Home > Uncategorized > WWI:Battle of Jutland Part 2

WWI:Battle of Jutland Part 2

        The first clash between the two naval powers happened on the 31st of May at about 2:20 in the afternoon. The opening shots were fired by the advance guard of Admiral David Beatty light cruisers who had spotted Rear Admiral Friedrich Bodicker’s scouting ships and light cruisers and opened fire. At the time of Beatty’s first sighting of the Germans,Vice Admiral Franz von Hipper, having seen Beatty and his advance guard, turned and retreated back to the German Main Fleet. Trying to get a better strategic position, Beatty turned his light cruisers in a south by southeast direction, on a path that was parallel to Hipper’s at 3:31 p.m. Hipper however was unaware that Admiral Beatty had signaled Admiral Hugh Evan Thomas to follow with a squadron of four Elizabeth- class super dreadnoughts. At a range of 49,500 feet, the two battle cruiser forces opened fire on each other. The start of the battle did not go well with Admiral Beatty, for within 50 minutes Beatty’s flagship the HMS Lion had fallen. The Lion-Class HMS Princess Royal led by Rear Admiral Osmond Brock also took heavy hits. The HMS Tiger came in close encounter with the German SMS Moltke and was severely damaged along. Along with the battle cruisers, numerous other lightly armored British battle cruisers fell to the German onslaught.

Now I know you’re probably thinking, wait up a moment did I miss something weren’t the British supposed to be winning with their superior numbers and ships. Well actually, although the Germans had a smaller amount of ships, they made up for it with their extreme firepower. Germany was winning the battle at this point because of three main things: 1. Bigger guns. 2. Accurate gunnery. 3. Superior ammunition. The German SMS Seydilitz armed with 10 × 280 mm (11.2 in) / 50 caliber guns (5 × 2), 12 × 150 mm (5.9 in) guns, 12 × 88 mm (3.45 in) guns, sunk the British HMS Queen Mary along with the help of the SMS Derfflinger, armed with 8 × 30.5 cm (12″) SK L/50 in 4 twin turrets, 12 × 15 cm (5.9″) SK L/45 in 12 single turrets, 4 × 8.8 cm (4×1) in 4 single mounts, and 4 × single 50 cm (20 in) torpedo tubes. The Indefatigable, another ship fallen victim to the relentless German attack, exploded and capsized at 4:00 because a shell hit her(ammunition dump). Only two survivors were left from the Indefatigable. The HMS Queen Mary sank 20 minutes later. That’s it the British couldn’t have possibly survived that type of attack, right? Wrong. In fact not only did they survive the attack but they came back with a vengeance. The British damaged the German ships: Seydlitz, which was hit 24 times, Derfflinger which suffered 26 hits, and the Lutzow which took a total of 24 hits and had to be scuttled because it was taking in too much water from its shell holes. Hipper now had five ships against Beatty’s four, but there was still Evan Thomas coming up with the super dreadnoughts.Even though he was conscious of the fact  that the Germans had the firepower advantage, Beatty courageously uttered four famous words, “engage the enemy closer”. Vice-Admiral had spotted Evan Thomas’s super-dreadnought 5th Battle Squadron and a running fight took place. Both sides took substantial hits from the fight. Beatty, at this time in the battle, was to the left of the German squadron as the ships all raced southward in what became classically known as the “Run to the South”. Two main fights raged on. One was between the super dreadnoughts and the other heavy cruisers and the second was between the light cruisers and scouting ships.Commodore Goodenough’s 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron which was ahead of Beatty’s squadron, sighted Scheer’s battleships and sent a radio message to Admiral of the Home Fleet, John Rushworth Jellicoe, who oversaw the entire Battle of Jutland, saying that he had sighted the enemy fleet and that it was heading North. Jellicoe, who commanded the main British fleet, now approached in parallel formations from the northwest. Beatty turned back to Jellicoe and his fleet after being told that the German fleet was 12 miles ahead and attempted to signal Evan Thomas but couldn’t because of poor visibility and the order was delayed until the super dreadnoughts were extremely close to the German fleet. This resulted in the super dreadnoughts being severely damaged as they turned back.

       In this time Beatty, who at this point was still parallel to Admiral Hipper’s squadron, turned in the northeast direction, going across the front of Jellicoe’s fleet. British Rear Admiral Sir Horace Hood was at the front of the fleet with  his 3rd Battle Squadron which was made up of three battle cruisers and two light cruisers. Horace mistakenly raced to the southeast to assist Beatty thinking that he was still ahead. Upon seeing gunfire from the west, Horace turned in that direction and was caught in a battle with Admiral Hipper’s destroyers and cruisers. Unfortunately, Hood was caught under fire by both Hipper and Scheer and the British ships turned out to be quite unreliable. Hood’s flagship was hit at 6:34 p.m after which it promptly exploded in two and sunk with everyone, including  Sir Horace Hood, onboard. The Defence and the Warrior also were sunk. Even after all this the British Grand Fleet maneuvered its way in front of the entire German High Seas Fleet. The British pulled off the classic maneuver called crossing the T. An extreme tactical advantage to the British because Scheer’s fleet was positioned like the vertical stroke of the T while the British were positioned like the horizontal stoke of the T. Not only were the British blocking the Germans way but the British could also could fire at the Germans more than the Germans could fire at them. The British had nice clear lines of fire and the Germans ships were stacked up in a line. Surely, this was the end for the Germans.

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