Reports from First Battle Squadron

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Enclosure No. 2 to Submission No. 1415/0022 of 20/6/16 from C.-in-C. Home Fleets.
No. 021.
10th June, 1916.

I have the honour to report that the First Battle Squadron and BELLONA left the Northern Base in accordance with your orders at 9.30 p.m. 30th May, 1916, my Flag being in MARLBOROUGH, and proceeded in company with your Flag to the Southeastward.

2. The first intimation of the enemy being at sea was received in MARLBOROUGH about 2.30 p.m. 31st May, a signal being intercepted from GALATEA to Senior Officer, Battle Cruiser Fleet, reporting enemy cruisers bearing E.S.E. Further enemy reports were received from various units of the Battle Cruiser Fleet, and at 3.55 a signal was made by Senior Officer, Battle Cruiser Fleet, that he was engaging the enemy. At 4.0 p.m., Senior Officer. 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, reported enemy battle-fleet in sight steering East, and at 5.0 p.m. that they had altered course to North. The situation as it developed was reported by visual signal from time to time to the ships under my command. About 5.30 p.m. heavy gun firing was heard on the starboard bow and a little later flashes were clearly seen. At 5.45 p.m., LION, PRINCESS ROYAL, TIGER and NEW ZEALAND were sighted on starboard bow heavily engaged with the enemy, whose flashes could now be seen to the South-ward, this being reported to Flag at 6.0 p.m., at which time our battle-cruisers were bearing S.S.W. 3 to 4 miles, steering East, LION, the leading ship. The 5th Battle Squadron then came in sight bearing S.W., also heavily engaged.

3. At 6.2 p.m., MARLBOROUGH's position was Lat. 57.04 N., Long. 5.29 E., course being altered by 9 pendant to South, speed

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18 knots, and at 6.6 p.m. course was again altered to S.E. by 9 pendant. 6.15 p.m., Signal was received to form line of battle S.E. by E. by equal speed pendant, enemy bearing E.S.E. from BARHAM.

4. About this time the Battle-cruisers, who appeared to be ahead of the leading division, turned to starboard as if to cross the enemy's T.

5. One of our armoured cruisers, probably WARRIOR, was observed passing down the engaged side, making for her position in rear of the line. When near the end of the line she turned up parallel to it and engaged the enemy at short range. Heavy enemy salvoes were observed to fall all round her; she then turned about 14 points to port, a salvo struck her and a large flame was seen to burst from her quarter deck and she then passed astern.

6. A salvo of 5 shots fell ahead of the HERCULES about 6.15 p.m. As the Battle-cruisers drew ahead and their smoke cleared, the German line could be more easily seen and 4 Kaisers and 4 Helgolands could be dimly made out. " Marlborough " opened fire at 6.17 p.m. at a battleship of the Kaiser class range 13,000 yards, about Green 110. " Marlborough " fired 7 salvoes and hits were observed in 5th and 7th salvoes, the remainder of the squadron opening fire as a target became visible.

7. At 6.20 p.m., speed of 14 knots was ordered by general signal. Shortly after this there was much bunching up of ships in the rear of the hne, " Marlborough " and other ships had to reduce to 8 laiots and " St. Vincent " had to stop for a short time. Owing to haze and the enemy's smoke, organised distri- bution of fire was out of the question ; individual ships selected their own targets.

8. As the action developed and disabled ships of both sides passed down between the fines, great difficulty was experienced in distinguishing the enemy's from our own ships.

9. " Marlborough " now shifted fire to a three funnelled ship, and at 6.34 p.m. formed up astern of the fine and opened fire on a battle ship of the Kaiser class.

10. At 6.45 p.m. " Marlborough " altered course to avoid a torpedo. At 6.54 p.m. a heavy explosion was experienced under the Fore bridge, the ship taking up a list of 8 degrees to starboard. The torpedo had struck the ship abreast of No. 1 dynamo room and hydraufic room, both of which were flooded, the 2 men stationed in the former being killed. Water was also reported up to the floor plates in " A " boiler room and it was considered necessary to draw the fires in that boiler room, but as a speed of 17 knots could be maintained I decided that " Marlborough " should maintain her position in the hne and continue to lead her division. The list remained steady and it

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was reported in less than an hour that the water was being kept under.

11. Shortly after being struck, MARLBOROUGH opened fire on an enemy cruiser passing down the line which was suspected of having fired the torpedo. The 3rd and 4th salvoes both hit and appeared to open up her side, as a deep red flame could be seen inside her hull. A torpedo was fired at her at 7.10 p.m. During this time the ACASTA was passed disabled on the port side, and MARLBOROUGH avoided 3 more torpedoes by the use of the helm.

12. MARLBOROUGH then engaged a ship of the Konig class, firing 14 salvoes. Distinct hits were seen in four salvoes. (The gunnery difficulties experienced by the ship after she was torpedoed are reported in the ship's gunnery report.) This ship finally turned out of the line, very low in the water aft, and was apparently sinking. A destroyer was observed to place herself on her engaged side, and make a dense smoke in order to screen her.

13. Shortly after this a heavy smoke screen was observed at what appeared to be the head of the enemy battlefleet, and it was soon apparent that the destroyers were attacking under its cover. I immediately hoisted the signal " KM," informing our flotillas astern that the enemy flotillas were making an attack. At the same time the preparative was hoisted, and I turned my division away. As far as I could judge the whole squadron opened fire on the attacking destroyers with the whole of the secondary and some of the main armament, and the attack was checked, and they turned away, but not before they were able to fire some of their torpedoes, which, however, were avoided. Two of the enemy's destroyers were observed to be hit by MARLBOROUGH's 6-inch gun fire alone, and there must have been others as the fire was so intense.

14. As the destroyer attack developed the enemy battlefleet in sight were observed to turn at least 8 points until their sterns were towards our line. They ceased fire, declined further action, and disappeared into the mist. Our destroyers in rear of the line proceeded out to attack the enemy destroyers and sink any disabled craft.

15. During the action at one period the enemy appeared to be firing steady, well drilled salvoes, by some form of director such as the Petravic system, but their range finding and range keeping appear to have been at fault when they were hit, although the firing on our armoured cruisers was remarkable for its accuracy. Many of their salvoes were seen to fall over and it was not till late in the action that they apparently' found the range when

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the " Colossus " was straddled by 4 successive salvoes, correct for elevation. 16. As the action progressed their fire became more feeble. A certain number of shell of 4-in. or 6-in. calibre were seen to burst on the water just short of " Marlborough " and other ships of the First Battle Squadron, some leaving a cloud of Hght green vapour, and others a heavy grey vapour which spread over the surface of the water. 17. During the action many reports of submarines were made, some being undoubtedly authentic, and course was altered to attack them and avoid their torpedoes. Shortly before " Marlborough " was torpedoed, a heavy shock was felt on board " Revenge " in the transmitting room and other places, and two independent officer witnesses saw quantities of oil float to the surface and wreckage come up astern. 18. The tracks of torpedoes approaching the ship were clearly seen from the top and reported in good time so that they were avoided, with the exception of the one which struck the ship, and therefore it is considered to be probable that it came from a submarine. 19. It is estimated that at least 21 torpedoes passed through the First Battle Squadron, only one taking effect. 20. Before, during, and after the action the wireless tele- graphy communication throughout the squadron were entirely satisfactory and invaluable for manoeuvring and action signals, especially in the case of the repeating ship (" Bellona "), who was often unable to distinguish the flag signals. No damage to aerials or instruments was sustained except in " Marlborough," whose auxihary aerial was partially shot away, and an inter- mittent earth on the main aerial feeder, which could not be traced for three quarters of an hour, interrupted the reception of distant signals. In " Colossus " the internal buzzer communication between Main office and signal tower was shot av/aJ^ No enemy signalling was heard on auxiliary, and though the}' continually attempted to jamb the main installation signals from ships in company were easily overread. 21. After the enemy disappeared in the haze the First Battle Squadron conformed to the movements of your flag, but though " Marlborough " went the revolutions for 17 knots I estimate the speed over the ground was only approximately 15-8 owing to the damage. Consequently the 6th division fell some way astern during the night. 22. Four night attacks were observed during the night, the first on the starboard beam, the others taldng place in successiontowardsthestem. Severalexplosionswereheardand 2 very large ones with flames shooting up into the sky were seen ; star shell were seen.

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23. About midnight, smoke was observed ahead of " Marl- borough," which crossed from starboard to port and back again from port to starboard, and then came down the starboard side. It ai)peared to be a large ship and was challengd by " Revenge," who was answered by 2 letters, though they were not the correct ones. She then disappeared. 24. At 2.30 a.m., 1st June, it was reported to me that the bulkhead in " A " boiler room of " Marlborough " would not stand the speed, namely, revolutions for 17 knots, and that it was advisable to reduce to 10 or 12 knots. In consequence of this " Marlborough " was hauled out of Une and the remainder of the division continued. I signalled " Fearless," who was observed to be astern of " Agincourt," to come alongside " Marlborough," and I and my Staff transferred to " Revenge " in her, and then sent her back to escort " Marlborough," who was subsequently ordered to Rosyth via "M" Channel. 25. Shortly after arriving in " Revenge " a Zeppelin was sighted, evidently scouting. Fire was opened on her which caused her to dip and she quicldy disappeared. She looked a remarkably easy target if shrapnel had been available. 26. At dayhght, owing to the very low visibility and to the fact that the Division had dropj^ed so far astern during the night (as explained above) and also to the transfer of my Flag to " Revenge," the remainder of the Fleet was out of sight. I shaped course as necessary to affect a junction. At 3.40 a.m., " Faulknor " with " Obedient " and " Marvel " joined my Flag and reported the 12th Flotilla had attacked a Division of the German Battlefleet during the night, and that one battleship had been blown up. 27. At 5.15 a.m., "Revenge" passed through the wreckage of a German battleship or battle-cruiser, judging from the size of the floating powder cases. At 6.30 a.m., what appeared to be the wreckage of the " Black Prince " was passed through, and a httle later 2 rafts wereobservedwiththreemenonthem. Iordered"Obedient" to take them off, but she reported on rejoining that before she got there they had been taken off by a Dutch steamer, whose Captain protested against their being taken off his steamer, and so the Captain of " Obedient " left them. • At 8.35 a.m., passed " Sparrowhawk " abandoned with " Marksman " close to. " Marksman " reported she was unable to tow her. She had attempted to do so, but the hawsers had parted. I, therefore, ordered her to sink her. She did so and then joined my Flag. Nothing else of interest occurred and I rejoined your Flag that evening.

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29. The following ammunition was fired by the First Battle Squadron :-

_____ Main
Marlborough 162 60 2
Revenge 102 87 1
Hercules 98 - -
Agincourt 144 111 -
Colossus 93 16 -
Collingwood 84 35 -
Neptune 48 48 -
St. Vincent 98 - -
829 357 3

30. I would like to bring to your notices the conduct of the crew of the Acasta, as mentioned in the report from the Captain of Hercules ; although badly damaged and apparently in a hopeless state, they cheered the Hercules as the latter passed.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
Vice-Admiral Commanding
First Battle Squadron.

The Commander-in-Chief
Grand Fleet



4th June 1916

Gunner Report

Number of rounds fired.

Gun. No. of Rds. fired. A.P. Lyddite. Common.
13.5 162 138 Lyddite Comm. 24 60 55 5

Breakdowns, Accidents, &C.

(1) Right gun of "A" turret had inner "A" tube and jacket cracked, a large portion of jacket being broken off. This occurred about the 5th round fired by this gun, and it is considered that premature must have occurred, although the damage to the rifling is comparatively small. A.P. lyddite was being fired.

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(2) After the ship was struck by a mine or a torpedo, it took up a Hst of about 7° to starboard. Due to this hst, difficulty was experienced in all turrets due to shell shpping forward as it rolled out of main cage into waiting position and fouling driving band with shell brake. Four turrets had to unship brake.
(3) Due to heavy list, all firing generators in turrets flooded, and it was necessary to disconnect pipe and allow water to drain away. Missfires.—Nil. Control and method of fire. Controlled from fore top ; firing by director. No difficulty was experienced in distinguishing own shots or in spotting overs or shorts, and hits could be easily distinguished by a deep red flame and clouds of grey and white smoke ; occasionally when shell burst well inside ship no flame could be seen, but only a large amount of greyish smoke. Without the director, it would have been almost impossible to keep gunlayers on correct object ; there was so much confusion amongst enemy's ships, one ship was passing another; smoke from cruisers on fire often obliterated the object; own ship was continually altering course small amounts ; the above made it difficult to keep on the same object for any length of time. Description of firing. With objects fired at. All times are Greenwich mean times. Only hits that were actually seen and confirmed by two or more persons are given. Time. 6.10 p.m. Sighted British battle cruisers engaging enemy's ships. 6.12 Red 7, cruiser, four funnels, one mast (disappeared in smoke and mist before fire could be opened). 6.15 After deploying to port. Battleship, two funnels widely separated, two masts (probably " Kaiser " class) estimated range 10,000 yards, rangefinders could not get a range. 6.17 Opened fire. Seven salvoes were fired in 4 minutes; 6th and 7th were clearly seen to hit. In the 5th salvo a deep red flame could be seen and salvo struck, in the 7tli salvo a large volume of grey smoke appeared. 6.21. Ceased firing, as enemy was hidden by cruiser on fire (Roon class). 6.24. Green 98, a cruiser, 3 funnels (Roon, one funnel gone) ? range by rangefinder 10,500 yards.

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6.25. p.m. Opened fire. 5 salvoes were fired. Hits could not be distinguished for certain, as two or three ships were firing at same object.

6.27. 6-in. guns opened fire at same object. It was during this firing that right gun of " A " turret was severely damaged and put out of action, cause not known for certain, but probably due to premature. It was about the fifth round fired by the gun, A.P. Lyddite was used. Inner ". A " tube is cracked all round about haM way along gun. A large portion of jacket is broken off, and a crack extends 15 ft. along jacket.

6.29. Checked fire. There was a pause of ten minutes, during which the ship was altering course, and enemy were hidden by smoke.

6.39.Object a battleship of Kaiser class. Range 13,000 yards ; one salvo was fired, and enemy turned away and disappeared.

6.42 to 6.54. Ship was altering course, and enemy's movements were very difficult to follow.

6.54 " Marlborough " was hit by a torpedo or mine in Diesel engine room. The shock was sufficient to shake off switches on lever power board, and some fuses in telephone circuits. These were very quickly replaced, and all control instruments were found to be in step.

7.0.Passed destroyer Acasta on port hand flying 6 flag and with collision mat over starboard quarter. Green 90 a cruiser of Roon class, stopped, range by rangefinder 9,800 yards.

7.3 Opened fire. Fired four salvoes in two minutes, the 3rd and 4th both hit and appeared to open up her side, as a deep red flame could be seen inside her hull.

7.5. Ceased fire, as she appeared completely disabled and sinldng fast.

7.6. Object shifted, a battleship, two funnels widely separated, left hand ship of three (Markgraf class). Range by R.F. 10,750.

7.12.Opened fire. Fired 14 salvoes in 6 mins., the 6th, 12th, 13th and 14th were all distinct hits. In the 6th salvo, a large cloud of grey and white smoke appeared near the foremast. In the 12th salvo two hits could be clearly seen under bridge and rather low.

7.18. Checked fire.

7.19. Enemy hauled out of fine and turned away, lost in smoke ; object shifted, one ship to the left that was not fired at.

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7.20. Enemy destroyer attack took place between the lines.

7.22. 6-in. guns opened fire. Turrets fired one salvo into the brown. After this, no more was seen of the enemy. During the night a lot of firing could be heard astern.

At about 4.0 a.m. a lot of firing could be heard to the southward, and shortly after a Zeppehn was sighted crossing astern and steering approximately east. Three-in. H. A. gun open fire and fired 12 rounds. " X " and " Y " turrets opened fire with A.P. shell, which was already in the guns, and two rounds of common which was in G.L. cage. Four rounds were fired The nose of the Zeppelin was observed to dip very suddenly at one period, but it could not be ascertained for certain whether she was hit. Range varied between 5,000 and 10,000 yards.

If ship had not been disabled, rendering it undesirable to " A " and " B " turrets, it would have been worth while turning so as to get full broadside bearing.


No. 197.

H.M.S. Hercules,

4th June 1916.

Sir, I HAVE the honour to report the following circumstances with regard to the action on Wednesday, 31st May 1916.

2. The Ship's company, having fallen out from Action Stations to get tea, closed up again on hearing gun-firing on the starboard bow—5.50 p.m. 3. The Battle Fleet, less 5th Battle Squadron, were then in divisionsaheaddisposedabeamtostarboard,10cables. Course S.E. by S. ; Speed—19 knots. 4. At 5.55 p.m., our Battle Cruisers were sighted on starboard bow, through the mist, in action. P»,ange of "Tiger"—11,000 j^'ards. Enemy's shots were falling occasionally between our Battle Cruisers and our Battle Fleet and shortly afterwards appeared to hit " Tiger." At 6.0 p.m., our Battle Cruisers began to draw across our bows from starboard to port, the " Lion " being slightly on fire on her forecastle, port side. 6.5 p.m.—Turned in succession to South by " 9 " pendant. 6.13 p.m.—Formed fine of Battle S.E. by E. 6.15 p.m.—As " Hercules " started to deploy a salvo, with a small spread, of some five shots straddled our forecastle and deluged the Fore Bridge, Conning Tower and Fore Top—a mass of heavy water falling on board. From a fragment of shell picked up on the forecastle the projectile would appear to be an A.P., nearly 15-in.

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After this deluge I wondered where this salvo had come from as only the flashes of some four or five of the enemy's ships beyond our Battle Cruisers could be seen from the Bridge. I then noticed that the rear of our Battle line must have afforded a fine silhouette for the enemy, as some of our ships on the reverse side of us were clearly visible against the bright sunlit sky. I remarked to Captain Schoultz [1] at the time— "What a fine target our ship must be for the enemy as we can see nothing of him."

6.20 p.m.— Hercules fired her first salvo at an enemy ship —four funnels— apparently of "Roon" class. She was noticed to be already disabled and stopped.
About this time the Barham and her ships were edging across and forming astern of Agincourt, firing continuously.
At about 6.30 p.m., three of enemy's Battleships of Kaiser class were seen indistinctly through the mist, and seven or eight salvoes were fired at that ship which appeared most visible. Fire was continually checked owing to the haze. About this time, one of our four-funnelled cruisers to the Southward was being heavily hit. The after magazine exploded, the flame reaching above her mast ; then, after a short interval, her foremost magazine blew up, and no more was seen of her.

6.40 p.m.— Ship of Warrior class, bearing S.E., 3-4,000 yards, was observed attempting to escape from the enemy's fire, a great many shots falling all around her. She was steaming at full speed and zigzagging all the time.

6.45 p.m.—Deployment finished as far as Hercules was concerned. Course, S.E. by divisions.

6.47 p.m.—One of enemy's ships ("Roon ?) on our starboard side badly on—fire. (Vide 6.20 p.m.)

6.55p.m. Marlborough struck by a mine or torpedo on starboard side. She listed quickly to starboard but continued firing. From this time a speed of 16 knots was never exceeded by our 6th Division.

6.56 p.m. Acasta, with "6" flag flying and "not under control" signal up, was passed; she cheered Hercules while drifting past.

7.5 p.m.— Altered course together 3 points to starboard.

7.9p.m.— Altered course back 3 points to port.

7.10 p.m.—Several enemy Battle Cruisers to left of the Kaiser class ships were now clearly visible. The lefthand Battle Cruiser observed was a Derfflinger or a Lützow the second was Seydlitz or Moltke; the third appeared to be also a Battle Cruiser, but was obscured by smoke. Approximate course of these ships—S.E.

7.12 p.m.—Turned together to South and opened fire at second Battle Cruiser from the left ; hits were made with Lyddite Common at the fifth and sixth salvoes. Range about 9,000yards.

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First hit—abaft the foremost funnel ; second hit—abreast main- mast. The enemy did not reply to our fire until after the third salvo and then appeared to be firing "individual" They usually fired about five seconds after Hercules.
Lieutenant Commander (T) observed the leading ship also hit during this time and that two or three of the enemy's shots fell 100 yards short between Hercules and Agincourt, and one near Revenge's starboard quarter. This one burst.
The enemy Battle Cruisers then disappeared from view.

7.20 p.m.—Passed on port side at a distance of about two miles a ship with a broken back and bow and stern portions out of water to a height of about 50 ft. Undoubtedly a man-of-war, painted red bottom colour and grey topsides. Men were observed on the after portion of the wreck and one of our three-funnelled light cruisers passed within 100 yards of her.

7.24 p.m.—Turned away 2 points—S.S.E.—by Sub-divisions.

7.31p.m.—Observed much smoke made by enemy. Received signal "Enemy torpedo craft are approaching." A few salvoes with 12-in. guns were fired at attacking destroyers, which fell among them—Range, 6,000 yards; they then withdrew. Agincourt certainly made one direct hit.

7.35 p.m.—Altered course by Sub-divisions to S. by W.
Shortly after this turn two tracks of torpedoes were observed from the Fore Top approaching from starboard. Turned " Hercules " 6 points away and two torpedoes passed ship—one along starboard side and 40 yards across bow ; the other under the stern, very close.

7.40 p.m.—Squadron formed line ahead by signal. Course, S.W.
During the next half hour ships in Marlborough's division signalled sighting submarines and ships altered course as necessary. Hercules saw none, but conformed to movements of the other ships.
By about 8.30 p.m., Marlborough's division had dropped considerably astern of the 5th Division.

9.5 p.m.—Squadron now—proceeded to Southward at 17 knots - 6th Division 15 3/4 knots - for the night. Weather misty; visibility 2 to 5 miles.

From 10.15 p.m. to 12.30 a.m., 1st June, five separate engagements appear to have occurred. Each lasted about 5-10minutes. On the first occasion searchlights were observed and attack bore N.W. by W. The attacks gradually worked round the stern to N. by E., and in the third a star shell was fired. During the third or fourth, a big explosion took place in the middle of the gun flashes. Very approximate position of explosion Lat. 56° 13' N., Long. 6° 5' E.

2.20 a.m.— Marlborough hauled out of the line, and fell astern.

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2.55 a.m.—Altered course to North.
3. 8. a.m.—12 knots. Flag transferred to Revenge.
3.30 a.m.—17 knots astern of Revenge.
3.37 a.m.—Altered course to 205°.
3.45 a.m.—Heard firing ahead.
3.50a.m.—Zepplin on starboard bow. Fired 4-in.and 3-pdr, without effect. Course, 345°. Zeppelin disappeared 2 points abaft starboard beam.
3.53 a.m.—Course 205°, 19 knots.
4.45 a.m.—Passed floating mine.
4.57 a.m.—Passed one of the 5th Battle Squadron, and one Cruiser, Green 105°, Course 347°.
5.20 a.m.—Passed wreckage; drums, life-buoys, &c,, to port (German?). Lat. 55° 52' N., Long. 6° 5' E.
6.30 a.m.—Passed wreckage, including two 6-in. ammunition cases (British). Lat. 56° 15' N., Long. 5° 56 1/2 E.
6.40 a.m.—Altered course to S.S.E.
7.34 a.m.—Altered course to N.N.W.
7.44 a.m.—Sighted destroyer, bearing S.E. by S., and two four-funnelled cruisers.
7.45 a.m.—21 knots.
8.35 a.m.—Passed large triangular object, apparently portion of ship, on port side, 5-6,000 yards distant, also a capsized boat near by, and other wreckage together with oil. Lat. 56° 11' N.. Long. 6° 3' E., 22 fathoms (possibly same place as explosion occurred during third or fourth night attack).
8.42 a.m.—Sighted a flotilla leader N. by E., and challenged.
8.44 a.m.—Sighted destroyer in crippled condition (Sparrowhawk).
9.7 a.m.—Altered course to N.W. to clear Texel.
9.9. a.m.—Passed four Dutch Merchant vessels round two men clinging to wreckage. S.S. Texel, Thames Tug, Kangean and Zuiderdilk. Texel signalled "All's well." at. 56° 21' N., Long. 5° 50' E.

5. Ammunition expended:-

  • 12 Common Filled Powder.
  • 4 A.P. Filled Lyddite.
  • 82 Common Filled Lyddite.

6. Torpedoes were not fired as no opportunities occurred.

I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,

The Vice-Admiral Commanding
First Battle Squadron.

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Enclosure No. 4 to Submission No. 1415/0022 of 20/6/16 from C.-in-C. Home Fleets.

From— The Vice-Admiral Commanding, First Battle Squadron.

To—The Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet.

Date— 11th June 1916.

No. 021.
In compliance with your signal 1132 of to-day's date, I have the honour to forward herewith reports from the Rear- Admiral, 1st Battle Squadron, and the following Ships on the action of 31st May :-
St. Vincent.
Royal Oak.



From— The Rear Admiral, First Battle Squadron.
To— The Vice Admiral Commanding the First Battle Squadron.
No.— W. 16.
Date— 10th June 1916.

The accompanying report of Flag Captain A. D. Pound. Royal Navy, records the action of my Flagship.
Her movements were followed by the Fifth Division except for occasional turns away to avoid torpedoes.
The Ships of the Fifth Division were well handled and signals, which there was no difficulty in transmitting by either visual or wireless, were promptly obeyed.
That the Colossus received a larger proportion of the enemy's fire than the remainder of the Division appears to be due to the enemy emerging from the mist opposite to her and possibly to her being recognised as a Flagship.

2. The diary section of the attached report is compiled from the notes of times and occurrences supplied by my Secretary, Mr. Harold Foot, who was stationed on the Fore Bridge with a watch and note book. As he is an observant Officer unlikely to be disturbed by any occurrence they may be taken as being correct.

3. Whatever circumstances may have constrained the Battle Cruiser Fleet to fall back upon the Battle Fleet in the manner it

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did, the result was unfortunate. The Fifth Division was unable to open fire upon the enemy owing to the Battle Cruisers being in between, and when they cleared from the Battleships it made it extremely difficult to ascertain whether Ships coming into view through the mist were friend or foe.

4. The Division's firing was well carried out. There was probably wastage of ammunition owing to many Ships firing at the one nearest object, but there was no time to correct this by signal, and if ships commenced leaving her to other ones she might have been left unfired at by any.

5. The visibility was extremely baffling, partly due to misty clouds appearing and dissolving and partly to the layers of smoke from funnels and Ships firing.

Rear Admiral.


No. 658.
H.M.S. Colossus,
1st Battle Squadron,
10th June 1916.

The report of the action of 31st May. as far as it affected H.M. Ship under my command, has been divided up as follows :-
(a) Diary of events.
(b) Tracing, showing rough relative positions of targets engaged.
(c) Appendix I, giving details of action with a Battle Cruiser (either Lützow or Derfflinger).
(d) Appendix II, giving details of damage to propellors through passing over wreckage or a submarine.
(e) Copy of report of Officers and men commended.
(f) List of Casualties.

Generally speaking, the action from the point of view of this ship was a most tantalising one, as the presence of the enemy was obvious from the flashes of his guns, but only for a short period did an opportunity occur of getting into action with any of the enemy's capital ships.
The conduct of the Officers and Men was excellent, and such as one had always hoped it would be.

I have the honour to be.
Your obedient Servant,

The Vice-Admiral Commanding,
1st Battle Squadron
(through R.A. 1st B.S.).

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5.40 p.m.—Conditions : VisibiKty, 6 miles, overcast. Sea, calm. Wind, S.W., Hght. Heavy firing heard 4 points on Starboard Bow. 5.48 p.m.—Passed Norwegian Barque on Starboard Hand. 5.50 p.m.—1 Cruiser and 4 Light Cruisers closing in from Starboard Bow. 5.50 p.m.—Our Battle Cruisers in sight Starboard Bow, firing. 5.51 p.m.—Enemj'^ Battleships (" Helgoland " and others) reported, in sight on Starboard Bow. They only showed up for about half a minute. 5.54 p.m.—Light Cruiser on Port Bow of Battle Cruisers, firing. 5.57 p.m.—Reported that Enemy Battle Fleet had altered course to North. 5.59 p.m.—Speed of Battle Fleet, 18 knots. 6. 1 p.m.—Battle Cruiser Fleet 1 point on our Starboard Bow firing intermittently. 6. 2p.m.—EnemyBattleFleetissightindistinctly. 6. 4 p.m.—First Battle Cruiser Squadron right ahead—2 miles —firing. Destroyers take up screening positions. 6. 5p.m.—FirstBattleCruiserSquadronalteredcourse4points — to Starboard. 6. 6 p.m. " Lion "—steam coming from abreast fore turret, port side. 6. 7 p.m.—Sun coming out. Visibility ahead and on Starboard Bow bad owing to smoke and mist. 6. 8 p.m.—Enemy in sight to S.S.E. (Flashes of guns only visible.) 6. 9 p.m.—First Battle Cruiser Squadron altering. Resultant course 1 point to Starboard of ours. 6.10p.m.—FifthBattleSquadrononStarboardBeam. "Bar- ham " opened fire. First Battle Cruiser Squadron altering to Port. 6.11 p.m.—Enemy's salvoes falling round First Battle Cruiser Squadron. 6.12 p.m.—Battle Fleet deployed by equal speed pendant to S.E. by E. 6.13 p.m.—Large projectile ricochetted over. 6.15 p.m.—5th Battle Squadron astern and under fire. 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron on Starboard Bow. 6.16p.m.—One Cruiser ("Defence" class) starboard quarter, on fire and partially blown up. Fire right fore and aft, result of hit by salvo. 6.18 p.m.—Salvo 200 short and left of " Colossus." 6.19 p.m.—A second Cruiser of " Defence " class hit and blown up—major part of explosion aft. " Marlborough " opened fire.

Page 79

6.20 p.m.—5th Battle Squadron Starboard Quarter. 6.21 p.m.—Heavy Shell just over. 6.22 p.m.—Enemy vessel (4 funnels) on fire and apparently disabled on Starboard Beam, 12,000. Enemy Battle Line apparently Starboard Quarter. 0.25 p.m.—1 ship ahead and 3 astern firing. 6.30 p.m.—" Colossus " fired 3 deliberate salvoes at enemy Battle Fleet, which was difficult to see. 6.32 p.m.—Shifted fire on to enemj'- 4-funnelled cruiser Star- board Beam opposite course ( ? stopped). 4 salvoes fired at minute interval, one of our Destroyers (G. 09) on fire on Starboard Bow. 6.37 p.m.—Nothing clearly in sight. Intermittent firing from Battle Fleet at one enemy vessel, apparently broken down, 10,000 yards (4 funnels). 6.45 p.m.—Firing practically ceased. Altered course to S.E., 15 knots. Nothing clearly in sight. 6.48 p.m.—Passed " Acasta " on Starboard Hand, disabled 6.50 p.m.—Course S. 6.53 p.m.—" Revenge " hauling out of hne to port. 7. p.m.—Opened fire on enemy 3-funnelled cruiser {ex "Greek'*) steaming opposite course on Starboard Beam, 9,700. Other ships of Battle Fleet also firing. Fired 3 salvoes. 7. 2 p.m.—Passed wreck of " Invincible " port hand. Broken in two pieces. " Oak " standing by. Two sur- — vivors in sight near propellers. 7. 3 p.m. " Beubow " firing 6-in. on enemy Destroyer Star- board Bow. 3 points to Starboard together. 7. 5 p.m.—Battle Cruiser Fleet opened fire Starboard Bow. Ships not actually in sight. Ojiened fire 12-in. and 4-in. on enemj?^ Destroyer coming down on Starboard Bow, 4,000 yards. Hit Destroyer, which disappeared apparently sunk. "A" turret also fired on several Destroyers further off. 7.10 p.m.—Altered course 3 points to Port together. 7.12 p.m.—Suddenly observed " Derfflinger " class ship emerge from mist 10,000 yards Starboard Beam accom- panied by two (possibly more) Battle Cruisers. Attention of ships generally concentrated on enemy Destroyer. Immediately shifted to leading Battle Cruiser and opened fire at 9,000 yards range, closing at — 7.16 p.m. to 8,400. 7.16 p.m. " Colossus " hit in superstructure just abaft funnel (foremost) by 12-in. shell which exploded and

Page 80

caused fire in port gun decks and signal deck. Cordite chief cause of fire, extinguished in a few minutes. Another 12-in. shell hit sounding plat- form on Port Signal Deck, but apparently passed overboard without bursting. 7.17p.m.—Heavy shell burst 30 yards short abreast "A" turret. SpHnters penetrated foremost funnel and unarmoured parts of ship in about 20 places and wrecked S. 1 Searchlight, burst fire main in Captain's Cabin Flat and caused unimportant damage. RangetakerforeUpperBridgeseverely wounded, one Marine look-out same position shghtly wounded. Leading Signalman in Fore Top severely wounded. (For details of this action, see Apf)endix I.) 7.18 p.m.—Hit in Fore part of ship by splinters from heavy shell, which burst short. 7.15 p.m.~] Fired 5 salvoes at " Derfflinger " (or " Liitzow ") on to y beam, steering same course, 8,000-9,000 yards 7.20 p.m.J range. Observed at least 4 direct hits (4th and 5th salvoes) (2 hits on water line). Enemy vessel obscured by heavy smoke and mist, but just previously observed to have fisted. 7.25 p.m.—Firing ceased. 7.35 p.m.—" Colossus " turned to port to avoid torpedo coming from Starboard, hoisted Black Pendant, 7.40 p.m.—Speed, 20 knots. 7.42 p.m.—Battle Fleet Line ahead, course S.W., formed on " Iron Duke." 8. p.m.—Divisions line ahead disposed quarterly to Starboard. Course, W. ; speed, 14. 8.15 p.m.—Firing taking place right ahead. Altered course to W.S.W. 8.23 p.m.—Passed a lot of dead fish. 8.24 p.m.—Altered course to S.W. by 9 pdt. 3 ships of 5th Battle Squadron in company 5 miles Starboard Quarter. 8.32 p.m.—Altered course to W. by 9 pdt. 8.55 p.m.—Our Light Cruisers in action on Starboard Beam presumably engaging enemy Destroyers. bow " also opened fire (6-in.). 8.58 p.m.—Altered course to S. Light cruisers still firing. 9. 5p.m.—Lightnowbad. Rangeforthenight,3,000. Firing heard and seen Starboard Bow\ 9.20 p.m.—Observed large star signal. " Ben- 9.48 p.m.—Commander-in-Chief's reference position, 36.26 N. 5.57 E., course S., 17 knots. 10.35 p.m.—Firing Starboard Quarter lasting about 10 minutes. One of our Destroyers apparently on fire.

Page 81

10.10 p.m.—Firing on Starboard Beam lasting 4 minutes.

11.30 p.m.—Passed over wreckage or submarine.

(For damage to propellers, see Appendix II.)

11.40 p.m.—Rapid and continuous firing for 15 minutes right astern.

1st June 1916.

2.15 a.m.— General Quarters.

Marlborough's Division - absent

King George's Division - absent

Conditions: Visibility, 2 miles, misty, overcast sea calm ; wind light, S.W.

2.28 a.m. - King George's Division in sight Starboard Beam.

2.30a.m.— Course,N. 1 pdt .A. BD5.

2.48 a.m.— King George take guide of Fleet. 3 ships of 5th Battle Squadron in company.

3.17 a.m.—2 heavy salvoes heard just abaft Port Beam.

3.30 a.m.—More heavy firing port quarter.

3.38 a.m.—Altering course by Divisions to W.

3.40 a.m.—Speed, 15 knots.

3.43 a.m.—ZeppeUn sighted Port Quarter steering N., range^ 16,000 yards.

3.47 a.m.—Speed, 17 knots.

3.50 a.m.—Line ahead, course N.

3.55 a.m.—Two or three shots (12-in.) from Fleet at Zeppelin. Zeppelin rising turned away.

4. a.m. " King George " take guide of Fleet.

4. 8 a.m.—Formed Divisions in line ahead disposed to Starboard.

4.30 a.m.—Visibihty, 2 1\2 miles.

4.40 a.m.—" Lvitzow " reported (by signal) ahead damaged.

4.50 a.m.—Commander-in-Chief guide of Fleet.

5. 8 a.m.—3 ships of 5th Battle Squadron taking station Starboard Beam, 11 cables.

5.15 a.m.—5 Armoured Cruisers Starboard Bow.

5.30 a.m.—2nd Light Cruiser Squadron coming up astern.

6. 7 a.m.—Course, S.E.

7.15a.m.—Course,N. Visibility,4miles.

8.18 a.m.—Passed a lot of wreckage with large Carley raft and lifebuoy with " EN." on it.

8.40a.m.—Course,S.S.W. Speed,17knots.

9.30 a.m.—Submarine reported by " Barham."

9.43 a.m.—Sighted " Lion " and Battle Cruisers Port Quarter.

9.40 a.m.—^Destroyers taking up screening positions.

9.50 a.m.—Battle Cruiser Fleet forming on Port Wing.

9.57 a.m.—Course, N. by W.

10.30 a.m.—BJ 1.

Page 82


Action with Battle Cruiser (either Lutzow ok Derfflinger)

At 7.15 p.m., " Colossus " was engaged (with both Main and Secondary Armainont) in driving off a destroyer attack on the Starboard Bow, when an enemy l)attle cruiser appeared on the Starboard Beam, at a range of between 10,000 and 9,000 yards. This enemy's ship was immediately engaged. It was not possible to obtain any range before opening fire. Five salvoes in all were fired—2 short, 1 over, and 2 straddled. Out of the last two salvoes, four direct hits were obtained with armour- |)iercing lyddite. Two of these hits were on the water-line, whilst the other two were on the fore part, where they caused a fire. After the first salv'o, which straddled, the enemy turned away, and was observed with a considerable list in the smoke screen formed by their destroyed. The leading enemy battle cruiser (either " Liitzow " or " Dei-fflinger ") did not engage " Colossus." The second ship in the enemy's line engaged " Colossus," and four salvoes dropped close to the ship ; two direct hits only were received, but a certain amount of damage was received from shell bursting short. Of the shell which hit short, some burst on impact with the water, whilst others jicochetted over the ship without bursting. Of the direct hits, one entered the foremost superstructure on the starboard side, and bui"st on the port side of the lower gim deck, at a distanceofabout24ft.fromthepointatwhichitentered. TwoStarboard 4-in. guns were manned at the time. This shell was a 12-in. H.E. Shell, detonation ajipears to have been complete, but its action was very local. (See photographs marked " A."*) The whole of No. 5 gun's crew were knocked down by the blast, and two men were wounded by splinters from the superstructure. 2***** No. 5 4-in. port gun was temporarily put out of action, two pieces o^ the di'iving band of the 12-in. shell having caused the sight to jamb. The cam of the sight was untouched. A hole was made in the oil bath casing covering the training rack, and small pieces of metal falling in rendered the training stiff. A splinter entered the left slit in the O.L.O. hood of " P " turret, and fractui-edtlieleftfrontwindowoftherangefinder. Apparentlytheprisms are uninjured, and a test, using the " internal adjustment," showed the rangefindertobeingoodadjustment. Dainp,howe^'er,enteredfromthe broken window. The down-take to " A " Boiler room was just imder where the shell burst, and the fumes were sucked down by the fans, which caused inconvenience until the fans were stopped. These gases were not poisonous. The blast which jjenetrated to the stokehold through the downtake, temporai-ily put the fire engine out of action. The second direct hit was on the sounding machine ]ilatform, on the port signal deck, but the shell did not burst in the ship, ('^ee photograph marked " B."i) The shells which burst short caused damage as follows : About 20 holes in the side plating in the fore part of the shi]). Small hole in funnel.

Page 83

Severed fire-main in Captains Cabin Flat. Besides other minor damage. As a rule, the flying splinters could be seen and avoided in the fore-top, but, as a rule, the personnel will he too occupied to notice them.

A shell, bursting short, wounded two men in the top, and a further splinter made a hole about 3 in. in diameter in the support for the roof.

The 1-in. side plates were hardly dented when struck by splinters.




Striking of Wreckage or Submarine.

At 11.30 p.m., on 31st May, the ship unmistakably passed over something. The noise as of something scraping along the bottom was heard and felt by Officers in the Fore Transmitting Station, Ward Room, and Engine Room. On examination of the ship's bottom and pro2)ellers by divers, the following damage was found : -

Ship's Bottom.— Nil.

Starboard Outer Propeller. —One blade— a piece broken off to a depth of 21 to 3 in. for a length of 16 in. Another blade—fi"actured and t\\isted to a depth of 6 in. for a length of 6 in.

Starboard Inner Propeller. —One blade— Tip broken off to a depth of 2 in. and length of 12 in. Another blade—Tip bent forward to a depth of 3 in. for a length of 12 in. Remaining blade—edge jagged.




From.~ The Commanding Officer, H.M.S. " Revenge."

To.— Vice Admiral Commanding, First Battle Squadron,

Date.~ 2nd June 1916. No. B. 111/2.

Subject.—Action of 31st May and 1st June 1916.

Former.— H.M.S. "Revenge," 2nd June 1916.


In accordance with your signal 1603 of to-day, Friday, 2nd June 1916, I have the honour to forward the following general account of the action of 31st May and 1st June 1916 as observed from " Revenge." 6, 5 p.m.—Fleet in 2nd Organisation. Course, South. Speed 18 knots. Observed British Battle Cruiser Fleet of 4 ships in Hne ahead, engaged with enemy battle cruisers ; latter could not be distinguished. 6. 8 p.m.—Observed flashes of enemy's guns. 6. 9p.m.—Observed "Lion" hit on forecastle and on fire; soon extinguished.

Page 84

6.10 i).iu.—Reports of enemy Battle Fleet S.S.E. 6.15 p.m.—;)th Battle Squadron observed firing on enemy Battle Fleet. 6. 1 7 p.m.—Shots falling round ship. Deployed to port, S.E. by E. 6.25 p.m.—Cruisers who had deferred taking up battle stations till too late now found themselves under heavy fire from enemy Battle Fleet. " Black Prince "( ?) observed to be struck aft and then forward; magazines evidently exploded and she dis- appeared. At the same time " Warrior " was very badly damaged, and " Minotaur " or " Shannon " had miraculous escape, being straddled frequently. 6.30 p.m.—Reduced to 14 knots. 6.42 p.m.—Increased to 17 knots. During this time, fire was maintained b}^ Director method against enemy's battleships, which were very indistinct. (No ranges being obtainable.) Also on a four funnelled cruiser between the lines, apparently damaged and stopped. 6.48 p.m.—Divisions separately altered course to S.E. About this time " Marlborough " was struck by a torpedo. With regard to this at 6.50 p.m.—Officers in Transmitting Room, " A " and " Y " Shell Rooms, Director Tower and Spotting Top all felt a shock as if the ship had struck something. The Officer of " Y " Turret, Captain Evan Jukes- Hughes, Royal Marine Light Infajitry, and the Torpedo Officer, Lieutenant-Commander Walter K. Conlon, Royal Navy, looked over the side and observed a large patch of oil, mth an upheaval in the middle, mth portions of \ATeckage coming to the surface. A few minutes prexdous to this I had myself observed " Marlborough " struck bymineortorpedo. AtthetimeIthoughtthe former, but since I think she was torpedoed b}^ a submarine, who then dived and attempted to go under the battleship line. " Revenge " on seeing " Marlborough " struck, hauled out to port about a cable, and my behef is, struck and sunk the submarine. About 6.55 p.m.—A light cruiser passed down between the Hnes, apparently making a torpedo attack. She was not fired at for some time, being possibly mistaken for British. Eventually 'Marlborough" with 13-5-in. and '"Revenge" and sliips astern with 6-in., opened fire on her, and she was soon appar- ently a wreck, stopped, with 2 funnels gone and on fire. She was not observed to sink.

Page 85

6.56 p.m.—Passed " Acasta," disabled, ^he signalled " holed fore and aft. Unable to move engines." 6.59 p.m.—.Squadron turned, leading ships together and re- mainder in succession to South. 7. 9 p.m.—3 points to starboard together. About 7.15 p.m. a torpedo was fired at the " Von dcr Tann." Range, 9,000 yards. The torpedo was observed to run true. On the Fleet first deploying, fire was opened on the leading ship of the Second Squadron. Some salvoes were fired, unspotted. Fire was then checked as the enemy was too indistinct. Subsequently, as our line turned to the southward, converging on the enemy, the leading division, consisting of 5 battle cruisers, came clearly into sight. Fire was opened on the leading ship. Hits were obtained 'with the second salvo, andburstsofflame\vereobservedonthequarterdeck. Hitting was continued for 2 salvoes. As it was evident that several ships ahead were firing at this target, and that this enemy's ship was seriously damaged, fire was shifted to the 4th ship in the fine, apparently the Von der Tann," and hits were obtained and burst of flame noticed aft. Two Turret Officers are of the opinion that she was sunk by the second of two salvoes, of which three shots are beheved to have struck and caused the ship to blow up. Fire was continued until a flotilla of destroyers, passing through the Battle Cruiser line, made a most efficient smoke screen, entirely obscuring the target. At tliis period the enemy fleet turned 8 points to star- board and rapidly di'ew out of sight. 7.22 p.m.—The destroyers made a determined torpedo attack, but were stopped by the 6-in. guns of our ships. At the same time om- owti Hght cruisers and destroyers from the van and rear were observed attacking them. It w^as observed that the destroj^ers flew a long, red pendant, as mentioned in the " AX " papers. One destroyer was observed disabled, and they all disappeared after the enemy fleet, using a smoke screen. 7.10 p.m.—Fleet turned back 3 points to port together. 7.16 p.m.—Turned together to South. About 7.17 p.m. observed the two ends of a German hght cruiserstickingupoutofthewater. Apparently- had been blo^vn in two parts. 7.28 p.m.—Turned away 2 points from the enemy, by sub- — divisions, to avoid torpedo attack. 7.35 p.m. " Revenge " altered course to port to avoid two torpedoes. One passed about 10 yards ahead and one about 20 yards astern. 7.37 p.m.—Leading ships together and remainder in succession to South-West.

Page 86

7.43 p.m.—" Revenge " altered course to port to avoid torpedoes, two passing astern. 7.54 p.m.—Single line ahead, course S.W. 8. 4 p.m.—Divisions separately alter course in succession to West, speed 17 knots. 0. to 9.15 ]3.m.—Heard and observed heavy firing to the Eastward, appaiently a destroyer attack. 10.40 p.m.—Observed flashes of heavy firing and two heavy explosions lighting up the sky in that direction. At the time my impression was that some ship had blown up. About 12.30., what w^as at first taken for destroyers approaching was observed and 6-in. guns turned on them and the ordei- had been given to open fire, when it was seen that the object was a large ship. She was challenged and made reply " PL " and rapidly disajjpeared astern. She had the appear- ance of a Battle Cruiser and resembled our own. 1 a.m., 1st June. Firing and an explosion Avas heard right astern. Nothing more of interest occurred during the night, until 2.45 a.m., June 2nd.^—-Vice Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, Royal Navy, hoisted his flag in " Revenge." 3.35 a.m.—A Zeppelin was observed about 4,000 to 5,000 yards off, and 2 rounds of 15-in. were fired, besides fire from 3-in. H.A. gun. The tail was observed to dip, as if the 15-in. shell had passed fairly close, and it had the effect of driving the Zeppehn off at once. 5.15 a.m.—Passed through the wreckage of a German battleship or battle cruiser judging from the size of the floating i^owder cases. 6.30 a.m.—Passed wreckage of H.M.S. " Black Prince," including Carley raft and Ufe buoy with name of ship. Observed 2 rafts with 3 men. Destroyer " Obedient " found them being picked up by a Dutchsteamer. TheywereGermanseamen,very exhausted ; ship not known, but from size of rafts, " Obedient " estimated at least a light cruiser. 8.35 a.m.—Passed " Sparrowhawk " abandoned. (Later sunk by "' Marksman ") Rough diagrams of the various phases are attached. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your obedient Servant. E B. KIDDLE, Captain

Page 87

H.M.S. Revenge,

4th June 1916.


In accordance with j'our signal 0900 of 4th June, I have the honour to report that the wreckage Avas sujiposed to be tliat ofH.M.S,"BlackPrince"' fromthelifebuoywithnameofshi]) on it, 2 Carley Rafts, Cordite Cases, Seamen's Life Saving Jackets, Gratings, and Wooden debris. The position was Latitude 56° 2' North, Longitude 5° 57' East, worked from " Iron Duke's " positions.

I have the honour to be.


Your obedient Servant,



The Commander-in-Chief,

Grand Fleet

(through the Vice-Admiral Commanding

1st Battle Squadron).



2nd June 1916.


With reference to your signal No. 1550 of to-day I have the honour to report as follows : though I fear my remarks will be of little value, as I felt at the end of the action that owing to the length of the line and the low visibility, I had gathered but little of what had happened.

2. As regards BELLONA's special duty of repeating signals : The signals appeared to me to be comparatively few, simple, and such as might be expected, and I imagine they got through with rapidity and accuracy.

3. BELLONA lay from 3/4 of a mile to a mile on the off side of the 5th Division, in this position I had expected to get a fair share of "overs" round about me ; but as a matter of fact only one large shell fell close (about 50 yards over), and it seemed to me that the enemy was firing mostly short. There was, of course, never any great volume of fire.

4. His salvoes seemed to cover an extraordinarily small area, a thing which has struck me before.

5. It seemed to me that we had the better visibility, and I expect the enemy was hampered by smoke.

6. I was not able to get much idea of what our own shooting was like. During the whole action I only saw two of the enemy's big ships. I did see our shots hit; the enemy twice, but beyond that it seemed to me that we also were shooting short.

7. I saw no Zeppelin or air craft of any description ; I did not expect a Zeppelin attack, but I certainly thought they would have them there for reporting our movements, &c.

Page 88

8. I only observed one effort by hostile torpedo craft, and that only seemed to be made by three boats.

9. I could not understand the action of certain of our 4 funnelled cruisers. They seemed to me to be not only uselessly exposing themselves to the enemy's heavy ships, but also getting in the way of our torpedoes, and hampering our line with their smoke. I naturally know nothing of the reason for their action, and merely give this as an impression.

I have the honour to be. Sir,

Your obedient Servant,



The Vice-Admiral Commanding

First Battle Squadron,

H.M.S. Revenge.


No. 08.

H.M.S. Neptune,

10th June 1916.

Sir, I HAVE the honour to forward the following report on the action with the German fleet on 31st ultimo.
At 5.46 p.m., when steering S. 50° E. in columns of divisions line ahead, disposed abeam, one mile apart, (Organisation No. 5) flashes from gun-fire were observed on Starboard bow.
5.51 p.m.—Gun-fire heard on Starboard bow.
5.56 p.m.—One of our cruiser squadrons, either First or Second, was observed on Port bow, engaging enemy, the latter being out of sight of NEPTUNE.
6. 1 p.m.—Signal " 9 Pdt. E— G.18 " was hauled down.
6. 6 p.m. -The inspiring signal - "Remember the traditions of the glorious First of June—avenge Belgium"
was received and transmitted to all on board.
About this time the First Battle Cruiser Squadron (3 in number) and one " New Zealand " were observed steering to the Eastward across our bow. They were engaging an enemy invisible to NEPTUNE. The Fifth Battle Squadron appeared some distance astern of them.
The signal "Equal speed Pdt. C.L." (S.E. by S.) was hoisted.
6.16 p.m.—Signal hauled down. Formed into line.
About this time the flashes of enemy's guns were seen on Starboard beam and quarter, and the splashes of his projectiles were observed on Starboard side.

Page 89

Enemy appeared to be firing on our cruisers, some of which appeared out of the mist. One of WARRIOR class was seen to be badly hit and set on fire ; she passed across to Port quarter. Another cruiser, apparently DEFENCE, was observed to be hit, and was reported to have blown up.
A third cruiser of same type, though surrounded with shells, managed to make her escape.
6.32 p.m.— COLLINGWOOD opened fire. About this time 5th division got somewhat bunched up, and ST.VINCENT came up on NEPTUNE's beam, masking her fire and interfering with view of enemy. ST.VINCENT opened fire, which now became general in our line.
6.40p.m. ST.VINCENT having dropped astern, NEPTUNE opened fire on one of enemy's battleships, which appeared to be unfired on. Owing to the mist, enemy could only be indistinctly seen. Fire was opened at 11,000 yards, but after two salvoes, both of which appeared to be short ; owing to the impossibility of spotting and gradual disappearance of the target firing was discontinued. Enemy appeared to fire one or two salvoes in our direction and then to discontinue.
6.44 p.m.—Course altered to S.E.
6.50 p.m.—Passed ACASTA hove to and putting collision mats over two holes, one on Starboard quarter and one on Port bow.
6.55 p.m.— "9 Pdt. E.—G. 17" hauled down.
About this time a three-funnel cruiser (MORAVES class), apparently disabled, was observed to come out of the mist on Starboard beam. She possibly fired the torpedo which hit MARLBOROUGH.
First Battle Squadron opened fire on her. NEPTUNE fired one salvo at her, but as so many other ships were firing at this cruiser, I ceased fire. She was observed to be hit several times, and was lost sight of astern. She did not return the fire.
About 7.4 p.m.— NEPTUNE opened fire on the leading of two battle cruisers, LÜTZOW class. The first salvo was fired at a range of 10,200 yards and fell over. * * * [2] —fire. Salvo short. Up * * * [3].Straddle and hit. "Up* * * [4] and hit again They then turned away, the leader on fire aft, and rapidly disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
An enemy light cruiser was now seen steering to Northward. She was soon hit, while turning to Port, by a salvo from one of our ships. She appeared to stop and to settle down in the water. Believed to have sunk.

Page 90

7.10 p.m.—About six or eight German destroyers commenced an attack on our line from a position about 2 points before the Starboard beam. A salvo from 12-in. was fired at them while 4-in. guns were being manned. " Neptune " opened fire with 4-in. guns on one destroyer, which was not being fired at, and hit her three times, then opened fire on another (the second in the fine) and she was hit too, believed by " Neptune," but might have been b}' another ship. Both are believed to have sunk. The remaining destroyers were driven off, but not without torpedoes being fired at our Kne. The tracks of three torpedoes were clearly seen from the fore-top, one of which passed very close to " Neptune," and was avoided by use of helm. Two submarines—one on the surface about three miles on Starboard quarter, and the other in diving trim about two miles a point before the Starboard beam—are believed to have been seen from fore-top about this time. About 7.5 p.m. a badly damaged vessel, apparently a German light cruiser, was passed about a mile on Port beam. She was very badly crumpled up, Avith waist below water, and bow and stern above the surface. She seemed to have been abandoned. From subsequent information this appears to have been " Invincible." About 10.40 p.m. heavy firing, apparently from an engagement between light cruisers and destroyers, was observed to the North- West, about four or five miles off. One ship appeared to be set on fire. Flashes were observed to the Northward at intervals during the night. About 3.45 a.m. on 1st instant a Zeppehn was observed on Port quarter. She passed over to Starboard beam. A round was fired at her from " X " turret, after which she turned away and made off. The white ensign flown by our ships did not seem to stand out clearly at a distance in the white misty weather, nor the union jack either. It is not known why the red ensign was abandoned, but it is considered that red shows up better than any other colour against any background likely to be met with, and a large red flag, flown in a conspicuous position, such as the foretopmast head, is recommended. In the case of most of the Officers and men of " Neptune," this was the first occasion on which they had been in any kind of an action. It had an exhilarating and beneficial effect, the opportunity of coming in contact with the enemy being much appreciated.

Page 91

The behaviour of all during the short and disappointing engagement was most creditable, all orders being rapidly and accurately carried out \Aithout undue excitement. Separate reports giving names of Officers and men recommended are being forwarded.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,

The Vice-Admiral Commanding
First Battle Squadron.


H.M.S. Agincourt,
10th June 1916.
No. 171/02.

In accordance with your signal, I have the honour to submit the following report on the action of 31st May, as far as AGINCOURT was concerned.
At 6.0 p.m. The ship's position was Lat. 57° 7' N., Long. 5° 41' E. ; course, 134°; speed, 20 knots.
6.8. Altered course to 122°.
6.17. Altered course to 45°—thereby deploying into line : AGINCOURT now being rear ship of the line.

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  1. (original footnote) Russian Navy
  2. (original footnote) See note on p381
  3. (original footnote) See note on p381
  4. (original footnote) See note on p381