The Battle of Jutland
Considered by most to be the greatest naval fleet battle during World War I, the Battle of Jutland was the largest and last full-blown conflict between massive fleets consisting of battle cruisers, dreadnoughts, and destroyers. Despite the fact that Jutland changed nothing strategically within the war, it is still known as being one of the most significant battles in naval history. But this battle was also one that ended with many questions and controversies that have been written about and discussed throughout the years following, even to present day.
Jutland commenced on May 31, 1916, after the commander of the German High Seas Fleet, Reinhard Scheer, made plans to maneuver towards the British coast, unaware that the British were able to read their coded messages and were fully prepared for Scheer's plan. Admiral Sir John Jellicoe was in full command of the British Grand Fleet, which had been divided into three groups: the main body led by Jellicoe, six battle cruisers led by Admiral David Beatty, and four dreadnoughts under Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas. The Grand Fleet departed two and a half hours before the Germans set off in order to rendezvous about 50 miles from Jutland in the North Sea.
During the first German encounter, Beatty and his battle cruisers chased a small, weak group of the German Fleet, which was led by Admiral Franz von Hipper, south towards the main High Seas Fleet. After being fired upon, Beatty made an 1800 turn northward in order to now lure the Germans toward Jellicoe and the main body. Next occurred what Louis D. Rubin Jr., who wrote the article "The Continuing Argument over Jutland" in 2001, described as one of "the most controversial episodes of a battle studded with controversial episodes." Evan-Thomas and his dreadnoughts, which had been headed south following Beatty, failed to turn all at once and follow the battle cruisers northward. Although he apparently had not received the signal to do so until three minutes after they had passed, Rubin explains that Evan-Thomas should have, on his own intuition and initiative, proceeded to fall behind Beatty's battle cruisers. Further stipulation was made as to whether or not this turn should have been made simultaneously or one ship after another. But to counter Rubin's opinion, in "Beatty's Official Report on the Battle of Jutland" written on the day of the battle, Beatty described these exact events and stated, "The position of the enemy Battle Fleet was communicated to them, and I ordered them to alter course 16 points. Led by Rear Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, M.V.O., in Barham, this squadron supported us brilliantly and effectively." This statement implies that, although Beatty could have taken other actions that may have resulted with different outcomes, overall his procedures were not as "controversial" as Rubin has made them out to be. Meanwhile, as Beatty and his battle cruisers continued northward, they began angling north-northeast, while Jellicoe and the dreadnoughts began moving southeast in six columns with an armored cruiser screen. The Grand Fleet formed a "crossing the T," position, in which the Germans found themselves crossing in front of the British fleet and suffering heavy hits. Once again, Scheer ordered another retreat. Andrew Gordon, the author of The Rules of the Game written in 1996, comments on Scheer stating that one would assume that, from the direction that Beatty had been angling, Scheer might have suspected that there might be more to what he was doing than an attempt to run away. But it was not until heavy shells began falling among the High Seas Fleet that the German commander realized that he, not Beatty, had fallen into a trap. Scheer ordered a simultaneous turn west to get out of the line of fire. While doing this they were able to sink a third battle cruiser, followed by completing an 1800 turn southwestward while sending torpedoes toward the Grand Fleet. As the German fleet moved out of...
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