless, remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders until the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded all round him.  His age was under sixteen and a half years.  I regret that he was since died,” wrote Admiral Beatty, “but I recommend his case for special recognition in justice to his memory, and as an acknowledgement of the high example set by him.”  The posthumous award of the Victoria Cross was made, and various projects were set on foot whereby the lad’s example could be preserved for all time.  A third award was made in the case of Major F. J. W. Harvey, Royal Marine Light Infantry of H.N.S. Lion, who, “whilst mortally wounded and almost the only survivor after the explosion f an enemy shell in ‘Q’ gun house with great presence if mind and devotion to duty ordered the magazine to be flooded thereby saving the ship.  He died shortly afterwards.” 

            It is not the custom of the Admiralty to publish them, or to allow anyone else to publish, details of incidents in which petty officers and men of the Fleet have distinguished themselves.  For their work in the Jutland Bank battle-by which name this action is officially known-Sir John Jellicoe was made a member of the Order of Merit, Sir David Beatty was promoted from K.C.B. to G.C.B. and knighthoods of the Bath were bestowed upon Rear-Admiral Evan-Thomas and Rear-Admiral W. C. Pakenham, the latter being second in command of the Battle Cruiser Squadron under Beatty.  A large number of officers were promoted, and others were appointed C.B., D.S.O. or D.S.C., while the rewards for the rank and file included (besides the V.C. already mentioned) fifteen Conspicuous Gallantry Medals and 196 Distinguished Service Medals, while one petty officer received a bar to a D.S.M. already won.  One particular incident may be mentioned as showing how much a D.S.M. may mean in the Navy.  When writing on the Jutland battle at the invitation of the Admiralty.  Mr Rudyard Kipling, describing the experiences of a destroyer, said “There were also three wise men who saved the ship, whose names must not be forgotten.  They were Chief Engine Room Artificer Lee, Stoker Petty Officer Gardiner and Stoker Elvins.  When the funnel carried away, it was touch and go whether the foremost boiler would not explode.  These three put on respirators, and kept the fans going until all fumes, etc., were cleared away.’  To each man, you will observe, his own particular Hell, which he entered of his own particular initiative.”  These three men, it will be seen, saved a ship between them.  They also shared a single Distinguished Service Medal between them, Stoker Elvins being the recipient.  If three men who save a warship share one D.S.N. one is left to imagine what was done by the other 195 winners of the D.S.M. in the battle of Jutland Bank.

            The full story of the Jutland honours and how they were won would occupy a volume in itself, and one is compelled to mention only a few, and those in the briefest possible terms.  Mention has already been made of Flight Lieutenant Rutland, who went up in a seaplane to observe the enemy’s strength before the action began.  He was awarded the D.S.C. for this, but he was to win a second distinction.  When the action was at its height the armoured cruiser Warrior was caught by the concentrated fire of the enemy and completely disabled, though, fortunately she was not sunk.  She drifted about for some time, perfectly helpless, until at last the seaplane carrier Engadine came up and took her in tow.  I was thought then that the cruiser would last out, but she made but slows progress towards England, and at last it decided to abandon and sink her.  In darkness and a rough sea the bulk of the crew were transferred in safety, but while a wounded seaman was being passed across to the Engadine in a stretcher the rolling of the ships threw him into the water.  Two or three men I the Engadine immediately asked permission to go over the side to rescue him, but the captain refused.  The ships were bumping together, and it certainly seemed madness to attempt a rescue.  But Lieutenant Rutland, who saw the whole incident, happened not to be near any superior officer.  He therefore asked no one’s permission, but jumped overboard at once.  Thanks to his aid, the wounded man hoisted onboard the Engadine; but unfortunately he had been so badly crushed between the rolling ships that life was already extinct.  Lieutenant Rutland was awarded the Albert Medal for his gallant action.           

            For the rest, one can only take a few typical cases from the official report:  Captain E. M. Phillpotts (H.M.S. Warspite); “At a critical time, when the Fifth Battle Squadron was turning to form astern of the battle fleet, under a heavy fire, the Warspite, owing to a breakdown in her steering gear, turned towards the enemy, and got into a very dangerous position.  She was splendidly handled, however, and got away to the northward clear of the enemy’s fire.  Also, when nearing the Fifth of forth, much damaged, she was attacked by three submarines, and was handled in such a manner as to get her safely into port.”  Captain Phillpotts was awarded the C.B.

            Fleet surgeon Alexander Maclean (H.M.S. Lion);”Performed his exhausting duties with the greatest zeal and courage.  The medical staff was seriously depleted by casualties, the wounded and dying had to be dressed under very difficult conditions on the mess deck, which was flooded with a foot of water from damaged fire mains.”  Awarded the D.S.O.

            Boatswain W. H. Fenn (H.N.S. Barham); “Specially recommended.  Was in charge of the after repair party and worked in fumes until he was overcome and removed.  He returned again to the same work as soon as he had regained consciousness, and rendered invaluable services.  Mr. Fenn had only returned from hospital the day before the action.”  Noted for early promotion.

           Chief Gunner Alexander Grant (H.N.S. Lion); “With the greatest zeal and coolness went from magazine to magazine to encourage the crews in maintaining a rapid supply of ammunition, also in taking charge of fire parties and extinguishing several extensive fires.”  Promoted to Lieutenant.

            Lieutenant R. N. Porter, royal Naval Reserve (H.M.S. Barham): “After having been severely burned on the cordite explosion at No. 2 starboard 6-inch gun, Lieutenant Porter personally superintended the extinction of the fire and removal of wounded, and remained at his post for two hours after, when swelling from burns had closed his eyes and rendered his hands useless.  His condition when he reached the medical party was critical.”  Promoted to lieutenant commander.

            These must be taken as typical of the Navy’s work in the Jutland battle, the first really great naval action of the war, from which the enemy escaped only because of the failing daylight and the rising fog.  Its effect to be measured not by the losses sustained on either side, the full extent of which we cannot yet know, but by the interval which elapses between June 1st 1916, and the next (or should we say the first?) attempt on the part of the High Sea fleet to challenge the supremacy of the Grand Fleet.   

 

Sea fights of the Great War Page 112,   By W.L. Wyllie R.A. & M.F. Wre

Jutland: Sir David Beatty’s Part

            In the last week of May 1916, the Grand fleet was in an unusual state of excitement.  The finals of the Grand Boxing Competition were to be decided on board the sports-ship Borodino.  Tuesday 30th, had been fixed for the great event, and a general order of “Make and mend clothes” (Saturday routine) was issued to enable as many men as possible to attend.

            A further holiday was in prospect, for June 1st was Ascension Day, and Admiral Jellicoe made a flag general, that the day would be observed as Sunday throughout the fleet.

            Toward the close of the boxing competition there seemed to be a marked tendency to hasten the events, and before the actual finish it was apparent that something unusual was in progress.  The men had been brought to the Borodino by the attached drifters, but the urgent necessity to get them back to their ships was so great that the sports ship herself got under way, going alongside the super-Dreadnoughts, whilst drifters and picket-boats were busy transferring spectators and competitors alike to their floating homes.  The greatest activity occurred in the flagships, and steam was raised in record time, for the rumour went round, “The German Fleet is out at last.” 

             When Drake was told that the Armada was sighted he finished his game of bowls before going out to battle.  There was no hurry in those good old days.  He knew that the “invincible” fleets of Philip, running before the wind in a great half moon, would take many days to reach the Straits of Dover and might be harassed all the way.

            Our modern sailors, on the contrary, were certain that the only way to crush the High Sea Fleet was to rush at highest possible speed to deliver an overwhelming blow.  Accordingly, every available ship put to sea at once.

            It is hard to say how much the Commander-in-Chief knew of the movements of the enemy, but it is a remarkable fact that in the great Battle of Jutland a German sortie in force exactly coincided with one of our periodical sweeps.  We do not know why the German High Sea fleet put to sea.  There may have been political pressure or a feeling in high places that the time had come for the Imperial Navy to show its power.  Perhaps the High Sea Fleet went out only to exercise the men.  Under the German system the crew did not live on board the battleship, but in barracks ashore.  The vessel, all subdivided as they were into small compartments, would not make very comfortable lodgings, but to prevent demoralisation the men had to be kept trained.

            At this moment the Crown Prince’s Army was making the tremendous attack on Verdun, Fort Douaumont, the Fille Morte and other bloodstained fields.  Perhaps the German Fleet was ordered out simply to make a diversion, and thus help the army in Champagne.  Whatever the cause, the High Sea Fleet was on the afternoon of May 31st to the westward of Horn Reef.  Sir John Jellicoe and his staff had carefully arranged the movement of the British fleet.  Sir Thomas Jerram, in King George V., with the Second Battle Squadron, was ordered to leave his base at Cromarty, and, after carrying out a sweep, was to meet the rest of the Battle Fleet in a position about half way between Newcastle and the Naze of Norway.

            Sir David Beatty, in his flagship Lion, with the battle cruisers Princess Royal, Queen Mary, Tiger, New Zealand and Indefatigable, was ordered to make his sweep a little farther to the southeastward of the rendezvous.  He had as a support the four splendid battleships of the “Queen Elizabeth” class, under Rear-Admiral Evan Thomas, in Burham, with Warspite, Valiant and Malaya.  Sir David was expected to be in position by two in the afternoon of the 31st; his orders wee then to steam north until the main Battle Fleet came into sight.  He had been told that it would steer towards Horn Reef, the most westerly point of Jutland.  The four battle cruisers were at two in the afternoon in Lat. 56.46 N., Long. 4.40 E.  they were steering north by east in line ahead at a speed of 19 ½ knots.  The light cruiser Champion was screening the big ships with the ten destroyers of the Thirteenth Flotilla.  Three miles away to the east were New Zealand and Indefatigable, screened by six destroyers from the Harwich force, and five miles away on Lion’s port beam were Admiral Evan Thomas’s four great battleships in line ahead, protected by a light cruiser, Fearless, and nine destroyers.

Another screen, eight miles astern, was composed of light cruisers spread five miles apart, Southampton being farthest to the west, flying the broad pennant of Commander Goodenough, and followed in order by Nottingham, Birmingham and Dublin.  Then came Falmouth, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral T. D. W. Napier, with Birkenhead and Gloucester.  The most easterly of the light cruiser squadrons was that commanded by Commodore E. S. Alexander Sinclair, in Galatea, with Inconstant, Cordelia and Phaeton.  At 2.20 the Commodore sighted in the far distance two ships; they had a German appearance and seemed to be stationary, as though boarding a neutral.  He signalled the news to Sir David, who at once turned his battle cruisers to the S.S.E., the course for Horn Reef.  He meant to place himself between the enemy and their base.

            A quarter of an hour after the first message the Commodore sent another.  He had sighted a great cloud of smoke.  Later he sent yet another report.  Strange vessels were steering north.  Admiral Beatty altered course to port, and soon after sighted the smoke.  He made out five enemy battle cruisers, screened by destroyers and light craft.

             In the meantime Rear-Admiral Napier and Commodore Alexander Sinclair, without waiting for orders, turned to the east and formed a screen between the battle cruisers and the enemy.  There were some German light cruisers in the mist, and there were immediately engaged at long range.

            Not wishing to be out of the coming fight, Commodore Goodenough drove his vessels at their utmost speed, and soon took station with his squadron ahead of Lion, which had by her change of course dropped Champion and her Thirteenth Flotilla.  Engadine had been a fast excursion steamer running with “trippers” to the Continent in the days before the war.  She was now boxed up with a great deckhouse aft, which sheltered seaplanes.  One of these at once went up, piloted by flight-Lieut. F. S. Rutland, with Assistant-Paymaster G. S. Trewin an observer.  The day was most unsuitable for flying, as the clouds hung low (900 feet) and the seaplane was under a heavy fire all the time from light cruisers.  Four of the enemy battle cruisers 3,000 yards away wee, however, identified, and Sir David received the message by half-past three, giving evidence of great smartness and efficiency.

            By the Admiral’s orders his battle cruisers were formed on a line of bearing.  Speed had been increased to 25 knots, and the course, E.S.E., slightly converged on that of the enemy.  By this time Admiral Evan Thomas’s fifth Battle Squadron was on Lion’s port quarter, 10,000 yards away.  Champion, with the thirteenth Flotilla, by steaming fast had once more succeeded in taking her old station ahead.  By 3.48 the battle cruisers had shortened the range to 18,500 yards, and a most murderous action began, both sides starting simultaneously.  The Germans, as usual, at once picked up the range.  Lion received two hits only three minutes after the action started.  Tiger and Princess Royal were also hit several times.  The enemy bore well abaft Lion’s beam, and as his shots continued to fall on board our ships courses were altered to starboard to lengthen the range and confuse the German gunners.  The enemy, however, still kept up a rapid accurate fire, and in spite of zigzagging his shells rained upon the British battle cruisers.  Amongst several hits Lion had the roof of one of her turrets blown right off, with terrible loss of life.

            Major Harvey, of the Royal marines, who was mortally wounded sent a messenger out of the turret to inform the captain of what had helped, for all communications had broken down.  As the man left the turret he heard the major asking if anyone was alive below, at the same time giving orders to flood the magazine.  Almost immediately afterwards a second shell landed, killing everyone and causing a fire, which burnt out the turret.  Without the prompt action of dying major, to whom a posthumous V.C. was awarded, Lion would have shared the fate of Queen Mary and Indefatigable.  The men down in the magazine were drowned when it was flooded sacrificed to save their messmates and the ship.

            It was noticeable that the German salvos generally fell in a cluster, quite close together; they were not stung out as ours were, the result being that the German cluster often fell quite close but harmlessly.  Columns of water towered high above the British mastheads, drenching with spray even those in the fire controls.  There was another side to the matter when by evil chance a German salvo happened to make a direct hit.  In that case a rain of shells, falling with a steep angle of descent, practically wiped out whatever was in its course.  Indefatigable was the first to be struck by such an overwhelming and irresistible mass of destructive fire.  At six minutes past four a cluster of German shells fell upon the port side of the upper deck abreast of the after turret.  There was a terrible explosion in the magazine, and the stricken ship passed out of the line well down by the stern.  Almost directly afterwards a second salvo fell upon the fore part of the vessel.  She turned on her side and sank, leaving only a great towering cloud of brown grey smoke and steam.

           The suddenness of the catastrophe made it awe-inspiring.  At one moment the gallant ship was rushing through the waves crowded with hundreds of the best fighting men our breed produces, all in splendid health, full of life and energy. In the next only torn fragments of steel and men remained.  The foaming waters rushed in and covered everything, the great grey cloud drifted north and gradually dispersed into filmy vapour.  All was over, and Indefatigable had gone forever.

            Admiral Evan Thomas’s big battleships now began to take their part in the action with 15-inch guns firing when able on the German light cruisers.  The range of the enemy from their line was from 19,000 to 20,000 yards, but as the tawny cordite and black smoke from the battle cruisers and destroyers was drifting it was very hard to see more than two German ships at a time.  The opposite battle cruiser squadrons had now drawn a little apart owing to the zigzags and many alternations of course.  There came a slackening in the fire; but a new and deadly weapon was being use, and the tracks of torpedoes could be seen rushing across the line of the British advance.  Course was again altered, towards the enemy this time.

            Sir David’s orders to the destroyers were that they should take any favourable opportunity for an attack with torpedoes, and as there seemed to be some smoke and mist in the east, twelve of the British boats rushed ahead to take up a position of advantage.  The German small craft, however, were not behindhand.  A light cruiser with fifteen destroyers steamed out, and a spirited little action between the destroyers of both sides was soon in full swing at deadly close quarters.  Two of the Germans were sunk, and the rush ahead still continued.  Commander Bingham took Nestor right at the enemy battle cruiser.  Nomad and Nicator followed him.  The shells falling in showers all about them, Nomad was so badly damaged that she fell out of the line before she got in range, but the others gallantly rushed on and fired their torpedoes at the Germans, who were forced to turn away to avoid destruction.  As they manoeuvred they blazed away with their lighter guns at the dauntless pair.  Nestor was hit by a German light cruiser and brought to a standstill, while the battle surged onward.  Later on, when the greater conflict once more overspread the scene of this opening flight, the German Battle Fleet in passing sank the intrepid and then lonely destroyer leader.  She had continued to fire her torpedoes until not one was left.  All Britain must rejoice that the Germans rescued Commander Bingham, with the survivors of his dauntless crew,, and that the Victoria Cross was afterwards received by the young hero.

           Nomad, the first of the destroyers to be disabled, was also sunk when the German Battle Fleet came upon the scene, but a considerable portion of her brave crew was saved and taken to Germany.  Nicator, the third of the three little destroyers, got safely back out of the conflict in spite of shot and shell.  Her captain throughout the engagement was leaning over the front of his bridge smoking a cigarette and whistling the latest popular tunes of the wardroom gramophone.  He was giving directions to his coxswain by signs, zigzagging his way in and out dodging the salvos like a three quarter on a Rugby field.  Both he and the captain of Nomad were afterwards awarded the D.S.O.  Petard, Nerissa, Turbulent and Termagant, getting within 7,000 yards of the enemy, discharged their torpedoes.

            The desperate fight between the battle cruisers was as fierce as ever.  By this time many heavy shells, hitting continuously, began to tell their story.  The third German ship was in flames, and it was noticed that the enemy’s precision and rate of fire were not nearly so good as they had been.  To protect themselves the Germans set up a smoke screen, altering course as soon as it had fairly hidden them.

           

The enemy’s salvos were still falling close together, and at this moment one of them crashing upon Queen Mary struck her abreast of Q turret.  There was another tremendous explosion, and again a dreadful towering cloud of brown-grey smoke mounted thousands of feet into the air.  Tiger, which was in station and a half cables astern, steamed right into the thick of this awful pall.  There was no time to alter course.  Falling fragments rained upon her decks in the darkness.  Captain Pelly has stated that the column stood up solid like a wall.  As the pall of smoke drifted northward the stern of Queen Mary stood high out of the sea, the propellers still turning and the water round boiling fiercely, for the between decks was a mass of flames.  A skylight had been blown open aft, and up the hatch a great wind from below whirling a column of papers high into the air.  At this moment came a second explosion aft, and fragments were thrown in all directions.

            A midshipman in an after turret stated that he felt the tremendous shock, and both the enormous 50-ton guns appeared to stand on end and sink breech first into the ship.  How he got out of the turret seems doubtful, but he found himself standing on the after funnel, now lying flat upon the deck.  Realising that it was a case for swimming, he took off his coat, and was stooping down too unlace his boots when there came a second explosion.  He does not remember going up, but only the sensation of falling, falling, falling that is known so well in dreams.  It ended in a splash as he arrived in the embrace of the North Sea.  Out of all her splendid ship’s company but eighteen survivors were picked up by a destroyer.

            At the beginning of the action our battle cruisers wee six to five, with 13.5 and 12-inch guns against the 12- and 11-inch guns of the enemy.  Now they were but four to five.  The thick armour on the German decks and the subdivision of the compartments had proved more affective than had ever been foreseen.

            All this time Commodore Goodenough, with his “City” class light cruisers, had been scouting far ahead of Admiral Beatty.  At 7.88 he reported that he had sighted the German Battle Fleet in the southeast, and that they were steaming north.  Sir David therefore called in his destroyers, and when he had himself seen the enemy coming up with the wind astern he turned his ships about, signalling to Admiral Evan Thomas to follow.  When the German Admiral observed that the British ships were changing their direction he also made a sixteen-point turn, and thus the tide of the battle surged back towards the northwest, where Jellicoee was approaching in support.  Meanwhile Commodore Goodenough determined to discover all he could of the disposition and number of the German Battle Fleet.  He steamed under a very heavy fire within 13,000 yards of the heavy ships.  The drawing opposite page 120 shows Southampton at the moment when a German salvo was falling just clear of his bridge and forecastle.  This is no fancy picture.  It was enlarged from a tiny photograph taken at the moment, and though in the original the ship is little over half an inch long, one can see quite clearly how close together the German shells fell, and to what a prodigious height the spray was driven.

           The Commodore sent off many reports to his Admiral, all the while turning his little squadron now here, which fell about him so continuously.  Only skilful handling and wonderful luck saved the Second Light Cruiser Squadron from disaster.

            Moresby, which had stayed behind to help Engadine with her seaplane, now rejoined and made a spirited attack at 6,000 yards, two points before the enemy’s beam.  The four battleships of the “Queen Elizabeth” class had been from the first hampered by the smoke from so many ships drifting between their line and the enemy.  The tremendous shells hurled by their mighty guns might have been expected to wreck the German battle cruisers if only they could have scored a percentage of hits, but the tawny cordite clouds and the smoke screens all tended to make range-finding difficult and spotting almost impossible.  Besides this the ships of Admiral Evan Thomas could not steam so fast as the battle cruisers and tended to drop astern; the enemy were 20,000 yards away, and it was hard to see more than two ships at a time.  The flagship Barham was first hit at 4.23, and about this time punishment was no doubt also inflicted on the enemy.  After the sixteen-point turn the Fifth Battle Squadron was able to take a more important part in the offensive, and many hard knocks were given and received.

            Sir David’s battle cruisers, still in hot action, were now within an hours steaming of Jellicoe’s fleet, the two leading ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron, Barham and Valiant, were helping by firing upon the German battle cruisers, while Warspite and Malaya were engaging the enemy’s main fleet.  The light cruiser Fearless, with the First Flotilla, was leading the whole fleet, and Champion, with the Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla Squadron, had gone ahead of Admiral Evan Thomas’s heavy ships.  The First and Third Light Cruiser Squadrons were in position on Sir David’s starboard bow, whilst Commodore Goodenough was on his port quarter.

            Clouds and smoke became very thick towards the enemy, who was running right before the wind.  The mists behind him were variable, at times so dense that while at 14,000 yards the German ships were very instinct, on the contrary the British showed up dark against the afternoon light.  This enabled the German gunners to continue firing, even though the British flagship and her consorts were sometimes obliged to stop owing to the haze.

            Lion a little later, owing to a slight improvement in the weather, got off some fifteen salvos, and at the same time her course was gradually altered towards the enemy, changing from N.N.E. to N.E.  She was now approaching the Battle Fleet, and it was important that she could conform to the movements ordered by Sir John Jellicoe.

            For a moment it is interesting here to break the narrative by giving the personal impressions of a midshipman who was in the fight.  In a great sea battle only about a score of either officers or men see anything of the real progress, but if the reader can fancy himself a midshipman of a turret on board a battle cruiser he will probably accept the following as a true experience:

 

           You are going down to the gun room about tea-time, when suddenly “Action stations” is sounded, and you rush up just as you are and take your appointed place in your close by the ammunition hoists.  The two gun crews and the officers tumble up in haste and make ready for battle, clear away and test all gear, though no one at the moment supposes that anything more than the usual practice is in the wind.  While waiting for further orders, word is passed that Galatea has reported that the enemy is in sight.  There will be no crimson target of scene-painter’s canvas stretched over wooden trellis, and towed by a tug.  This time it is real war!  The target will not sail quietly on its way.  The target is going to hit savagely back.  Half an hour after the bugle sounds you are all hard at work.  The great muzzles swing around to the port bow, right and left guns shoot their defiance at the foe alternately.  A constant flow of ammunition is coming up the hoists, and this is your job, your life and death, success or failure-you must give your mind to nothing else.  You have neither gas mask nor Gieve’s waistcoat, but you must carry on, and the work must go on without a hitch.  The noise is incessant, for besides the salvos of the heavy guns at the 6-inch battery is bursting out at intervals with rapid fire more trying to the ear than the crash of the great turret armament right under you; the shells are falling all round.  If you stop for a moment and look through one of the sights of the control cabinet you catch a glimpse of the ship ahead, all but hidden by the mighty jets of spray which tower far above the mastheads, the intervening water torn and tormented by the shells which have gone wide.  Smoke is pouring out of rents in the forecastle.  The enemy has got the range at once, and the hits are falling pretty regularly on your ship, a stolid old trainer remarking each time: “There goes another!” just as though a 12-inch shell striking was quite an ordinary incident.  Then one of the hydraulic cylinders suddenly gives out, owing to a fault in the casting-quite a little thing in itself, but sufficient to place the gun out of action, and make the crew, lately so buoyant and cheery, sick at heart.  Soon after there is a tremendous crash, which seems as though it had stopped the ship itself-a German shell has hit the armoured barbette a glancing blow, flying forward, cutting cables, twisting stanchions, filling the fore part of the ship with splinters and making a horrible mess.  After an hour of hard fighting the conflict is still of a fierce and resolute character, but a little later on your fire begins to tell, and the rapidity of the enemy’s shots gradually falls off-the hits too, are fewer.  It is now nearly five o’clock, and you feel the helm is being put hard over for a sharp turn; your turret swings round and the great guns begin fire on the starboard beam.  There is more quick firing, but in the end of the enemy’s attack dies down again.  About an hour afterwards word is passed to the turret that the Battle Fleet is sighted, the firing continues slowly.  After a long spell comes twilight.  The yelling of the shells grows and more intermittent as the mist increases, the last being fired about ten.  The guns are now practically horizontal, as the range is only two miles.  After a further period of waiting some of the crew are allowed to leave the turret to collect food for their comrades.  You may go for a moment to the wardroom to try to find something to eat.  Working your way aft along the 6-inch batteries in semi-darkness, for the lights are all out, you tumble over mess tables and gear all heaped and smashed.  Water is washing about and cordite fumes are everywhere.  You are told that the midshipman of Q turret has been killed by a shell striking the roof, that one man was blown right under his gun, that at the same moment the elevating wheel turned and the gun crushed him.  There are dead men in the ammunition passages, and shells coming through a warrant officer’s cabin have killed a whole party.

            You find some of the wardroom officers black and filthy, eating raw onions and biscuit and drinking cocoa, and then you work back through the litter to your turret, with biscuits and a thermos flask.  You are dead tired, and try to get some on the top of a shell bin.  Distant firing is still going on astern, but you are very weary and the long night slowly wears away uncomfortably.

            The grey morning light as it breaks slowly, shows the guns crews haggard, with drawn faces, and unspeakably dirty.  A signal has been received-“Take station astern of Battle Fleet.”  You are still at action stations and only one or two may steal away to try to get breakfast.  The gunroom is in an awful mess; a shell has burst beneath, starting a fire, and the whole place is flooded.  Schoolbooks are floating about in four inches of water, and everything in the way of loose fittings is smashed.  The gallery is all right tough, and cook has some boiled eggs and tea.  He has momentarily reached the height of his popularity.  Afterwards, the crews are fallen out and begin to clear the dreadful chaos and collect souvenirs.  Their eagerness for material mementos sounds cold blooded, but such an instinct inevitably follows a crisis. 

            It is possible now to see the damage done.  Some of the escapes seem miraculous.  One big shell has burst below, and a splinter has stopped right against the main steam-pipe.  Another striking abreast of B turret was going straight for A and B magazines.  It was stopped by the flour store, and the oil fuel tank.  Oil mixed with flour and water makes a nasty mixture, and the bits of bulkheads and the mess from many wrecked cabins stick out of the untidy welter.

            After hard work there is a service on the quarterdeck, when bits of men and bodies so mangled as to be unrecognisable are buried, sewn up in canvas.  The rest of the dead are lying cold and still, in rows on one side of the deck, hidden behind a screen.  War is a dreadful business.

 

            Let us now turn to the forces under Sir John Jellicoe, at this moment doing their utmost to throw their weight into the scale.

            Rear Admiral Hood, who was in command of the famous battle cruisers Invincible, Inflexible and Indomitable, received orders to reinforce Sir David Beatty.  He rushed at full speed in line ahead on a southerly course, screened by the light cruiser Canterbury five miles ahead, with destroyers Shark, Christopher, Ophelia and Acasta.  Chester, another light cruiser, was scouting towards the enemy.  The haze seemed very patchy; at one moment ships could be seen at 16,000 yards, at another at only 2,000 yards.  The sound of heavy firing could be plainly heard in the sou-west.  Chester turned towards the detonations and soon afterwards made out on her starboard bow a three-funnelled light cruiser with one or two destroyers.  Chester received no reply to her searchlight flashes, and turned towards the west, judging the strangers to be enemies in stronger force than she could judiciously tackle.

            As Chester neared the strangers she prudently steered towards the north, bringing the enemy craft well abaft her port beam to present a less favourable target for torpedo attacks.  The enemy at once opened fire, and at the same time two more light cruisers appeared out of the mist astern.  Captain Lawson at once altered course to the northeast and steamed as fast as he could for the protection off the Third Battle Cruiser Squadron.  The fight that followed was terribly unequal.  The enemy’s fourth salvo put No. 1 gun on Chester’s port side out of action, killing or wounding a large proportion of the crews at No. 2 and 3 guns.  In nineteen minutes thirty-one men had been killed and fifty wounded.  The fire control circuits became disabled, and four shells struck close to the water line.  It was here that Jack Cornwall, a boy rated first class though but little over sixteen was mortally wounded early in the action.  He stayed at his post with the pads on his ears heroically waiting for orders though all the rest of the gun’s crews were killed.  A Victoria Cross appreciation of his courage was given posthumously.  The drawing shows the light cruiser in action heavily engaged by the three Germans.  She is steaming at full speed in zigzags, trying to confuse the control of the German fire.

            Soon after the battle cruisers came upon the scene, and Rear-Admiral Hood rushed his ships in between Chester and her German foes.  The enemy did not wait, turning away in a hurry, discharged his torpedoes at the advancing British ships.  The tracks of five torpedoes were seen afterwards.  Inflexible turned to port to avoid them, while Invincible and Indomitable turned to starboard.  Three passed too near to be pleasant, and one even ran within twenty yards.  In the haze other German light cruisers, with a large force of destroyers, showed up astern of the first three, trying by overwhelming force to push through.     

            Shark, Acasta, Ophelia and Christopher were the destroyers, which formed the submarine screen of the Third Battle Cruiser Squadron.  They had been left when Invincible made her turn and now sighted the new enemy.  Commander Loftus Jones did not reckon the odds against him.  He saw that the light cruisers and destroyers were enemies, and engaged without hesitation.  The Germans poured in a devastating fire, and both Shark and Acasta were very badly damaged.  Many of the crew were killed and wounded, and when three more enemies steamed out of the haze and opened fire Shark’s position appeared desperate.  Lieut. -Commander Barron, wishing to tow his unfortunate leader, brought Acasta alongside, but Loftus Jones, who had been wounded, declining to risk another destroyer, ordered Acasta away.  Shark now lay a helpless wreck upon the water, target for all the German light cruisers and destroyers.  The captain was helping to keep the only undamaged gun in action.  The last torpedo was being placed in the tube when a shell bit it, and a tremendous explosion spread death and destruction far and wide.  The action was far too unequal to last, though the gallant officers and men continued to fire their gun.  Yet another shell wounded Loftus Jones, taking off his right leg, but he continued to direct the fire.  As the enemy came nearer-and it seemed possible that is ship might be captured-he gave orders that she should be sunk.  The only gun was still in action, however, and so the order was countermanded, the gallant crew fighting until Shark was at last struck by two torpedoes and sank with immortal glory, her colours flying triumphantly to the last.  Next morning a Danish merchant steamer picked up six survivors.  In view of the splendid defence made, those men awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.  Here are their names: W. C. R. Griffin, petty officer; C. Fillend, stoker petty officer; C. C. Hope, A.B.; C. H. Smith, A. B. ; T. O. G. Howell, A. B. ; T. W. Swan, stoker.  A posthumous Victoria Cross was given to Loftus Jones, their unconquerable commander.  All these names will remain indelible on the scroll of England’s long fame at sea.

            The Third Light Cruiser Squadron, commanded by Rear-Admiral Napier, now made a torpedo attack on the five German battle Cruisers, which still in the mists continued to lead the enemy’s line.  A heavy explosion under water was felt, and it was thought at the time that one of the torpedoes had struck home.

            We left Rear-Admiral Hood dodging the torpedoes of the German light cruisers.  Shortly afterwards he sighted Lion and the First Battle Cruiser Squadron.  He turned to take his station ahead of Sir David.  A very sharp action was at once begun with the German battle cruisers at a range of only 8,000 yards.  In the middle of the battle Admiral Hood, who was on the bridge with his Flag Captain, hailed his gunnery officer, Dannreuther, in the fire control, saying: “Your firing is very good.  Keep at it as quickly as you can; every shot is telling.”  Only four minutes afterwards a German salvo Invincible on Q turret.  The enemy must have been using delay-action fuses, for the shells burst inside.  Commander Dannreuther saw the roof of the turret blown right off.  The burning cordite reached the magazine, and a tremendous explosion rent the unfortunate ship in half.  Officers who were present say that in the great brown-grey cloud of smoke they saw a picket-boat flung hundreds of fleet of feet into the air with quantities of other wreckage.  The whole of the amidships of Invincible was blown away, but for a long time afterwards her two ends stuck out of the sea like half-tide rocks, grim and awful in their separation.  Many who saw them did not understand at first what they were; an officer in Benbow, who passed the wreck at 6.56, said he thought it might be a Zeppelin.  Later he saw the red paint and black topping, with a yardarm group over the stern, then, terrible to relate, the name Invincible.  A destroyer was standing by picking up men still afloat, and a large quantity of wreckage drifted on the offside.  Badger saved Commander Dannreuther, another officer and four seamen.

             Rear Admiral the Hon. Horace Hood ranked as one of the most promising of the younger flag officers.  He had greatly distinguished himself on the Belgian coast in the early part of the war, and his death was a great loss to the Royal Navy.  His memory remains honoured and untarnished.

            Inflexible now led the line, and as soon as the wreck had been passed she altered course two points towards the enemy, again lost in the mist.  Later on there was a still further turn, but a 6.50 Sir David signalled to the two battle cruisers to take station astern of New Zealand.

            At five o’clock Admiral Jellicoe’s advanced cruiser line, which was commanded by Rear Admiral Heath, was about sixteen miles ahead of the main battle fleet, and owing to the haze, the cruisers on the western flank had closed in.  Admiral Hood’s battle cruisers should have been at this time about sixteen miles east of the advanced cruiser line, but the course of the “Invincible” was more to the southward, and they were running quite five knots faster.  The result was that, when the sound of firing reached Admiral Heath’s ships he saw three battle cruisers steaming to the westward.  Just as he was about to open fire on the British ships Invincible providentially returned his challenge.  The battle cruisers had rushed in between the advanced line and the enemy.

            Let us now turn to Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot, commanding four armoured cruisers.  Warrior followed his flagship, Defence, to the eastward.  Duke of Edinburgh and Black Prince formed another line to starboard; both columns steered to the southeast.  At 3.47 Sir Robert sighted on his starboard bow three of four German light cruisers.  Turning three points to port, he brought them abeam.  Both the British cruisers fired three salvos the nearest enemy, a three-funnelled cruiser, but all the shots fell short.  The Sir Robert altered course to port, bringing the fore ahead.  The German vessel was soon much nearer, and the cruisers, half hidden in mist, turned and opened fire, the shots falling all about the British ships.  Lion and the First Battle Cruiser Squadron appeared to starboard, still engaged with the enemy they had been fighting all the afternoon, steaming at high speed and showing clearly by their battered condition what an ordeal they had gone through.  Lion’s middle turret had the roof off; fires were burning forward in the port battery and the funnels were badly riddled, but Sir David had kept his bridge all through the action.

            On board Princess Royal a heavy shell had struck the after barbette, causing the guns to drop their muzzles forlornly on the deck.  Great columns of tawny smoke continued to belch from the long muzzles of the other guns with the brilliant, ruddy cordite flames at each salvo.

            Sir Robert took his two cruisers right across the bows of Lion, so close, indeed, that Capta8n Chatfield star boarded his helm to clear Warrior.

            The positions of the ships are illustrated on p. 141 as they appeared a few moments afterwards.  Defence and Warrior were now under fire from the German battle cruisers beyond the mist.  Both Sir Robert’s ships were punishing the tiny Wiesbaden-now in great distress, listing over and down by the head, but gallantly firing a solitary gun.  Shortly after six the enemy obtained a clear view of the British ships, sharply defined against the evening light.  Defence was hit by two salvos fired in quick succession.  The effect was instantaneous.  Her magazine exploded with tremendous violence.  There were no survivors.  Fire seemed to run along from the explosion in each end of the ship and to meet in the middle.  In a moment she simply disappeared.

            Warrior, in following, had received the concentrated fire of the enemy; great 12-inches shells rained upon her without cessation.

            Her engineer-Commander afterwards gave a graphic description of the scene below.  All through her commission he had been gradually working the engines up to do better and better.  On the morning of the battle he succeeded in making them run more smoothly than they had ever done before.  Never had the old ship been driven so fast.  Then came the German shells, smashing and rending everything.  The Engineer-Commander’s feelings were of rage and fury.  His splendid charges, on which he had lavished so much loving care, lay fractured and mutilated by flying fragments of steel.  It was unthinkable.

            At this moment a heavy shell came hurtling through the port engine room grating.  It passed through the fore and aft bulkhead into the starboard engine room, and then without bursting, through the ships side out into the sea.

            The catastrophe was overwhelming.  In a moment the starboard engine room was full of cold, green water, which spouted through the shell hole in the fore and aft bulkhead, rapidly filling up the port engine room.  “Shall I stop the engines, sir?” cried a leading stoker.  “No, no!  Leave them running!” came the answer.  The Engineer-Commander was grasped by the collar, and a burly stoker helped him on to the cylinder cover, where, with the water up to his neck, he could hold on to the engine room grating.  On the deck above a savage fire raged among offices and cabins.  Bright flames licking the paintwork; smoke hung everywhere.  The stoker helped each other along to the shell hole in the grating, through which they painfully climbed, choked and half blinded by the fumes.  Water washed about the deck; the dead lay huddled in the corners.  It is better to draw a veil over what happened to the unfortunate men in the starboard engine room, caged between fire and water.  War is ghastly tragedy, though it calls forth the heroism of men.

            Warrior, crippled and confused, turned away westward; though a perfect wreck, her engines were still running.  She soon found herself close to Sir Evan Thomas’s four battleships, which had just been ordered to take astern of Agincourt.  The ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron put their helms a starboard to carry out the order, but they were still under heavy fire, and for some reason or other the steaming gear of Warspite, the last but one in the line, jammed, and she continued under starboard helm, turning circles in the middle of the battle.  The Germans sent many salvos at her, and fires were started and great damage done, water pouring into her after compartments.  The picture opposite shows the position of the two ships, Warrior crawling out of action and Warspite perforce still waltzing in the midst of the shell splashes.  Warrior was no doubt lucky in meeting Warspite, for the great battleship attracted to her the attention of the German gunners.  There is, of course, no truth in the stories, which appeared in the newspapers at the time claiming that Warspite went out of her way to protect the wounded Warrior.

            Continuing to creep towards the west, the battered armoured cruiser was sighted by the seaplane carrier Engadine.  The latter was soon alongside getting wire hawers ready for towing.  All through the night the gallant little excursion boat continued to tow Warrior towards a British port.  On the morning of June 1st the pair had reached Lat. 57.18 North, Long. 3.54 E., but now weather began.  Warrior put her quarter into the waves with every roll and wallowed in a way, which suggested that she might turn on her side at any moment.  There is a very marked peculiarity in the lurch of a waterlogged ship, which is disconcerting.  A council was held, and it was decided to abandon the ship.  Luckily, Engadine was fitted with a very rubbing strakes-a relic of the days when she carried trippers.  In spite of the rising swell, Lieut skilfully brought her alongside. -Commander C. J. Robinson, and the large number of wounded men were gradually transferred.  Unfortunately one of the cases-a seamen who had both legs amputated-was dropped into the sea between the two ships.  Without waiting a moment, one of Engadine’s pilots-Rutland-jumped in at tremendous risk and rescued the poor soul.  

            There can be no doubt that the abandoned Warrior must have sunk during the night.  Many ships were sent to search for her but found no trace.

            An officer of the First Battle Cruiser Squadron has stated that Engadine, in spite of her unsightly hangar aft, was most efficient and always at hand when wanted.  When orders came for Beatty’s vessels to leave Rosyth before the battle the ship was lying with her two cables twisted in a hopeless muddle, for mooring swivels are not supplied to seaplane carriers.  One officer at least looked at the tangle of chains as he passed, thinking to himself: “Well, we won’t see Engadine for some time anyhow.”  But when the squadron was outside Blackrock Gate there was the ex-tripper in her appointed place ready for anything.  It has been recorded how smartly her seaplane got away before the battle and how quickly the report came in.

            Briefly, with al its records of pluck and dash, this terrible chapter draws to an end.  The tale has been one of determination and grit, of unexampled disaster and wholesale death.  The broad facts stand out clearly.  Six of our British cruisers and four battleships of our most powerful type engaged five German battle cruisers at long range for two hours.  The weight of metal was all on our side.  The battle cruisers carried 13.5- and 12-inch guns and the Fifth Battle Squadron 15-inch guns.  Germans were armed with 11- and 12-inch guns only.  They were hammered for an hour o the run south, and during that time they sank two or splendid battle cruisers.  The five Germans were still afloat and full of fight when the German Battle Fleet appeared in support.  On the run north the combat still raged.  Five battle cruisers were leading the German line and taking all the hard knocks, though the flagship Lutzow was so much damaged that the Admiral was obliged to transfer his flag, while Seydlitz was in little better state.  Then two more of our ships, armoured cruisers of older pattern, rushed to attack.  One was sunk at once with all hands and the other so mauled that she had to be abandoned.  When three more British battle cruisers made an attack from the north, the foe turned to the east and sank one of them.  No doubt the German Battle Fleet helped considerably during the latter part of the fighting, but when the rival Battle Fleets at last got into distant touch with each other three at least of the five German battle cruisers which began the action with so much spirit were still in fighting trim, though severely knocked about.  Their shooting was wild.  We have at present no means of knowing what was the state of moral on board.  It was suggested at the time of the armistice that the hammering the Germans received off Jutland was enough to prevent the seamen ever wishing to fight again.  It is safer, however, not to assume too much.  What we do know is that the German range finding was excellent at the start; that the German armour was stout enough to burst our shells outside and not inside the ships, and that the speed of the battle cruisers was higher than had been expected.  Our ships, though faster and more heavily armed, were not sufficiently protected by horizontal armour; besides this, when a turret was hit the flames spread down the ammunition hoists to the magazines.

            The picture opposite shows how the battle cruiser line at the position called afterwards by our sailors “Windy Corner.”  The German van was making a gradual turn towards the east.  In the forefront of the battle is Tiger, blazing away at the high sea fleet with all her guns.  Ahead of her is Princess Royal, and beyond again Lion.  Defence and Warrior are crossing ahead of the battle cruisers, and the destroyer Onslow is seen on the extreme right starting off to make her gallant attack on the little light cruiser, which was called by the men of our navy “The mad dog”!  Her German name was supposed to be Wiesbaden, though there seems to be some doubt on this matter.  Some suppose there did many ships fire two light cruisers on.  Be that as it may, Onslow sighted a light cruiser on the starboard bow of Lion in a favourable position for a torpedo attack.  The British destroyer, without counting the odds, steamed right at the German and engages with gunfire, at first at 4,000 and later at 2,000 yards.  Onslow was badly damaged, but she got near enough to attack with torpedoes; then a big shell hit the destroyer.  Lieut.-Commander Turvey, D.S.O., fired all his remaining torpedoes, one at the light cruiser and the rest at the advancing German battleships.  By this time the brave little ship’s engines were out of action, so another destroyer, Defender, Lieut.-Commander Palmer, which had been reduced to ten knots by a shot in the engine room, took Onslow in tow under a heavy fire and brought her out of action.  Afterwards, in spite of bad weather, she went on towing until a tug from England took charge.  Lieut.-Commander Palmer got a D.S.O. for this act of calm courage carried on though the towing wire parted three times during the bad weather.  In spite of this and the reduced speed, Palmer continued to struggle homeward with the lame duck astern.

            A few incidents in the first phase of the battle may be of interest.  The descendants of Lord Barham had presented an excellent portrait of the old Admiral to his namesake the battleship with the proviso that the picture should not be stored ashore but be carried into action; splinters duly wounded it.  Barham’s model stood between decks, and a shell bursting below sent fragments in all directions.  It is a wonderful coincidence that the model of Barham was scarred as though to scale in exactly the same places as the ship was damaged.

            On board Warspite a heavy shell burst just outside the door of the church, blowing down the door.  Everything inside was wrecked, chairs broken, splinters everywhere.  In spite of all the ruin the crucifix was quite unhurt and still stood upon the broken altar, though the vases on each side were knocked over and smashed to pieces.

            Every incident in the battle is of supreme interest to a nation of sea going people who for centuries have made the great surrounding oceans of their different homes the chief element on which they build their power.

            Malaya received much damage at “Windy Corner.”  A heavy shell struck the armoured deck in the battery, bursting inward and wrecking everything.  Flames rushed down the ammunition hoists but were providentially extinguished before reaching the magazine.  In the battery itself, however, many charges of cordite were ready beside the 6-inch guns, and a dreadful flame spread along from gun to gun, burning the men as they waited for the torpedo attack.  Over sixty men were killed outright and many terribly burned.  A boy near one of the after guns, when he saw the flames rushing down the battery, promptly rolled himself in one of the mats on which the shells are dumped, and thus escaped unhurt.  Another heavy shell struck a glancing blow on the roof of one of the turrets, but though the side armour was forced outward, leaving a gap, none of the men inside received more than a shaking.

            Valiant was lucky enough to go through the battle without casualties.  The doctors and the chaplain waited below for hours, but there was nothing doing.  After the action a search was made far shell holes or splinter marks, but none could be found.  Only when the ship went into dry dock was a dent discovered which a shell striking under water might have caused.

            One of the battles cruisers-New Zealand-was also untouched though right in the thick of all the fighting.  Before the war, when the ship visited New Zealand some Maoris foretold that there would be a great was and New Zealand would take part in all the big fights but she would come through safely.  The prophecy seems to have been fulfilled.  Certain charms were presented to the ship and though she fired four hundred and twenty rounds from her 12-inch guns she emerged sound and uninjured from the action. As is well known, she was a present from the patriotic New Zealanders to the British Navy.


The Battle of Jutland, HMS Royal Oak by Anthony Saunders


The Battle of Jutland, HMS Royal Oak by Anthony Saunders

The British Grand Fleet had been virtually unopposed for nearly a century but now there was a challenge to the throne: the German Navy. Although smaller, it had caught up fast and by the time of Jutland, had some telling advantages over the British Fleet. the plan for the battle was to lure the British Grand Fleet into a lethal trap in German waters. In the event although desperately fought by both sides, the battle was a stale mate. the confused conflict was hampered on both sides by bad luck, bad weather and poor communications. at the end of the battle, the Royal navy had suffered higher losses in men and ships, but the German fleet never ventured out of harbour to seek battle again.
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Battle of Jutland by Charles Dixon.


Battle of Jutland by Charles Dixon.

A line of Royal Navy battleships engage the German High Seas Fleet during the Battle of Jutland.
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HMS Vanguard at the Battle of Jutland by Charles Dixon.


HMS Vanguard at the Battle of Jutland by Charles Dixon.

HMS Vanguard is followed by HMS Colossus, lit up by flash from the guns, and flanked on the other side by HMS Galatea.
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HMS Lion at the Battle of Jutland by Ivan Berryman.


HMS Lion at the Battle of Jutland by Ivan Berryman.

HMS Lion with her sister ship HMS Princess Royal are shown firing on the German High Seas Fleet which can be seen in the distance during the Battle of Jutland.
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Lion, Tiger and Princess Royal in Chase by W L Wyllie.


Lion, Tiger and Princess Royal in Chase by W L Wyllie.

Three copies available
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The Roaring Lion by Arthur J W Burgess.


The Roaring Lion by Arthur J W Burgess.

Depicts HMS Lion during the Battle of Dogger Bank, January 1915. The original painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1915.
Item Code : ANT0082The Roaring Lion by Arthur J W Burgess. - Editions Available
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Lion Leading the Battle Cruisers by W L Wyllie.


Lion Leading the Battle Cruisers by W L Wyllie.

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Item Code : WY0046Lion Leading the Battle Cruisers by W L Wyllie. - Editions Available
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