It went in history as the largest surface naval fight of the metal ship age. Moreover, it was to be the only major fleet operation of the First World War.
EricD The Bee-Wolf I have been doing much reading and thinking into the subject of naval warfare in the 20th century recently, as well as warfare of earlier times. If you are at all a learned student of naval history, I do not doubt that my observations written here will be old-hat to you, particularly if you are at all interested in the Jutland debate.
My intention rather is for a beginner or a lay-man to the subject to be able to read this with little prior knowledge and gain some insight that may be of value to them in understanding sea battles and naval campaigns.
I am myself only an enthusiastic amateur, and this essay is a way of putting my own thoughts and observations on the subject into order after the reading of books like Robert Massie's Dreadnought and Castles of Steel, and Roy Adkins's Nelson's Trafalgar, as well as combing the internet for articles and information on these subjects.
All of this is tertiary research at best, but I hope it may spark some discussion or thought. It was said by Winston Churchill that Admiral Sir John Jellicoe was "the only man on either side who could have lost the war in an afternoon".
They were searching for their German adversaries, with whom they had bloodily collided the previous day. However, Jellicoe had crossed the German T and inflicted heavy damage on Scheer's High Seas Fleet before losing contact in the mist and encroaching darkness. Having brought his fleet safely through the night without loss or damage to his dreadnoughts from enemy torpedo boats, mines, or submarines, Jellicoe was searching for his prey.
He had severely battered the German dreadnoughts in the brief fleet action the previous evening, and now sought to complete his victory in the daylight.
He had good reasons to be confident: The dreadnoughts of his Grand Fleet were undamaged from the previous day's action, although less well protected they were faster and threw a heavier broadside than their German counterparts. Beatty and Evan-Thomas's forces were battle-damaged but still capable of action.
In a daylight fleet action immediately following the previous evening's battles, the smaller, slower and battle-damaged German fleet would face certain annihilation. As history shows, that isn't what happened.
Scheer escaped Jellicoe's grasp, having slipped away the previous night in a series of confusing and chaotic night actions with British light forces. As the British hunted him in vain on the morning after Jutland, he was already steaming for Wilhelmshaven to get his fleet behind the safety of minefields and submarine pickets.
British captains failed to pass on sightings of the German fleet to their admiral during the night, and British intelligence failed to pass along critical wireless intercepts which would have revealed the location and heading of the High Seas Fleet.
The Battle of Jutland was a frustrating outcome for both sides.
Although they had inflicted greater losses of British battlecruisers, Scheer had not been able to sink even a single one of Jellicoe's dreadnoughts, even the relatively exposed and extremely powerful and valuable Queen Elizabeths of the 5th Battle Squadron.
Although he had crossed the German T and pummeled the German dreadnoughts and battlecruisers, Jellicoe had not achieved the Trafalgar of the North Sea that his mentor Jackie Fisher had expected to have been the outcome of the "Battle of Armageddon".
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The British press and public were bitterly disappointed, whilst the Germans were elated that their smaller fleet had performed so well. Looking back with the benefit of a century of hindsight, the outcome of Jutland was to the British strategic advantage: Their fleet retained command of the seas, the blockade on Germany was unbroken.
The tactical outcome was more mixed, with the Germans clearly winning the battlecruiser battle, but the British thoroughly outmaneuvered and outshot the Germans in the fleet action. These arguments have been made many times in books and internet forums and articles in the decades since Jutland. For purposes of this short essay, I intend to look beyond the tactical decisions and outcomes of Jutland.
I will focus on context, strategic as well as geographic and organizational The status of the fleets, their training, maintenance, morale, etc. Here is what I intend to argue: The circumstances of Jutland inas compared to those of Tsushima in or Trafalgar inwere such that it was extremely improbable that battle in the North Sea was ever going to lead to annihilation in a single day for either side.
Nelson at Trafalgar had won an immortal victory, and in doing so he cast a spell over the minds of the Royal Navy for the next century. Nelson was unique in the naval warfare of his period. Battle in the Age of Sail between major fleets of comparable size was often tactically inconclusive.
Although de Grasse won a vital strategic victory on the Chesapeake inhe did not wipe out the enemy fleet as Nelson did at the Nile and Trafalgar. The difficulty of sinking or capturing ships of the line, the evenly matched gunnery and seamanship of the British and French fleets in the mid 18th century, and the mobility limitations imposed by sailing power ensured that even victory would rarely be a complete annihilation of the losing side.
In the sailing period, it was advantageous to engage with the "weather gage" or upwind to have control of the engagement. This meant that the side which fought leeward or downwind could often retreat with the wind if faced by a superior force in a superior position.
When significant losses were inflicted, as by Hawke against the French at Quiberon, they were often by a larger force catching a smaller one in circumstances where escape was impossible.HMS Duncan joined FGS Brandenburg and HMS Iron Duke to commemorate years since the battle of Jutland.
An interesting picture of the kind of man Jellicoe was I recently received an e-mail from someone whose grandfather was a young telegraphist serving in HMS Iron Duke. Civilian deaths were increasing following the Battle of Jutland and the continuation of the Blockade from , in to 1,, in This was further impacted by .
Battle of Jutland. The Battle of Jutland, which also called the Battle of Skagerrak in Germany, remains a historic event in the history of WWI. The war was between British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas. ‘The only objection to this melodrama is that it deals with sailors and the battle of Jutland the introduction of the Jutland battle and its heroism into a tawdry melodrama annoys one’ (LCP /21) wrote George S.
Street, the Lord Chamberlain’s Examiner of Plays, on 2 September Battle of Jutland Getty Images Involving some ships and , men, this battle off Denmark’s North Sea coast was the only major naval surface engagement of World War I.
Battle of Jutland Prelude The Battle of Jutland was fought on May 31 - June 1, , in the North Sea near Jutland (a mainland north of Denmark). The battle itself was between Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer commander of the High Seas Fleet of the Kaiserliche Marine (part of German Fleet), and Admiral Sir John Jellicoe commander of the Grand Fleet of the Royal Navy.