The following Despatch from Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, reports on the Battle of Jutland in the North Sea
29654 – 4 JULY 1916
ACTION IN THE NORTHSEA – BATTLE OF JUTLAND
NAVAL DESPATCH dated 24 June 1916
=(The following Order of Battle has been added to the original Gazette Despatch)
ORDER OF BATTLE
BRITISH GRAND FLEET
first in action with German Fleet
Lion (Fleet Flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty)
1st Battlecruiser Squadron – Princess Royal, Queen Mary, Tiger
2nd Battlecruiser Squadron – New Zealand (flagship of Rear-Admiral W C Pakenham), Indefatigable
5th Battle Squadron – Barham (flagship of Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas), Valiant, Warspite, Malaya
1st Light Cruiser Squadron – Galatea (broad pennant of Commodore E S Alexander-Sinclair), Phaeton, Inconstant, Cordelia
2nd Light Cruiser Squadron – Southampton (broad pennant of Commodore W E Goodenough), Birmingham, Nottingham, Dublin
3rd Light Cruiser Squadron – Falmouth (flagship of Rear-Admiral T D W Napier), Yarmouth, Birkenhead, Gloucester
1st Flotilla – Light cruiser Fearless (Captain C D Roper), destroyers Acheron, Ariel, Attack, Badger, Defender, Goshawk, Hydra, Lapwing, Lizard
9th & 10th (combined) Flotilla – destroyers Lydiard (Leader, Commander M L Goldsmith), Landrail, Laurel, Liberty, Moorsom, Morris, Termagant, Turbulent
13th Flotilla – Light cruiser Champion (Captain J U Farie), destroyers Moresby, Narborough, Nerissa, Nestor, Nicator, Nomad, Obdurate, Onslow, Pelican, Petard
Engadine, seaplane carrier
2nd Battle Squadron
1st Division – King George V (flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram), Ajax, Centurion, Erin
2nd Division – Orion (flagship of Rear-Admiral A C Leveson), Monarch, Conqueror, Thunder
4th Battle Squadron
3rd Division – Iron Duke (Fleet Flagship of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, C-in-C), Royal Oak, Superb (flagship of Rear-Admiral A. L. Duff), Canada
4th Division – Benbow (flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee), Bellerophon, Temeraire, Vanguard
1st Battle Squadron
5th Division – Colossus (flagship of Rear-Admiral E F A Gaunt), Collingwood, Neptune, St Vincent
6th Division – Marlborough (flagship of Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney), Revenge, Hercules, Agincourt
temporarily attached to Battlefleet
3rd Battlecruiser Squadron – Invincible (flagship of Rear-Admiral The Honourable H L A Hood), Inflexible, Indomitable
1st Cruiser Squadron – Defence (flagship of Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot), Warrior, Duke of Edinburgh, Black Prince
2nd Cruiser Squadron – Minotaur (flagship of Rear-Admiral H L Heath), Hampshire, Cochrane, Shannon
4th Light Cruiser Squadron – Calliope (broad pennant of Commodore C E Le Mesurier), Constance, Caroline, Royalist, Comus
Attached Light Cruisers
Active, Bellona, Blanche, Boadicea, Canterbury, Chester
4th Flotilla – Destroyers Tipperary (Leader, Captain C J Wintour), Acasta, Achates, Ambuscade, Ardent, Broke, Christopher, Contest, Fortune, Garland, Hardy, Midge, Ophelia, Owl, Porpoise, Shark, Sparrowhawk, Spitfire, Unity
11th Flotilla – Light cruiser Castor (Commodore J R P Hawksley), destroyers Kempenfelt, Magic, Mandate, Manners, Marne, Martial, Michael, Milbrook, Minion, Mons, Moon, Morning Star, Mounsey, Mystic, Ossory
12th Flotilla – Destroyers Faulknor (Leader, Captain A J Stirling), Maenad, Marksman, Marvel, Mary Rose, Menace, Mindful, Mischief, Munster, Narwhal, Nessus, Noble, Nonsuch, Obedient, Onslaught, Opal
Oak, destroyer, tender to HMS Iron Duke
Royal Navy Battle Honour – JUTLAND 1916
GERMAN HIGH SEAS FLEET
first in action with German Fleet
I Scouting Group – Lützow (Fleet Flagship of Vizeadmiral Franz Hipper), Derfflinger, Seydlitz, Moltke, Von der Tann
II Scouting Group – Frankfurt (flagship of Konteradmiral F Bödicker), Wiesbaden, Pillau, Elbing
Torpedo Boat Flotillas
Light Cruiser Regensburg (broad pennant of Kommodore Heinrich)
II Flotilla – B98 (leader)
III Half-Flotilla – G101, G102, B112, B97
IV Half-Flotilla – B109, B110, B111, G103, G104
VI Flotilla – G41 (leader)
XI Half-Flotilla – V44, G87, G86
XII Half-Flotilla – V69, V45, V46, S50, G37
IX Flotilla – V28 (leader)
XVII Half-Flotilla – V27, V26, S36, S51, S52
XVIII Half-Flotilla – V30, S34, S33, V29, S35
III Battle Squadron
V Division, König (flagship of Konteradmiral P Behncke), Grosser Kurfürst, Kronprinz, Markgraf
VI Division, Kaiser (flagship of Konteradmiral H Nordmann), Kaiserin, Prinzregent Luitpold, Friedrich der Grosse (Fleet Flagship of Vizeadmiral Reinhard Scheer)
I Battle Squadron
I Division, Ostfriesland (flagship of Vizeadmiral E Schmidt), Thüringen, Helgoland, Oldenburg
II Division, Posen (flagship of Konteradmiral W Englehardt), Rheinland, Nassau, Westfalen
II Battle Squadron
III Division, Deutschland (flagship of Konteradmiral F Mauve), Hessen, Pommern
IV Division, Hannover (flagship of Konteradmiral F von Dalwigk zu Lichtenfels), Schlesien, Schleswig-Holstein
IV Scouting Group – Stettin (broad pennant of Kommodore von Reuter), München, Hamburg, Frauenlob, Stuttgart
Torpedo Boat Flotillas
Light Cruiser Rostock (broad pennant of Kommodore Michelson)
I Half-Flotilla – G39 (leader), G40, G38, S32
III Flotilla – S53 (leader),
V Half-Flotilla – V71, V73, G88
VI Half-Flotilla – S54, V48, G42
V Flotilla – G11 (leader)
IX Half-Flotilla – V2, V4, V6, V1, V3
X Half-Flotilla – G8, G7, V5, G9, G10
VII Flotilla – S24 (leader)
XIII Half-Flotilla – S15, S17, S20, S16, S18
XIV Half-Flotilla – S19, S23, V189, V186 (returned to base)
(The above Order of Battle has been added to the original Gazette Despatch)
Admiralty, 6th July, 1916.
The following Despatch has been received from Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, G.C.B., G.C.V.O., Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, reporting-the action in the North Sea on 31st May, 1916 (All times given in this report are Greenwich mean time):
“Iron Duke,” 24th June, 1916.
Be pleased to inform the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that the German High Sea Fleet was brought to action on 31st May, 1916, to the westward of the Jutland Bank, off the coast of Denmark.
The ships of the Grand Fleet, in pursuance of the general policy of periodical sweeps through the North Sea, had left its bases on the previous day, in accordance with instructions issued by me.
In the early afternoon of Wednesday, 31 May, the 1st and 2nd Battle-cruiser Squadrons, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light-cruiser Squadrons and destroyers from the 1st, 9th, 10th and 13th Flotillas, supported by the 5th Battle Squadron, were, in accordance with my directions, scouting to the southward of the Battle Fleet, which was accompanied by the 3rd Battle-cruiser Squadron, 1st and 2nd Cruiser Squadrons, 4th Light-cruiser Squadron, 4th, 11th and 12th Flotillas.
The junction of the Battle Fleet with the scouting force after the enemy had been sighted was delayed owing to the southerly course steered by our advanced force during the first hour after commencing their action with the enemy battle-cruisers. This was, of course, unavoidable, as had our battle-cruisers not followed the enemy to the southward the main fleets would never have been in contact.
The Battle-cruiser Fleet, gallantly led by Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, K.C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O., and admirably supported by the ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron under Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas; M.V.O., fought an action under, at times, disadvantageous conditions, especially in regard to light, in a manner that was in keeping with the best traditions of the service.
The following extracts from the report of Sir David Beatty give the course of events before the Battle Fleet came upon the scene:
(Beatty) – “At 2.20 p.m. reports were received from ‘Galatea’ (Commodore Edwyn S. Alexander Sinclair, M.V.O., A.D.C., indicating the presence of enemy vessels. The direction of advance was immediately altered to S.S.E., the course for Horn Reef, so as to place my force between the enemy and his base.
“At 2.35 p.m. a considerable amount of smoke was sighted to the eastward. This made it clear that the enemy was to the northward and eastward, and that it would be impossible for him to round the Horn Reef without being brought to action. Course was accordingly altered to the eastward and subsequently to north-eastward, the enemy being sighted at 3.31 p.m. Their force consisted of five battle-cruisers.
“After the first report of the enemy, the 1st and 3rd Light Cruiser Squadrons changed their direction, and, without waiting for orders, spread to the east, thereby forming a screen in advance of the Battle Cruiser Squadrons and 5th Battle Squadron by the time we had hauled up to the course of approach. They engaged enemy light cruisers at long range. In the meantime the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron had come in at high speed, and was able to take station ahead of the battle cruisers by the time we turned to E.S.E., the course on which we first engaged the enemy. In this respect the work of the Light Cruiser Squadrons was excellent, and of great value.
“From a report from ‘Galatea’ at 2.25 p.m. it was evident that the enemy force was considerable, and not merely an isolated unit of light cruisers, so at 2.45 p.m. I ordered ‘Engadine’ (Lieutenant-Commander C. G. Robinson) to send up a seaplane and scout to N.N.E. This order was carried out very quickly, and by 3.8 p.m. a seaplane, with Flight Lieutenant F. J. Rutland, R.N., as pilot, and Assistant Paymaster G. S. Trewin, R.N., as observer, was well under way; her first reports of the enemy were received in ‘Engadine’ about 3.30 p.m. Owing to clouds it was necessary to fly very low, and in order to identify four enemy light cruisers the seaplane had to fly at a height of 900 feet within 3,000 yards of them, the light cruisers opening fire on her with every gun that would bear. This in no way interfered with the clarity of their reports, and both Flight Lieutenant Rutland and Assistant Paymaster Trewin are to be congratulated on their achievement, which indicates that seaplanes under such circumstances are of distinct value.
“At 3.30 p.m. I increased speed to 25 knots, and formed line of battle, the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron forming astern of the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron, with destroyers of the 13th and 9th Flotillas taking station ahead. I turned to E.S.E., slightly converging on the enemy, who were now at a range of 23,000 yards, and formed the ships on a line of bearing to clear the smoke. The 5th Battle Squadron, who had conformed to our movements, were now bearing N.N.W., 10,000 yards. The visibility at this time was good, the sun behind us and the wind S.E. Being between the enemy and his base, our situation was both tactically and strategically good.
“At 3.48 p.m. the action commenced at a range of 18,500 yards, both forces opening fire practically simultaneously. Course was altered to the southward, and subsequently the mean direction was S.S.E., the enemy steering a parallel course distant about 18,000 to 14,500 yards.
“At 4.8 p.m. the 5th Battle Squadron came into action and opened fire at a range of 20,000 yards. The enemy’s fire now seemed to slacken. The destroyer ‘Landrail ‘ (Lieutenant-Commander Francis E. H. G. Hobart), of 9th Flotilla, who was on our port beam, trying to take station ahead, sighted the periscope of a submarine on her port quarter. Though causing considerable inconvenience from smoke, the presence of ‘Lydiard’ (Commander Malcolm L. Goldsmith) and ‘Landrail’ undoubtedly preserved the battle-cruisers from closer submarine attack. ‘Nottingham’ (Captain Charles B. Miller) also reported a submarine on the starboard beam.
“Eight destroyers of the 13th Flotilla, ‘ Nestor’ (Commander the Hon. Edward B. S. Bingham), ‘Nomad’ (Lieutenant-Commander Paul Whitfield), ‘Nicator’ (Lieutenant Jack E. A. Mocatta), ‘Narborough’ (Lieutenant-Commander Geoffrey Corlett), ‘Pelican’ (Lieutenant-Commander Kenneth A. Beattie), ‘Petard’ (Lieutenant-Commander Evelyn C. O. Thomson), ‘Obdurate’ (Lieutenant-Commander Cecil H. H. Sams), ‘Nerissa’ (Lieutenant-Commander Montague C. B. Legge) with ‘ Moorsom’ (Commander John C. Hodgson), and ‘Morris’ (Lieutenant-Commander Edward S. Graham), of 10th Flotilla, ‘Turbulent’ (Lieutenant-Commander Dudley Stuart), and ‘Termagant’ (Lieutenant-Commander Cuthbert P. Blake), of the 9th Flotilla, having been ordered to attack the enemy with torpedoes when opportunity offered, moved out at 4.15 p.m., simultaneously with a similar movement on the part of the enemy Destroyers. The attack was carried out in the most gallant manner, and with great determination. Before arriving at a, favourable position to fire torpedoes, they intercepted an enemy force consisting of a light-cruiser and fifteen destroyers. A fierce engagement ensued at close quarters, with the result that the enemy were forced to retire on their battlecruisers, having lost two destroyers sunk, and having their torpedo attack frustrated. Our destroyers sustained no loss in this engagement, but their attack on the enemy battle-cruisers was rendered less effective, owing to some of the destroyers having dropped astern during the fight. Their position was therefore unfavourable for torpedo attack.
“‘Nestor,’ ‘Nomad’ and ‘Nicator’, gallantly led by Commander the Hon. Edward B. S. Bingham, of ‘Nestor,’ pressed home their attack on the battle-cruisers and fired two torpedoes at them, being subjected to a heavy fire from the enemy’s secondary armament. ‘Nomad’ was badly hit, and apparently remained stopped between the lines. Subsequently ‘Nestor’ and ‘Nicator’ altered course to the S.E., and in a short time, the opposing battle-cruisers having turned 16 points, found themselves within close range of a number of enemy battleships. Nothing daunted, though under a terrific fire, they stood on, and their position being favourable for torpedo attack fired a torpedo at the second ship of the enemy line at a range of 3,000 yards. Before they could fire their fourth torpedo, ‘Nestor’ was badly hit and swung to starboard, ‘Nicator’ altering course inside her to avoid collision, and thereby being prevented from firing the last torpedo. ‘Nicator’ made good her escape, and subsequently rejoined the Captain (D), 13th Flotilla. ‘Nestor’ remained stopped, but carried out an attack on the enemy’s battle fleet.
“‘Petard,’ ‘Nerissa,’ ‘Turbulent’, and ‘Termagant’ also pressed home their attack on the enemy battle-cruisers, firing torpedoes after the engagement with enemy destroyers. ‘Petard’ reports that all her torpedoes must have crossed the enemy’s line, while ‘Nerissa’ states that one torpedo appeared to strike the rear ship. These destroyer attacks were indicative of the spirit pervading His Majesty’s Navy, and were worthy of its highest traditions. I propose to bring to your notice a recommendation of Commander Bingham and other Officers for some recognition of their conspicuous gallantry.
“From 4.15 to 4.43 p.m. the conflict between the opposing battle-cruisers was of a very fierce and resolute character. The 5th Battle Squadron was engaging the enemy’s rear ships, unfortunately at very long range. Our fire began to tell, the accuracy and rapidity of that of the enemy, depreciating considerably. At 4.18 p.m. the third enemy ship was seen to be on fire. The visibility to the north-eastward had become considerably reduced, and the outline of the ships very indistinct.
“At 4.38 p m. ‘Southampton’ (Commodore William E. Goodenough, M.V.O., A.D.C.) reported the enemy’s Battle Fleet ahead. The destroyers were recalled, and at 4.42 p.m. the enemy’s Battle Fleet was sighted S.E. Course was altered 16 points in succession to starboard, and I proceeded on a northerly course to lead them towards the Battle Fleet. The enemy battle-cruisers altered course shortly afterwards, and the action continued. ‘Southampton,’ with the 2nd Light-cruiser Squadron, held on to the southward to observe. They closed to within 13,000 yards of the enemy Battle Fleet, and came under a very heavy but ineffective fire. ‘Southampton’s’ reports were most valuable. The 5th Battle Squadron were now closing on an opposite course and engaging the enemy battle-cruisers with all guns. The position of the enemy Battle Fleet was communicated to them, and I ordered them to alter course 16 points. Led by Rear-Admiral Evan-Thomas, in ‘Barham’ (Captain Arthur W. Craig), this squadron supported us brilliantly and effectively.
“At 4.57 p.m. the 5th Battle Squadron turned up astern of me and came under the fire of the leading ships of the enemy Battle Fleet. ‘Fearless’ (Captain (D) Charles D. Roper), with the destroyers of 1st Flotilla, joined the battle-cruisers, and, when speed admitted, took station ahead. ‘Champion’ (Captain (D) James U. Farie), with 13th Flotilla, took station on the 5th Battle Squadron. At 5 p m. the 1st and 3rd Light-cruiser Squadrons, which bad been following me on the southerly course, took station on my starboard bow; the 2nd Light-cruiser Squadron took station on my port quarter.
“The weather conditions now became unfavourable, our ships being silhouetted against a clear horizon to the westward, while the enemy were for the most part obscured by mist, only showing up clearly at intervals. These conditions prevailed until we had turned their van at about 6 p.m. Between 5 and 6 p.m. the action continued on a northerly course, the range being about 14,000 yards. During this time the enemy received very severe punishment, and one of their battle-cruisers quitted the line in a considerably damaged condition. This came under my personal observation, and was corroborated by ‘Princess Royal’ (Captain Walter H. Cowan, M.V.O., D.S.O.) and ‘Tiger’ (Captain Henry B. Pelly, M.V.O.). Other enemy ships also showed signs of increasing injury. At 5.5 p.m. ‘Onslow’ (Lieutenant-Commander John C. Tovey) and ‘Moresby’ (Lieutenant-Commander Roger V. Alison), who had been detached to assist ‘Engadine’ with the seaplane, rejoined the battle-cruiser squadrons and took station on the starboard (engaged) bow of ‘Lion’ (Captain Alfred E. M. Chatfield, C.V.O.). At 5.10 p.m. ‘Moresby,’ being 2 points before the beam of the leading enemy ship, fired a torpedo at a ship in their line. Eight, minutes later she observed a hit with a torpedo on what was judged to be the sixth ship in the line. ‘Moresby’ then passed between the lines to clear the range of smoke, and rejoined ‘Champion.’ In corroboration of this, ‘Fearless’ reports having seen an enemy heavy ship heavily on fire at about 5.10 p.m., and shortly afterwards a huge cloud of smoke and steam.
“At 5.35 p.m. our course was N.N.E., and the estimated position of the Battle Fleet was N. 16 W., so we gradually hauled to the northeastward, keeping the range of the enemy at 14,000 yards. He was gradually hauling to the eastward, receiving severe punishment at the head of his line, and probably acting on information received from his light-cruisers which had sighted and were engaged with the Third Battle-cruiser Squadron.
“Possibly Zeppelins were present also. At 5.50 p.m. British cruisers were sighted on the port bow, and at 5.56 p.m. the leading battleships of the Battle Fleet, bearing north 5 miles. I thereupon altered course to east, and proceeded at utmost speed. This brought the range of the enemy down to 12,000 yards. I made a report to you that the enemy battlecruisers bore south-east. At this time only three of the enemy battle-cruisers were visible, closely followed by battleships of the ‘Koenig’ class.
“At about 6.5 p.m. ‘Onslow,’ being on the engaged bow of ‘Lion’ sighted an enemy light cruiser at a distance of 6,000 yards from us, apparently endeavouring to attack with torpedoes.’Onslow’ at once closed and engaged her, firing 58 rounds at a range of from 4,000 to 2,000 yards, scoring a number of hits. ‘Onslow’ then closed the enemy battlecruisers, and orders were given for all torpedoes to be fired. At this moment she was struck amidships by a heavy shell, with the result that only one torpedo was fired. Thinking that all his torpedoes had gone, the Commanding Officer proceeded to retire at slow speed. Being informed that he still had three torpedoes, he closed with the light-cruiser previously engaged and torpedoed her. The enemy’s Battle Fleet was then sighted, and the remaining torpedoes were fired at them and must have crossed the enemy’s track. Damage then caused ‘Onslow’ to stop.
“At 7.15 p.m. ‘Defender’ (Lieutenant-Commander Lawrence R. Palmer), whose speed had been reduced to 10 knots, while on the disengaged side of the battle-cruisers, by a shell which damaged her foremost boiler, closed ‘Onslow’ and took her in tow. Shells were falling all round them during this operation, which, however, was successfully accomplished. During the heavy weather of the ensuing night the tow parted twice, but was re-secured. The two struggled on together until 1 p.m. 1st June, when ‘Onslow’ was transferred to tugs. I consider the performances of these two destroyers to be gallant in the extreme, and I am recommending Lieutenant-Commander J. C. Tovey, of ‘Onslow,’ and Lieutenant-Commander L. R. Palmer, of ‘Defender,’ for special recognition. ‘Onslow’ was possibly the destroyer referred to by the Rear-Admiral Commanding 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron as follows:’ Here I should like to bring to your notice the action of a destroyer (name unknown) which we passed close in a disabled condition soon after 6 p.m. She apparently was able to struggle ahead again, and made straight for the ‘Derfflinger’ to attack her.’ ”
Proceedings of Battle Fleet and Third Battle Cruiser Squadron.
(Jellicoe) On receipt of the information that the enemy had been sighted, the British Battle Fleet, with its accompanying cruiser and destroyer force, proceeded at full speed on a S.E. by S. course to close the Battle-cruiser Fleet. During the two hours that elapsed before the arrival of the Battle Fleet on the scene the steaming qualities of the older battleships were severely tested. Great credit is due to the engine-room departments for the manner in which they, as always, responded to the call, the whole Fleet maintaining a speed in excess of the trial speeds of some of the older vessels.
The Third Battle-cruiser Squadron, commanded by Rear-Admiral the Hon. Horace L. A. Hood, C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O., which was in advance of the Battle Fleet, was ordered to reinforce Sir David Beatty. At 5.30 p.m. this squadron observed flashes of gunfire and heard the sound of guns to the south-westward. Rear-Admiral- Hood sent the ‘Chester’ Captain Robert N. Lawson) to investigate, and this ship engaged three or four enemy light-cruisers at about 5.45 p.m. The engagement lasted for about twenty minutes, during which period Captain Lawson handled his vessel with great skill against heavy odds, and, although the ship suffered considerably in casualties, her fighting and steaming qualities were unimpaired, and at about 6.5 p.m. she rejoined the Third Battle-cruiser Squadron.
The Third Battle-cruiser Squadron had turned to the north-westward, and at 6.10 p.m. sighted our battle-cruisers, the squadron taking station ahead of the ‘Lion’ at 6.21 p.m. in accordance with the orders of the Vice-Admiral Commanding Battle-cruiser Fleet. He reports as follows:
(Beatty) “I ordered them to take station ahead, which was carried out magnificently, Rear- Admiral Hood bringing his squadron into action ahead in a most inspiring manner, worthy of his great naval ancestors. At 6.25 p.m. I altered course to the E.S.E. in support of the Third Battle-cruiser Squadron, who were at this time only 8,000 yards from the enemy’s leading ship. They were pouring a hot fire into her and caused her to turn to the westward of south. At the same time I made a report to you of the bearing and distance of the enemy battle-fleet.
“By 6.50 p.m. the battle-cruisers were clear of our leading battle squadron then bearing about N.N.W. 3 miles, and I ordered the Third Battle-cruiser Squadron to prolong the line astern and reduced to 18 knots. The visibility at this time was very indifferent, not more than 4 miles, and the enemy ships were temporarily lost sight of. It is interesting to note that after 6 p.m., although the visibility became reduced, it was undoubtedly more favourable to us than to the enemy. At intervals their ships showed up clearly, enabling us to punish them very severely and establish a definite superiority over them. From the report of other ships and my own observation it was clear that the enemy suffered considerable damage, battle-cruisers .and battleships alike. The head of their line was crumpled up, leaving battleships as targets for the majority of our battlecruisers. Before leaving us the Fifth Battle Squadron was also engaging battleships. The report of Rear-Admiral Evan-Thomas shows that excellent results were obtained, and it can be safely said that his magnificent squadron wrought great execution.
“From the report of Rear-Admiral T. D. W. Napier, M.V.O., the Third Light-cruiser Squadron, which had maintained its station on our starboard bow well ahead of the enemy, at 6.25 p.m. attacked with the torpedo. ‘Falmouth’ (Captain John D. Edwards) and ‘Yarmouth’ (Captain Thomas D. Pratt) both fired torpedoes at the leading enemy battlecruiser, and it is believed that one torpedo hit,, as a heavy underwater explosion was observed. The Third Light-cruiser Squadron then gallantly attacked the heavy ships with gunfire, with impunity to themselves, thereby demonstrating that the fighting efficiency of the enemy had been seriously impaired. Rear-Admiral Napier deserves great credit for his determined and effective attack. ‘Indomitable’ (Captain Francis W. Kennedy) reports that about this time one of the ‘Derfflinger’ class fell out of the enemy’s line.”
(Jellicoe) Meanwhile, at 5.45 p.m., the report of guns had become audible to me, and at 5.55 p.m. flashes were visible from ahead round to the starboard beam, although in the mist no ships could be distinguished, and the position of the enemy’s: battle fleet could not be determined. The difference in estimated position by “reckoning” between ‘Iron Duke’ (Captain Frederic C. Dreyer, C.B.) and ‘Lion,’ which was inevitable under the circumstances, added to the uncertainty of the general situation.
Shortly after 5.55 p.m. some of the cruisers ahead, under Rear-Admirals Herbert L. Heath, M.V.O., and Sir Robert Arbuthnot, Bt., M.V.O., were seen to be in action, and reports received show that ‘Defence’, flagship (Captain Stanley V. Ellis), and ‘Warrior’ (Captain Vincent B. Molteno), of the First Cruiser Squadron, engaged an enemy light cruiser at this time. She was subsequently observed to sink.
At 6 p.m. ‘Canterbury’ (Captain Percy M. R. Royds), which ship was in company with the Third Battle Cruiser Squadron, had engaged enemy light-cruisers which were firing heavily on the torpedo-boat destroyer ‘Shark’, (Commander Loftus W. Jones), ‘Acasta’ (Lieutenant-Commander John O. Barron), and ‘Christopher’ (Lieutenant-Commander Fairfax M. Kerr); as a result of this engagement the ‘Shark’ was sunk.
At 6 p.m. vessels, afterwards seen to be our battle-cruisers, were sighted by ‘Marlborough’ bearing before the starboard beam of the battle fleet.
At the same time the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle-cruiser Fleet (Beatty), reported to me the position of the enemy battle-cruisers, and at 6.14 p.m. reported the position of the enemy battle fleet.
At this period, when the battle fleet was meeting the battle-cruisers and the Fifth Battle Squadron, great care was necessary to ensure that our own ships were not mistaken for enemy vessels.
I formed the battle fleet in line of battle on receipt of Sir David Beatty’s report, and during deployment the fleets became engaged. Sir David Beatty had meanwhile formed the battle-cruisers ahead of the battle fleet.
The divisions of the battle fleet were led by:
Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.
Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Jerram, K.C.B.
Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, Bt., K.C.B., C.V.O., C.M.G.
Rear-Admiral Alexander L. Duff, C.B.
Rear-Admiral Arthur C. Leveson, C.B.
Rear-Admiral Ernest F. A. Gaunt, C.M.G.
At 6.16 p.m. ‘Defence’ and ‘Warrior’ were observed passing down between the British and, German Battle Fleets under a very heavy fire. ‘Defence’ disappeared, and ‘Warrior’ passed to the rear disabled.
It is probable that Sir Robert Arbuthnot, during his engagement with the enemy’s light cruisers and in his desire to complete their destruction, was not aware of the approach of the enemy’s heavy ships, owing to the mist, until he found himself in close proximity to the main fleet, and before he could withdraw his ships they were caught under a heavy fire and disabled. It is not known when ‘Black Prince’ (Captain Thomas P. Bonham), of the same squadron, was sunk, but a wireless signal was received from her between 8 and 9 p.m.
The First Battle Squadron became engaged during deployment, .the Vice-Admiral opening fire at 6.17 p.m. on a battleship of the ‘Kaiser’ class. The other Battle Squadrons, which had previously been firing at an enemy light-cruiser, opened fire at 6.30 p.m. on battleships of the ‘Koenig’ class.
At 6.6 p.m. the Rear-Admiral Commanding Fifth Battle Squadron, then in company with the battle-cruisers, had sighted the starboard wing division of the battle-fleet on the port bow of ‘Barham,’ and the first intention of Rear-Admiral Evan-Thomas was to form ahead of the remainder of the battle-fleet, but on realising the direction of deployment he was compelled to form astern, a manoeuvre which was well executed by the squadron under a heavy fire from the enemy battle-fleet. An accident to ‘Warspite’s’ steering gear caused her helm to become jammed temporarily and took the ship in the direction of the enemy’s line, during which time she was hit several times. Clever handling enabled Captain Edward M. Phillpotts to extricate his ship from a somewhat awkward situation.
Owing principally to the mist, but partly to the smoke, it was possible to see only a few ships at a time in the enemy’s battle line. Towards the van only some four or five ships were ever visible at once. More could be seen from the rear squadron, but never more than eight to twelve.
The action between the battle-fleets lasted intermittently from 6.17 p.m. to 8.20 p.m. at ranges between 9,000 and 12,000 yards, during which time the British Fleet made alterations of course from S.E. by E. to W. in the endeavour to close. The enemy constantly turned away and opened the range under cover of destroyer attacks and smoke screens as the effect of the British fire was felt, and the alterations of course had the effect of bringing the British Fleet (which commenced the action in a position of advantage on the bow of the enemy) to a quarterly bearing from the enemy battle line, but at the same time placed us between the enemy and his bases.
At 6.55 p.m. ‘ Iron Duke’ passed the wreck of ‘Invincible’ (Captain Arthur L. Cay), with ‘Badger’ (Commander C. A. Fremantle) standing by.
During the somewhat brief periods that the ships of the High Sea Fleet were visible through the mist, the heavy and effective fire kept up by the battleships and battle-cruisers of the Grand Fleet caused me much satisfaction, and the enemy vessels were seen to be constantly hit, some being observed to haul out of the line and at least one to sink. The enemy’s return fire at this period was not effective, and the damage caused to our ships was insignificant.
The Battle-cruisers in the Van.
Sir David Beatty reports:
(Beatty) “At 7.6 p.m. I received a signal from you that the course of the Fleet was south. Subsequently signals were received up to 8.46 p.m. showing that the course of the Battle Fleet was to the south-westward.
“Between 7 and 7.12 p.m. we hauled round gradually to S.W. by S. to regain touch with the enemy, and at 7.14 p.m. again sighted them at a range of about 15,000 yards. The ships sighted at this time were two battlecruisers and two battleships, apparently of the ‘Koenig’ class. No doubt more continued the line to the northward, but that was all that could be seen. The visibility having improved considerably as the sun descended below the clouds, we re-engaged at 7.17 p.m. and increased speed to 22 knots. At 7.32 p.m. my course was S.W., speed 18 knots, the leading enemy battleship bearing N. W. by W. Again, after a very short time, the enemy showed signs of punishment, one ship being on fire, while another appeared to drop right astern. The destroyers at the head of the enemy’s line emitted volumes of grey smoke, covering their capital ships as with a pall, under cover of which they turned away, and at 7.45 p.m. we lost sight of them.
“At 7.58 p.m. I ordered the First and Third Light-cruiser Squadrons to sweep to the westward and locate the head of the enemy’s line, and at 8.20 p.m. we altered course to west in support. We soon located two battle-cruisers and battleships, and were heavily engaged at a short range of about 10,000 yards. The leading ship was hit repeatedly by ‘Lion’ and turned away eight points, emitting very high flames and with a heavy list to port. ‘Princess Royal’ set fire to a three-funnelled battleship. ‘New Zealand’ (Captain John F. E. Green) and ‘Indomitable’ report that the third ship, which they both engaged, hauled out of the line, heeling over and on fire. The mist, which now came down, enveloped them, and ‘ Falmouth ‘ reported they were last seen at 8.38 p.m. steaming to the westward.
“At 8.40 p.m. all our battle-cruisers felt a heavy shock as if struck by a mine or torpedo, or possibly sunken wreckage. As, however, examination of the bottoms reveals no sign of such an occurrence, it is assumed that it indicated the blowing up of a great vessel.
“I continued on a south-westerly course with my light cruisers spread until 9.24 p.m. Nothing further being sighted, I assumed that the enemy were to the north-westward, and that we had established ourselves well between him and his base. ‘Minotaur’ (Captain Arthur C. S. H. D’Aeth) was at this time bearing north 5 miles, and I asked her the position of the leading battle squadron of the Battle Fleet. Her reply was that it was not in sight, but was last seen bearing N.N.E. I kept you (Jellicoe) informed of my position, course, and speed, also of the bearing of the enemy.
“In view of the gathering darkness, and the fact that our strategical position was such as to make it appear certain that we should locate the enemy at daylight under most favourable circumstances, I did not consider it desirable or proper to close the enemy Battle Fleet during the dark hours. I therefore concluded that I should be carrying out your wishes by turning to the course of the Fleet, reporting to you that I had done so.”
Details of Battle-fleet Action.
(Jellicoe) As was anticipated, the German Fleet appeared to rely very much on torpedo attacks, which were favoured by the low visibility and by the fact that we had arrived in the position of a “following” or “chasing” fleet. A large number of torpedoes were apparently fired, but only one took effect (on ‘Marlborough’), and even in this case the ship was able to remain in the line and to continue the action. The enemy’s efforts to keep out of effective gun range were aided by the weather conditions, which were ideal for the purpose. Two separate destroyer attacks were made by the enemy.
The First Battle Squadron, under Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, came into action at 6.17 p.m. with the enemy’s Third Battle Squadron, at a range of about 11,000 yards, and administered severe punishment, both to the battleships and to the battle-cruisers and light-cruisers, which were also engaged. The fire of ‘Marlborough’ (Captain George P. Ross) was particularly rapid and effective. This ship commenced at 6.17 p.m. by firing seven salvoes at a ship of the ‘Kaiser’ class, then engaged a cruiser, and again a battleship, and at 6.54 she was hit by a torpedo and took up a considerable list to starboard, but reopened at 7.3 p.m. at a cruiser and at 7.12 p.m. fired fourteen rapid salvoes at a ship of the ‘Koenig’ class, hitting her frequently until she turned out of the line. The manner in which this effective fire was kept up in spite of the disadvantages due to the injury caused by the torpedo was most creditable to the ship and a very fine example to the squadron.
The range decreased during the course of the action to 9,000 yards. The First Battle Squadron received more of the enemy’s return fire than the remainder of the battle-fleet, with the exception of the Fifth Battle Squadron. ‘Colossus’ (Captain Alfred D. P. R. Pound) was hit but was not seriously damaged, and other ships were straddled with fair frequency.
In the Fourth Battle Squadron – in which squadron my flagship ‘Iron Duke’ was placed – Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee leading one of the divisions – the enemy engaged was the squadron consisting of ‘Koenig’ and ‘Kaiser’ class and some of the battle-cruisers, as well as disabled cruisers and light-cruisers. The mist rendered rangetaking a difficult matter, but the fire of the squadron was effective. ‘Iron Duke,’ having previously fired at a light-cruiser between the lines, opened fire at 6.30 p.m. on a battleship of the ‘Koenig’ class at a range of 12,000 yards. The latter was very quickly straddled, and hitting commenced at the second salvo and only ceased when the target ship turned away. The rapidity with which hitting was established was most creditable to the excellent gunnery organisation of the flagship, so ably commanded by my Flag Captain, Captain Frederic C. Dreyer.
The fire of other ships of the squadron was principally directed at enemy battle-cruisers and cruisers as they appeared out of the mist. Hits were observed to take effect on several ships.
The ships of the Second Battle Squadron, under Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Jerram, were in action with vessels of the ‘Kaiser’ or ‘Koenig’ classes between 6.30 and 7.20 p.m., and fired also at an enemy battle-cruiser which had dropped back apparently severely damaged.
During the action between the battle fleets the Second Cruiser Squadron, ably commanded by Rear-Admiral Herbert L. Heath, M.V.O., with the addition of ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ (Captain Henry Blackett) of the First Cruiser Squadron, occupied a position at the van, and acted as a connecting link between the battle fleet and the battle-cruiser fleet. This squadron, although it carried out useful work, did not have an opportunity of coming into action.
The attached cruisers ‘Boadicea’ (Captain Louis C. S. Woollcombe, M.V.O.), ‘Active’ (Captain Percy Withers), ‘Blanche’ (Captain John M. Casement), and ‘Bellona’ (Captain Arthur B. S. Dutton) carried out their duties as repeating-ships with remarkable rapidity and accuracy under difficult conditions.
The Fourth Light-cruiser Squadron, under Commodore Charles E. Le Mesurier, occupied a position in the van until ordered to attack enemy destroyers at 7.20 p.m., and again at 8.18 p.m., when they supported the Eleventh Flotilla, which had moved out under Commodore James R. P. Hawksley, M.V.O., to attack. On each occasion the Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron was very well handled by Commodore Le Mesurier, his captains giving him excellent support, and their object was attained, although with some loss in the second attack, when the ships came under the heavy fire of the enemy battle fleet at between 6,500 and 8,000 yards. The ‘Calliope’ (Commodore Le Mesurier) was hit several times, but did not sustain serious damage, although, I regret to say, she had several casualties. The light cruisers attacked the enemy’s battleships with torpedoes at this time, and an explosion on board a ship of the ‘Kaiser’ class was seen at 8.40 p.m.
During these destroyer attacks four enemy torpedo-boat destroyers were sunk by the gunfire of battleships, light-cruisers and destroyers.
After the arrival of the British Battle Fleet the enemy’s tactics were of a nature generally to avoid further action, in which they were favoured by the conditions of visibility.
At 9 p.m. the enemy was entirely out of sight, and the threat of torpedo boat-destroyer attacks during the rapidly approaching darkness made it necessary for me to dispose the fleet for the night, with a view to its safety from such attacks, whilst providing for a renewal of action at daylight. I accordingly manoeuvred to remain between the enemy and his bases, placing our flotillas in a position in which they would afford protection to the fleet from destroyer attack, and at the same time be favourably situated for attacking the enemy’s heavy ships.
Night Attacks by Flotillas.
During the night the British heavy ships were not attacked, but the Fourth, Eleventh and Twelfth Flotillas, under Commodore Hawkesley and Captains Charles J. Wintour and Anselan J. B. Stirling, delivered a series of very gallant and successful attacks on the enemy, causing him heavy losses.
It was during these attacks that severe losses in the Fourth Flotilla occurred, including that of ‘Tipperary’, with the gallant leader of the Flotilla, Captain Wintour. He had brought his flotilla to a high pitch of perfection, and although suffering severely from the fire of the enemy, a heavy toll of enemy vessels was taken, and many gallant actions were performed by the flotilla.
Two torpedoes were seen to take effect on enemy vessels as the result of the attacks of the Fourth Flotilla, one being from ‘Spitfire’ (Lieutenant-Commander Clarence W. E. Trelawny), and the other from either ‘Ardent’ (Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Marsden), ‘Ambuscade’ (Lieutenant-Commander Gordon A. Coles) or ‘Garland’ (Lieutenant-Commander Reginald S. Goff).
The attack carried out by the Twelfth Flotilla (Captain Anselan J. B. Stirling) was admirably executed. The squadron attacked, which consisted of six large vessels, besides light-cruisers, and comprised vessels of the ‘Kaiser’ class, was taken by surprise. A large number of torpedoes was fired, including some at the second and third ships in the line; those fired at the third ship took effect, and she was observed to blow up. A second attack made twenty minutes later by ‘Maenad’ (Commander John P. Champion) on the five vessels still remaining, resulted in the fourth ship in the line being also hit.
The destroyers were under a heavy fire from the light-cruisers on reaching the rear of the line, but the ‘Onslaught’ (Lieutenant-Commander Arthur G. Onslow, D.S.C.) was the only vessel which received any material injuries. In the ‘Onslaught’ Sub-Lieutenant Harry W. A. Kemmis, assisted by Midshipman Reginald G. Arnot, R.N.R., the only executive officers not disabled brought the ship successfully out of action and reached her home port.
During the attack carried out by the Eleventh Flotilla, ‘Castor’ (Commodore James R. P. Hawksley) leading the flotilla, engaged and sank an enemy torpedo boat destroyer at point-blank range.
Sir David Beatty reports:
(Beatty) “The Thirteenth Flotilla, under the command of Captain James U. Farie, in ‘Champion,’ took station astern of the battle fleet for the night. At 0.30 a.m. on Thursday, 1st June, a large vessel crossed the rear of the flotilla at high speed. She passed close to ‘Petard’ and ‘Turbulent,’ switched on searchlights and opened a heavy fire, which disabled ‘Turbulent.’ At 3.30 a.m. ‘Champion’ was engaged for a few minutes with four enemy destroyers. ‘Moresby’ reports four ships of ‘Deutschland’ class sighted at 2.35 a.m., at whom she fired one torpedo. Two minutes later an explosion was felt by ‘Moresby’ and ‘Obdurate.’
“‘Fearless’ and the 1st Flotilla were very usefully employed as a submarine screen during the earlier part of the 31st May. At 6.10 p.m., when joining the Battle Fleet, ‘Fearless’ was unable to follow the battle cruisers without fouling the battleships, and therefore took station at the rear of the line. She sighted during the night a battleship of the ‘Kaiser’ class steaming fast and entirely alone. She was not able to engage her, but believes she was attacked by destroyers further astern. A heavy explosion was observed astern not long after.”
(Jellicoe) There were many gallant deeds performed by the destroyer flotillas; they surpassed the very highest expectations that I had formed of them.
Apart from the proceedings of the flotillas, the Second Light-cruiser Squadron in the rear of the battle fleet was in close action for about 15 minutes at 10.20 p.m. with a squadron comprising one enemy cruiser and four light cruisers, during which period ‘Southampton’ and ‘Dublin’ (Captain Albert C. Scott) suffered rather heavy casualties, although their steaming and fighting qualities were not impaired. The return fire of the squadron appeared to be very effective.
‘Abdiel,’ ably commanded by Commander Berwick Curtis, carried out her duties with the success which has always characterised her work.
Proceedings on 1st June.
At daylight, 1st June, the battle fleet, being then to the southward and westward of the Horn Reef, turned to the northward in search of enemy vessels and for the purpose of collecting our own cruisers and torpedo-boat destroyers. At 2.30 a.m. Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney transferred his flag from ‘Marlborough’ to ‘Revenge,’ as the former ship had some difficulty in keeping up the speed of the squadron. ‘Marlborough’ was detached by my direction to a base, successfully driving off an enemy submarine attack en route. The visibility early on 1st June (three to four miles) was less than on 31st May, and the torpedo boat destroyers, being out of visual touch, did not rejoin until 9 a.m. The British Fleet remained in the proximity of the battlefield and near the line of approach to German ports until 11 a.m. on 1st June, in spite of the disadvantage of long distances from fleet bases and the danger incurred in waters adjacent to enemy coasts from submarines and torpedo craft. The enemy, however, made no sign, and I was reluctantly compelled to the conclusion that the High Sea Fleet had returned into port. Subsequent events proved this assumption to have been correct. Our position must have been known, to the enemy, as at 4 a.m. the Fleet engaged a Zeppelin for about five minutes, during which time she had ample opportunity to note and subsequently report the position and course of the British Fleet.
The waters from the latitude of the Horn Reef to the scene of the action were thoroughly searched, and some survivors from the destroyers ‘Ardent’ (Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Marsden), ‘Fortune’ (Lieutenant Commander Frank G. Terry), and ‘Tipperary’ (Captain (D) Charles J. Wintour), were picked up, and the ‘Sparrowhawk’ (Lieutenant-Commander Sydney Hopkins), which had been in collision and was no longer seaworthy, was sunk after her crew had been taken off. A large amount of wreckage was seen, but no enemy ships, and at 1.15 p.m., it being evident that the German Fleet had succeeded in returning to port, course was shaped for our bases, which were reached without further incident on Friday, 2nd June. A cruiser squadron was detached to search for ‘Warrior’, which vessel had been abandoned whilst in tow of ‘Engadine’ on her way to the base owing to bad weather setting in and the vessel becoming unseaworthy, but no trace of her was discovered, and a further subsequent search by a light-cruiser squadron having failed to locate her, it is evident that she foundered.
Sir David Beatty reports in regard to the ‘Engadine ‘ as follows:
(Beatty) “The work of ‘Engadine’ appears to have been most praiseworthy throughout, and of great value. Lieutenant-Commander C. G. Robinson deserves great credit for the skilful and seamanlike manner in which he handled his ship. He actually towed ‘Warrior’ for 75 miles between 8.40 p.m., 31st May, and 7.15 a.m., 1st June, and was instrumental in saving the lives of her ship’s company.”
(Jellicoe) I fully endorse his remarks.
The Fleet fuelled and replenished with ammunition, and at 9.30 p.m. on 2nd June was reported ready for further action.
The conditions of low visibility under which the day action took place and the approach of darkness enhance the difficulty of giving an accurate report of the damage inflicted or the names of the ships sunk by our forces, but after a most careful examination of the evidence of all officers, who testified to seeing enemy vessels actually sink, and personal interviews with a large number of these officers, I am of opinion that the list shown in the enclosure gives the minimum in regard to numbers, though it is possibly not entirely accurate as regards the particular class of vessel, especially those which were sunk during the night attacks. In addition to the vessels sunk, it is unquestionable that many other ships were very seriously damaged by gunfire and by torpedo attack.
I deeply regret to report the loss of H.M. ships ‘Queen Mary,’ ‘Indefatigable’ (below – Maritime Quest), ‘Invincible,’ ‘Defence,’ ‘Black Prince,’ ‘Warrior,’ and of H.M. T.B.D.’s ‘Tipperary,’ ‘Ardent,’ ‘Fortune,’ ‘Shark,’ ‘Sparrowhawk,’ ‘Nestor,’ ‘Nomad,’ and ‘Turbulent,’ and still more do I regret the resultant heavy loss of life. The death of such gallant and distinguished officers as Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot, Bart., Rear-Admiral The Hon. Horace Hood, Captain Charles F. Sowerby, Captain Cecil I. Prowse, Captain Arthur L. Cay, Captain Thomas P. Bonham, Captain Charles J. Wintour, and Captain Stanley V. Ellis, and those who perished with them, is a serious loss to the Navy and to the country. They led officers and men who were equally gallant, and whose death is mourned by their comrades in the Grand Fleet. They fell doing their duty nobly, a death which they would have been the first to desire.
The enemy fought with the gallantry that was expected of him. We particularly admired the conduct of those on board a disabled German light-cruiser which passed down the British line shortly after deployment, under a heavy fire, which was returned by the only gun left in action.
The Personnel of the Fleet.
The conduct of officers and men throughout the day and night actions was entirely beyond praise. No words of mine could do them justice. On all sides it is reported to me that the glorious traditions of the past were most worthily upheld – whether in heavy ships, cruisers, light-cruisers, or destroyers – the same admirable spirit prevailed. Officers and men were cool and determined, with a cheeriness that would have carried them through anything. The heroism of the wounded was the admiration of all.
I cannot adequately express the pride with which the spirit of the Fleet filled me.
Details of the work of the various ships during action have now been given. It must never be forgotten, however, that the prelude to action is the work of the engine-room department, and that during action the officers and men of that department perform their most important duties without the incentive which a knowledge of the course of the action gives to those on deck. The qualities of discipline and endurance are taxed to the utmost under these conditions, and they were, as always, most fully maintained throughout the operations under review. Several ships attained speeds that had never before been reached, thus showing very clearly their high state of steaming efficiency. Failures in material were conspicuous by their absence, and several instances are reported of magnificent work on the part of the engine-room departments of injured ships.
The artisan ratings also carried out much valuable work during and after the action; they could not have done better.
The work of the medical officers of the Fleet, carried out very largely under the most difficult conditions, was entirely admirable and invaluable. Lacking in many cases all the essentials for performing critical operations, and with their staff seriously depleted by casualties, they worked untiringly and with the greatest success. To them we owe a deep debt of gratitude.
It will be seen that the hardest fighting fell to the lot of the Battle-cruiser Fleet (the units of which were less heavily armoured than their opponents), the Fifth Battle Squadron, the First Cruiser Squadron, Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron and the Flotillas. This was inevitable under the conditions, and the squadrons and flotillas mentioned as well as the individual vessels composing them were handled with conspicuous ability, as were also the 1st, 2nd and 4th Squadrons of the Battle Fleet and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron.
I desire to place on record my high appreciation of the manner in which all the vessels were handled. The conditions were such as to call for great skill and ability, quick judgment and decisions, and this was conspicuous throughout the day.
I beg also to draw special attention to the services rendered by Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney (Second in Command of the Grand Fleet), Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Jerram, Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee, Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, Rear-Admiral Alexander L. Duff, Rear-Admiral Arthur C. Leveson and Rear-Admiral Ernest F. A. Gaunt, commanding squadrons or divisions in the Battle Fleet. They acted throughout with skill and judgment. Sir Cecil Burney’s squadron owing to its position was able to see more of the enemy Battle Fleet than the other battle squadrons, and under a leader who has rendered me most valuable and loyal assistance at all times the squadron did excellent work. The magnificent squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Evan-Thomas formed a support of great value to Sir David Beatty during the afternoon, and was brought into action in rear of the Battle Fleet in the most judicious manner in the evening.
Sir David Beatty once again showed his fine qualities of gallant leadership, firm determination and correct strategic insight. He appreciated the situations at once on sighting first the enemy’s lighter forces, then his battlecruisers and finally his battle fleet. I can fully sympathise with his feelings when the evening mist and fading light robbed the Fleet of that complete victory for which he had manoeuvred, and for which the vessels in company with him had striven so hard. The services rendered by him, not only on this, but on two previous occasions, have been of the very greatest value.
Sir David Beatty brings to my notice the brilliant support afforded him by Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas; the magnificent manner in which Rear-Admiral The Hon. Horace Hood brought his squadron into action, the able support afforded him by Rear-Admiral William C. Pakenham and Rear-Admiral Osmond de B. Brock, and the good work performed by the Light-cruiser Squadrons under the command respectively of Rear-Admiral Trevelyan D. W. Napier, Commodore William E. Goodenough and Commodore Edwyn S. Alexander-Sinclair. He states that on every occasion these officers anticipated his wishes and used their forces to the best possible effect.
I most fully endorse all his remarks, and I forward also the following extract from his report regarding the valuable services rendered by his staff:
(Beatty) ”I desire to record and bring to your notice the great assistance that I received on a day of great anxiety and strain from my Chief of the Staff, Captain Rudolf W. Bentinck, whose good judgment was of the greatest help. He was a tower of strength. My Flag-Commander, the Hon. Reginald A. R. Plunkett, was most valuable in observing the effect of our fire, thereby enabling me to take advantage of the enemy’s discomfiture; my Secretary, Frank T. Spickernell, who made accurate notes of events as they occurred, which proved of the utmost value in keeping the situation clearly before me; my Flag Lieutenant-Commander Ralph F. Seymour, who maintained efficient communications under the most difficult circumstances despite the fact that his signalling appliances were continually shot away. All these officers carried out their duties with great coolness on the manoeuvring platform, where they were fully exposed to the enemy’s fire.”
(Jellicoe) I cannot close this despatch without recording the brilliant work of my Chief of the Staff, Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Madden, K.C.B., C.V.O. Throughout a period of 21 months of war his services have been of inestimable value. His good judgment, his long experience in fleets, special gift for organisation, and his capacity for unlimited work, have all been of the greatest assistance to me, and have relieved me of much of the anxiety inseparable from the conduct of the Fleet during the war. In the stages leading up to the Fleet Action and during and after the action he was always at hand to assist, and his judgment never at fault. I owe him more than I can say.
My special thanks are due also to Commodore Lionel Halsey, C.M.G., the Captain of the Fleet, who also assists me in the working of the fleet at sea, and to whose good organisation is largely due the rapidity with which the fleet was fuelled and replenished with ammunition on return to its bases. He was of much assistance to me during the action.
Commander Charles M. Forbes, my flag commander, and Commander Roger M. Bellairs, of my Staff, plotted the movements of the two fleets with rapidity and accuracy as reports were received; Commander the Hon. Matthew R. Best, M.V.O., of my Staff, acted as observer aloft throughout the action, and his services were of value. These officers carried out their duties with much efficiency during the action.
The signals were worked with smoothness and rapidity by Commander Alexander R. W. Woods, assisted by the other signal officers, and all ships responded remarkably well under difficult conditions. The signal departments in all ships deserve great credit for their work. My Flag-Lieutenant, Lieutenant-Commander Herbert Fitzherbert, was also of much service to me throughout the action.
The high state of efficiency of the W/T arrangements of the fleet, and the facility with which they were worked before, during and after the action, is a great testimony to the indefatigable work carried out by Commander Richard L. Nicholson. His services have been invaluable throughout the war.
A special word of praise is due to the wireless departments in all ships.
My Secretaries, Fleet Paymasters Hamnet H. Share, C.B., and Victor H. T. Weekes, recorded with accuracy salient features of the action. Their records have been of much assistance.
To the Master of the Fleet, Captain Oliver E. Leggett, I am indebted for the accuracy with which he kept the reckoning throughout the operations.
In a separate despatch I propose to bring to the notice of their Lordships the names of officers and men all of whom did not come under my personal observation, but who had the opportunity of specially distinguishing themselves.
I append the full text of Sir David Beatty’s report to me, from which, as will be seen, I have made copious extracts in order to make my narrative continuous and complete.
I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
J. R. JELLICOE, Admiral, Commander-in-Chief.
NOTE.-The list of ships and commanding officers which took part in the action has been withheld from publication for the present in accordance with practice.
List of Enemy Vessels put out of action, 31, May-1 June, 1916.
Battleships or Battle-cruisers.
2 Battleships, “Dreadnought ” type.
1 Battleship, “Deutschland ” type. (Seen to sink.)
1 Battle-cruiser. (Sunk – ‘Lützow’ admitted by Germans.)
1 Battleship, “Dreadnought” type.
1 Battle-cruiser. (Seen to be so severely damaged as to render it extremely doubtful if they could reach port.)
5 Light-cruisers. (Seen to sink; one of them had the appearance of being a larger type, and might have been a battleship.)
6 Torpedo-boat Destroyers. (Seen to sink.)
3 Torpedo-boat Destroyers. (Seen to be so severely damaged as to render it extremely doubtful if they could reach port.)
1 Submarine. (Sunk.)