Battle of Jutland | 31 May 1916

Battle of Jutland

Today’s the day. Der Tag, as the Germans have been calling it. For my money, there is only one thing we can talk about today. This is my nomination for “most important day of the war”, and it isn’t even close. This is the day that could have upturned the applecart, then thrown the apples to the four winds, and then smashed up the applecart and thrown it into a ditch.

The High Seas Fleet is at sea only a very few minutes after midnight. Admiral Hipper’s battlecruisers are steaming full speed ahead to the Skagerrak to lay their trap. The summer night will be a short one. The sun rises very, very early on the two fleets. And then, at 5am, people start to cock things up. I’m utterly shocked at this development. The story of the next 48 hours may well be about who fucks up the least.

(It is also the story of tens of thousands of men, sweating away below decks, keeping the engines running, keeping the guns firing. Naval battles are a pain in the arse for this format. On land I get weeks, or months, to weave personal accounts into the story. Here, there just isn’t the space. At the moment, at least. For now, this will have to be the story of a few admirals.)

It’s Admiral Scheer who opens the bidding. He has 16 of Germany’s 18 modern dreadnought battleships available to him; one is still having condenser issues, and one is too new to fight yet. However, at 5am, the fleet is joined by the German 2nd Battle Squadron. This sounds good, but it’s actually a voluntary handicap. The 2nd Battle Squadron consists of six obsolete pre-dreadnought battleships. Just as the Royal Navy had its Live Bait Squadron, the German Navy has its “Five-Minute Ships”, this being their predicted survival time if they should encounter enemy dreadnoughts.

They really have no place in the fleet. They’re both old and slow. But Scheer once commanded that squadron himself. On the eve of departure, he was bearded in his cabin by Admiral Mauve, the current commander, begging not to be left behind. At length, Scheer has allowed himself to be persuaded, and includes the six pre-dreadnoughts in his battle line. This has effectively slowed the entire fleet to the old ships’ top speed of 18 knots. The Grand Fleet’s battle line steams at 20 knots. This is not the wisest decision in the war. And it’s one they can ill-afford to cope with, not when the enemy’s fleet has already been at sea for some twelve hours.

But let’s now switch sides of the hill and see how the score’s been evened up. For one thing, as I talked about yesterday, there’s Admiral Beatty’s inexplicable refusal to speak with Admiral Evan-Thomas. For another, Admiral Jellicoe’s prized proto-carrier, HMS Campania, lives in a relatively isolated anchorage within Scapa Flow. Somehow, the orders to raise steam and sail didn’t reach the ship for some hours. By the time anyone noticed, the fleet was so far away that Jellicoe did not want to run the risk of Campania sailing alone and running into submarine-shaped trouble.

So Campania is staying behind. Jellicoe will have no way of scouting over the horizon. Scheer’s Zeppelins are grounded. With one very important exception, the fleets are going to have to actually go physically find each other. And hey, what about those German submarines? They were supposed to be taking pot shots at the British ships as they left port. But, as luck would have it, they’ve been able to leave during a cloudy night. The U-boat tripwire has not been tripped in the slightest. Never mind not firing at the Royal Navy, they’ve barely noticed that the fleet is at sea.

It’s still early morning, and it seems the fuck-ups have been relatively evenly distributed. The two fleets are both heading for the mouth of the Skagerrak, on a collision course. Let’s have a crappy MSPaint map, shall we? The first of many, yes indeed.

As ever: these are meant to be helpful like a Tube map, not helpful like an atlas.
As ever: these are meant to be helpful like a Tube map, not helpful like an atlas.

Room 40

Back to Room 40 we go now, the code-breaking room in London. The room that’s apparently giving the Admiralty perfect intelligence. It’s one of the few things in this war that I’ve described with consistent positivity. Time to snap that streak! On the morning of the most important day of the war, something’s about to go badly wrong. There is a nasty little culture in the Admiralty of sneering at signals intelligence and the civilians who live in the room. It’s all very well for them to decipher and translate the signals, bigads. But they’re not Navy men. They can’t possibly be trusted to interpret the messages they spend all day reading.

Enter Captain Jackson, Director of the Admiralty’s Operations Division. When the Magdeburg codebook was obtained, Jackson was Director of the Intelligence Division. He is the absolute exemplar of the sneering at Room 40. He’s only been in there twice before today; their loathing is mutual. But now it’s important. The High Seas Fleet might be at sea. So he marches into the room and asks for the location of “DK”. DK is the callsign used by Admiral Scheer’s flagship. “It’s in the Jade”, says someone, doing as he’s told. The Jade Bight is the German Scapa Flow. The High Seas Fleet would never go to sea without its boss. So the HSF can’t be at sea. Jackson grunts and walks out.

What he doesn’t know, despite his vast ego, er, experience, is that Admiral Scheer has foreseen that someone might find out what his callsign is. He has therefore been taking the precaution of switching it to a shore wireless station when he goes to sea. No, don’t say “Ooops” yet! It gets better and you’ll need somewhere to go! Room 40 knows about the trick! They put two and two together after the Lowestoft Raid. But Captain Jackson didn’t say why he wanted to know where DK was. If he had, he might very well have been told what was going on and given Scheer’s actual position.

He didn’t. Bye-bye goes the critical tactical advantage of Room 40. Admiral Jellicoe is informed just after midday that Scheer has not left port after all. The German action must therefore only be a battlecruiser raid. The Germans only have six battlecruisers. Admiral Beatty outnumbers them. This is all going rather well. Beatty can take care of things by himself. And, let’s flip sides of the hill once more.

Scheer is relying on his submarines to tell him what’s going on. By the time the bullshit has been perpetrated in Room 40, he’s had reports from the submarines. The first is from U-32, loitering outside the Firth of Forth. They’ve been unable to close to torpedo range, but the ship has seen two dreadnoughts, two cruisers, and attendant destroyers, leaving port and heading south-east, in his general direction. The second is from U-66, in a similar position near Cromarty, with similar reports. And the German Brains Trust thinks very hard, before completely disregarding the reports. Clearly they are isolated fleet movements, of no concern or relevance.

The Jutland Bank

How many times during this war have two opposing fleets, or ships, been at sea, barely out of visual range from each other, knowing the enemy is out there somewhere, but they entirely missed each other because they were steering diverging courses? Too many to count.

And it oh-so-nearly happened again. Admiral Beatty’s orders were to hold course until 2pm, then turn north and rendezvous with the main fleet if they hadn’t found anything. 2pm comes and goes. At 2:10pm Beatty passes round the order to turn north, away from the slower German battlecruisers; at 2:15pm they turn. But the signal, being passed by flags throughout his fleet of 50 vessels, has taken its time percolating all the way through; a light cruiser, HMS Galatea has held on for a few minutes more.

They see another ship. They hold course to go identify it. Turns out it’s just a dull Danish merchantman. But, just on the other side of that merchantman there is a German destroyer, doing exactly the same thing. The two battlecruiser fleets have stumbled over each other, entirely by accident, because one Danish merchant sailor managed to put himself in the right place to get noticed by both fleets at once. At 2:28pm the ships making contact go to action stations; Galatea opens fire; and the Battle of Jutland is on.

Beatty’s reaction

Let’s have another map, this one from 2:32pm when the news was passed to Beatty aboard his flagship.

I really cannot emphasise how very rough these maps will be.
I really cannot emphasise how very rough these maps will be.

Beatty’s actions here are quick, decisive, and tactically sound, if risky. Up go the flags again, ordering a turn south-east along the indicated course, looking to get in between the reported enemy ships and their home port. The flagship turns so quickly that not all the battlecruisers see the flag signal, but that’s okay. Their commanders all know that when the Boss does something suddenly, you follow him and then work out exactly what you should be doing next. All hands, brace for incoming fuck-up!

The 5th Battle Squadron has already turned north. They’re now five miles away from the battlecruisers, heading back to the Grand Fleet. That’s a long distance to see flag signals. But don’t worry, they know that when the Boss does something, you follow. Don’t they? They don’t. Beatty never deigned to tell them. But even that’s not so bad. There’s still a backstop. Alert to the possibility of a missed flag signal, HMS Tiger has been specifically tasked with repeating all flag signals via searchlight to the 5th Battle Squadron, which can’t possibly be missed.

But Tiger doesn’t signal, her captain later offering a terrible excuse about changing position within the fleet and this clearly meaning it was someone else’s job to signal. And so the two squadrons sail away from each other for nearly ten minutes. Beatty has gone from having overwhelming fire superiority over the German battlecruisers to only a very slight advantage. A more cautious man might have slowed and let the big beasts catch back up, but not Beatty; he charges off after what has been reported only as cruisers and destroyers. They’re coming about. The German battlecruisers are right behind and are soon spotted.

2:40pm. Now the Grand Fleet knows what’s going on and is moving south to get stuck in. At 2:47pm, Beatty plays a card. The Grand Fleet might have forgotten to bring Campania, but Beatty’s got Engadine, a small seaplane tender. Up goes the plane. Over the next hour, it sends several reports back to Engadine. There is a general prohibition on sending inherently insecure radio transmissions between ships, except when utterly necessary. Engadine tries and fails to use searchlights to pass on the reports. Engadine does not use the radio.

The Run to the South

The Royal Navy has had approximately 4,722 chances since yesterday to seize the initiative and direct the further course of the battle. All of them have been passed up. By 3:30pm, Admiral Hipper knows he’s facing an enemy battlecruiser fleet, and believes it to be alone and unsupported. This is the chance! Hipper knows exactly what to do; close the range, because the enemy has bigger guns than he does, and he can’t afford to take fire without being able to shoot back. Then, tempt the enemy commander into fighting a running engagement with him. He’ll head south, apparently running for Wilhelmshaven and home, but actually drawing ten British capital ships right into the teeth of sixteen dreadnoughts.

And away they go!
And away they go!

At 3:45pm the German battlecruisers open fire, and begin the Run to the South. It takes a long time for the British ships to open fire, even with a range advantage. Their shooting is absolutely atrocious. If only they’d started their gunnery training earlier! A combination of simple bad aim and miscommunication about which ships should be firing at which is seeing some shells miss their targets by three miles. Meanwhile, the Germans have the range almost immediately, scoring hits from the off.

I don’t think I felt fright, simply because what was going on around me was so unfamiliar that my brain was incapable of grasping it. Even now I can only think of the beginning of the action as through a dim haze. I remember seeing the enemy lines on the horizon with red specks coming out of them, which I tried to realize were the cause of projectiles landing around us, continually covering us with spray, but the fact refused to sink into my brain.

This from a midshipman, just 16 years old, on board HMS Malaya, as the British fire gradually finds the range. By 4pm there are hits being suffered on all sides, and Admiral Beatty has a gigantic personal stroke of luck. One of his turrets is hit. The enormous shell flies easily into the gun turret and detonates. British ammunition handling is, as we’ve seen earlier in the war, about as safe as rollerblading down the autobahn. A powder bag ignites; the turret is full of flame, and there’s an obvious place for it to go: straight to the ship’s magazine, incinerating 70 crewmembers on the way.

And then, the stroke of luck. Despite hideous wounds and crushed legs, the Royal Marine major in command of the turret, Francis Harvey, had dragged himself to the voice pipe and ordered the magazine doors closed, and the magazine itself flooded. Just in time; the fire reached the closed doors and bounced back, venting violently through the top of the wrecked turret and killing anyone left alive, including Harvey. It’s rare I mention the winners of bravery medals; but Harvey won very possibly the most important medal of the war for that act. If you’re writing alternate history and looking for a point of divergence, you could pick a worse one than 4pm today.

Five minutes later, HMS Indefatigable takes a hit to the turret. There is another fire. This time the fire goes straight to the magazine, and the ship explodes and sinks. Distracted by the battle, men on board the flagship turn round a few minutes later to find a ship missing. There’s no time to process this; at about this point Admiral Evan-Thomas’s dreadnoughts finally haul themselves into range and the battle continues. The German ships are taking damage, of course. Plenty of it, over the next half an hour. But none of Admiral Hipper’s ships just up and explode. They just keep taking hit after hit after hit, and giving it back.

Meanwhile, over with the Grand Fleet, Admiral Jellicoe is heading south as fast as he can. Nobody has told him anything yet, but given that Beatty is over two hours late to meet up, it seems the prudent course. The only thing he can do is detach Admiral Hood’s three battlecruisers, and send them on ahead. These are the ships who had been at Scapa Flow doing gunnery practice, and who otherwise would have been with Beatty.

At 4:26pm, the Germans score a hit on Queen Mary’s turret. Same story. Fire, followed by a vast magazine explosion. Beatty is down to four battlecruisers, and by rights Beatty should really be dead. The ships astern of Queen Mary wrench their helms, and two of them miss hitting the wrecked corpse of the ship by only a few yards. And then the same thing happens to Princess Royal. It is at this point that Admiral Beatty turns to the captain of his flagship and remarks, quite casually, “There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today.”

And then, a miracle; the report on Princess Royal turns out to have been in error. The ship’s still alive; she just couldn’t be seen through mist and spray. Beatty orders mass torpedo attacks from his destroyers. The Germans retaliate in kind. Everyone takes evasive action; there’s only one hit, on the German ship Seydlitz, and she’s been designed so well that even though she takes on a large amount of water, she keeps right on trucking and firing at full speed.

It Hits The Fan

It is now 4:38pm. Let us go back to the map.

Not good at all.
Not good at all.

See that one red spot. That’s Commodore Goodenough on HMS Southampton. His light cruiser is doing its job, scouting ahead of the fleet. At 4:38pm, he sees a sight that would surely make any cruiser captain fill his uniform full of human waste of all kinds. Goodenough has done his job. It’s good enough. He’s found the High Seas Fleet. This is clearly worth sending a radio message; Jellicoe and Beatty are immediately made aware that the High Seas Fleet is not in port. The fleet is, in fact, right up Beatty’s chuff and about to open fire on him. He might easily have panicked, or frozen, or been dead already.

Instead, the British battlecruiser supremo quickly grasps the new situation and its implications. He may be temporarily outnumbered. But the Grand Fleet has double the number of battleships that the High Seas Fleet does. And he has a speed advantage over the Germans. Now he has a chance to do to the High Seas Fleet what the High Seas Fleet just tried to do to his battlecruisers. Up go the flags. At this point there is another massive stroke of luck. The precise order given is “Alter course in succession”. This means that the four remaining battlecruisers will all steer to the same point and then do the world’s most ungainly U-turn, one after another. If the Germans can concentrate their fire on the turning point…

There were minutes in it, probably not seconds, but the turn is pulled off safely. The battlecruisers are out of danger and on a reverse course. Oh. Hold on. They’re not the only ships here, are they? Yes, once again, nobody has told Admiral Evan-Thomas what to do, and now they’re heading straight for each other at a combined 60mph. Fuck-up piles on fuck-up as Beatty’s flag lieutenant (a man so incompetent he doesn’t deserve the dignity of his name in here again) hoists the flags, and then leaves them there for six minutes, far longer than necessary. Maybe he lost track; maybe he was just making sure Evan-Thomas saw them. In any case, flag discipline says that you don’t steer until the signal flags are lowered. And Evan-Thomas is a very disciplined man.

So now it’s the battleships’ job to turn, one after the other, on the same point in the water. They take several hits, and one captain saves his ship only by thinking “bugger this for a game of soldiers” and turning early. But they’re made to take fire from heavy guns. They’re all still alive, and now the running battle continues, going the other way. Now, at about 5pm, the Royal Navy has the initiative. Jellicoe, well out of the battle, can only wait for developments. He knows nothing of all this carry-on; only that the High Seas Fleet is at sea, and he makes the reasonable assumption that Beatty will steer north and draw them onto him.

Run to the North

Back to the map as the Run to the North begins.

"Shall we change ends and we'll try defending it?"
“Shall we change ends and we’ll try defending it?”

Beatty is the luckiest bastard in the history of luck. He should be dead, he’s not. With all the hits his survivors have taken, someone’s engines or steering gear should surely have been damaged. Somehow they’ve all survived with full speed and steering. The battlecruisers are now able to use their high speed to accelerate out of range, and then keep out of range, leading the High Seas Fleet on. Admiral Evan-Thomas is once again handed a particularly foul stick, shitty end first. He now has to run as fast as he can from six German battlecruisers and four German dreadnoughts and God knows what else right behind them, and somehow not die.

Shells fly. Many hit. Nothing too serious on either side. Admiral Scheer, sensing victory, urges his ships forward. Like Beatty before him, he can have no idea that he’s sailing into a trap. The run continues as the sun begins its long set, going down right in the faces of the Germans. They simply can’t sail fast enough to overhaul their enemies, try as their engine rooms might. They can just about keep up, but that’s it. The High Seas Fleet begins to straggle dangerously. The pre-dreadnoughts are left behind. Even some of the modern dreadnoughts can’t quite take the pace.

At about 5:40pm, Beatty orders a turn, closing the range, and opens fire again. The Germans, however, take evasive action. There is a manoeuvre in naval warfare that has been every admiral’s dream since the invention of the rotating gun turret. It’s called “crossing the T”, and it looks like this.

Ka-pow ka-pow ka-pow
Ka-pow ka-pow ka-pow

Admiral Hipper has no intention of having his T crossed. He moves with Beatty, heading further out to sea. Slowly but surely, the British fleets are giving themselves a chance of putting themselves between the Germans and safety. Beatty continues pushing, having sighted the scouts of the Grand Fleet. He knows it’s vital to keep the Germans distracted long enough for Admiral Jellicoe to spring the trap. And, as it also turns out, they’re also bearing down on Admiral Hood’s battlecruisers, who for the past couple of hours have been roaming off to the west, trying to find the battle.

The weather is rapidly deteriorating. It’s clouded over, and the sun is out of German eyes; but mist and fog is coming in. And Beatty has forgotten his main duty. Again and again he’s been reminded while back in port. The job of his ships is to find out where the enemy is and then tell the Grand Fleet so they can hand out an arse kicking. You may have noticed that I’ve not been mentioning, “and Beatty told Jellicoe what he was doing”, at any point. This would be because Beatty has not, in fact, told Jellicoe jack shit. The commander-in-chief has been left to fiddle aimlessly with fripperies while he sails towards a battle that he has no idea about.

He has had some information, from Commodore Goodenough; but Goodenough has completely lost track of his own position and can’t possibly be where he says he is. As the daylight ticks away, they can hear gunfire and see flashes from Admiral Hood running smack into some of the HSF’s cruisers and getting into a massive torpedo knife fight. “I wish somebody would tell me who is firing and what they are firing at,” he said. The map at 5:55pm.

Really, this is not to any kind of scale, don't even try.
Really, this is not to any kind of scale, don’t even try.

Here’s Jellicoe’s problem. If the High Seas Fleet is coming, he has a golden opportunity to cross the T on isolated groups of German dreadnoughts. It will be the worst possible situation for the German fleet. They were supposed to be concentrating their fire on isolated enemy ships, and now they’re going to get exactly the same treatment back while horribly outnumbered. But before that can happen, Jellicoe needs to know where the hell the enemy is so he knows which way to deploy his battleships and where they should be firing. If he turns the wrong way, he could be offering up his own T to be crossed.

At 6pm, Beatty’s ship appears out of nowhere through a bank of mist. Signalling searchlights rip through the horizon. For 15 minutes Jellicoe tries to screw some useful information out of Beatty, and mostly gets a whole lot of nothing. The Grand Fleet’s guns are powerful enough to literally fire at targets over the horizon; so are the better German guns. If he waits for visual contact, he could find himself being fired on before he’s deployed. Without proper intelligence, he allows himself just one minute to take an educated guess.

The Deployment

The decision is made. The battleships begin to deploy to the east. This will mean engaging at long range, but in the best position to cross the German T. Deploying to the west would have put them at much closer range, possibly close enough for German destroyers to charge in, launch torpedoes while the twenty-minute deployment is underway, and throw the whole thing into chaos. Well, more chaos. At 6:20pm:

There are more than 30 battleships in a big long line, and all kinds of supporting cruisers and destroyers.
There are more than 30 battleships in a big long line, and all kinds of supporting cruisers and destroyers.

The seas around the British battle line are seething with small ships weaving in and out of the lumbering dreadnoughts, the only way for them to get into anything approaching their proper positions. it’s a mess, but a marvellously-conducted mess. And, for a fleet that’s had considerable problems not tripping over its own feet in the past, it’s highly notable that there are absolutely no collisions, although several small ships are knocked sideways by coming too close to a dreadnought as she fires a broadside.

As the Grand Fleet wallows around, Admiral Hood’s battlecruisers have finally found Beatty again, and they hurry to get stuck into the German ships…

Crossing the T

Just before half past six, it is Admiral Scheer’s turn to fill his uniform with human waste of every description. His ships emerge from a nasty patch of mist and smoke to find that they’re staring down the entire Grand Fleet, hopelessly outnumbered. The line opens fire, and hits rain down on the lead German ships. Once again, a major commander is confronted by an utterly unforseen situation that is about as terrible as it could possibly be. Once again, he could have frozen, or panicked. He does no such thing. Just three minutes after firing begins, the High Seas Fleet shows exemplary seamanship with a flawless “Battle About Turn”.

Insert Teutonic swearing here.
Insert Teutonic swearing here.

Unlike the earlier turns ordered by Admiral Beatty, this move involves the entire fleet turning 180 degrees at once. If it’s not executed properly, everyone’s going to crash into everyone else, and Scheer will look like the biggest clot in the history of naval warfare. But it is executed properly. By 6:34pm, the German fleet is running away very fast. Meanwhile, Hood and Beatty are scoring hit after hit after hit on the German battlecruisers. And then, at almost exactly the moment that the Grand Fleet opens fire, HMS Invincible proves that she isn’t.

Another battlecruiser shell penetrates her turret. Another fire. Another explosion. Moments later, Jellicoe’s fleet comes steaming past the gently smoking wreck. It must have seemed like pure wizardry. The High Seas Fleet, which seemed ripe for the picking moments ago, has in a matter of minutes vanished into the mist and been replaced by a dead British battlecruiser. And the Grand Fleet hasn’t even finished deploying into line yet.

It takes Admiral Jellicoe longer to react. He’s still supervising the deployment, like a good admiral. There’s plenty of time and plenty of thinking before he can riddle out what must have happened and do something. Happily, the Germans are now steering west, away from Germany, towards Britain. The map again.

Things are still going well. The High Seas Fleet will soon be in a position where it must come back past the Grand Fleet to get home. Jellicoe still has the whip hand, but absolutely no information. Still nobody is passing information to the flagship. Iron Duke’s own gunnery controllers saw the German turn, but assumed everyone else did too. The admiral remains crucially unaware of exactly what is going on. The time ticks towards 7pm. Daylight is running out fast.

Scheer’s gamble

And then Scheer takes a gamble. His fleet has now taken serious damage, even though the fighting so far has been far from as intense as it might be. He’s well aware that daylight is running out and the enemy is between him and home. Time to ginger things up a bit, and do something completely and totally unexpected to rescue the situation. Scheer has decided to do the last thing Jellicoe will expect; a second simultaneous U-turn. He made the decision completely on instinct, and never attempted to rationally explain it.

Death Ride

It is comparable to the second, third, and fourth waves of Australian Light Horse going over the top at the Battle of the Nek. The German battlecruiser survivors called it the Death Ride. For twenty minutes, the entire Grand Fleet opens fire. Somehow there are no German sinkings, but the fleet’s cohesion is on the point of total collapse. For about ten minutes, it seems as though ideas we think of these days of the wildest of pipe dreams might happen. For ten minutes, there is room in the war for dreams of Jackie Fisher’s Baltic Project, and other such crackpot schemes, to seem possible.

Then Admiral Scheer comes to his senses. At 7:18pm the German dreadnoughts execute a third U-turn. There’s no time for perfect synchronisation this time; just a mass of German dreadnoughts turning around, many narrowly missing collisions. And then, once more, they run away very fast. The German battlecruisers, however, continue on course. There may be cannon to the left and right, but this time there is no blunder. Dreadnoughts are more valuable than battlecruisers. Destroyers are more valuable than battlecruisers.

The battlecruisers are to invite the Grand Fleet to beat up on them while the destroyers form up for a major torpedo attack. Then, under cover of that torpedo attack, whoever can run away will run away, and if Scheer’s calculations are correct, by the time the enemy gets back on course, it will be dark. This then is the Death Ride, and death there is on heaping helpings. There is gunfire. There are hits aplenty. But once again those German battlecruisers have led a charmed life. Against all the odds, they’re still all floating, just about. And then their destroyers come in with the torpedoes.

Escape and Recriminations

When faced with a mass torpedo attack, Admiral Jellicoe followed established and sensible procedures. He ordered an immediate turn away from the torpedoes, presenting his ships’ stern to them for the smallest possible target. And nobody got hit. This preserved his fleet and succeeded in not losing the war in an afternoon, or even a late evening. And yet there are people who object to the decision, which necessarily allowed the High Seas Fleet to sneak off behind smoke screens in the last of the daylight.

I don’t get it. Well, I understand why people would say it. In a world where it is imperative to win a crushing tactical victory over the German fleet, of course you throw caution to the wind and take the risk of losing a few dreadnoughts to sink the High Seas Fleet. But this was not that world. Any result that preserved the Royal Navy’s overwhelming superiority was a win. And I defy anyone who says that yes, they would have turned their fleet nose-on to a torpedo screen (offer not valid to anyone named Beatty or Keyes), to actually have the brass balls to do it. The idea is like suggesting General Rawlinson should have stood naked on a trench parapet at dawn, and proceeded to perform The Watch on the Rhine via carefully controlled flatulence. Which at least would have had entertainment value.


And so, this is the (extremely approximate) position at sunset. There are still quite a few hours until May turns to June, but this post is so very long enough already. We’ll come back tomorrow and pick things up then.

Lot of maps.
Lot of maps.

The High Seas Fleet remains in an extremely precarious position. Admiral Jellicoe is still taking a cautious attitude. We’ve seen how not-good the Royal Navy is at night actions. They’re still firmly between the Germans and home. It seems that all they need to do is sit tight until morning and then find the enemy again when they can see what they’re doing. More tomorrow.

Actions in Progress

Armenian Genocide
Battle of Verdun
Battle of Asiago
Mamahatun Offensive

Further Reading

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