WWI:The Battle of Jutland Part 1
The Battle of Jutland also known as the Battle of Skagerrak was a naval engagement between the German High Seas Fleet of the Kaiserliche Marine, led by Admiral Scheer, and the British Grand Fleet of the Royal Navy, led by Admiral Beatty, 60 miles off the coast of Jutland, Denmark from 31 May – 1 June 1916. Now before I begin to explain the battle, let me tell you a little about the advantages of each forces. The British Royal Navy had 28 dreadnought class battleships compared to High Seas Fleet’s of 16. A dreadnought is a battleship that was first built-in 1906. The difference between the dreadnought and ships built earlier on was that it had two revolutionary features: an ‘all-big-gun’ armament scheme and steam turbine propulsion. The first of the dreadnoughts, the Royal Navy’s HMS Dreadnought, was launched in 1906 and had such a big influence that battleships built after it were referred to as ‘dreadnoughts’, and battleships built before 1906 became known as pre-dreadnoughts. The Royal Navy also had nine battle cruisers to the High Seas Fleet five, 26 light cruisers to Germany’s 11 and 73 destroyers to the High Seas Fleet 61. Each side also had about 45 submarines but they declined to use them.
Now, I know you’re probably thinking that this must have been a pushover for Britain to handle especially with all their advantages. But actually the Germans held their own. Although the High Seas fleet had a smaller force than the British Navy, their ships all had bigger guns onboard, superior ammunition, and a higher accuracy rate than that of the British ships. Still, with all their technical superiority, the Germans knew they could not engage the British out in the open because of the British vast fleet. Vice-Admiral Scheer’s plan was to goad a smaller British force out into the open and then beat them with superior numbers. In short, the Germans wanted to break the strength of the British Navy and end their chokehold on the North Sea.
Scheer sent five battle cruisers, (1st Scouting Group), and four light cruisers, (2nd Scouting Group), led by Rear Admiral Friedrich Bodicker. Bodicker was accompanied by two flotillas of destroyers. They were to sail north to Norway under the command of Vice Admiral Franz von Hipper from Wilhelmshaven,Germany (Whew, that’s a mouthful). The Germans were to set out from Wilhelmshaven,Germany and ambush British Admiral David Beatty’s battle cruiser squadron at Rosyth, halfway up Britain’s eastern coast. The Germans would destroy the battle cruiser squadron before reinforcements from Scapa Flow, Scotland could arrive. The plan seemed flawless but as it happens plans sometimes go awry. This plan went wrong because the Germans didn’t consider the fact that the British could intercept their “secret messages” and break their “secret codes“. The British knew the entire plan and in preparation, THE ENTIRE BRITISH GRAND FLEET, set off for Norway’s southwestern coast. The Germans were in for a surprise.