Interned Officers' Reports (Nestor and Nomad)

From Battle of Jutland Crew Lists Project


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Interned Prisoner of War,
Bella Vista,
Scheveningen, Holland,
14th May 1918.


I beg to forward herewith the following reports with reference to the action of 31/5/16 off Jutland, under three headings :-

A.—Report of the proceedings of the 2nd Division of the 13th Flotilla under my command.

B.—Report of the proceedings of H.M.S. Nestor under my command and her subsequent loss with attached appendices.

C.—Commander P. Whitfield's report on loss of H.M.S. Nomad.

1. Recommendations for recognition of the Officers and men concerned.
2. Track chart of H.M.S. Nestor's operations.
3. A letter written by Petty Officer C. J. Lewis.

I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
Commander Royal Navy,
(late H.M.S. Nestor)

The Secretary to the Admiralty,
Whitehall, London.


Composition of the Division

The 2nd Division consisted of the following T.B.D.s:-
Nestor (Commander Honble. E. B. S. Bingham, R.N.)
Nomad (Lieut.-Commander Paul Whitfield, R.N.)
Nicator (Lieutenant J. Mocatta)
H.M.S. Onslow was previously detached on special service with H.M.S. Engadine and, therefore, does not enter into my report.

2nd Division ordered to attack

Shortly after 4.0 p.m. the signal was made by Captain D, H.M.S. Champion, to the 2nd Division under my command to attack enemy's Battle Cruisers with torpedoes.

Proceeding to the attack

I therefore hoisted the signal " Proceed at Full Speed " and shaped a course two points to Port of our own Battle Cruisers

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course in order to reach an advantageous position on the starboard bow of the enemy Battle Cruiser line from whence my attack would be subsequently launched ; at the same time I observed the enemy's T.B.D.s carrying out a similar manoeuvre.Strategical position and objectives.

Strategical position and objectives

This position A {see plan) was reached after half an hour's steaming, and appeared to me to be a suitable point to turp and carry out the following objectives :

1. Frustrate the intended attack by the enemy's T.B.D.s on our own Battle Cruisers by engaging them with gunfire.
2. Press home our own torpedo attack on enemy's Battle Cruisers.

With this in mind I turned my division approximately 14 points in succession, the remainder of the British Flotilla conformed with this movement in their respective turn.

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Destroyer action

Fire was then opened at extreme range 10,000 on enemy's T.B.D.s (15 in number) and we rapidly closed them. After proceeding somewhat over five minutes on this North-Westerly course, the " Nomad " hauled out of line and stopped (position B), having received damage to her machinery. The " Nicator " then took station a cable astern of Nestor and a vigorous action ensued at close range between the two opposing lines of destroyers. Before long two enemy's T.B.D.s were observed to sink, and a 3rd to be heavily damaged steaming at very slow speed; the remainder retired on their B.C. Une, dividing themselves into two portions.

Observations during action

During this action, which came to very close quarters, I was able to observe good results from the Nestor's salvo fire, which, with that of the Nicator, was, undoubtedly, responsible for the sinking of their leading destroyer.

Nestor fires two torpedoes at enemy's B.C. line

At position C, Nestor fired two torpedoes from the starboard beam, both appearing to run well, as a result of which the enemy's B.C.s were observed to alter course four points to port in succession.

Enemy's T.B.D.s retire.— Nestor and Nicator press home torpedo attack

As related, the enemy's destroyers then retired, some of which made back for the head of their B.C. line hotly pursued by " Nestor " and " Nicator," the remainder shaped course towards the rear of their B.C. Hne chased by the remaining two divisions of British destroyers. It will be seen in plan that " Nestor " and " Nicator " now driving a portion of the enemy's T.B.D.s before them on an E.N.E course, were at the same time rapidly closing the enemy's B.Cs. ; here we were subjected to the heaviest shell fire from the secondary armament of most of their B.C.s, but we pressed on fully determined to drive home our torpedo attack at the closest possible range ; when within 3 to 4,000 yards and on the beam of the leading B.C., the Nestor fired her third torpedo (position D).

" Nestor " and " Nicator " ivitMraiv, the former hit

Then, having accomphshed my two objectives, I turned back followed by "Nicator" to rejoin Captain " D," H.M.S. " Champion." Shortly after this turn, however, an enemy's light cruiser, beUeved to be their flotilla cruiser, issuing from the disengaged side of the German B.C. Hne, took us under heavy fire and shortly before 5 p.m. one of her shells hit No. 1 boiler; six minutes later No. 2 boiler was also hit.

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Between the positions E and F the Nestor was only able to steam at slow speed, and eventually came to a standstill at position F.

" Nestor " refuses assistance

Before reaching the final position F, H.M.S. Petard. Lieut-Commander E. C. O. Thomson, closed to within hailing distance of me offering assistance and a tow ; this I was obliged to refuse, for I could not see my way to involving a 2nd destroyer in a danger which properly only applied to one, for at the time we were still under fire and able to steam slowly. In the light of subsequent events I am convinced that my decision was justified.

Nicator rejoins Captain

Nicator, who had so gallantly supported me all through the attack, succeeded in making good her escape and, I understand, rejoined Captain " D."


Details of the proceedings of NESTOR up to the time she was stopped in the final position " F," have already been given in report "A."
High Sea Fleet observed to the S.E
No sooner had the two B.C. lines disappeared to the N.W. hotly engaged than the German High Sea Fleet was observed approaching from the S.E. following on the course of their B.C.s. It became obvious that they would pass within three or four miles of our position. At this time NOMAD was lying stopped E.S.E., one and a half miles from NESTOR.
The High Sea Fleet opened heavy fire on NOMAD and she sank after a few minutes.
Preparation to abandon ship
From the time that we realised that our destruction was imminent, all preparations were made with a view to saving as many lives as possible, and all confidential matter was thrown overboard and seen to sink.
The motor boat and whaler were lowered to the water's edge and the wounded were later placed in the motor boat. The Carley floats were hoisted out and placed alongside, the dinghy being damaged by shell fire was useless, the cables were got ready on the F'xle in the unlikely event of a tow being forthcoming ; this was done on the suggestion of Lieutenant M. J. Bethell with a view to keeping the minds of the men occupied.

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Nestor shelled by High Sea Fleet
The High Sea Fleet then drew up and we were very soon straddled, not before, however, we had fired our fourth and remaining torpedo. The NESTOR now occupied the undivided attention of the H.S. Fleet and was hit in many places, principally aft and rapidly commenced sinking by the stern. Immediately I saw that she was doomed I gave my last order "Abandon Ship."

Abandon ship, Nestor sinks
This was carried out in perfect order and discipline ; the boats and Carley boats worked their way clear of the ship, which all the time was being subjected to a tornado of fire, and a few minutes afterwards she reared up in a perpendicular position and sank by the stern. Three cheers were given for the NESTOR and " God save the King " was sung.
As Your Lordships are aware, the greater part of the Officers and men were saved, they being distributed in the motor boat and two Carley floats, but a few were obliged to remain in the water with their lifebelts on. The whaler, which had been damaged by shell fire, shoved off with a party including myself, but she sank after a few strokes and their occupants swam to the motor boat, where they supported themselves holding on to the gunwhale.

Enemy's T.B.D.s close, pick up, and make Prisoners of war of Nestor's crew
After a period of about twenty minutes a division of enemy's T.B.D.s were detached from the H.S. Fleet and, closing us rapidly, picked up all the survivors and hoisted our motor boat inboard. Thus we found ourselves prisoners of war on board S.M.T.B.D. "S 16"; the NESTOR's Officers and men were promptly separated, the former being placed below in the Captain's cabin, the wounded in the Wardroom, and the men in the stokeholds and engine-room.

Survivors, 2 stokers from H.M.S. Indefatigable.
At 8.30 p.m. two stokers from the INDEFATIGABLE, unconscious and covered in oil, were picked up and treated by Surgeon probationer A. Joe, of NESTOR.

Conjectural movement of S.M. S.16.

The subsequent movements of this T.B.D. can only be a matter of conjecture; from statements made to me by Dr. Joe, who was called forward to attend on INDEFATIGABLE's men, and from further statements made to me by my ships' company, I have reason to believe that we escorted a badly damaged B.C. until noon on first of June; whether or not this B.C. reached harbour I am unable to say, as the division of destroyers to which we belonged parted company with her and proceeded

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direct to Wilhelmshaven, arriving there at about four thirty p.m. Arrival at Wilhelmshaven.
- * * * * * [1]


Bella Vista,
14 Van Stockweg,
I HAVE the honour to report the circumstances leading to the sinking of NOMAD under my command, by gunfire of the enemy during the battle of Jutland on May 31st, 1916. On May 30th, " Nomad " and " Nicator," in company with " Birmingham," were carrying out a night patrol, and during that night received orders to join H.M.iS. " Lion " and Battle Cruiser Squadron off Ma,y Island in the morning. At about 5 a.m. we sighted the fleet, and I received orders to join up with Captain " D " of 13th Flotilla, in " Champion." During the afternoon of May 31st we heard ma.ny wireless messages on the German Telefunken note, which was reported to be gettting closer and closer. All preparations were made for Action, and the hands sent to their Action Stations, and allowed to fall out again when everything was found correct. The signal was then received for " Champion " and the 13th Flotilla to take station one mile ahead of the 1st B.C.s, and " Champion " and the three divisions of the 13th Flotilla at once went on ahead, forming in " L.T." formation, with " Nestor," " Nomad " and " Nicator " on the port wing. The enemy were soon sighted, and the hands sent to Action Stations. Very soon the B.C.s were engaging the Battle Cruisers of the enemy, and at this early stage it would appear that " Nomad " was hit somewhere aft, as a great noise was heard in the region of the main bearings. At about 4 p.m. the " Lion " ordered destroyers to attack, and led by Commander Bingham in H.M.S. " Nestor," " Nomad " and " Nicator " followed. As these ships developed full speed, it became apparent that something was wrong in the main bearings of " Nomad," as she was losing ground on " Nestor," and " Nicator " drew up on our beam. To keep the close formation of the division, I ordered " Nicator " to pass me, and myself took " Nicator's " position of third ship of the line. I sent for the Engineer Officer and enquired if anything was wrong, and he replied that he was finding out and that there was a great noise in the main bearings. Flange joints had started to leak and after these were tightened up the ship was able to maintain the speed of the division.

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The Division having steamed sufficiently ahead to enable an attack to be made, " Nestor " turned towards the enemy and, followed by " Nicator " and " Nomad," commenced the attack. At this moment about 15 enemy destroyers advanced to intercept us, and I ordered fire to be opened on the third destroyer of the line. It would seem that the enemy considerably underestimated the speed of our division, as the " Nomad " was soon being badly hit, while the " Nestor " and " Nicator " seemed to suffer less. A shell close by the bridge brought down the wireless gear, and at the same time dislocated the searchlight. Firing at the enemy's destroyers was carried with precision, resulting in the turning of the enemy's destroyers and rendering at least two out of action. During this encounter, and before being close enough to fire our torpedoes with good effect, a shell entered the Engine Room, tearing up the deck for about 8 feet and bursting in the Engine Room, shattered the Starboard Bulkhead valve, and destroyed all the steampipes in the vicinity. I regret that this shell killed Eng. Lt.-Commdr. Benoy and severely wounded E.R.A. Willis, whose ultimate fate was never known. Steam poured into the Engine Room, and the main engines and auxiliary engines came to a standstill. The emergency gear shutting off steam to the Engine Room having been rendered useless, I gave orders to shut off from the boilers. It was then reported to me by the Senior E.R.A., T. C. Dickson, that the stokeholds reported that they could not get water and I ordered the upper deck emergency valves to the oil burners to be shut. It was later discovered that the feed tanks had been shot through. With the ship stopped, firing at the enemy was continued, and one enemy destroyer was seen to sink. By this time the fleets had turned 16 points and the foremost 4-in. gun reported that it could no longer bear on the enemy. This report was immediately followed by a similar report from the midship 4-in. gun. The after 4-in. gun continued firing for a while, but, being continually enveloped in clouds of steam, had to cease firing. My attention was dravvTi by the signalman to a torpedo coming straight for the ship from the starboard quarter, I, at that moment, was watching the trail of another torpedo coming straight under the bridge from the starboard bow. Happily both torpedoes passed under the ship without hitting. I ordered the ship to be prepared for being towed, and when this was done, observing that the ship's list to port had visibly increased and that she was slowly sinking by the stern, I ordered the confidential books, papers, and charts to be destroyed. Proceeding aft to destroy the confidential books in mj^ cabin, I observed an enemy's battle squadron on the horizon on the starboard quarter, but too far aft to alloAv of my torpedoes being fired. It seemed to be a question whether this squadron would

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arrive on a possible bearing before the ship had listed to such an extent as to make the firing of torpedoes impossible. As it turned out, the enemy came on the bearing just in time, the torpedoes only just clearing the tube, and the last torpedo, 1 consider, damaged its tail on clearing, so great was the list. I then, Avith Able Seaman W. Read, went aft to complete the destruction of the confidential books. Immediately after tliis was done, out of the haze appeared anotheroftheenemy'sbattlesquadrons. "Nomad"waslying directly in their course, and firing was opened by them on the already crippled and sinking ship. The squadron firing at us were four ships, of which the " Thuringen " and " Posen " were two. The ship was soon again being badly hit and rapid salvoes were being fired at us. Seeing the ship could not float much longer, and with a view to saving as much Ufe as possible, I ordered the ship to be abandoned. During this time the fore magazine was hit and blew up and No. 2 boiler was hit. I went round the ship and. ascertaining that her hfe was a matter of minutes, left her. Firing was continued at her up to a range of 500 yards, and a salvo was fired at her after she sank, about a minute and a half after my leaving her. 1^^4: 4: ^ I have the honour to be. Sir, Your obedient Servant, PAUL WHITFIELD, Commander, R.N. Commander Hon. E. B. S. Bingham, V.C., R.N.


To Commander Bingham, V.C, R.N.

On the 2nd of June 1916, whilst a prisoner in the German Naval Barracks at Wilhelinshaven, I received the following information from a German Bluejacket—a survivor from the German Battle Cruiser Ludzow, who, for 15 years previous to the war, had lived in Australia and served on Merchant Ships engaged in the coast trade. He stated that he came to Germany for a holiday just before the war and explained that was the excuse all Germans were obliged to give for returning to the Fatherland about that time. He commissioned the Ludzow new 10 months before this date and had taken part in the Lowestoft raid. On the morning of 31st May 1916 they were at sea when on board his ship the order was passed to issue respirators to the crew; it then became evident that they were likely to go into action; in the course of the day they were informed that in company with their High Seas Fleet they would engage the English Battle Cruiser Squadron and some of the

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King Edward the Seventh Class. After the action had been on some time and the British Destroyers came out to attack the German Cruisers, he was ordered with the remainder of the Guns' Crews on the side of the ship where his gun was stationed to supply ammunition to the light guns on the opposite side to repel the attack, but he said owing to lack of cover many were killed and the light guns' crews disorganised by hits from the British ships, mostly in the superstructure; shortly afterwards the ship was torpedoed by one of the British destroyers and she listed but continued to steam with the Fleet, her speed gradually decreasing, when one of the Barham Class made a dead set at her and literally tore her to pieces with 15-in. shells. He explained one shell struck a Turret, the 2nd from forward, and lifted the top right off, killing everyone inside. After this he was ordered to assist in the fore dressing station, but stated it was impossible to remain there as the Doctors were killed and the numerous wounded that had been taken there for treatment were nothing but a mass of arms and legs caused by shells penetrating the hull of the ship. He then proceeded to the after dressing station, but did not go down, as the upper deck in places was awash and the firing had ceased. Shortly after, the order to abandon the ship was given, and destroyers that were standing by came alongside and took off the remains of the crew. He said you can take it from me when I left that ship there were five hundred dead on board. Our full crew were fourteen hundred, for we had on board about a crew and a half to fill up the places of wounded and killed. He also stated the Germans had no intention of coming into action with the British Grand Fleet, their idea was to sink the Battle Cruisers and the King Edward class that accompanied them, then return to their base before the Grand Fleet could come up and engage them, as both Fleets had been constantly shadowed all day by Zeppelins. He told me it was a great surprise to the Germans when they found instead of the King Edward class that came out of the fog behind the Cruisers, they had the Barham class with 15-in. guns to deal with. I wish to state this man could speak perfect English and I had no fear of misunderstanding him.

I have the honour to remain. Sir,
Your obedient Servant, Petty Officer CHARLES JUBILEE LEWIS,
O.N. 225,059, Late of H.M.S. Nestor.

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  1. (original footnote) Part omitted here, referring solely to personnel, recommendations, &c., in no way bearing on the course of the action.