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 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.
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.
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.
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.