Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Jutland

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on May 31, 2016

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Today, May 31, 2016, marks the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, fought between the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet. Jutland was something of a draw, tactically — and both sides claimed victory, of course — but it had significant implications for naval strategy through the end of the First World War. After Jutland, the German navy was hesitant to risk another major surface fleet encounter with the Royal Navy, and in early 1917 resumed unrestricted submarine warfare. This drew the United States into the war in April 1917, a move that eventually helped shore up the French and British armies in the closing months of the war.

Jutland was by far the largest battle fought between modern big-gun warships, with almost 60 battleships and battle-crusiers, and around 250 ships of all types involved in aggregate. It’s been fought and re-fought innumerable times by both professional and hobbyist wargamers. This 24-minute video that I mentioned a few weeks ago, makes a great summary of both the battle, and its consequences. Enjoy.

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GeneralStarsGray

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9 Responses

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  1. M.D. Blough said, on May 31, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    It also has the distinction of being the last battle in which a future British monarch was a combatant (and the only one since King William IV) (Queen Victoria’s uncle)/ The future King George VI, then HRH Prince Albert, was a midshipman on the HMS Collingwood and left the infirmary to man a gun turret during the battle. https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/exhibitions/the-future-king-george-vis-account-of-the-battle-of-jutland-1916

    • Andy Hall said, on May 31, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      I didn’t know that, thanks.

      • M.D. Blough said, on May 31, 2016 at 10:40 pm

        He was very proud of it, in his own quiet way, without exaggerating his overall contribution (very small) to the outcome of the battle. I’ve always been fascinated with George VI, long before “The King’s Speech” reintroduced him to the world. He wasn’t a perfect person, no one is, but I don’t think the UK could have had a better monarch and consort than George VI and Queen Elizabeth (who we knew better as the Queen Mother) during the trauma of the Abdication and World War II.

  2. jclark82 said, on May 31, 2016 at 6:17 pm

    This is a really enjoyable presentation of the battle, it also leads to a question.

    I always have felt that John Jellicoe gets unfairly treated in how he handled the Grand Fleet in this battle. He didn’t destroy the German Fleet by any stretch but they didn’t grievously damage his forces nor cut him off from his home base.

    It didn’t help that the British public expected another Trafalgar and when it didn’t happen he became sort of the goat.

    What is your opinion of Jellicoe’s leadership of the fleet during Jutland?

    • Andy Hall said, on May 31, 2016 at 6:32 pm

      I don’t have any special insight into Jutland, but I do think you’re right that the British had convinced themselves that an overwhelming, Trafalgar-like victory was the norm, and to be expected.

      Clearly, the outcome of the RN would have been better if (1) communications had been clearer, enabling better coordination of the battle cruisers and the main force, and (2) the British had tighter ammunition handling protocols. But that’s hindsight.

  3. chancery said, on May 31, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Amazing! I’ve always been hopeless at visualizing battles from written descriptions, even when supported by graphics. The first 17 minutes of this clip were a revelation to me. The rest of it is worth watching as well.

    The video lacks credits, but it was narrated by Nick Jellicoe, the admiral’s grandson. He has put up a website, http://www.jutland1916.com/, in connection with the centenary of the battle. The animation is featured, as is a forthcoming book, and there are lots more resources, including background material, commentary, podcasts, and various databases (the database of detailed tracking maps from early studies are notable).

    An overview (a press release, in effect) for the site is here: http://www.centenarynews.com/article/centenary-news-explores-nick-jellicoes-jutland-anniversary-website

    • Andy Hall said, on June 1, 2016 at 12:49 am

      I played through Jutland on Tuesday evening using the NWS simulation Steam and Iron. I played as Jellicoe, and Scheer and Hipper handed me my head in coal sack. It was a disaster for the British, who lost six (!) battleships and battlecruisers to none (!!) from the High Seas Fleet.

      Steam and Iron uses a hierarchical command system that mimics actual command structures, giving the admiral in charge little-to-no direct control over subordinate divisions or ships. So in the role of Jellicoe, I left Beatty’s battlecruisers under AI control. (I actually could have taken direct control of them, but wanted to play it out with Beatty off doing his own thing.)

      So Beatty intercepts the German battlecruisers as in the actual event. They turn and begin leading Beatty south, into the path of the main German fleet. Beatty takes the bait and continues to run south, slugging it out with the Germans, and moving away from the British main force, which is making a loooong stern chase to catch up. Eventually Beatty’s force comes under fire from the German main body, and he eventually breaks off, not turning back north toward Jellicoe, but WSW, toward Old Blighty. The main body of the British fleet gets close enough to open fire just at dusk, and then the hammering really starts. I made a huge mistake not breaking off right then, because in the growing dark the ships ended up not recognizing each other until almost at point-blank range. The destroyers on both sides swarmed in with torpedo attacks, and I lost three BBs/BCs within the space of a few minutes. Jellicoe’s Iron Duke went up like a Roman candle after a turret hit. (I think I lost four of the six that way.) Eventually the main British force broke off to the NW, leaving Scheer and his ships to make their way home again.

      The outcome of the real Jutland was sufficiently mixed that both sides could point to it as a victory. Not so this time; the British got thumped hard. It was a debacle.

  4. James F. Epperson said, on June 1, 2016 at 9:00 am

    The video is really good. I’d love to see this applied to some of the naval actions in the Pacific, especially all the Guadalcanal actions.


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