Narrative of the Action
Enclosure No. 1 in H.F. letter No. 1,396, dated 18th June 1916.
At. 9.30 p.m., IRON DUKE, First and Fourth Battle Squadrons, Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron, Second Cruiser Squadron, Fourth Light-Cruiser Squadron, Commodore (F), Fourth and Twelfth Flotillas, and four destroyers of Eleventh Flotilla, CANTERBURY and CHESTER left Scapa.
At 10 p.m., the Second Battle Squadron, First Cruiser Squadron and remainder of the Eleventh Flotilla left Cromarty.
At 10 p.m., LION, First and Second Battle-Cruiser Squadrons, First, Second and Third Light-Cruiser Squadrons, FEARLESS and nine boats of First Flotilla, CHAMPION and ten of Thirteenth Flotilla, eight destroyers of Harwich force and ENGADINE, left Rosyth.
At 10.40 p.m., the Fifth Battle Squadron (four ships) left Rosyth. A complete list of the ships present is given in Home Fleet's letter,  No. 1,395, of 18th June 1916, and in Enclosure No. 2 to this despatch.
Disposition of the Fleet during the early portion of 31st May.
Disposition of the Scapa force at 6 a.m. on 31 May :—
Battle fleet in divisions, line ahead, disposed abeam to starboard, in the order—3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th (Fifth Organisation),
screened by the Fourth and Twelfth Flotillas; Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron three miles ahead of First and Fourth Battle Squadrons ; Second Cruiser Squadron and four destroyers spread five miles apart ten miles ahead of the battle squadrons.
Battlefleet and Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron :—
The Scapa and Cromarty forces proceeded for the 2 p.m. rendezvous ordered by the Commander-in-Chief in latitude 57° 45' N., longitude 4° 15' E., but actually met at 11.15 a.m. in latitude 58°' 13' N., longitude 2° 42' E. The Rosyth force proceeded for their 2 p.m. rendezvous in latitude 56° 40' N., longitude 5° E.
At 2 p.m. on 31 May, the Dreadnought battlefleet was in latitude 57° 57' N., longitude 3° 45' E., in Organisation No. 5, divisions in line ahead disposed abeam to starboard in the order 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, divisions screened by the Fourth Eleventh and Twelfth Flotillas ; Fourth Light-Cruiser Squadron three miles ahead of the battlefleet ; cruisers and destroyers sixteen miles ahead of the battlefleet, spread eight miles apart on a line of direction N. 40° E., and S. 40° W., in the order from East to West :
|COCHRANE||SHANNON||MINOTAUR||(centre of||DEFENCE||DUKE OF||BLACK|
attached cruisers on the flanks ; Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron CHESTER and CANTERBURY about twenty miles ahead; the whole steering S. 50° E., zig-zagging, with a speed of advance of fourteen knots.
Battle-Cruiser Fleet and Fifth Battle Squadron :-
At 2 p.m., in latitude 56° 46' N., longitude 4° 40' E., course N. by E., speed 19 knots.
LION and First Battle-Cruiser Squadron in single line ahead, screened by CHAMPION and ten destroyers of Thirteenth Flotilla (NESTOR, NOMAD, NARBOROUGH, OBDURATE, PETARD, PELICAN, NERISSA, ONSLOW, MORESBY, NICATOR, TURBULENT, and TERMAGANT).
Second Battle-Cruiser Squadron in single line ahead, three miles E.N.E. of LION, screened by six destroyers of the Harwich force (LYDIARD, LIBERTY, LANDRAIL, LAUREL, MOORSOM, and MORRIS). Fifth Battle Squadron, in single line ahead, five miles N.N.W. of LION, screened by FEARLESS and nine destroyers of First Flotilla (ACHERON, AERIEL, ATTACK. HYDRA, BEAVER, GOSHAWK, DEFENDER, LIZARD, and LAPWING). Light-Cruiser Squadrons forming a screen astern, eight miles S.S.E. from LION, ships spread on a line of direction E.N.E. and W.S.W., five miles apart, in the order from West to East :
ENGADINE, seaplane carrier, was stationed between GLOUCESTER and CORDELIA.
YARMOUTH acted as linking ship between LION and Light-Cruiser screen.
The following is an extract from a report received from the Vice-Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Fleet, and explains clearly the course of the action until they joined forces with the battlefleet :-
At 2.20 p.m. reports were received from GALATEA indicating the presence of enemy vessels to the E.S.E., steering to the Northward. The direction of advance was immediately altered to 8.S.E., the course for Horn Reef, so as to place my force between the enemy and his base. GALATEA reported at 2.35 p.m., that she had sighted a large amount of smoke as from a fleet, bearing E.N.E. This made it clear that the enemy was to the Northward and Eastward, and that it would be impossible for him to round the Horn Reef without being brought to action. Course was accordingly altered to the Eastward and North Eastward, the enemy being sighted at 3.31 p.m. They appeared to be the 1st Scouting group of five Battle-Cruisers.
After the first report of the enemy, the 1st and 3rd Light Cruiser Squadrons changed their direction and without waiting for orders spread to the East, thereby forming a screen in advance of the Battle Cruiser Squadrons and Fifth Battle Squadron by the time we had hauled up to the course of approach. They engaged enemy Light Cruisers at long range. In the meantime the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron had come in at high speed and was able to take station ahead of the Battle Cruisers by the time we turned to E.S.E., the course on which we first engaged the enemy. In this respect the work of the Light Cruiser Squadrons was excellent and of great value.
From a report from GALATEA at 2.25 p.m., it was evident that the enemy force was considerable and not merely an isolated unit of Light Cruisers, so at 2.45 p.m. I ordered ENGADINE to send up a seaplane and scout to N.N.E. This order was carried out very quickly, and by 3.8 p.m., a seaplane with Flight Lieutenant F. J. Rutland, R.N., as Pilot, and Asst. Paymaster G. S. Trewin, R.N., as Observer, was well under way; her first reports of the enemy were received in ENGADINE about 3.30 p.m. Owing to the clouds it was necessary to fly very low, and in order to identify four enemy Light Cruisers the seaplane had to fly at a height of 900 ft., within 3,000 yards of them, the Light Cruisers opening fire on her with every gun that would bear. This in no way interfered with the clarity of their reports, and both Flight Lieutenant Rutland and Asst. Paymaster Trewin are to be congratulated on their achievement, which indicates that seaplanes under such circumstances are of distinct value.
At. 3.30 p.m., I increased speed to 25 knots and formed line of battle, the Second Battle Cruiser Squadron forming astern
of the First Battle Cruiser Squadron, with destroyers of the 13th and 9th Flotillas taking station ahead. I turned to E.8.E.. slightly converging on the enemy, who were now at a range of 23,000 yards, and formed the ships on a line of bearing to clear the smoke. The Fifth Battle Squadron, who had conformed to our movements, were now bearing N.N.W., 10,000 yards. The visibility at this time was good, the sun behind us and the wind S.E. Being between the enemy and his base, our situation was both tactically and strategically good.
At 3.48 p.m., the action commenced at a range of 18,500 yards, both forces opening fire practically simultaneously. Both appeared to straddle the target early, and at 3.51 p.m., LION received her first hit. Course was altered to the Southward, and subsequently at intervals, to confuse the enemy's fire control ; the mean direction was S.S.E., the enemy steering a parallel course distant about 18,000 to 14,500 yards. For the next ten minutes the firing of the enemy was very rapid and effective. LION was hit repeatedly, the roof of "Q" turret being blown off at 4 p.m. Immediately afterwards INDEFATIGABLE was hit by three shots falling together. The shots appeared to hit the outer edge of the upper deck in line with the after turret. An explosion followed, and she fell out of the line sinking by the stern. Hit again by another salvo near "A" turret she turned over and disappeared.
At 4.8. p.m. the Fifth Battle Squadron came into action and opened fire at a range of 20,000 yards. The enemy's fire now seemed to slacken. It would appear that at this time we passed through a screen of enemy submarines. In evidence of this a torpedo was sighted passing astern of LION from starboard to port. The destroyer LANDRAIL of 9th Flotilla, who was on our Port beam trying to take station ahead, sighted the periscope of a submarine on her Port quarter, and at the same time the track of a torpedo which passed under her and crossed the line of the Battle Cruisers between TIGER and NEW ZEALAND. Though causing considerable inconvenience from smoke, the presence of LYDIARD and LANDRAIL undoubtedly preserved the Battle Cruisers from closer submarine attack, NOTTINGHAM also reported a submarine on the Starboard beam.
Eight destroyers of the 13th Flotilla, NESTOR, NOMAD, NICATOR, NARBOROUGH, PELICAN, PETARD, OBDURATE, NERISSA, with MOORSOM and MORRIS of 10th Flotilla, TURBULENT and TERMAGANT of the 9th Flotilla, having been ordered to attack the enemy with torpedoes when opportunity offered, moved out at 4.15 p.m. simultaneously with a similar movement on the part of the enemy. The attack was carried out in a most gallant manner and with great determination. Before arriving at a favourable position to fire torpedoes, they intercepted an enemy force consisting of a Light Cruiser and 15 Destroyers. A fierce engagement ensued at close quarters, with
the result that the enemy were forced to retire on their Battle Cruisers, having lost two destroyers sunk, and having their torpedo attack frustrated. Our destroyers sustained no loss in this engagement, but their attack on the enemy Battle Cruisers was rendered less effective owing to some of the destroyers having dropped astern during the fight. Their position was therefore unfavourable for torpedo attack.
NESTOR, NOMAD and NICATOR, gallantly led by Commander The Hon. E. B. S. Bingham, of NESTOR, pressed home their attack on the Battle Cruisers and fired two torpedoes at them at a range of 6,000 and 5,000 yards, being subjected to a heavy fire from the enemy's secondary armament. NOMAD was badly hit, and apparently remained stopped between the lines. Subsequently NESTOR and NICATOR altered course to the S.E., and in a short time the opposing Battle Cruisers, having turned 16 points, found themselves within close range of a number of enemy battleships. Nothing daunted, though under a terrific fire, they stood on, and their position being favourable for torpedo attack, fired a torpedo at the second ship of the enemy line at a range of 3,000 yards. Before they could fire their fourth torpedo NESTOR was badly hit, and swung to starboard, NICATOR altering course inside her to avoid collision, and thereby being prevented from firing the last torpedo. NICATOR made good her escape, and subsequently rejoined the Captain (D), 13th Flotilla. NESTOR remained stopped, but was afloat when last seen. MOORSOM also carried out an attack on the enemy's battle fleet.
PETARD, NERISSA, TURBULENT and TERMAGANT also pressed home their attack on the enemy battle-cruisers, firing torpedoes at a range of 7,000 yards after the engagement with enemy destroyers. PETARD reports that all her torpedoes must have crossed the enemy's line, while NERISSA states that one torpedo appeared to strike the rear ship. These destroyer attacks were indicative of the spirit pervading His Majesty's Navy and were worthy of its highest traditions. I propose to bring to your notice a recommendation of Commander Bingham for the Victoria Cross, and other officers for some recognition of their conspicuous gallantry.
From 4.15 to 4.43 p.m., the conflict between the opposing Battle-Cruisers was of a very fierce and resolute character. The Fifth Battle Squadron was engaging the enemy's rear ships, unfortunately at very long range. Our fire began to tell, the accuracy and rapidity of that of the enemy depreciating considerably. At 4.18 p.m., the third enemy ship was seen to be on fire. The visibility to the North-Eastward had become considerably reduced, and the outline of the ships very indistinct. This, no doubt, was largely due to the constant use of smoke balls or charges by the enemy, under cover of which they were continually altering course or zigzagging.
At 4.26 p.m., there was a violent explosion in QUEEN MARY ; she was enveloped in clouds of grey smoke, and disappeared. From the evidence of Captain Pelly, of TIGER, who was in station astern, corroborated by Rear-Admiral Brock in PRINCESS ROYAL ahead, a salvo pitched abreast of "Q" turret, and almost instantaneously there was a terrific upheaval and a dense cloud of smoke through which TIGER passed barely 30 seconds afterwards. No sign could be seen of QUEEN MARY. Eighteen of her officers and men were subsequently picked up by LAUREL.
At 4.38 p.m., SOUTHAMPTON reported the enemy's Battlefleet ahead. The destroyers were recalled, and at 4.42 p.m. the enemy's battlefieet was sighted S.E. Course was altered 16 points in succession to starboard, and I proceeded on a Northerly course to lead them towards the Grand Fleet. The enemy Battle-cruisers altered course shortly afterwards, and the action continued. SOUTHAMPTON, with the Second Light Cruiser Squadron, held on to the Southward to observe. They closed to within 13,000 yards of the enemy battlefieet, and came under a very heavy but ineffective fire. SOUTHAMPTON's reports were most valuable. The Fifth Battle Squadron were now closing on an opposite course, and engaging the enemy battle-cruisers with all guns. The position of the enemy battlefleet was communicated to them, and I ordered them to alter course 16 points. Led by Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan Thomas, M.V.O., in BARHAM, this Squadron supported us brilliantly and effectively.
At 4.57 p.m., the Fifth Battle Squadron turned up astern of me and came under the fire of the leading ships of the enemy battlefleet. FEARLESS, with the destroyers of the First Flotilla joined the Battle-cruisers and, when speed admitted, took station ahead. CHAMPION with 13th Flotilla took station on the Fifth Battle Squadron. At 5.0 p.m., the First and Third Light-Cruiser Squadrons, which had been following me on the Southerly Course, took station on my starboard bow; the Second Light-cruiser Squadron took station on my port quarter.
The weather conditions now became unfavourable, our ships being silhouetted against a clear horizon to the westward, while the enemy were for the most part obscured by mist, only showing up clearly at intervals. These conditions prevailed until we had turned their van at about 6.0 p.m. Between 5.0 and 6.0 p.m., the action continued on a Northerly course, the range being about 14,000 yards. During this time the enemy received very severe punishment, and undoubtedly one of their Battle-cruisers quitted the line in a considerably damaged condition. This came under my personal observation, and was corroborated by PRINCESS ROYAL and TIGER. Other enemy ships also showed signs of increasing injury. At 5.5. p.m., ONSLOW and MORESBY, who had been detached to assist ENGADINE, with the seaplane, rejoined the Battle-cruiser Squadrons and
took station on the starboard (engaged) bow of LION. At 5.10 p.m., MORESBY, being 2 points before the beam of the leading enemy ship at a range of 6,000 to 8,000 yards, fired a long range torpedo at the third in their line. Eight minutes later she observed a hit with a torpedo on what she judged to be the sixth ship in the line. Later analysis of the director setting indicated a probability of this result. MORESBY then passed between the lines to clear the range of smoke and rejoined CHAMPION. In corroboration of this FEARLESS reports having seen an enemy heavy ship heavily on fire at about
5.10 p.m., and shortly afterwards a huge cloud of smoke and steam, similar to that which accompanied the blowing up of QUEEN MARY and INDEFATIGABLE.
At 5.35 p.m. our course was N.N.E., and the estimated position of the Grand Fleet was N. 16 W., so we gradually hauled to the North Eastward, keeping the range of the enemy at 14,000 yards. He was gradually hauling to the Eastward, receiving severe punishment at the head of his line, and probably acting on information received from his Light-Cruisers which had sighted and were engaged with the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron (vide INDOMITABLE's report). Possibly Zeppelins were present also. At 5.50 p.m., British Cruisers were sighted on the port bow, and at 5.56 p.m., the leading battleships of the Grand Fleet bearing North 5 miles. I thereupon altered course to East and proceeded at utmost speed. This brought the range of the enemy down to 12,000 yards. I made a visual report to the Commander-in-Chief that the enemy Battle-Cruisers bore South East. At this time only three of the enemy Battle Cruisers were visible, closely followed by battleships of the KONIG class.
At about 6.5 p.m., ONSLOW, being on the engaged bow of LION, sighted an enemy Light-Cruiser at a distance of 6,000 yards from us, apparently endeavouring to attack with torpedoes. ONSLOW at once closed and engaged her, firing 58 rounds at a range of from 4,000 to 2,000 yards, scoring a number of hits. ONSLOW then closed to within 8,000 yards of the enemy Battle-Cruisers, and orders were given for all torpedoes to be fired. At this moment she was truck amidships by a heavy shell, with the result that only one torpedo was fired. Thinking that all his torpedoes had gone, the Commanding Officer proceeded to retire at slow speed. Being informed that he still had three torpedoes, he closed the Light-Cruiser previously engaged and torpedoed her. The enemy's Battle-Fleet was then sighted at a distance of 8,000 yards, and the remaining torpedoes were fired at them ; having started correctly, they must have crossed the enemy's track. Damage in her feed tank then caused ONSLOW to stop.
At 5 p.m., the position of affairs was as follows :—
IRON DUKE's position :-
latitude 57° 24' N.,
longitude 5° 12' E.,
course S.E. by S.
speed 20 knots,
in company with the main battlefleet force, cruisers spread, destroyers screening.
LION's position (to IRON DUKE's " reckoning) :-
lat. 56° 42' N.,
long. 5° 44' E.,
speed 25 knots,
in company with the Fifth Battle Squadron and First and Second Battle-Cruiser Squadrons. Enemy battle-cruisers bearing from LION approximately E.S.E. seven miles; enemy battlefleet from BARHAM about S.S.E. nine miles.
Up to 6 p.m. the weather conditions were wholly in favour of the enemy. The horizon to the eastward was entirely obscured by haze, and from the Fifth Battle Squadron when engaging enemy battleships and battle-cruisers only the flashes of the enemy guns could be made out. On the other hand, a
strong light to the westward enabled the British ships to be distinguished clearly by the enemy.
This is indicated by the photograph  enclosed, taken from MALAYA by Midshipman Gerald W. Norman. The photograph was taken at about 5.15 p.m. towards the western horizon, the enemy at the same time being to the eastward. Our destroyers shown silhouetted against the bright horizon were at least eight miles distant. The splashes seen in the photograph are from "overs" fired at MALAYA by the enemy's battlefleet.
Movements of the Fifth Battle Squadron
At 3.30 p.m., when the Battle-Cruiser Fleet formed line of battle, the Fifth Battle Squadron, consisting of BARHAM, VALIANT, WARSPITE and MALAYA, in single line in the order named, were five miles from the Battle-Cruiser Fleet, bearing from them N.N.W. and conforming to their movements.
At 3.56 p.m. fire was opened at some enemy light-cruisers before the port beam steering about S.S.E. After two or three salvoes these enemy light-cruisers turned away eight points and disappeared out of sight.
At 4.02 p.m. the British battle-cruisers altered course gradually to the south-eastward, the enemy battle-cruisers also turned to the south-eastward. This turn enabled the Fifth Battle Squadron to gain, and at 4.06 fire was opened by pairs, concentrating on the two rear ships at a range of approximately 18,000 yards.
At 4.21 p.m. the enemy battle-cruisers opened fire on the Fifth Battle Squadron, BARHAM being hit shortly after.
At 4.40 p.m., by which time the Fifth Battle Squadron was heavily engaged with the enemy battle-cruisers, enemy destroyers were observed to be attacking, and were driven off by our light cruisers and destroyers attached to the Battle-Cruiser Fleet. The squadron was turned away by Preparative-flag, and torpedoes were observed to cross the line, one ahead and one astern of VALIANT.
At 4.50 p.m. our battle-cruisers, having previously turned to the northward, crossed the line of fire.
At 4.53 the Fifth Battle Squadron turned sixteen points to starboard in succession by signal from the LION (the enemy battle-cruisers having also turned to the northward).
At 4.55 the enemy's battlefleet was sighted, bearing S.S.E., steering to the Northward, distant about 17,000 yards.
BARHAM and VALIANT continued to engage the enemy Battle-Cruisers while WARSPITE and MALAYA fired at the head of the enemy's battlefleet.
At about 5.25 p.m., the squadron increased to full speed. During this period the light was very much in favour of the enemy and firing from the Fifth Battle Squadron was very intermittent, whereas a heavy but ineffective fire was received from the leading enemy battleships.
At 6.06 p.m., MARLBOROUGH was sighted, and the Fifth Battle Squadron turned to form astern of the line at 6.18 p.m.
Up to this time BARHAM had been hit six times by battlecruisers, VALIANT was not hit. WARSPITE had been hit twice by either battle-cruisers or battleships. MALAYA had been hit seven times all by battleships.
Progress of the Action
Continuous reports were received in IRON DUKE of the above reported movements. The Fleet was informed that the enemy battlefleet was coming North, and a wireless signal made to the Admiralty that a fleet action was imminent.
Movements of the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron
Turning now to the movements of the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron. This squadron was originally stationed twenty miles ahead of the battlefleet, CHESTER (Captain Robert N. Lawson) acting as linking ship between the squadron and the cruiser line, CANTERBURY (Captain Percy M. Royds) being abreast
of the squadron.
At 4.5 p.m.. the Commander-in-Chief ordered the Rear-Admiral Commanding, Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron, to support the battle-cruiser fleet in action sixty miles to the southward in position latitude 56° 53' N., longitude 5° 33' E., the Rear-Admiral being informed that the enemy's course was reported to be S. 55° E., at 3.50 p.m. The Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron was at the time to the eastward, having turned to intercept the enemy vessels reported by the First Light-Cruiser Squadron at 2.45 p.m., as steering North from position latitude 56° 52' N., longitude 5° 35' E. The Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron altered course to S. by E. and worked up to full speed.
At 5.30 p.m., CHESTER, which was five miles N. 70° W. of the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron, reported to INVINCIBLE by searchlight that she had heard firing and seen flashes of gunfire to the southwestward and turned to investigate. At 5. 30 p.m., CHESTER observed a three-funnelled enemy light -cruiser with destroyers. An engagement ensued at about 6,000 yards, the enemy being reinforced by two, or possibly three, more light- cruisers. CHESTER turned to N.E., chased by the enemy ships, which had obtained the range and were inflicting considerable damage on her.
At 5.40 p.m., the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron, which until then had been steering about S. by E. sighted enemy cruisers to the westward and turned to about W.N.W. It is apparent that the Rear-Admiral Commanding, Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron, was misled by the difference in reckoning between the battlefleet and battle-cruiser fleet and had gone too far to the eastward, actually crossing ahead of the two engaged battle-cruiser squadrons until meeting the enemy advanced cruisers. At 5.52 p.m., the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron and CANTERBURY engaged three enemy light-cruisers which were then administering heavy punishment to CHESTER, SHARK (Commander L. W. Jones), ACASTA (Lieutenant-Commander J. O. Barron), OPHELIA (Commander L. G. E. Crabbe) and CHRISTOPHER Lieutenant-Commander F. M. Kerr), and at 6 p.m., one of the enemy light-cruisers was observed by all three ships of the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron to blow up. During the engagement, SHARK was sunk, and ACASTA severely damaged.
At about 6.10 p.m., the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron sighted the battle-cruiser fleet, and at 6.21 p.m., took station ahead of the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle-Cruiser Fleet, in LION, the CHESTER then taking station astern of the Second Cruiser Squadron and remaining with that squadron for the night.
On taking station ahead of LION, the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron engaged the enemy's leading battle-cruiser, which vessel returned the Are, and at 6.36 p.m. INVINCIBLE (Captain Arthur L. Cay, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral the Hon. Horace L. A. Hood) blew up. The cause was possibly the same as that suggested in the case of INDEFATIGABLE. LION, proceeding
at full speed, drew ahead, the Vice-Admiral, ordering the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron to take station astern of his line.
Disposition and Movements of the British Battlefleet and Cruiser Squadrons
At 5.4 p.m., the attached cruisers were ordered to take up approach stations. The cruiser line at this time was sixteen miles aliead of the battlefleet, the ships being stationed from port to starboard as follows :-
|Cochrane||Shannon||Minotaur||Defence||Duke of Edinburgh||Black Prince|
|Hampshire (linking ship)|
cruisers in the screen being eight miles apart, centre of the screen bearing S.E. by S.
At 5.40 p.m., heavy firing was heard ahead by MINOTAUR, and soon afterwards ships were seen in the mist and were challenged by MINOTAUR. COCHRANE and SHANNON were recalled by the Rear-Admiral Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron, and formed into line, the signal being made to engage the enemy. The conditions were exceedingly difficult for making out ships, but the strange vessels on replying to the challenge were ascertained to be the Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron (RearAdmiral the Hon. Horace L. A. Hood).
At 5.52 p.m., Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot, in DEFENCE, signalled that the battlefleets would shortly be engaged. Rear-Admiral Herbert L. Heath, in MINOTAUR, with the Second Cruiser Squadron, made a sweep to the eastward to ensure that no enemy minelayers were at work in that direction, and proceeded to take up deployment station two points on the engaged van of the battlefleet, being joined there by DUKE OF EDINBURGH at 7.17 p.m.
At 5.50 p.m., the cruisers on the right flank of the cruiser line had come in contact with the enemy cruisers. A large three-funnelled enemy light-cruiser was engaged and disabled by DEFENCE and WARRIOR. She drifted down between the lines, being fired on by the battlefleet, and was subsequently seen to sink by several independent observers.
DEFENCE and WARRIOR of the First Cruiser Squadron, which vessels had turned to starboard during the engagement with the light-cruisers, passed between our own and the enemy battle-cruisers and battlefleet, and the two ships found themselves within comparatively short range of the enemy's heavy ships. At 6.16 p.m., DEFENCE was observed to be heavily hit and blew up ; WARRIOR was badly hit and disabled, but reached the rear of the battlefleet and was taken in tow by ENGADINE. It is probable that Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot did not realise the proximity of the German battlefleet, and coming across it at short range in the mist was unable
to extricate his squadron before his flagship was sunk and the WARRIOR disabled.
Arrival of the Battlefleet
At 5.45 p.m., " Comus " (Captain Alan G. Hotham), of the Fourth Light-Cruiser Squadron, then three miles ahead of the battlefleet, reported that heavy gunfiring was heard from a direction south. The flashes of guns were shortly afterwards observed S.S.W., and at 5.56 p.m., some vessels, subsequently seen to be the British battle-cruisers, were seen bearing S.S.W. from " Marlborough," steering E., heavily engaged with an unseen enemy. At 6.0 p.m., " Iron Duke's " position was latitude 57° 11' N., longitude 5° 39' E., course S.E. by S., speed twenty knots; battlefleet in divisions in line ahead disposed abeam to starboard (Organisation No. 5), columns eleven cables apart. It Avas apparent on meeting that the reckoning of the battle- cruiser fleet was about twelve miles to the eastward of " Iron Duke's " reckoning. In consequence of this the enemy were sighted on the starboard bow instead of ahead, and some twenty minutes earlier than was anticipated. At 6 p.m., the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle-Cruiser Fleet, reported enemy battle-cruisers bearing S.E., and at 6. 14 p.m., in reply to a signal, he rej)orted the enemy battlefleet in sight, bearing S.S.W. Owing to the uncertainty as to the position of the enemy battlefleet, it had not been possible to redispose the guides of columns on anj' different bearing. Consequently, the dej^loyment was carried out under some disadvantage, and, indeed, it Avas not easy to determine the correct direction of deployment until the battlefleets were almost in contact. At this stage it was not clear whether the enemy battlefleet was ahead of our Ijattlefleet or on the starboard beam, as heavy firing was proceeding from ahead to the starboard beam and the cruisers ahead were seen to be hotly engaged. In order to take ground to starboard a signal was made at 6.2 p.m., to alter course by 9 pendant to South, but it was then reahsed that the enemy battlefleet must be in close proximity, either ahead or on the starboard side, and the fleet was turned back by 9 pendant to S.E. preparatory to deployment to port. The Flotillas were directed to take up destroyer disposition No. 1 at 6.8 p.m. At 6.16 p.m., line of battle was formed by the main battlefleet by Equal Speed pendant on the port wing division ; course S.E. by E. Speed had been reduced at 6.02 p.m., to eighteen knots to admit of shi])s closing up, and it was further reduced to fourteen knots on deployment to allow the battle-cruisers, which were before the starboard beam, to pass ahead. The Rear-Admiral Commanding, Fifth Battle Squadron, having sighted " Marlborough " at 6.6 p.m., and other ships of
the fifth and sixth divisions at 6.19 p.m., turned his squadron to port at 6.20 p.m., to form astern of the sixth division. During this turn the ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron came under a heavy fire from the enemy's leading battleships, but the shooting was not good and few hits were made. At this time " Warspite's " helm unfortunately jammed, causing her to continue to turn towards the enemy's battlefleet. By good handling, although hit several times, " Warspite " was enabled to get away to the northward. The Rear-Admiral Commanding, Fifth Battle Squadron, subsequently ordered her to proceed to Rosyth on receipt of a report of her damage. By 6.30 p.m., the Fifth Battle Squadron (less " Warspite "), was formed astern of " Agincourt " in the battle Hne. At 6.33 p.m., speed was increased to seventeen knots, which speed was maintained until the Fleet left the scene for its bases on 1st June. Enclosure No. III. shows the order of the battlefleet, etc., at 6.40 p.m.
The First Battle Squadron, at the rear of the battle hne and the furthest to the westward during deployment, came into action almost immediately the deployment signal had been hauled down. At 6.15 p.m., a salvo pitched short of and over the forecastle of " Hercules," deluging the bridge and conning tower with water. The enemy at this time were made out by our rear ships to be in single hne, steering to the eastward, their battle-cruisers leading, followed by four " Konigs," four or five " Kaisers " and four " Helgolands," the remainder of the hne being invisible owing to the large overlap we had established, and to the converging course. " Marlborough " and her division opened fire at 6.17 p.m. on one of the " Kaiser " class. " Hercules " opened fire at 6.20 p.m. on the second " Kaiser." " Colossus " and her division opened fire at 6.30. The practice from the First Battle Squadron was very satisfactory under the conditions and severe punishment was administered to the enemy. " Marlborough " continued her fire with great success even after the ship had assumed a considerable hst after being torpedoed; " Agincourt's " powerful armament was used with good effect, and other ships were also observed to be scoring frequent hits. " Iron Duke " opened fire at 6.23 p.m. at a three-funnelled Hght-cruiser passing down the hne. This cruiser was engaged by other ships, was heavily hit, and was observed to sink by several eye-mtnesses at the end of the hne. At 6.25 p.m. " Falmouth " and " Yarmouth " of the Third Light-Cruiser Squadron, stationed on the starboard bow of " Lion " fired torpedoes at the leading enemy battle-cruiser. The Third Light-Cruiser Squadron then attacked the enemy ships with gunfire. The battle-cruisers were well ahead by 6.30 p.m. and had reduced to eighteen knots, gradually closing the enemy van and concentrating a heavy fire on the leading ship.
At 6.30 " Iron Duke " shifted her fire to the leading battleship (one of the " Konig " class) bearing S.W., range 11,000 yards, and hit her several times in the third and fourth salvoes at 6.33 p.m. The remainder of the third divi.sion also opened fire on the leading enemy battleships of Konig " class. " Benbow " and the fourth division opened fire at 6.30 p.m., and " Orion " and certain ships of the Second Battle Squadron also opened fire at this time on the rear enemy l^attle-cruisers and leading battleships. At 6.40 p.m. the second " Konig " was seen to be heavil}^ hit and to be ablaze fore and aft, then to turn 16 points to starboard, the original third ship passing her. The ship then settled by the stern and was observed to blow up by independent witnesses in " Thunderer," " Benbow," " Barham," " Marne," " Morning Star," and " Magic," at 6.50 p.m. At this time the visibility was about 12,000 yards, and for ranges about 9,000 yards. The light was, however, extremely baffling, partly due to misty clouds appearing and dissolving, and partly due to layers of smoke from funnels and ships firing. The direction of the wind was W.S.W., force 2. At 6.55 p.m. the course of the Fleet was altered by divisions to south, conforming to the movements of the battle-cruiser squadrons and with a view to closing the enemy. Firing was general in the battlefleet, but the use of distribution of gunfire signals was out of the question, only three or four ships being in sight at a time from the van and centre, although more were visible from the rear. Ships fired at what they could see, while they could see it. Hitting had by this time become general. At 6.54, the Vice-Admiral Commanding, First Battle Squadton, in " Marlborough," reported that his flagship had been struck by a torpedo or mine. Later evidence pointed to it being a torpedo, possibly discharged from a submarine. This is supported by the report of " Revenge." Officers in the transmitting station, " A " and " Y " shell rooms, the director tower and spotting tower all felt a shock as if the ship had struck something. A few minutes after the " Marlborough " was torpedoed. A large patch of oil, with an upheaval in the middle and portions of wreckage, came to the surface. " Revenge," on seeing " Marlborough " struck, had hauled out of the line to port about a cable and probably struck and sank a submarine. At this time the destroyer " Acasta " was passed in a disabled condition. She signalled that she was holed fore and aft and unable to move her engines. In spite of her condition her ship's company were observed to be cheering as the battlefleet passed. At 6.55 p.m. " Iron Duke " passed the wreckage of " Invincible." The sliip was spUt in two, the bow and stern standing out of the water, the centre part resting apparently on the
bottom. The position of the wreck was latitude 57° 6' N., longitude 5°02' E. " Badger " was picking up survivors. In order to guard against the risk of secret documents being recovered by the enemy sliould the position of the wreck be located by remaining above water, a submarine was sent from BIyth to search for and if necessary, sink the wreck. She was unable to find it, and there is no doubt that the vessel sank. At 7.10 p.m. " Marlborough " and several other ships were firing at the second of the three of the remaining " Konig " class ("Marlborough" fired fourteen salvoes). At 7.18 a ship turned out of the line very low in the water aft and sinking. An Officer in the torpedo control tower in ' Colossus " saw this ship sink at 7.30 p.m., his evidence being confirmed by " Benbow," " Superb," " Colossus," and " Malaya." At 7.12 p.m. enemy battle-cruisers also emerged from the mist at 10,000 yards range on the starboard beam of the " Colossus " division, which opened fire on them. A ship of the " Derffiinger " class was observed to be hit several times by " Colossus " and " Neptune," and listed over and passed out of sight obscured by heavy smoke and mist. " Colossus " was hit, but only suffered triffing damage. At the same time a ship of the " Seydfitz " class was also fired at and hit by " ColHngwood." " Revenge " also fired at and hit a battle- cruiser supposed to be " Von Der Tann," which then turned away.
Attacks by Enemy Flotilla on Battlefleet
At about 7.10 p.m. a flotilla of enemy destroyers supported by a cruiser was seen approaching " Iron Duke," bearing from " Iron Duke " S. 50° W. (60° green). The Fleet was turned away two points by the " Preparative " and subsequently another two points, fire being opened on the flotilla with 4-in,, 6-in., and turret guns at a range of about 10,000 to 8,000 yards. When at about 8,000 yards range, the 'destroyers fired their torpedoes, turning towards the rear of their line and dis- appearing in a smoke screen. No torpedoes hit. One destroyer was observed to sink. At about 7.25 p.m. another enemy's destroyer attack was observed approaching the rear of the battle line from a bearing about 120° green, 9,000 yards from " Iron Duke," and was heavily engaged by the four rear divisions of the battlefleet and Fifth Battle squadron. The Eleventh Flotilla and Fourth Light-Cruiser Squadron had advanced to counter the former enemy destroyer attack and were in a favourable position to counter the second attack during which at 7.22 p.m. they sank an enemy destroyer. They were recalled at 7.40 p.m. In addition, the third destroyer from the left was observed to sink, and the left-hand one to be struck and turned bottom upapproximately at 7.35 p.m. At 7.45 p.m. a division of the Twelfth Flotilla, consisting of " Obedient," " Mindful," " Marvel," and " Onslaught," proceeded to attack, and sink an enemy
" V "-class destroyer flying a Commodore's pendant near the rear of the Fifth Battle Squadron. Line had again been formed at 7.33 p.m. on a S. by W. course and at 7.41 p.m. course was altered to the S.W. PAt 7.30 p.m. the Second Light-Cruiser Squadron, having previously turned towards the German line to keep in touch with the enemy's rear, observed the enemy alter course to S. by W. At 8.30 " Southampton " and " Dublin " attacked an enemy destroyer and hit her heavily amidships. She was shortly afterwards seen to sink. At 8 p.m. firing had practically ceased except towards the rear of the line, where some of the ships of the First and Fifth Battle Squadrons were still engaged. Whilst the battlefleet had been turned away from enemy torpedo attacks, the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle-Cruiser Fleet, had continued engaging the head of the enemy line, gradually hauling round to S.W. by S. and then S.W. to keep in touch. At 7.32 p.m. " Lion's " course was S.W., speed eighteen knots, the leading enemy battleship bearing N.W. by W. The battle-cruiser fleet were inflicting considerable punishment on the enemy, so much so that the enemy torpedo-boat destroyers were called upon to cover the capital ships by emitting volumes of grey smoke. Under cover of this smoke, the enemy were lost sight of at 7.45 p.m. At 7.58 p.m. the Vice-Admiral Commanding Battle-Cruiser Fleet ordered the First and Third Light-Cruiser Squadrons to sweep to the westward and locate the head of the enemy's line. The British battlefleet also turned to the westward. At 8.30 p.m. the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle-Cruiser Fleet, again sighted the enemy and engaged the leading enemy battle-cruiser at a range of 10,000 yards—only two were sighted. This battle-cruiser was struck by two salvoes and burst into flames and smoke. Heavy explosions took place on board and the ship turned away with a heavy list. " Princess Royal " set fire to a three-funnelled battleship. " New Zealand " and " Indomitable " report that the third ship of the Une which they engaged heeled over and was on fire. The enemy was last seen by " Falmouth " steaming to the westward. At 8.40 p.m. all battle-cruisers felt a heavy shock, as if struck by a mine, torpedo, or sunken wreckage. It seems probable that, in view of the condition in which the enemy were last seen the shock indicated the blowing up of one of their heavy vessels.
Darkness was now rapidly setting in, the mist was increasing and it became necessary to decide on the future course of action. The British Fleet was between the enemy and his base. Each side possessed a considerable number of destroyers, it being most probable that the enemy was largely superior in this respect, in numbers, as it was logical to assume that every available
torpedo-boat destroyer and torpedo-boat had been ordered out as soon as contact between the fleets became probable. I rejected at once the idea of a night action between the heavy ships, as leading to possible disaster owing, first, to the presence of torpedo craft in such large numbers, and, secondly, to the impossibility of distinguishing between our own and enemy vessels. Further, the result of a night action under modern conditions must always be very largely a matter of jDure chance. I was loth to forego the advantage of position, which would have resulted from an easterly or westerly course, and I therefore decided to steer to the southw^ard, where I should be in a position to renew the engagement at dayhght, and should also be favourably placed to intercept the enemy should he make for his base by steering for HeHgoland or toward^ the Ems and thence along the north German coast. Further, such a course enabled me to drop my destroyer flotillas astern, thus at one and the same time providing the battlefleet with a screen against attack by torpedo craft at night, and also giving our flotillas an opportunity for attacking the enemy's heavy ships should they also be proceeding to the southward vnih the object of regaining their bases. Accordingly, at 9 p.m., the fleet was turned by divisions to south (speed seventeen knots) the second organisation being assumed, and the fleet formed in divisions hne ahead disposed abeam to port, columns one mile apart, the object of the close formation being that the divisions should remain clearly in sight of each other during the night, in order to prevent ships mistaking each other for enemy vessels. At 9.24 p.m., the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle-Cruiser Fleet, in latitude 56° 29' N., longitude 5° 27' E., turned to south. At 9.27 p.m., the destroyer flotillas were ordered to take station five miles astern of the battlefleet. At 9.32 p.m., " Abdiel " was directed to lay mines in wide zig-zags from a position fifteen miles 215° from the Vyl hghtvessel in a mean direction 180°, ten mines to the mile. This operation was successfully accomplished without observation, and " Abdiel " then proceeded to Rosyth to replenish with mines. At 10 p.m., " Iron Duke's " position was : — latitude, 56° 22' N., longitude, 5° 47' E., course, south, speed, 17 knots, the order of the fleet from west to east being as follows : — Battle-Cruiser Fleet; Cruiser Squadrons
Battlefleet (in divisions, disposed abeam to port, columns one mile apart, in Organisation No. 2) ;
First Light-Cruiser Squadron four miles one point before the starboard beam of the Battle-Cruiser Fleet; Second Light-Cruiser Squadron astern of the Fifth Battle Squadron and Second Battle Squadron
Third Liglit-Cruisor Squadron on starboard bow of the Battle-Cruiser Fleet: Fourtli Light-Cruiser Squadron ahead of the Battlefleet; Destroyer Flotillas—five miles astern of the Battlefleet in the order, west to east—Eleventh, Fourth, Twelfth, Ninth,! Tenth,! Thirteenth. At 10.20 p.m., the Second Light-Cruiser Squadron engaged five enemy ships, apparentl}^ a cruiser and four light-cruisers, which concentrated on " Southampton " and " DubHn " and severely damaged both of them. The enemy, however, were beaten off. No enemy ship was seen by the battlefleet during the night, except by " Active " astern of the Second Battle Squadron. Firing was heard astern, searchlights were seen in use, and a fair number of star shells were fired by the enemy, which gave out a brilliant illumination, and it was evident that our destroyer flotillas and light-cruiser squadrons were in action. From reports received subsequently it is fairly certain that the German battlefleet and battle-cruisers crossed astern of the British battlefleet and made for the Horn Reef channel. In crossing the rear of the British battle line, the enemy fleet came in contact with the British flotillas, which seized the opportunity to deliver a series of brilliant and gallant attacks. The estimated course of the enemy fleet was S.E. | E., and the estimated time of the last battle squadron passing the Horn Reef light-vessel abeam, eighteen miles distant, was 3.45 a.m. Submarine E55, on the bottom to the west of the Horn Reef light-vessel, heard eleven explosions between 2.15 and 5.30 a.m. on the 1st June. The estimated time of the last of the enemy's heavy ships passing over " Abdiel's " minefield is 5 a.m.
PROCEEDINGS OF FLOTILLAS
The Commodore (F), in CASTOR, with the Eleventh Flotilla, at 10.4 p.m. was on the right flank in position five miles distant a id about seven points abaft the starboard beam of the Second Battle Squadron.
The Fourth Flotilla was in the centre astern of the Fourth Battle Squadron, and the Twelfth Flotilla was on the east flank astern of the First Battle Squadron. CASTOR and Eleventh Flotilla came in contact with enemy battle-cruisers at 10.5 p.m., the enemy consisting of three or
more vessels. Fire was opened on CASTOR, which vessel returned it at a range of 2,000 yards, and CASTOR MAGIC and MARNE each fired a torpedo and turned to port. A violent detonation was heard in the engine rooms of three destroyers. The remaining destroyers, with CASTOR were uncertain whether the ships firing at CASTOR were really enemy vessels and thought a mistake had been made. They, therefore, withheld their torpedo fire. CASTOR's W/T and signalling gear having been disabled by the enemy's fire, the Commodore (F) was unable to signal to the destroyers to attack. The enemy disappeared and the flotilla proceeded south. At 0.15 a.m. a German torpedo boat destroyer was sighted on the starboard bow of Castor. She received the fire of all Castor's guns at point blank range and was not seen again, either by CASTOR or the torpedo boat destroyers following. It appears certain that she was sunk.
Tipperary, Broke and the Fourth Flotilla came in contact with enemy cruisers at 11.30 p.m., the enemy being on a southeasterly course ; a heavy fire was opened on the flotilla resulting in Tipperary being set on fire forward ; she sank at 2.0 a.m. Broke was badly hit, and her steering gear and engine room telegraphs disabled, and before she could be got under control she rammed Sparrowhawk. Both vessels were under a very heavy fire, and Sparrowhawk's injuries were such that her crew were taken off and she was sunk on the following morning. Broke reached the Tyne. One four funnelled enemy cruiser was torpedoed by Spitfire (next astern of Tipperary) and took a heavy list, and appeared to be in a sinking condition. Spitfire also rammed a light cruiser and carried off 29 feet of her skin plating. She had two cranes and three funnels, a red band being painted on each of the latter. The remainder of the flotilla altered course to the eastward and then southeastward, and at midnight came in contact with an enemy battle squadron consisting of ships of the Deutschland class. One enemy ship was torpedoed, either by Ardent, Ambuscade or Garland, and was observed to list over considerably. It is probable that she was sunk. Fortune was sunk during this attack. The flotilla was eventually driven off by gunfire and obliged to retire to the northward. Shortly after turning off Ardent sighted four more large German ships crossing her bows and steering N.N.E. Ardent attacked and fired a torpedo, but could not observe the result as a devastating fire was opened on her, and she sank with colours flying after a gallant fight, her commanding officer (Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Marsden) being picked up by Marksman on the following morning after being five hours in the water.
The Twelfth Flotilla formed astern of the First Battle Squadron, which was on the port flank and somewhat astern of station owing to Marlborough's speed being reduced by damage, although by revolutions she was steaming at seventeen knots.
At 11.30 p.m. the flotilla was obliged to alter course to clear Another flotilla —probably the Fourth Flotilla— which was crossing on a southeasterly course, and this alteration caused the Twelfth Flotilla to be about five miles to the eastward and ten miles to the northward of the First Battle Squadron by midnight.
At 1.45 a.m. an enemy battle squadron was sighted on the starboard bow, steering S.E., consisting of six ships, the first four of which were thought to be of the Kaiser class (it is interesting to note that this points to there being only six ships of the enemy's Third Battle Squadron left, thus confirming the evidence already given that two were sunk during the day action).
The Captain (D), Twelfth Flotilla, altered to a parallel course and increased to 25 knots, leading round in order to attack on a northwesterly com-se. The attack was carried out most success- fully, torpedoes being fired at 2 a.m., at a range of about 3,000 yards, at the second and third ships of the fine, the latter vessel being particularly conspicuous by a torpedo boat being stationed close under the quarter. Torpedoes took effect on the third ship, which blew up, the magazine having apparently exploded. Enemy cruisers astern of the battle line attacked the flotilla and obliged the Captain (D) to alter course to north. The cruisers were shaken off and the flotilla altered round to south to resume its course after the battlefleet.
The following signal was made to the Commander-in-Chief by the Captain (D) :- Enemy battlefleet steering S.E., approximate bearing S.W. My position ten miles astern of First Battle Squadron. 0152. This signal was unfortunately not received in the battlefleet owing to telefunken interference. Whilst the main torpedo attack by the Twelfth Flotilla was being made, Maenad (Commander Jolm P. Champion), having anticipated that the attack on the enemy would be made with tubes bearing to starboard, was not ready when the turn was made and port tubes brought to bear. He, therefore, held on the southeasterly course and turned later to fire one torpedo from the port side when the tube was trained. He then trained both tubes to starboard, turned and went ahead, closing in again to between 4,000 and 5,000 yards from the enemy and firing two more torpedoes. The second torpedo struck the fourth ship in the line. There was a heavy explosion, the flames topping the mast heads, and the ship was not seen again, though those
ahead and astern were distinctly visible. The time of this attack was twenty-five minutes later than the main attack. It seems therefore certain that two battleships were hit and there is considerable probability that both were sunk by the Twelfth Flotilla. It is to be noted that six ships were observed by the Captain (D) at the commencement of the attack—only five were seen by Maenad when Maenad's attack was made, and only four were visible after Maenad's attack. The report from Maenad was sent to me from Rosyth, before her commanding officer had seen the Captain (D), Twelfth Flotilla, or knew that he had reported having blown up one of the battleships.
NINTH AND TENTH FLOTILLAS
At 7.30 p.m. the destroyers of the Ninth and Tenth Flotillas under the commanding officer of LYDIARD, took station on the port beam of the CHAMPION astern of the battlefleet.
At about 11.30 p.m fire was opened on them by a line of large ships, which were at first mistaken to be a British squadron. Shortly afterwards the CHAMPION went ahead and the destroyers lost touch except OBDURATE and MORESBY.
At 6.0 a.m. it was discovered that the destroyers of the Thirteenth Flotilla and MORRIS were astern. The commanding officer of LYDIARD detached NARBOROUGH with the M-class destroyers to join the battle-cruiser fleet, and then proceeded to Rosyth with the L-class destroyers, which were short of fuel.
" Fearless," not being able to keep up with the flotilla, formed astern of " Agincourt " at 6 p.m., the destroyers remaining with the battle-cruiser fleet during the night. Shortly after midnight " Fearless " observed what appeared tobeaGermanbattleshippassdownthestarboardside. Reports from ships of the First Battle Squadron confirm this. As sliips ahead did not open fire no action Avas taken, as her course led directly to the destroyers following astern. A heavy explosion was observed not long after, which coincides Avith the Fourth Flotilla attack on ships of the " Deutschland " class.
The Thirteenth Flotilla took station astern of the battlefleet. During the night all except OBDURATE and MORESBY lost touch with CHAMPION. At 2.30 a.m. course was altered to north and MARKSMAN and NOMAD joined.
At 3.25 a.m. four enemy destroyers were sighted, steering to the southeastward, and at 3.30 a.m. were engaged at a range of approximately 3,000yards The enemy passed and disappeared in the mist, after firing torpedoes at CHAMPION.
At 4.30 a.m. " Obdurate " picked up two survivors from the "Ardent." ' At 5.0 a.m. two rafts were sighted and " Moresby " rescued seven men and " Maenad " eleven men, survivors from the " Fortune." " Marksman " was detached to the assistance of the *' Sparrowhawk " at CO a.m. and the flotilla proceeded to Rosyth. At 0.30 a.m. the destroyers which had become detached and were then under the orders of " Narborough " came under heavy fire from an enemy ship, which was at first mistaken for one of our hght-cruisers or a ship of " Warrior " class. The " Turbu- lent " was rammed and sunk by gunfire. At daylight the remainder attached themselves to the force under the commanding officer of " Lydiard." At 11.0 p.m. "Active," asteni of " Boadicea," astern of Second Battle Squadron, saw a German hght-cruiser come up astern. A ship on the starboard quarter of " Active " switched on searchUghts and opened fire. The hght-cruiser was heavily hit, stern cocked up in the air, and it was thought that the ship went down. It seems possible that " Active " witnessed the sinking of a German hghtcruiser by a German battle-cruiser. At 11.15 p.m. " Active " struck a submerged object, removing about fifteen feet of her starboard bilge keel. The position in' which this occurred was well clear of the scene of the action, and it is possible that the object in question was an enemy submarine.
PROCEEDINGS OF THE FLEET AFTER MIDNIGHT 31 MAY-1 JUNE 1916
At 2.0 a.m. a report was received from the Vice-Admiral Commanding, First Battle Squadron, that " Marlborough " had been obhged to ease to twelve knots on account of stress on bulkheads at the higher speeds. The remainder of the divisions continued at seventeen knots. The Commander-in-Chief ordered " Marlborough " to proceed to the Tyne or Rosyth by " M " channel. TheVicc-AdmiralCommanding,FirstBattleSquadron, called the " Fearless " alongside " Marlborough," shifted to " Revenge " in the " Fearless," and detached " Fearless " to escort the " Marlborough." The weather was very misty at dayhght, visibility being only three to four miles, and I deemed it advisable to disregard the danger from submarines due to a long line of ships and to form line of battle at once in case of meeting the enemy battle- fleet before I had been able to get in toueli with my cruisers and destroyers. The battlefleet accordingly altered course to north at 2.47 a.m. and formed line of battle. The Fourth Light Cruiser Squadron was in company, but the sixth division of the battle- fleet comprising the " Revenge," " Hercules " and " Agincourt " had lost touch owing to " Marlborough's " reduction in speed and was broad on the eastern flank of the fleet during the day.
At 3.44 a.m. course was altered to west, heavy firing being heard in that direction. At 4.0 a.m. a Zeppelin was bearing S.E. She approached the fleet, but was driven off by- gunfire. At 4.10 a.m. the battlefleet formed divisions in line ahead disposed abeam to starboard. The Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser l^'leet, in accordance with orders, closed the Commander-in-Chief at 5.40 a.m. and was directed to sweep to the northward and eastward, whilst the Commander-in-Chief swept with the battle- fleet first to the southward and eastward and then northward. At 3.0 a.m. the " Sparrowhawk " was lying disabled in approximately lat. 55° 54' N., Long. 5° 59' E., when a German light-cruiser with three high straight funnels equally spaced, two masts and a straight stem (probably " Kolberg ") was sighted two miles East steaming slowly to the northward; after being in sight about five minutes she gradually heeled over and sank slowly bows first. The Commodore (T) with the Harwich force had been ordered at 3.20 a.m. by the Admiralty to proceed to join the Commander- in-Chief to replace vessels requiring fuel. The Commander-in- Chief gave directions for four torpedo boat destroyers to be detached to screen " Marlborough," whose 4.30 a.m. j)osition was Lat. 55° 30' N., Long. 6° 3' E., course S.W., speed fourteen knots. At 9.0 a.m. the Commander-in-Chief ordered the Vice- Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Fleet, who was to eastward of the battlefleet, on a northerly course, to sweep as far as Lat. 57° 30' N., Long. 5° 45' E. At 9.36 a.m. the Admiralty directed the Third Battle Squadron and Third Cruiser Squadron to return to harbour and revert to usual notice. At 10.31 a.m. the Fifth Battle Squadron joined up with the remainder of the battlefleet. At 1.15 p.m. the battlefleet, having swept out the area south of the scene of the action, proceeded N.W. for Scapa, the battle- cruiser fleet and " VaHant " proceeding to Rosyth. At 3.40 p.m. the Commander-in-Chief ordered the Vice* Admiral Commanding, Tenth Cruiser Squadron, and " Donegal " to take up the Muckle Flugga patrol, to look out for " Moewe " and another raider, which were possibly attempting to break out into the Atlantic. * At 4.0 p.m. the Commander-in-Chief informed the Commodore (T) that the Admiralty had been told that there was nothing left for the HarAvich force to do. He was ordered to strengthen " Marlborough's " screen by two destroyers and return to Harwich. At 10.0 p.m. the Commander-in-Chief directed the Vice- Admiral Commanding, Orkneys and Shetlands, to send out at dayhght any destroyers available to meet and screen the fleet, approaching on a bearing 82° from Pentland Skerries.
The Commodore (T) reported his 8 p.m. position on 1st June as Lat. 56° 7' N., Long. 4° 37' E., course N. 77° W., speed fourteen knots, and that he proposed turning back to intercept the enemy at daylight on the meridian of Long. 4° 30' E. The battlefleet, Fourth Liglit Crui.ser Squadron, Fourth, Eleventh and Twelfth Flotillas arrived at Scapa between 10.30 a.m. and noon on 2nd June. On arrival " Titania " was directed to send a submarine as soon as the weather permitted to sink by torpedo, gunfire, or explosive charge, the portion of wreck of " Invincible " in approxi- mately Lat. 57° 06' N., Long, 6° 02' E., if still showing above water. " G. 10 " sailed at 3.0 a.m. 3rd June, and returned to Blyth at 9.20 p.m., 6th, reporting that after searching for forty-eight hours nothing could be found. At 9.45. p.m. the Commander-in-Chief reported to the Admiralty that the battlefleet was again ready for action and at four hours' notice.
NARRATIVE OF EVENTS RELATING TO DISABLED SHIPS
At 2 a.m. on 1st June, Marlborough reported that her speed was reduced to 12 knots and at 2.30 a.m. she was directed by Commander-in-Chief to proceed to Tyne or Rosyth by "M" channel. At 3.0 a.m. Vice-Admiral Commanding, First Battle Squadron was directed to send liis division to join Commander-in-Chief, keeping one sliip as escort if necessary. He reported that he had transferred to " Revenge " and that " Marlborough " was proceeding with " Fearless " in company. At 7.0 a.m. Commander-in-Cliief ordered Commodore (T) to detach four destroyers to screen " Marlborough," her 4.30 a.m.. position being in latitude 55° 30' N., longitude 6° 3' E. Course S.W., speed 14 knots. At 6.50 p.m. 1st June " Marlborough " reported—All com- partments between 78 and 111 stations starboard from outer bottom to middle or main deck probably flooded. AU double bottom compartments between these stations on starboard side vertical keel damaged and probably double bottom compart- ments vertical to 2nd longitudinal on port side also damaged. Boilers, auxiliary macliinery in " A " boiler room not damaged, except air blower and Diesel engine oil pump. " A " boiler room partially flooded but w^ater is being kept under. At 9.30 p.m. Admiralty directed " Marlborough " to proceed to Rosyth for temporary repairs. At midnight lst-2nd June " Marlborough " reported her position to be in latitude 54° 40' N., longitude 0° 53' E., and
that she was making for Flamborough Head. Owing to bad weather the water was gaining. The Commander-in-Chief requested the Senior Naval Officer Hiimber to send powerful tugs to her and also directed Canterbury, who was proceeding to Harwich, to proceed to her assistance.
Canterbury sighted " Marlborough " ofE the Humber at 7.30 a.m. 2nd June, when she was informed that her assistance was not required. At 4.0 a.m. " Marlborough " reported her position to be in latitude 54° 10' N., longitude 0° 2' E., course South, speed 11 knots ; water was being kept under -control. Marlborough arrived in the Humber at 8.0 a.m. 2nd, screened by " Fearless " and 8 destroyers from Harwich, having been unsuccessfully attacked by enemy submarines whilst en route.
At 9.0 p.m. 31st May, Warspite reported that the damage reduced her speed to 16 knots. The Commander-in-Chief ordered her to proceed to Rosyth.
At 6.10 a.m. 1st June, Warspite reported to the Commander-in-Chief that she had many holes from shellfire, that the ship was tight and on an even keel. Several compartments were full, but the bulkheads were shored. The ship was being steered from the engine room.
At 9.0 a.m. 1st June the Commander-in-Chief asked the Commander-in-Chief, Rosyth, to send local destroyers to screen Warspite.
She arrived at Rosyth at 3.0 p.m. on 1st June having been unsuccessfully attacked by enemy submarines en route.
At 11.24 a.m. 1st June the Commodore (F) reported that Broke's midnight position was in latitude 57° 49' N., longitude 3° 50' E., course N.W. speed 7 knots; that she was damaged forward and would like escort if available.
At 1.30 a.m. 2nd June, Active was dropped astern of fleet and proceeded to search for Broke. She was informed that two destroyers would be sent as soon as Broke had been located.
At 5.0 a.m. the Commander-in-Chief directed the Commodore Commanding, Fourth Light-cruiser Squadron, to detail one Light cruiser to assist Active in search for Broke. Constance proceeded at 5.30 a.m. 2nd June.
At 6.30 a.m. 2nd June the Rear-Admiral Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron was ordered to abandon the search for Warrior and sweep to find Broke.
At 9.15 p.m. 2nd June orders were given for the search to be continued next day to the South and S.W. of the area already searched.
At 1.0 a.m. 3rd June Constance and Active were ordered to return to Scapa.
At 3.0 a.m. 3rd June Broke reported her position to be in latitude 56° 21' N., longitude 0° 12' E., course West, speed knots, and the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Fleet, was ordered to send four destroyers to meet and screen her. They sailed at 8.0 a.m. 3rd June. The Second Cruiser Squadron was ordered to return to the base. This squadron arrived at 6.30 p.m. the same day.
The Broke arrived in Tyne at 6.0 p.m. 3rd June.
At 8.0 p.m. 31st May Engadine took Warrior in tow in about latitude 57° 10' N., longitude 5° 45' E., steering W.N.W. Warrior was abandoned at 7.45 a.m. 1st June in approximately latitude 57° 34' N., longitude 2° 56' E., Engadine proceeding alongside to take the crew off. The latter arrived at Rosyth at 1.35 a.m. 2nd June with 35 officers, 681 men, 25 cot cases and two walking cases from Warrior.
At 8.45 a.m. 1st June the Commander-in-Chief, not having received information that Warrior was abandoned, informed the Commander-in-Chief, Rosyth, that she was in tow of Engadine, completely disabled, in latitude 57° 18' N., longitude 3° 54' E., course W.N.W., speed 7 knots, and requested that tugs should be sent.
At 9.55 a.m. 1st June, the Rear-Admiral, Invergordon, informed the Commander-in-Chief that yacht Albion, in charge of two tugs, had been ordered to leave Peterhead and proceed to the assistance of Warrior.
Engadine's 11.0 p.m. position on 31st May was in latitude 57° 10' N., longitude 2° 17' E.
At 1.45 p.m. 2nd June, the Rear-Admiral, Cyclops, reported that vacht Albion III. with three tugs had been unable to find Warrior.
At 4.30 p.m. the Commander-in-Chief informed the Rear- Admiral Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron, of the state of affairs about Warrior and directed him to search for her and if impossible to salve, to sink her. If the tugs sent out from Peterhead were not required for Warrior they were to be sent to tow Acasta, who was in tow of Nonsuch, a little to the Eastward of Warrior's position.
At 2.30 p.m. the Commander-in-Chief directed Unit 42 from Peterhead to be diverted to search for Warrior.
At 3.0 p.m., the Rear-Admiral Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron, reported no sign of Warrior in area 17 miles south of and 40 miles north, west and east of her last position given
Good visibility. Wind, N.W., 6 to 7. Somewhat heavy sea. Second Cruiser Squadron's position at 3.0 a.m., 57° N., 2° 45' E.
At 8.0 p.m., 2nd June, Third Light-Cruiser Squadron and three destroyers sailed from Rosyth to join in the search for Warrior.
At 11.30 p.m. Commander-in-Chief informed the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Battle Cruiser Fleet, that the Second Cruiser Squadron had searched area North of 57° 10' N. and west of longitude 4° 10' E., and was now searching N.W. of this area for Broke. He suggested that light-cruisers from Rosyth should search area south of this latitude and east of longitude 3° 50' E.
At 9.30 a.m., 4th June, Rear-Admiral Commanding, Third Light-Cruiser Squadron, reported his position in 56° 15' N., longitude 3° 0' E., and proposed abandoning search at 8.0 p.m. and return to harbour. This was approved and squadron arrived at Rosyth 6.0 a.m., 5th June.
Captain of Warrior reported by telegraph that cypher and signal books in use were thrown overboard when ship was abandoned.
When abandoned, the stern of the ship was two or three feet above water. Stem about normal draught, every sea washing over upper deck. At least two feet of water on main deck. Decks and bulkheads terribly shattered by shell fire and no longer watertight ; ship settling down and stability gone. No chance of ship remaining afloat in increasingly heavy weather prevailing.
Ordered by Rear-Admiral Commanding, Second Cruiser Squadron, at dayhght, 1st to proceed to Humber. She arrived at the Humber at 5.0 p.m., 1st, and reported her damage. Three guns out of action, much damage to upper works and holed four places above water line. Engines, boilers and all machinery almost intact. No serious damage below water- line.
At 7.30 a.m., MARKSMAN reported to the Commander- in-Chief that he was endeavouring to tow SPARROWHAWK stern first.
At 8.5 a.m. MARKSMAN reported that hawser had parted, and on receipt of approval from Vice-Admiral Commanding, First Battle Squadron, SPARROWHAWK was sunk in 56° 8' N. 6° 10' E.
NONSUCH AND ACASTA
(Acasta was with Shark, Ophelia and Christopher screening Third Battle-Cruiser Squadron.) At 9.45 a.m., Nonsuch reported to Commodore (F) that he was escorting Acasta to Aberdeen at 10 knots, the latter being badly damaged.
Nonsuch reported later that she had taken Acasta in tow about noon in position 57° 16' N., longitude 4° 8' E., course W, 1/2 N., speed about 6 knots.
Nonsuch reported her 7.0 p.m. position on 1st, in 57° 8' N., 2° 33' E., speed about 7.5 knots, all well.
At 8.40 p.m., 1st, Rear-Admiral, Peterhead, was requested to send a trawler unit to screen Nonsuch and Acasta to Aberdeen, and at 6.30 a.m. 2nd, he was requested to direct Albion and tugs which were searching for Warrior, to proceed to assist Acasta in tow of Nonsuch. Nonsuch's position at 5.0. p.m., 20 miles East of Aberdeen, speed 8 knots, all well. Nonsuch arrived Aberdeen at 8.0 p.m., and Acasta at 9.15 p.m.
ONSLOW AND DEFENDER
The wreckage of Ardent was passed at 8.20 a.m., 1st, in latitude 55° 58' N., 6° 8' E.
At 8.58 a.m., lat. 56° 3' N., long. 6° 4' E., Orion reported she had passed considerable wreckage and floating bodies, apparently foreigners.
19 June 1916.
- Above letter not printed. The despatch published in the Third Supplement, dated Thursday, 6th July 1916, to the "London Gazette," of Tuesday, 4th July 1916, was substituted for it by the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet. For list, however, see pp. 43-47.
- Not reproduced.