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Battle of Jutland, 1916, World War I

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t42592 #1 Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:26 AM

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http://upload.wikime...Fleet_sails.jpg

(British Royal Navy, 1914)


The Germans called it the Battle of Skagerrak, while history recorded it at the Battle of Jutland (BOJ) of 1916 in North Sea near Jutland, Denmark.  It was the largest naval battle between opposing battleships during the war between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet.  British forces maintained a blockade of mercentile shipping into German ports, the reason the German's planned a rouge to lure out, ambush, and destroy some or all of the opposition.

The British flotilla was comprised of 151 British, Australian, and Canadian ships.  The composition included 28 battleships, 9 battlecruisers, 8 armoured cruisers, 26 light cruisers, 78 destroyers, 1 minelayer, and 1 seaplane.

The Imperial German Navy was comprised of 99 ships.  The composition included 16 battleships, 5 battle cruisers, 6 pre-dreadnoughts, 11 light cruisers, and 61 torpedo boats.

German's strategy was to lure out British ships using fast-scouting battlecruisers, while laying an ambush of submarines.  However, the British intercepted radio signals, and determined a major fleet operation was imminent.  On May 30th, the British sailed out, passing over unprepared German submarines, and making steam for the Imperial German Fleet, to engage and destory, at the very least, contain the threat against its own shipping lanes.

Sir John Jellicoe commanded the Grand Fleet, while Vice-Admiral Reihnard Scheer, the High Seas Fleet.  Franz Hipper commanded the fast-scouting group, while Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, the British battlecruiser squadrons.

On the afternoon of May 31, leading the British flotilla, Beatty spotted Hipper's forces, engaging and following the German rouge towards the awaiting trap.  Beatty sighted the large German force, but not in time before losing 2 battlecruisers, 4 battleships versus Hipper's losses of 5 ships.  Sir Hugh Evan-Thomas, commander of the last battleship to turn around, formed a rearguard as Beatty withdrew.  At this point, British strategy was to retreat into its main fleet, drawing German forces towards British positions.  As the sun lowered on the western horizon, backlit German forces closed on the retreating Beatty.  About 8:30 PM, the combined two fleets of 250 ships - directly engaged twice.

In the aftermath, both sides suffered massive losses during the night battle.   At the conclusion of the battle, the British flotilla lost 6,094 sailors, 674 wounded, and 177 captured.  In addition, ship losses included 3 battlecruisers, 3 armoured cruisers, and 8 destroyers.  In contrast, the German lost 2,551 sailors with 507 wounded.  Ship losses included 1 pre-dreadnought, 1 battlecruiser, 4 light cruisers, and 5 torpedo-boats.

Jellicoe moved to remove the German's retreat, in hopes of continuing the engagement in the morning.  However, under the cover of darkness, Scheer managed to break out and returned to port.

To this day, both sides debate the claim of victory, that while the British lost more ships and sailors, the German's had failed remove the blockade.  Additionally, do the Germany's inability to remove the blockade, let alone reduce the British advantage, they realigned their goal and resources to developing unrestrictive submarine warfare with the strategy of destroying Allied and neutral shipping.

This brief obviousely does not address the details of each nation's strategy, deployment, Order of battle, and fleet actions, as that data is monumental and lengthy in scope.  Yet, it should be noted that while this was the largest naval battle, it was only the third-ever fleet action between steel battleships, namely the Battle of the Yellow Sea in 1904 and Tsushima in 1905.

Edited by t42592, 22 September 2012 - 10:33 AM.

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Lt_Andrev #2 Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:35 AM

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View Postt42592, on 22 September 2012 - 10:26 AM, said:

http://upload.wikime...Fleet_sails.jpg

(British Royal Navy, 1914)


Extremely good image!!!

At the second side a Hochseeflotte here:

Posted Image

Edited by Lt_Andrev, 22 September 2012 - 10:42 AM.


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Crag_r #3 Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:36 AM

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Well done, I cant believe that no one else posted on this yet


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JeeWeeJ #4 Posted 22 September 2012 - 11:02 AM

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No mention of the brilliant German "battle turns", which pretty much stunned the British but just making a massed 180 degree turn and refusing the Brits to continually "cross their T".

But good read! :Smile_great:


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flyingtaco #5 Posted 22 September 2012 - 08:35 PM

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germans had extremely overengineeres ships .... the luzow( i think)  the only german BC loss did not even really sink  till it was almost in port.  the germans used nitro cellulose propellants and the brits used cordite, i forget the specifics, but the tendancy of cordite to flash up and explode rather than burn has been cited as one of the reasons the brits lost so many BC. That, and the possibility that they did not follow proper proceedures with regards to the handling of powder and shells. it was common practice in fleet competitions to take shortcuts to increase efficency,  inluding leaving hatches etc open. then the brit turrets were hit, the flames tended to flash down into the magazines and only the quick thinking of some sailors on the British flagship prevented something similar from occuring when one of the turrets was hit.

JeeWeeJ #6 Posted 22 September 2012 - 09:34 PM

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View Postflyingtaco, on 22 September 2012 - 08:35 PM, said:

germans had extremely overengineeres ships .... the luzow( i think)  the only german BC loss did not even really sink  till it was almost in port.  the germans used nitro cellulose propellants and the brits used cordite, i forget the specifics, but the tendancy of cordite to flash up and explode rather than burn has been cited as one of the reasons the brits lost so many BC. That, and the possibility that they did not follow proper proceedures with regards to the handling of powder and shells. it was common practice in fleet competitions to take shortcuts to increase efficency,  inluding leaving hatches etc open. then the brit turrets were hit, the flames tended to flash down into the magazines and only the quick thinking of some sailors on the British flagship prevented something similar from occuring when one of the turrets was hit.
Yup, plus the main charges the Germans used were kept in brass cases, which made loading easier (just the shell, one bag of propellant and one brass charge instead of the british shell plus three bags). And i don't know if you could say that the German dreadnoughts were really overengineered... They were extremely durable though, as the Germans had added more armor to their shipdesigns while sacrificing some speed. This, and the unreliable British shells probably saved a lot of German ships from the massed fire of the home fleet.


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flyingtaco #7 Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:13 PM

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should have said they were built with more compartments. yeah brass is not not .... i forget the term  but it is a non-sparking material. have to use brass powder measures with my black powder firearms.

JeeWeeJ #8 Posted 22 September 2012 - 10:37 PM

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Well, the powder didn't contain brass, they were contained in a brass container. Just like gunpowder is held in a metallic shell with the bullet on top, the German brass powdercontainers worked in the same way and were pretty much immune to fire (except for the heat). The British used silk powderbags..which catched fire quite easily.


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t42592 #9 Posted 22 September 2012 - 11:11 PM

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Long before the Battle of Jutland, Germany had compromised its naval code book in 1914, when the cruiser SMS Magdeburg ran aground in the Gulf of Finland and was captured by the Russian navy.  This intelligence gave the British early warnings of major fleet actions.  Later, in 1916, had the German submarine picket lines been established and the German flotilla had been deployed under the cloak of secrecy, the outcome may have been very different.  With 10 U-boats lying in wait, ready to engage, attrition to British forces would have been heavier, historians agree.  Below is the cruiser that ran aground.

Posted Image

(SMS Magdeburg aground, 1914)


Posted Image

(SMS Magdeburg, 1911)


Here is a link showing movements for the Battle of Jutland, with an aerial view of the operations pre-battle, engagement of battlecruisers, and the main engagement.

Considering the inclusion of U-boats, history knows little about this tactic largely due to the German U-boat impact on sailing British forces.  However, despite the rhetoric, this battle was the catalyst by which German U-boats became perhaps the greatest threat in naval history during WWII.  Regardless, the Germans deployed 10 of their 300+ U-boats to patrol, and eventually monitor suspect routes for British warship sailings.  Included in the operation was U-24, U-32, U-43, U-44, UC-47, U-51, U-52, U-53, U-66, and U-70.

Posted Image

(Type II, though the U-24 was Type IIB)


When one thinks of naval planning in regards to surface operations, there is no denying the complexities.  Yet, when the German's introduce submarine warfare, the planning takes on a whole new dynamic.  And though the U-boot picket lines were ineffective during BOJ, the lessons learned would be remedied in WWII.

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flyingtaco #10 Posted 23 September 2012 - 12:50 AM

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yeah thats what I mean brass by its very nature will not spark when hit up against another metal.

xthetenth #11 Posted 23 September 2012 - 08:50 AM

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View Postflyingtaco, on 22 September 2012 - 08:35 PM, said:

germans had extremely overengineeres ships .... the luzow( i think)  the only german BC loss did not even really sink  till it was almost in port.  the germans used nitro cellulose propellants and the brits used cordite, i forget the specifics, but the tendancy of cordite to flash up and explode rather than burn has been cited as one of the reasons the brits lost so many BC. That, and the possibility that they did not follow proper proceedures with regards to the handling of powder and shells. it was common practice in fleet competitions to take shortcuts to increase efficency,  inluding leaving hatches etc open. then the brit turrets were hit, the flames tended to flash down into the magazines and only the quick thinking of some sailors on the British flagship prevented something similar from occuring when one of the turrets was hit.

Not even a possibility, it was pretty much a standard operating procedure to ignore the interlocks, leave doors open and stow propellant in passages in order to increase rate of fire. And yeah, there's a reason why Major Francis Harvey got a VC for flooding Q turret's magazine on the Lion.

RMS_Gigantic #12 Posted 24 September 2012 - 06:20 PM

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Let's not forget the words of one English officer, "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
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JeeWeeJ #13 Posted 24 September 2012 - 06:59 PM

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View PostRMS_Gigantic, on 24 September 2012 - 06:20 PM, said:

Let's not forget the words of one English officer, "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
Yeah, that was Admiral Beatty...and there was nothing wrong with the ships, but lots with the procedures and how they were used that day.


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sheep21 #14 Posted 24 September 2012 - 08:35 PM

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as jeewee, there was nowt wrong with the ships (well abit, blast doors were found to be to weak to to take the force from a flash in some cases), it's the fact that Battle Cruisers were designed to hunt enemy armoured cruisers and commerce raiders (something they did quite well at the Falkland Islands) and to decline action from superior forces\use their speed advantage to dictate the range. The fact that commanders felt obliged to use these heavily armed, fast ships in with the fleet and that their commanders put them in situations for which the concept was not originally designed is alas, not their fault.

If you think about it, the Battlecruiser squadron can be considered the world first Naval rapid response task force, a great idea for such a far flung and increasingly beleaguered empire.

flyingtaco #15 Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:10 AM

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the bc concept was great against cruisers and worked well until they ran into other bcs. the misuse of them in battle cannot solely explain their losses though. the german battlecruisers were placed in similar situations to the british, yet only one was lost and even then, it was scuttled on the return trip and did not explode at sea. when the average hits sustained on a british battlecruiser before it sinks is between 5 and 7, and the only german loss at sea of the BC class sustained 20+ something is very wrong with your ships besides just the way they are being used.

MM2ss #16 Posted 01 October 2012 - 04:57 PM

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View Postflyingtaco, on 01 October 2012 - 05:10 AM, said:

the bc concept was great against cruisers and worked well until they ran into other bcs. the misuse of them in battle cannot solely explain their losses though. the german battlecruisers were placed in similar situations to the british, yet only one was lost and even then, it was scuttled on the return trip and did not explode at sea. when the average hits sustained on a british battlecruiser before it sinks is between 5 and 7, and the only german loss at sea of the BC class sustained 20+ something is very wrong with your ships besides just the way they are being used.

There were things wrong, but not with the ships.  Cordite handling was bad, they stacked cordite charges in passageways and in the turrets.  Essentially, they circumvented the flash protection systems, and the result was when a shell hit, it started a chain reaction that ended up setting off the magazine.  The problem was cordite handling and a push to fire faster, or as some expressed it "don't starve the guns".

For some good information on what was wrong, try this little documentary.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQCH-05Ijao

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flyingtaco #17 Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:09 PM

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yeah made that point above well several post above ..

MM2ss #18 Posted 01 October 2012 - 05:14 PM

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I do realize that, but the misconception regarding the reason for the British battlecruisers apparent frailty remains widespread.  Also, I wanted to add the documentary for those who might be interested in specifics regarding how what happened to them actually happened.

(Let's face it, what you or I say likely carries little weight, but when you add in experts it might make a stronger impression)

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flyingtaco #19 Posted 01 October 2012 - 08:39 PM

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yep . I wrote an entire paper on the topic of the battlecruisers at Jutland for  my undergrad degree. probably should dig it out. John Cambell's book on Jutland is pretty good  so far as it is an almost CSI type analysis of the battle with the whole gun powder difference discussed.

Sampsonite #20 Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:35 PM

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Would have been an incredible thing to be a spectator for such an epic battle

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