View Full Version : The 2nd Battle of Heligoland Bight
The 17th November is the 92nd Anniversary of the 2nd Battle of Heligoland Bight
Here is how The Times reported it at the time
battle i do not think so - skirmish at a push
1. armed fighting; combat or war
2. any fight or struggle; conflict
skirmish - minor encounter in war
this known officially as the action in the heligoland bight 16 & 17 nov 1917
no battle honour awarded
moving on to 1941 sinking the bismarck was a battle
but is never referred to as such
battle honour bismarck action
so leaving aside the semantics it turned out to be a very indifferent
encounter for the rn bearing in mind those ships in the covering
force were capable of so much more but the mine menace and the lack of
information relayed to the cruiser commanding officers turned the whole
episode into somewhat of a fiasco
the admiralty post mortem let everyone off the hook
but hey ho a vc was still awarded that night
Here is an interesting take on this event from the gospel of Wikipedia.
The Second Battle of Heligoland Bight was a naval engagement in World War I. On 17 November 1917, German minesweepers clearing a path through the British minefield in the Heligoland Bight near the coast of Germany were intercepted by two British cruisers, HMS Calypso and HMS Caledon, performing counter-minesweeping duties. The German ships fled south toward the protection of the battleships SMS Kaiser and SMS Kaiserin, commanded by Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter. The two cruisers engaged the German battleships, while their own screening force of the battlecruisers HMS Tiger, HMS Renown, HMS Repulse, HMS Courageous, and HMS Glorious were coming up to assist.
All personnel on the bridge of HMS Calypso, including her captain, were killed by a 12-inch shell. HMS Repulse, Captain William Boyle, later Admiral of the Fleet William Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork and Orrery, briefly engaged the German battleships, but the Germans made it back to the safety of their own minefields with the loss of only a minesweeper.
It was during this battle that Able Seaman John Henry Carless of HMS Caledon won a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery in manning a gun despite mortal wounds.
What the Log Book of HMS Renown says on the 17th of November 1917.
ADM 53/57616, At Rosyth, Cleaning ship, refitting, preparing for undocking, ( I think we get the picture).
What the Log Book of HMS New Zealand says on the 17th of November 1917.
ADM 53/52650Action Stations, saw & heard gunfire ahead. ( I think we get the picture).
What a load of rubbish. They weren't near the coast, there were way out in Northsea. Calypso and Caledon were part of a large force, Glorious,, Courageous, 6 LCS (4 LC), 1 LCS (4 LC), supported by 1 BCS (5 BC's) and 1 BS(6 BB's). Against them 4 German light cruisers. von Reuter was in charge of German light cruisers, not BB's. Renown was absent, as per log book. Repulse went to assistance of LC's, and hit Konigsberg. Calypso was hit by 15cm shell, not 12 inch. Repulse did not engage BB's. Not one thing correct.
But i won't disturb the myth.
To qualify as a battle there should be at least 1000 men on each side,it should last at least one hour,with at least 100 casualties.(chalgrove field battle group during research at Oxford university -february 1995)-this was devised for land engagements but navwar would probably also qualify.
Skirmish,minor or irregular engagement in war-usually between small outlying detachments-brief preliminary conflict.
Using this as a guide which one would 2nd Heligoland Bight come down on?
It would seem to be classed as a Battle according to this source. I thought I would find what was officially classed as a Battle, in the same manner that the Battle Nomenclature Committee of 1923 did for the British Army; but unfortunately not.
dennis a feary
QPR / Culverin / All, think this chap would consider (if he could have) that he had been in a `battle' !!!
CARLESS John H Killed 17.11.17 Ordinary Seaman - J43703 (PO)
RN 78A053 Caledon C-in-C Grand Fleet 17.05.18 Gazetted
Action in the Heligoland Bight 17.11.17 VC - Posthumous
Although mortally wounded in the abdomen, and his stomach laid bare, he still went on serving his gun, lifting a projectile and helping to clear away the other casualties. He collapsed once, but again got up, tried again and cheered on the new crew, he then fell again and died.
He not only showed a very bright and memorable example, but he also, whilst mortally wounded, continued to do effective work against the King's enemy's.
Note ; noted as being ACTION in Heligoland Bight.
#7 Distinctly indicates not just Battle- but Major Battle Surely the writer can not be that wrong.:cool:
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