Famous Battles in History World War I and the Battle of Jutland

About the famous battle of Jutland fought at sea during World War I between the British and the German.



Since the beginning of W.W. I, the German High Seas Fleet had not ventured out to challenge the numerically superior British Grand Fleet, which maintained a stranglehold blockade on Germany. In 1916 command of the German fleet was given to Adm. Reinhard Scheer, an aggressive officer who wanted to end the stalemate by battling the British and destroying the blockade.

On May 31, German Adm. Franz von Hipper led a squadron north from Germany along the Danish Jutland Peninsula, while Scheer followed 50 mi. behind with the main German fleet. The German force consisted of 99 ships, including 22 battleships. British intelligence, having broken the German naval code, informed Adm. Sir John Jellicoe of the German foray.

Realizing the Germans could not be allowed freedom in the North Sea, Jellicoe put to sea the same morning. From Scotland, he steamed eastward with the main fleet, while a smaller squadron under Adm. Sir David Beatty paralleled his course 70 mi. to the south. The British fleet was composed of 148 ships, including 28 battleships.

At 3:30 P.M., the squadrons of Beatty and Hipper made contact. Hipper turned south, luring Beatty toward the main German fleet. When Beatty saw the main enemy fleet dead ahead, he turned and ran for Jellicoe's aid. The combined German fleets pursued. At 5:30, the Germans sighted Jellicoe's battleships on the horizon. Both navies plunged forward and cleared for action. The British battlewagons fired first and set Hipper's flagship, the Lutzow, aflame. The Germans returned fire, and the British Invincible sank in three minutes.

At dusk, Jellicoe crossed the German rear, thereby blocking the German route home. Afraid of "losing the war in an afternoon," Jellicoe ordered his ships to avoid further combat. But at midnight, Scheer attacked the British rear, and after four hours of confused night battle, the Germans broke through and escaped to Germany. With the Germans back in harbor, the British steamed homeward, picking up survivors along the way.

Both sides had lost six major ships; however, the British had lost twice as much tonnage. Casualties were 6,748 British and 3,058 German sailors. Although scoring a technical victory, the German fleet never again came forth to fight a major battle. The British navy's pride was hurt, but it still dominated the North Sea and continued the blockade for the rest of the war.

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