Kennedy, Francis William

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Captain Kennedy was the senior Captain on the Navy List at the time of the Battle of Jutland. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral with effect from 1 June 1916 following the Battle, and left the ship on 7 June 1916.

He was succeeded by Captain Michael H. Hodges, who signed off the report of her Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant Commander Lachlan Donald Ian MacKinnon.

Report of Senior Officer, 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron
Captain - HMS “Indomitable”


No. 363/16.

HMS "Indomitable,"
2nd June 1916.

SIR,

I HAVE the honour to report that HM Battle Cruisers "Invincible," "Indomitable," and "Inflexible," HM Light Cruisers "Chester," and "Canterbury," and HM Destroyers "Christopher," “Ophelia,” "Shark," and "Acasta" left the Pentland Firth at 9.35 p.m. on 30th May 1916, just ahead of the Grand Fleet, with which visual touch kept was by the late Rear-Admiral Commanding Third Battle Cruiser Squadron, the Honourable Horace Lambert Alexander Hood, C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O., through “Chester” till we were in Latitude 57° 49' North, 4° 42' East at 2.23 p.m. on 31st May.

2. At 2.23 p.m. we received from “Galatea” our first intimation that the enemy were actually at sea; we were then steering 115°, speed of advance 14 knots; the speed of advance during the night had been 16.8 knots. Telefunken signals of strength 10 had just previously been heard. From then onwards many signals giving various positions of the enemy were received.

At 3.13 p.m. the Rear-Admiral Commanding 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron increased speed to 22 knots; at 3.18 p.m. he ordered ships to “Action Stations”; 3.45 p.m. he altered course to 137°, the squadron was then in single line ahead with “Canterbury” ahead distant 5 miles, “Chester” on starboard side bearing 256° to 212° distant 5 miles and the four destroyers ahead of the Battle Cruisers as submarine screen. By 4.12 p.m. we were steaming at full speed.

3. As usual, the positions of the enemy received in the W/T signals did not agree, but they all pointed to the enemy steering 345° or 298°, and it is evident that the late Rear-Admiral acted on this; at 3.57 p.m. we received signals from the Senior Officer, Battle Cruiser Fleet: “Am engaging enemy 1500.” At 5.30 p.m. the sound of gunfire was plainly heard. At this time the visibility greatly decreased owing to the mist, the density of which was various degrees; for, on some bearings, one could see 16,000 yards, whilst on others only 2,000 yards. From then till dark the visibility ranged from 14,000 to 5,000 yards, which was, in my opinion, a great handicap to us, the attacking force; in fact much more of a handicap to the attacker than the defenders.

At 5.40 p.m. flashes of gunfire were seen on a bearing about 215°, but I could not distinguish any ships. The Rear-Admiral, “Invincible”, altered course to starboard, without signal, turning about 9 points, thus bringing the engaged vessels and “Chester” on the port bow of the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron, and leaving our destroyers off our port quarter; after a short time we made out the engagement to be between the enemy’s light cruisers and “Chester.” The Rear-Admiral led the squadron between “Chester” and the enemy’s light cruisers whom we engaged; at 5.55 p.m. we opened fire on the enemy with our port guns. Shortly afterwards some more of the enemy’s cruisers were seen following at some distance astern of the light cruisers which we were engaging, and I observed our destroyers developing an attack on them. At the same time these enemy vessels opened a heavy fire on our destroyers, and I am afraid that “Acasta” and another destroyer were either sunk or damaged for I only saw two of them afterwards, nor did I again see either “Chester” or “Canterbury.” I desire to record the fact that, when I saw them, they were heading to make a determined attack. At this moment my attention was called to the enemy’s light cruisers turning 16 points; they were at that time under a heavy gunfire from the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron, and a few minutes later one was seen to be heavily on fire and apparently she blew up. There was also observed amongst them a four-funnelled cruiser, apparently of the “Roon” class. She was observed to lose two funnels, to be steaming and firing very slowly and heavily on fire amidships.

4. The First Battle Cruiser Squadron was then sighted on our port bow, heavily engaged with some enemy whom I could not see owing to the mist. At 6.13 p.m. “Invincible” turned to starboard, apparently stopped, and large quantities of steam were observed to be escaping from her escape pipes. At the same moment “Inflexible” turned to port and tracks of torpedoes were observed by “Indomitable” coming from the enemy’s light cruisers with whom we had been engaged. The range at which I engaged them was about 12,000 yards. I turned away from the torpedoes and increased to full speed. One torpedo actually ran alongside this ship at a distance of about 20 yards, which we managed to outrun. As we turned, two torpedoes passed close to the stern of the ship, but they had run their distance, for I managed to turn ahead of them and resume my place in the Squadron, as did ‘Inflexible’ astern of “Invincible”, which ship was then going ahead, having turned to about 153°. In all about 5 torpedoes’ tracks were seen coming from the enemy’s light cruisers.

At 6.14 p.m. “Invincible”, while steam was escaping, hoisted the ‘Disregard’ but hauled it down at once and followed it by hoisting 1 flag and the squadron got into proper order again. About 6.20 p.m. at a range of 8,600 yards the leading ship of the enemy’s battle cruisers was seen firing at the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron. They were promptly engaged, and I realised that the “Invincible” could have sustained little or no damage from a torpedo, as I had thought when she stopped at 6.13 p.m., for I had to go 20 knots to regain station in the line; 6,32 p.m. shells were falling about “Indomitable” from the enemy’s battle cruisers, which were distant about 8,000 yards.

At 6.33 p.m. “Invincible” was straddled by a salvo and was hit in the after part; 6.34 p.m. a salvo or one shot appeared to hit her about ‘Q’ turret, and she immediately blew up. Wreckage &c. was thrown about 400 feet in the air. She appears to have broken in half immediately, for, when the smoke cleared and we had got to the position, the bows were standing upright about 70 feet out of the water and 50 yards away the stern was standing out of the water to a similar height, while in a circle round was wreckage and some few survivors. The visibility, which I have before said was sometimes up to 14,000 yards, was now generally much less than that.

5. The position of affairs, when I took charge of the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron on the lamentable death of Rear-Admiral Hood, appeared to me to be as follows:- We were steering 153°. The enemy’s battle cruisers were disappearing out of sight, but were still firing on “Indomitable” and “Inflexible”. The Director Gunner, Mr James H. Moore, reported that about this time one of the ‘Derfflinger’ class fell out of the enemy’s line and he saw her sink. The Lieutenant-Commander (G) [1] in the Control top at same period remarked that she was very low in the water. The 1st and 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadrons were coming up astern of “Indomitable”; “Inflexible” being about 3 cables ahead of latter. When “Invincible” blew up, “Inflexible” turned sharply to port, and I did the same and eased the speed as I wanted to continue the action in the same direction as previously and wished, if “Inflexible” turned 8 or more points to port, to turn possibly under her stern,or, at all events, to get the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron to resume their original course and then alter it further to starboard in order to continue the action. However, “Inflexible” quickly turned to starboard and continued to turn towards the enemy. By being compelled to ease my speed I had dropped astern of “Inflexible.” I made no signal to her as she was turning as I desired. You then ordered the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron to prolong your line, which we did. Shortly after this I saw the Grand Fleet astern of us bearing about 340°.

6. Until 7.20 p.m. none of the enemy could be distinguished owing to the mist; but at that time it commenced to lift, and at 7.26 p.m. “Indomitable” reopened fire on the enemy’s rear ship, the range being about 14,000 yards and decreasing. Towards the head of the enemy’s line dense quantities of grey smoke could be seen and out of this came a destroyer attack, which was beaten off but caused our battlefleet astern to turn away from the enemy. At 7.40 p.m. our fire was checked owing to lack of visibility. At 8.26 p.m. ranges could again be got on the enemy, and “Indomitable” engaged the 2nd ship from the enemy’s rear, which, as the range decreased, appeared to be “Seydlitz.” The enemy very quickly straddled us and continued to do so, even after we ceased firing. I believe that “New Zealand” was also firing on this ship; at all events “Seydlitz” turned away heavily damaged, and her fire lessened. At 8.42 p.m. we ceased fire the enemy bearing 307°, but we could not see to spot.

7. The only damage sustained by “Indomitable” was a small hole in her middle funnel, though many splinters from shells fell on the deck, but no one was injured. At 8.44 p.m. “Indomitable” received so severe a shock that I was knocked off the compass platform. I thought that the ship had been mined or hit by a torpedo, but no damage has so far been discovered. I assume that we either hit some wreckage or a submarine.

8. From then onwards I conformed to your orders and nothing further of importance occurred with the exception that at 3.12 a.m. on 1st June a Zeppelin was sighted on the starboard quarter coming up from the Southward. At 3.17 a.m. fire was opened by “A” and “X” turrets, the Zeppelin then turned 101°, but had not been damaged in any way. At 3.21 a.m. she turned to 10° and continued her course astern of us, but at too great a range to justify a further expenditure of ammunition. Several light cruisers stationed on our port quarter engaged the Zeppelin, but apparently without causing her any damage.

9. and 10. [2]

11. The following is the amount of ammunition expended by this ship during the action:-
98 rounds of A.P.Lyddite, 12-in.
66 rounds of Common Lyddite, 12-in.
10 rounds of Powder Common, 12-in.

12. I desire to emphasize the fact that when “Invincible” blew up and sank, the Captain of “Inflexible” – Captain Edward Henry Fitzhardinge Heaton-Ellis, M.V.O. – without warning such as he would have had in the case of a wounded ship, found himself leading the squadron, and he at once followed the highest traditions of our Service by closing the enemy.

13. As the Officer left as Senior Officer of the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron, I desire to record the sincere sorrow of all the Officers and men of the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron in the loss that the nation has sustained in the death of Rear-Admiral The Hon. Horace Lambert Alexander Hood, C.B., M.V.O., D.S.O., Captain Arthur Lindesay Cay, Royal Navy, and the Officers and men of H.M.S. “Invincible,” many of whom were personally known to me and friends of mine.

Of Rear-Admiral Hood’s attainments it is not for me to speak, but he drew from all of us our love and respect. The Officers and men of “Invincible” had previously been our chums in the Mediterranean.

14. Since compiling the above report, I have seen Commander Hubert E. Dannreuther, who was the Gunnery Commander of H.M.S. “Invincible” on 31st May. He states that the cause of “Invincible” stopping at 6.30 p.m. was that her helm jammed when put “hard-a-port.”

I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

F.W.KENNEDY

Captain and Senior Officer
3rd B.C. Squadron.

The Vice-Admiral Commanding,
Battle Cruiser Fleet.

________________________________

Covering letter from Captain Kennedy, enclosing the reports of the other ships in the Squadron:

No. 20 S
Submitted

2. I concur in the attached reports as far as was seen and known in “Indomitable.”

3. I know that the late Rear-Admiral Commanding, 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron, had a high opinion of Commander Dannreuther’s abilities and zeal.

F.W.KENNEDY

Captain and Senior Officer
3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron.

The Vice-Admiral Commanding,
Battle Cruiser Fleet.



To Battle Reports page

  1. HMS Indomitable Crew List (updated in Real-time)
  1. Lachlan Donald Ian Mackinnon
  2. (original footnote) Details on recommendation, personnel &c. omitted from the Report as reproduced in the Official Despatches.