100 years ago today: The hell of Jutland (Skagerrakschlacht)

On this day in 1916, the German High Seas Fleet under Admiral Reinhard Scheer attempted an ambush on the British Grand Fleet in the North Sea by defeating Admiral Sir David Beatty’s Battlecruiser Force first without Sir John Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet getting involved, but things didn’t quite work out like that.

jutland

Jutland was a harsh running nightmare of fire and steel that involved 250 ships and nearly 100,000 men. While Scheer was able to initially plaster Beatty’s battlecruisers, once Jellicoe showed up and the battle shifted dramatically, it was all over.

Jutland - SMS Kaiser fires a salvo against HMS Warspite

Jutland – SMS Kaiser fires a salvo against HMS Warspite

The night battle

The night battle

The HMS Bellerophon at Jutland, 1916 by Paul Wright

HMS Bellerophon at Jutland, 1916 by Paul Wright

HMS Lion at the Battle of Jutland” by Mal Wright

HMS Lion at the Battle of Jutland” by Mal Wright

Losses were horrific on both sides but not unsustainable in the grand scheme of things to effect a strategic shift.

The Germans damaged Beatty’s flagship, HMS Lion, and sank HMS Indefatigable, Invincible, and Queen Mary, all of which blew up when German shells hit their magazines. The British lost 14 ships and over 6,000 men.

HMS Marlborough limping home from the Battle Of Jutland. Painting by Miller. Royal Marines Museum; (c) Royal Marines Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

HMS Marlborough limping home from the Battle Of Jutland. Painting by Miller. Royal Marines Museum; (c) Royal Marines Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Looking through a shell-hole in HMS Tiger after Jutland

Looking through a shell-hole in HMS Tiger after Jutland

The bow and stern of HMS Invincible stick out of the water during the Battle of Jutland. HMS Invincible's ammunition magazine exploded after the battlecruiser was hit by German shells. HMS Badger can be seen in the distance as it moves in to rescue survivors, but only six men survived. IWM SP 2470.

The bow and stern of HMS Invincible stick out of the water during the Battle of Jutland. HMS Invincible’s ammunition magazine exploded after the battlecruiser was hit by German shells. HMS Badger can be seen in the distance as it moves in to rescue survivors, but only six men survived. IWM SP 2470.

HMS INVINCIBLE explodes during the battle of Jutland after she was hit five times by shells from the German battlecruisers DERRFLINGER and LUTZOW, the last hit blowing the roof off "Q" turret and setting fire to the cordite propellant, the flash soon spread to the magazine and INVINCIBLE was ripped in two by the explosion. There were only three survivors with those killed including Rear-Admiral The Hon Horace Hood IWM SP 2468

HMS INVINCIBLE explodes during the battle of Jutland after she was hit five times by shells from the German battlecruisers DERRFLINGER and LUTZOW, the last hit blowing the roof off “Q” turret and setting fire to the cordite propellant, the flash soon spread to the magazine and INVINCIBLE was ripped in two by the explosion. There were only three survivors with those killed including Rear-Admiral The Hon Horace Hood IWM SP 2468

The Germans, who had lost 11 ships including battlecruiser Lützow, pre-dreadnought Pommern and light cruisers Frauenlob, Elbing, Rostock, Wiesbadenand, as well as over 2,500 men. The battlecruiser Seydlitz suffered almost unimaginable damage.

German battle cruiser Seydlitz burns in the Battle of Jutland, May 31, 1916

German battle cruiser Seydlitz burns in the Battle of Jutland, May 31, 1916

German battlecruiser SMS Seydlitz,low in the water after jtland

German battlecruiser SMS Seydlitz,low in the water after Jutland

german and brtish losses at jutland
Beatty withdrew until Jellicoe arrived, sending the Germans running for their bases, not to emerge again until surrender in 1918.

More on the official commemorations here and here.

The BBC has live coverage of today’s events here.

German naval artist Claus Bergen did some of the best and most nightmarish depictions of Skagerrak, and they are in a past Combat Gallery Sunday post, here.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

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