Admiral Scheer's Despatch

From Battle of Jutland Crew Lists Project


Page 587

Berlin 1916



[1] German Plan I. —Plan of intended Operations on 31 May 1916.
German Plan II. —Submarine Patrol Areas.
German Plan III. —The Advance on 31 May.
German Plan IV. —Battle Cruiser Action.
German Plan V. —Movements of German High Sea Fleet and approximate Position of British Fleet in the Battle of Jutland on 31 May.
German Plan VI. —Diagrams of important Phases of the Battle of Jutland.
German Plan VII. —The Return of the Main Fleet, 31 May-1 June.

NOTE.—All times in this report are German (summer time) time, i.e., two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time. The Germans appear to use the words " armoured cruiser " and " battle cruiser" indiscriminately; the literal translation has been INTERIM REPORT BY THE COMMAND OF THE HIGH SEA FORCES ON THE BATTLE OF THE SKAGERRAK.


of the

High Sea Forces.

July 4, 1916.

Your Royal and Imperial Majesty's humble servant has the honour to report on the operation of 31 May and 1 June, and the Battle of the Skagerrak, as follows :


The operation against Lowestoft on 23 and 24 April of this year had the effect which our war plan intended it to have. The enemy justly considered it as a challenge, and was clearly not disposed to submit a second time to a similar blow without opposition. He began to rouse himself. We heard of fresh groupings of his naval forces at the various bases on the East Coast, and of repeated cruises by considerable portions of his Fleet in the northern part of the North Sea. This situation suited our plans, and I decided to utilize it to the full by making a renewed advance with our whole Fleet as soon as the refit of the SEYDLITZ was complete. The temporary suspension of the Submarine warfare against Commerce permitted of the co-operation of all submarines which were ready for sea.

Page 588

In the middle of May, therefore, I despatched all submarines to sweep through the northern portion of the North Sea, and to take up positions off the enemy's main bases: i.e., Humber, Firth of Forth, Moray Firth and Scapa Flow, from 23 May onwards, and then to compel the enemy to put to sea, by making an advance with our Fleet, and to give battle under conditions favourable to us.
I hoped by these dispositions to bing the submarines into action and at the same time to utilize them for reconnaissance purposes.
Two operations wore prepared, one, an advance in a North-Westerly direction against the English Coast, the other, an advance in a Northerly direction into the Skaggerak.
For the North-Westerly advance, extended scouting by airships was indispensable, as it would lead into an area where we could not let ourselves be drawn into an action against our will.
There was less danger of this in the Northerly advance, for the coast of Jutland afforded a certain cover against surprise from the East, and the distances from the enemy's bases were greater. Aerial reconnaissance, although desirable here also, was not absolutely necessary.
The advance towards the North West promised to be the more effective, and was therefore considered first ; consequently all airships were kept in readiness for the operation from 23 May onwards.
Unfortunately the weather was unfavourable for the undertaking. The Fleet waited in vain from 23-30 May for weather favourable for aerial scouting.
The weather on 30 May showing no signs of change, and it being impossible to keep the submarines off the enemy ports any longer, I decided to abandon the North-Westerly advance, and to carry out that towards the North, if necessary without the assistance of airships.


The Senior Officer of Scouting Forces, Vice-Admiral Hipper, was ordered to leave the Jade at 4 a.m. on 31 May, with the I and II Scouting Groups, the 2nd Leader of Destroyers in the REGENSBURG and the II, VI and IX Destroyer Flotillas, and to push on to the Skagerrak, keeping out of sight of Horns Reef and the Danish Coast, to show himself before dark off the Norwegian coast, so that the British would receive news of the operation, and to carry out a cruiser and commerce warfare during the late afternoon and the following night off and in the Skagerrak.
The Main Fleet, consisting of the I, II and III Squadrons, IV Scouting Group, 1st Leader of Destroyers in the ROSTOCK and the remainder of the Destroyer Flotillas, was to follow at 4.30 a.m., to cover the Scouting Forces during the operation, and to meet them on the morning of 1 June.
The detached submarines were informed by wireless that the enemy forces might put to sea on 31 May and 1 June.
[2] German Plan I shows the intended operation. German Plan II shows the areas to be swept by the submarines and their distribution off the enemy's harbours.
The Naval Corps (Flanders) gladly undertook to block the British Naval Ports in the Hoofden in a similar manner.


1. Upto the encounter with the enemy.

The Channel swept by our Mineseeking Forces to the West of Amrum Bank, through the enemy minefields. enabled the High Sea Forces to reach the open sea in safety. Scouting by airship was at first not possible on account of the weather. At 7.37 a.m. " U. 32 " reported 2 heavy ships 2 cruisers and several destroyers about 70 miles east of the Firth of Forth, on a South-Easterly course.

Page 589

At 8.30 p.m. (sic) the wireless "decoding" station Neuniiinster reported that 2 large war vessels or squadrons with destroyers had left Scapa Flow. At 8.48 a.m. " U. 66" reportetl having sighted, aljout 60 miles East of Kinnaird Head, 8 enemy heavy ships, hght cruisers and destroyers on a Nortli-Kasterly course. The reports gave no indication of the enemy's intentions. The difference in the composition of the individual units and their divergent (sic—Trans.) courses did not sliow that they intended to co-operate or to advance against the German Bight, or that their movements had any connection whatsoever with our opei-ation. The reports received did not, therefore, cause us to modify oui- plans, but only led us to hope that we might succeed in bringing a part of the enemy's Fleet to action. Between 2 and 3 ji.m., L. 9, L. 16, L. 21, L. 23 and L. 14 ascended in succession for the purpose of long-distance reconnaissance in the sector between North and \\'est from Heligoland. They did iiot succeed in taking part in the action which developed soon afterwards, nor did they observe anything of our Main Fleet or of the enemy, nor did they hear anything of the engagement, although L. 14, according to her own reckoning, was over the scene of action at 10 p.m. The ELBINC4, the cruiser on the western wing of the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces' screen, despatched the leaderboat of the IV Destroyer Half-flotilla to examine a steamer. At 4.28 p.m. this destroyer reported having sighted some single enemy ships about 90 miles west of Bovberg.

Figure 1.

Screen of the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces.

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On sighting our forces, the enemy (8 light cruisers of the CAROLINE class) altered course at once to the North. Our cruisers gave chase, with the result that at 5.20 p.m. the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces sighted two columns of large ships steering about East bearing about West; they were soon recognised to be 6 battle cruisers— LIONS, 1 TIGER, 2 INDEFATIGABLES—and light forces. The Senior Officer of Scouting Forces recalled the II Scouting Group, which was to the North of him in chase of the enemy, and proceeded to attack. The enemy deployed towards the South and formed line of battle. The Senior Officer of Scouting Forces followed this movement (which was exceedingly welcome, as it afforded us the possibility of drawing the enemy on to our Main Fleet) ; he advanced in quarter line to within effective range, opening flic at 5.49 p.m. at a range of about 13,000 metres (14,217 yards).

Page 590

2. The first phase of the Battle: the Cruiser Action.

The action took place on a South-Easterly course, its exact progress is shown in German Plan IV. The Senior OfTicer of Scouting Forces kept the enemy at an effective distance. His guns weie well laid. Hits were registered on all the enemy ships. B\- 6. i:{ p.m. the armoured cruiser INDEFATIGABLE, the last ship in the line, was sunk with a violent explosion b\- the fire of the VON DER TANN. The giumer>' supetioiity, and atlvantageous tactical position were distinctly on our side, luitil, at 6.19 p.m. a new .squadron, consisting of 4 or 5 ships of the QUEEN ELIZABETH class, with a considerable superiority in speed, appeared from a North-Westerly direction, and took part in the action with an opening range of about 20,000 metres (21,872 yards). This rendered the po.sition of our cruisers critical. The new opponent fired with remarkable ia|)idity and accurac\', the accuracy being partly due to the impossibility of retui-ning his fire. At 6.26 p.m. the distance between the opjiosing ai'inoured cruisers was about 12,000 metres (13,123 yards), and between oiu- armoured cruisers and the QUEEN ELIZABETHS about 18,000 metres (19,685 yards). Of the Flotillas vmder the orders of the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces, only the IX Flotilla was at this time in a position from which an attack could be launched. The 2ad Leader of Destroyers (Commodore Heinrich) in REGENS- BURG, with some boats of the II Flotilla, proceeding at utmost speed, was about abreast of the van of the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces. The cruisers of the II Scouting Grovip, with the remainder of the Flotillas, were compelled by the QUEEN ELIZABETHS to haul off to the P]ast, and, therefore, in spite of taxing their engines to the utmost, had not been able to reach their position in the van of the armovu-ed cruisers. In view of the situation, the 2nd Leader of Destroyers ordered the IX Flotilla to proceed to relieve the pressiu'e on the battle cruisers. This Flotilla was already proceeding to attack on its own initiative, in pursuance of orders given bj' its Senior Officer, Commander Goehle.

Figure 2.

Phase of the battle at 6.26 p.m

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Page 591

At about 6.30 p.m. the IX Flotilla advanced to the attack uiuler heavy enemy fire. Twelve torjiedoes were fired at the enenu line at a range of 9,500-8,000 metres (10,389-8,749 yards). It was not possible to bring off the attack nearer to the enenn-, ji.s, simultaneovisly with the advance of the IX Flotilla, 15 to 2U British destroyers, supported by light cruisers, advanced to counter-attack and to repel our destroyers. A destroyer action resulted at very range (1,000-1,500 metres) (1.093-1,640' yards). The REOEXSBURC, with boats of the II Flotilla which were with her, and the mediiun calibre guns of the armouied cruisers, took part in the conflict. The enem>- tinned away after about 10 minutes. On oiu- side V. 27 and V. 29 were sunk by heavy shell fire. The crews of both boats were rescued luider enemy fire by V. 26 and 8. 35. On the enemy's side, 2, possibly 3, destroyers were sunk and 2 others so badly damaged that they were left behind and subsequently fell victim to the Main Fleet. The enemy made no attempt to save the crews of their boats. Diu-ing the destroj-er attack, the British armoured cruisers were effectively held bj* the large calibre guns of the I Scouting Group. ' The latter successfully evaded a large number of enemy torpedoes (observed by the IX Flotilla) bj' edging awa\- a few points. Towards 6.30 p.m. a violent explosion was observed on the third enemy armouied cruiser QUEEN MARY. When the clouds of smoke dispersecl the enemy cruiser had disappeared. Whether her destruction was caused by the gtms, or by a torpedo from the armoured cruisers,' or bj' a torpedo from the IX Flotilla is uncertain. It was probably the work of the gmis. In any case the attack by the IX Flotilla resulted in the temporary cessation of the enemy's fire. The Senior Officer of Scouting Forces made use of this and ordered the armoured cruisers to turn in succession to a North-Westerly course, thereby ensiuing that he would be at the head of the cruisers in the next phase of the action. Immediately after the torpedo attack, the German Main Fleet appeared on the scene just in time to bring help to the Scouting Forces, which were engaged with the enemj' in considerably superior strength.

3. The second phase of the Battle: the Chase.

The Main Fleet was in the order K. 312*, the Fleet Flagship leading the I Squadron, course Xorth, speed 14 knots, distance apart of ships 700 metres (3^ cables), distance apart of Scjuadrons 3,500 metres (19 cables), the destroyers screening the Squach-ons against submarines, the light cruisers surroimding and screening the ^lain Fleet. At 4.28 p.m., when about 50 miles west of Lyngvig, the first information was received of the sighting of enemy light forces, and at 5.35 p.m. the first report came to hand that enemy heavy forces were in sight. The distance between the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces and the Main Fleet was at this time about 50 miles. On receipt of this report, line of Battle K. 312* was closed up, and the order " Clear for Action '" given. The report received at 5.45 p.m. from the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces, that he was engaged with 6 enemy armoured cruisers on a South- Easterly com-se, showed that we had succeeded in bringing some of the enemy to action and in drawing them on to oiu Main FIf»et. The task of the Main Fleet was now to relieve the materiall.\- weaker armoured cruisers as quickly as po.ssible, and to endeavour to cut off a premature retreat of the enemy.

Page 592

For the latter reason I altered coiu-se to North-West at 6.05 p.m., increa-sed to 15 knots, and, a quarter of an horn- later, altered to West in oi-der to bring the enemy between two fires. Whilst this alteration of course of the Main Fleet was in progress, the II Scouting Group reported that a British Squadron of 5 battleships was joining in the action. The position of the I Scouting (Jroup, which was now opposed by 6 armoured cruisers and 5 battleships, might become critical. In consequence everything depended on effecting a junction with the T Scouting (Jroup as soon as po.ssible : 1 therefore altered course back to North. At 6.32 p.m. sighted the ships in action. At 6.45 p.m. the III and I Squadrons were able to open fire, and the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces placed himself and his ships at the head of the Main Fleet.

German Plan VI. Phase of the Battle at 6.55 p.m.

The enemy's light forces turned immediately towards the West, and as soon as they were out of range, towards the North. It is doubtful whether they suffered any damage from the fire of our battlesliips in this short time. The British armoured cruisers turned in succession to North-West. The QUEEN ELIZABETHS followed in their wake, and thus covered the cruisers, which had suffered severely. At 6.49 p.m., while the Squadrons were passing each other, the Senior Ofificer of the VI Flotilla, Commander Max Schultz, attacked with the XI Half-Flotilla. The result could not be observed. The next phase of the battle became a chase : our Scouting Forces endeavom'ing to keep on the heels of the enemy battle cruisers, and our main body on those of the QUEEN ELIZABETHS. With this pm'pose in view ovu- main body proceeded at utmost speed, and, divisions separately, turned towards the enemy as far as North-West. In spite of this, the enemy's armoiu-ed cruisers succeeded in getting out of range of the I Scouting Group soon after 7 o'clock. The QUEEN ELIZABETHS were also able to increase their lead to such an extent that they could only be kept under fire by the 1 Scouting Group and the V Division. The hope that one of the pursued ships would be so badly disabled as to fall to the Main Fleet was not realised, although the shots fell well; at 7.30 p.m. it was clearly observed that a ship of the QUEEN ELIZABETH class turned away, after having been hit .several times, and withdrew from the battle with diminished speed and with a heavy list to port. The ship was not observed to sink. In the meantime the ships of the Main Fleet were only able to sink 2 modern destroyers (Nestor and Nomad), which had been disabled during the attack of the IX Flotilla and subsequently overtaken. Their crews were made prisoners.

German Plan VI. Phase of the Battle at 7.15 p.m.

As at 7.20 p.m. the fire of the I Scouting Group and of the ships of the V Division seemed to slacken, I was under the impression that the enemy was succeeding in escaping, and therefore issued an order to the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces, and therewith the permission to all vessels, for the " general chase." In the meantime the visibility, which had hitherto been good, became less so. The wind had backed from North-West through West to South- West. Smoke from cordite and funnels hung over the water and obscured all view from North to East. Our own Scouting Forces were only visible for a few seconds at a time

Page 593

As a matter of fact, the SeMiior Officer of Scouting Forces liad been outflankeil by enemy battle cruisers and light forces by the time he received the order for the "general chase," and under "their pressure he was forced to tiu-n to the North. Ho was unable to report this, as intended, for a short time previously the main and auxiliary W/T stations in his Flagship (LUTZOW) had been put out of action by a heavy sliell.

The decrease of fire at the head of the line was only due to the setting sun making it more and more difficult and finally practically impossible to range and to spot.

When, therefore, at 7.40 p.m. the enemy's light forces, grasping the situation, made a torpedo attack against our armoured cruisers, the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces liad no alternative but to edge away, and, finally, to order his force to alter course to South-West, and to get into closer touch with our Main Fleet, he being luiable to reply effectively to the enemy's fire.

4. The third phase of the Action : the Battle.

About the same time the pressure from ahead on the van of the Main Fleet caused it to bear away in an Easterly direction. At 7.48 p.m., therefore, the signal "Form on the van" was made, the ships formed into line; the speed was temporarily reduced to 15 knots, in order to give the divisions which had been proceeding at utmost speed an opportunity to re-establish close order, the Fleet having become somewhat extended. Wliile these operations of the Main Fleet were in progress, the II Scouting Group, under Rear-Admiral Boedicker, got into action with a hght cruiser of the CALLIOPE class, which he set on fire. Shortly before 8 p.m. the II Scouting Group encountered several light cruisers of the " Town " class and several battleships, including the AGINCOURT. The haze over the water made it impossible to estimate the whole strength of the enemy. The scouting group was at once caught under heavy fire, to which it replied ; it fired torpedoes, and then turned away towards its own Main Fleet. The result coiild not be observed, as a smoke screen had to be developed at once for the protection of the cruisers. In spite of the smoke screen, the WIESBADEN and PILLAU were heavily hit. The WIESBADEN (Captain Reiss) was unable to proceed and remained stopped under the enemy's fire.

German Plan VI^. Phase of the Battle 7.42-8 p.m.

The Senior Officers of the XII Half Flotilla and IX Flotilla, which had been astern of the cruisers, recognising the seriousness of the situation, proceeded to attack. Fire was opened on both Flotillas from a line of numerous battleships steaming North-West; the destroj^ers approached to 6,000 metres (6,561 yards) and then fired 6 torpedoes each at the enemy battleships. In this case also it was impossible to observe the result, for dense clouds of smoke concealed the enemy immediately after turning away.* Both flotillas, however, thought they might claim success, as the attack was made under favourable conditions. At about this time the British Main Fleet, under Admiral Jellicoe, must have joined Admiral Beatty's forces, which had been pursued up to now. This resulted in heavy fighting from about 8.10-8.35 p.m. in the van of the Main Fleet roimd the disabled WIESBADEN. In this action the ships also were able to use their torpedoes. The QUEEN ELIZABETHS, and perhaps Beatty's battle cruisers, attacked from a North-North-Westerly direction. (It appears, however,

Page 594

from statements made by prisoners, that the battle cruisers took no part in the battle after 7 p.m.) A new squadron of armoured cruisers (3 INVINCIBLES and 4 WARRIORS), besides light cruisers and destroyers, attacked from the North, and the enemy's battle squadrons attacked from the North-East to East.

German Plan VI. Phase of the Battle at 8. 16 p.m.

It was principally the I Scouting Group and the leading ships of the III Squadron that had to repulse the attack. During this attack the armoured cruisers were forced to turn away so sharply, that at 8.35 p.m. I was obliged to turn the line by a " Battle turn " to starboard together, to West,

German Plan VI. Phase of the Battle at 8.35 p.m.

While our line was being inverted, two boats of the III Flotilla (G. 88 and V. 73) and the leader boat of the I Flotilla (S. 32) attacked. The remainder of the III Flotilla had broken off their attack, having been recalled by the 1st Leader of Destroyers. The latter had issued this order on observing the slackening in the enemy's fire, which convinced him that the enemy,had turned away, and that the Flotilla, which would be urgently required later on in the action, was being launched into a void. Owing to the embarrassment of the van, the boats of the remaining f3otillas were not able to attack. Some of them (IX and VI Flotillas) were just returning from the 8 p.m. attack. Immediately after the inversion of the line the enemy temporarily ceased firing, partly because they lost sight of us in the smoke screen developed by the destroyers for the protection of our line, and particularly of our armoured cruisers, but mainly no doubt, on accotuit of the appreciable losses they had suffered. The following ships were definitely seen to sink : A ship of the QUEEN ELIZABETH class (name not known); a battle cruiser (INVINCIBLE); two armoured cruisers (BLACK PRINCE and DEFENCE); a light cruiser and two destroyers (one of which was marked 04). The following ships were heavily damaged, some being set on fire : one armoured cruiser (WARRIOR) which subsequently sank; three light cruisers and three destroyers. On our side only V. 48 was simk ; WIESBADEN rendered not under control ; and Lt^TZOW so badly damaged that the Senior Officer of Scouting Forces was forced to leave the ship about 9 p.m. iinder enemy fire and transfer to MOLTKE On this account the Command of the I Scouting Group devolved till II p.m. on the Commanding Officer of the DERFFLINGER (Captain Hartog) The remaining armoured cruisers and van ships of the III Squadron had suffered too, but they kept their station in the line. After the enemy had been obliged to cease firing at our line, which was proceeding West, they attacked the already badly damaged WIESBADEN. It could be clearly seen that the ship defended herself bravely against over- whelming odds It was as yet too early to assume " night cruising order." The enemy could have compelled us to fight before dark, he could have prevented our exercising our initiative, and finally he could have cut off our retiirn to the German Bight. There was only one way of avoiding this : to deal the enemy a second blow by again advancing regardless of consequences, and to bring all the destroyers to attack. This manoeuvre would necessarily have the effect of surprising the enemy, upsetting his plans for the rest of the day, and, if the attack was powerful enough, of facilitating our extricating ourselves for the night. In addition this afforded us the opportiinity of making a final effort to succour the hard-pressed WIESBAJDEN, or at least to rescue her crew.

Page 595

Consequently, at 8.55 p.m. the line was again turned to starboard on to an Easterly course, the armoured cruisers were ordered to attack the head of the eneniy's line as fiercely as possible, all flotillas were given the order to attack, and instructions were issued to the 1st Leader of Destroyers (Commodore Michelsen) to transfer the crew of the WIESBADEN to his boats. The action brought about by this movement soon developed similarly to that of 8.35 p.m., except that our van was still further embarrassed.

German Plan VI.—Phase of the Battle at 9. 17 p.m.

The destroyers sent to the WIESBADEN had to abandon their attempt torescuethecrew. TheWIESBADENandtheadvancingboatswere \inder such heavy fire that the Senior Officer of the Flotilla considered it useless to risk the latter. While tm-ning away, V. 73 and G. 88 fired a total of 4 torpedoes at the QUEEN ELIZABETHS The fire directed against oiu' line was mainly concentrated on the armovu-ed cruisers and the V Division. ships suffered very severely, as they were able to distinguish little more of the enemy than the flashes of his salvoes, whereas they themselves apparently offered good targets. The conduct of the armoured cruisers is especially deserving of the highest praise. Although a number of their guns were tmable to fire and some of the ships themselves were severely damaged, they never- theless advanced recklessly towards the enemy, in compliance with their orders. The handling of the III Squadron (Rear-Admiral Behncke) and the behavioiu-oftheshipsoftheVDivisionwereequallypraiseworthy. They and the armoured cruisers bore the brunt of the battle, thereby making it possible for the flotillas to attack with effect The boats of the VI and IX Flotillas, which were in the van with the cruisers, were the first to attack. The III and V Flotillas, stationed with the Main Fleet, followed suit. The II Flotilla was held back for the time being by its Senior Officer, in order to prevent it from advancing into a void in the rear of the VI and IX Flotillas. This measure was justified by subsequent events. The I Half Flotilla and a few boats of the VI and IX Flotillas were occupied in screening the damaged LUTZOW. There was no further opportunity for the approaching VII Flotilla to attack. As the VI and TX Flotillas approached, they drew on themselves the heavy fire hitherto directed against the armoured cruisers. They were able, however, to approach to within 7,000 m. (7,658 yards) of the centre of the curved line of battleships, consisting of more than 20 units proceeding on coxirses from East-South-East to South, and to attack under favourable conditions. During the attack S. 35 was hit amidships by a heavy shell and sank at once. All the remaining boats returned and laid a thick smoke screen between their own fleet and the enemy, in order to protect the van of the Main Fleet, which was being severely pressed. The purpose of the advance was gained by this destroyer attack. At 9 17 p.m. a "battle txirn " together was therefore made, the line proceeding first on a Westerly course and then altering by a turn in succession" to South-West, South and finally South-East, in order to counter the enveloping movement of the enemy, whose van already bore South-East, and to keep a line of retreat open for us. Shortly after oiu- txirn, the enemy ceased fire. The enemy have turned away during the attack by the VI and IX Flotillas, as the III and V Flotillas only sighted light forces, and therefore had no opportunity of attacking. The casualties sustained by the enemy in this phase of the battle oannot be given. Up to the present the only information received^ia

Page 596

that the MARLBOROUGH was struck by a torpedo. However, it may be taken for certain tliat other successes were obtained. Our armoured cruisers and the ships in the van of the III Squadron liad suffered severely. Nevertheless, all ships were able to keep station in the "night cruising order" at the high speed of 16 knots; even the LCTZOW was proceeding at medium speed when she was seen last at 9.30 p.m., abreast of the Fleet Flagship.

5. Movements and actions during the night.

The reports made by the flotillas, regarding the strength of the enemy sighted by them, made it certain that we had been in action against the whole British Fleet. It might be taken for granted that the enemy would endeavour to force us to the Westward by attacks with strong forces during the hours of dusk, and by destroyer attacks during the night, in order to forceustogivebattleatdaybreak. Theywerestrongenoughtodoso. Should we succeed in checking the enemy's enveloping movement and reacliing Horns Reef before them, we should retain the initiative for the next morning. With this object in view, all destroyer flotillas had to be used for attacking during the night, even at the risk of having to do without them in the new engagements which might be expected at dawn. The Main Fleet itself had to make for Horns Reef, in close order, by the shortest route, and to maintain this course in defiance of all attacks of enemy.

German Plan VII.

Orders to this effect were issued. At the same time the Leader of Submarines ordered all submarines in Borkum Roads to advance to the North. The Senior Officers of the Destroyer Forces stationed the flotillas on a line East-North-East and South-South-West, that is in the direction from which the enemy's Main Fleet ^v'as expected to pursue. A large number of the boats had already expended their torpedoes during the day actions ; some had been left behind to protect the severely damaged LUTZOW; some were retained by their Senior Officers in order to have them at their disposal in case of need. Thanks to this decision it was possible to rescue the crews of the ELBING and ROSTOCK later on. Only the II, V, VII and portions of the VI and IX Flotillas therefore advanced to attack. The boats had various night actions with light forces of the enemy ; they saw nothing of his Main Fleet. At daybreak L. 24 sighted a portion of the Main Fleet in the " Jammerbucht."* The enemy had, therefore, drawn off to the North after the battle. The II Flotilla, to which the Northern part of the sector was allotted, was forced away by cruisers and destroj^ers, and returned vid TheSkaw. The2ndLeaderofDestroyersallowedittouseitsdiscretion regarding this route. The remaining flotillas assembled at dawn with the ]Main Fleet. Before it became quite dark, the INIain Fleet had a short but serious encounter with the enemy. At 10.20 p.m., while the I and II Scouting Groups were endeavoiuing to take station ahead, they were subjected to heavy fire from a South-Easterly direction. Only the flashes of the enemy's salvoes could be seen. The ships which were already severely damaged received further hits without being able to make any serious reply to the fire. They, therefore, turned away and took up a position on the disengaged side, pushing themselves between the II and I Squadrons

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German Plan VI. Sketch for 10.30 p.m.

The van of the I Squadron followed the nioveniont of the cruisers, whereas the II Squadron (Rear-Admiral Mauve) continued on its course, thus drawing the enemy's fire. As the II Squadron recognised that light conditions made a reply impossible, it edged away in order to di-aw the enemy towards the I Squadron. The enemy did not pursue, but ceased firing. At about the same time the IV Scouting Group (Commodore von Renter) was in action under identical conditions with 4-5 cruisers, including ships of the HAMPSHIRE class. Bearing in mind that the van of the Main Fleet in particular would be called upon to repulse enemy attacks, and in order to have the main strength in the van at daybreak, the II Squadron was ordered to take station astern. The I Scouting Group became the rearguard, the II Scouting Group became the vanguard, and the IV Scouting Group was entrusted with the screening of the starboard side. The battle squadrons therefore proceeded in the following order : I Squadron, Fleet FlagshiiD, III Squadron, II Squadron, the I and III Squadrons in inverse order. WESTFALEN (Captain Redlich) was leading ship of the line. During the night the enemy attacked practically uninterruptedly from the East with light forces, and at times also with heavy forces. The II and IV Scouting Groups, and particularly the ships of the I Squadron (Vice-Admiral Schmidt) had to repulse these attacks. The result was excellent. At 2.0 a.m. an armour cruiser of the CRESSY class (name not known), entirely misjudging the situation, approached the rear ships of the I Squadron and the Fleet Flagshijj to within 1,500 metres (1,645 yards). In a few minutes she was set on fire by ourgmis and sank, 4 minutes after fire was opened, with terrific explosions. According to careful estimation 1 armoured cruiser, 1 light cruiser and 7 destroyers were simk during the night, and several light cruisers and destroyers were badly damaged. Cm- losses were the FRAUENLOB, POMMERN and V. 4. The ROSTOCK and ELBING had to be abandoned and blown up. The FRAUENLOB (Captain Hoffman, Georg) was hit by a torpedo at 12.45 a.m. while the IV Scouting Group were in action with 4 cruisers of the " Town " class. According to the statement of some of the few survivors, she sank soon afterwards, fighting to the last. The POMMERN (Captain Bolken) was torpedoed at 4.20 a.m., and blew up withatremendousexplosion. V.4ranonanenemymineat4.50a.m. The crew were saved. At 1.30 a.m. the ROSTOCK and ELBING became engaged with destroyers, on the port side abreast of the van of the I Squadron ; they were at last compelled to turn away from the enemy's torpedoes and break through the line of the I Squadron in order not to hamper the fire of our battleships. Dxu-ing this manoeuvre the ROSTOCK was hit by a torpedo, while the ELBING collided with the POSEN. I Bothcruiserswereunabletomanoeuvre. TheROSTOCKremained afloat imtil 5.45 a.m., and was then blown up, on hostile cruisers being sighted, after the entire crew including the wounded had been transferred to boats of the III Flotilla. The crew of the ELBING were also taken on board a boat of the III Flotilla, only the Commanding Officer, the executive officer, the torpedo officer and a cutter's crew remaining on board in order to keep the ship afloat as long as po.ssible. On hostile forces being sighted at 4 a.m., the ELBING had to be blown up too. The crew who had remained on board escaped in the cutter, were picked up later by a Dutch trawler and returned home viA Holland.

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The LUTZOW was kept afloat until 3.45 a.m. Towards the end the ship was navigated from the after bridge. All attempts to stop the water from rushing in were in vain, the fore part of the ship had suffered too severely. Finally the ship had about 7,000 tons of water in her. The forecastle was flooded up to the truck of the Jack staff. The propellers revolved out of water. The ship had to be abandoned. The crew, including all the wounded, were transferred to the destroyers G. 40, G. 37, G. 38 and V. 45, and the LUTZOW was sunk by a torpedo. The 4 destroyers had altogether 1,250 men of the LUTZOW on board. On two occasions they encountered enemy cruisers and destroyers, and on both occasions they attacked under the leadership of the Senior Commanding Officer (Lieutenant-Commander Beitzen, Ricliard), and successfully fought their way back to the German Bight. During the last action the engines of G. 40 were hit, and she had to be taken in tow. When the Main Fleet received information of this, the 2nd Leader of Destroyers in the REGENSBURG turned back and met the tow. S. 32, leader boat of the I Flotilla (Lieutenant-Commander Frohlich), was hit at 1 a.m. by a heavy shell in the boiler room and was temporarily disabled. However,byfeedingtheboilerswithseawater,theCommanding Officer succeeded in reaching Danish territorial waters. Destroyers which had been sent out then towed her home through Nordmanns Deep.

6. The situation on the morning of 1st June.

Diu-ing the night, L. 11, L. 13, L. 17, L. 22 and L. 24 ascended to make an early reconnaissance. At 5.10 a.m. L. 11 reported a group of 12 British battleships, numerous light forces and destroyers on a Northerly course about the middle of the line Terschelling-Horns Reef, and, immediately afterwards, 6 large enemy battlesliips and three battle cruisers to the North of the first-mentioned gi'oup. The airship came under heavy fire, but kept in touch. Shortly after having been sighted, the enemy altered course to the West and were lost to sight in thick weather. At 4 a.m. L. 24 sighted a flotilla of enemy destroyers and about 6 submarines 50 miles West of Bovberg. The airship was fired at and replied by dropping bombs; then scouting further to the North, she discovered at 5 a.m., in the Jammerbuoht, a group of 12 large battleships and numerous cruisers, wliich were proceeding South at high speed. It was impossible to keep touch and to reconnoitre further, as the clouds were only 800 m. (2,624 feet) above the water. At daybreak the Main Fleet itself saw nothing of the enemy. The weather was so thick that one could hardly see the length of a squadron. The reports received from the annoured cruisers showed that the I Scouting Group covild no longer fight a serious action. The ships in the van of the III Squadron must also have lost in fighting value. Of the fast light cruisers onlv the FRANKFURT, PILLAU, and REGENSBURG were at my di.^posal. Owing to the bad visibility, further scouting by airships could not be counted on. It was, therefore, hopeless to try and force a regular action on the enemy reported to the South. The consequences of such an encounter would have been a matter of chance. I therefore abandoned anv fiu'ther operations and gave the order to return to base. On the way back, when to the West of List, the OSTFRIESLAND ran on a mine, in a minefield which we knew nothing of and which apparently had been laid by the enemy shortly before. The ship was able to enter harbour under her own steam. Several submarine attacks on our returning Main Fleet were unsuccessful, thanks partly to the watchfulness of oui- aircraft, which joined the Main Fleet off List and accompanied it to the estuaries.

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All ships and destroyers returned to the estuetries during the course of the day. Special mention must be made of the bringing in of the severely damagedSEYDLITZ(CaptainvonEgidy). Itisduetotheadmirable seamanship of the Commanding Officer and his crew that the ship was able to reach harbour. The submarines which left the Ems were ordered to look for the ELBIXG and for the damaged sliips of the enemy. The submarines off the English ports were ordered to make every endeavour to remain on their stations for one day more. At 6.20 p.m. U. 46 met a damaged ship of the IRON DUKE class (MARLBOROUGH) about 60 miles north of Terschelling. She fired a torpedo, but missed. Of the submarines wliich lay off the enemy's harbours, U.B. 21 hit an enemy destroyer on 31 May, and U. 52 one on 1 June. Owing to hostile counter-measvires the sinking in neither case was observed.


According to a careful appreciation of the observations made by us, the enemy losses were :-

1 large battleship of the QUEEN ELIZABETH class 28,500 tons.
3 battle cruisers (QUEEN MARY, INDEFATIGABLE, INVINCIBLE) 63,000 "
4 armoured cruisers (BLACK PRINCE, DEFENCE, WARRIOR, and one of the CRESSY class) 53,700 "
2 light cruisers 9,000 "
13 destroyers 15,000 "
Total 169,200 "

Our losses were :-

1 battle cruiser (LUTZOW) 26,700 tons.
1 old battleship (POMMERN) 13,200 "
4 light cruisers (WIESBADEN, ELBING, ROSTOCK, FRAUENLOB) 17,150 "
5 destroyers 3,680 "
Total 60,730 "

The losses of the enemy are, practically without exception, total losses, whereas we were able to rescue the crews of the LUTZOW, ELBING, ROSTOCK, and half the crews of the destroyers. We expended 3,596 heavy shells, 3,921 medium and 2,962 small calibre shells and 107 torpedoes.


The success obtained is due to the fact that our Squadron and Flotilla Leaders were filled with zeal for battle, and realised the object of the undertaking, and to the excellent work performed by the ships' companies, who were imbued with the greatest martial ardour. Its achievement was only rendered possible by the quality of our ships and armament, the fact that the peace training of the units was conscious of its object, and by the conscientious training carried out in individual ships The large amount of experience gained will be exploited with the greatest care. The battle has proved that in building up om- Fleet, and in the development of the individual types of our ships, we have been guided

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by correct strategical and tactical views, and that we should, therefore, continue on the same lines. All arms have borne their share in this result, the decisive factor was, however, both directly and indirectly, the long range heavy armament of the LARGER VESSELS. It caused the greater part of the known losses inflicted on the t-nemy, and it enabled the flotillas to carry out a successful attack against the enemy's Main Fleet. The above observation in no way detracts from the merit of the flotillas, whose attack on the enemy battlefleet was finally successful in enabling us to break away completely from the enemy. The LARGE WAR A^ESSEL, battleship and cruiser, is and remains, therefore, the foundation of Sea Power, and should be fvirther developed by enlarging the calibre of the guns, increasing the speed and perfecting the armour above and below water.


In conclusion I have the honoiu- respectfully to report to Your Majestythat, with the exception of the DERFFLINGER and SEYDLITZ, the High Sea Fleet will be ready for further battles by the middle of August. Should the future operations take a favourable course, it may be possible to inflict appreciable damage on the enemy; but there can be no doubt that even the most favourable issue of a battle on the high seas WILL NOT COMPEL ENGLAND to make peace in THIS war. The disadvantages of our geographical position compared with that of the Island Empire, and her great material superiority, cannot be com- pensated for by our Fleet to a degree which will enable us to overcome the blockade instituted against us, or to overpower the Island Empire herself, even if all our submarines are fully available for military purposes. A victorious termination of the war within measurable time can only be attained by destroying the economic existence of Great Britain, namely, by the employment of submarines against British commerce. In the conviction that it is my duty, I must continue respectfully to dissuade Your Majesty from adopting any modified form of this warfare, because it would mean reducing this weapon to an anomaly and because the results would probably not be in proportion to the risk incvirred by the boats. Further, even with the most conscientious care on the part of the Commanding Officers, it will be impossible to avoid incidents in British waters where American interests are so prevalent, which will force us to hvmiiliating concessions, unless we are able to prosecute the submarine campaign in its acutest form.

(Signed) SCHEER.

To His Majesty

the Emperor and King.

Admiralty Note.— The German original of this report was found in an officer's cabin of one of the ships scuttled at Scapa.

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  1. (original footnote) Seven German Plans will be found in case containing charts.
  2. (original left margin note) German Plans I-II