On 24 January 1915 the first clash of battle cruisers took place off the Dogger Bank, in the middle of the North Sea. This was a badly conducted battle on the British part which resulted in the German armoured cruiser SMS Blücher being sunk and HMS Lion being badly damaged.
On the afternoon of 23 January 1915 the Admiralty code breakers deciphered German signals which indicated a sortie by the battle cruiser squadron. Admiral Sir David Beatty, commander of the British Battle Cruiser Force was ordered to sea to intercept the German force. The British were formed into two squadrons, the first comprising HM Ships Lion, Tiger and Princess Royal and the second of HM Ships New Zealand and Indomitable. Supporting this force were the First Light Cruiser Squadron from Dover and the Harwich Force of Light cruisers and destroyers. The German squadron comprised SM Ships Derfflinger, Moltke, Seydlitz and Blücherand was also supported by cruisers and destroyers.