Reports from Fourth Battle Squadron

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VICE-ADMIRAL'S REPORTS, 4th BATTLE SQUADRON

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

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From : The Vice-Admiral Commanding, Fourth Battle Squadron. H.M.S. " Benbow."
To : The Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, H.M.S. Iron Duke."
Date : 4th June 1916.
No. :0131.
The attached summary of the reports from the Fourth Battle Squadron on the action of the 31st May is submitted in continuation of the rough personal reports already forwarded.
A more detailed report will be submitted separately.
F. C. D. STURDEE,
Vice-Admiral.

ACTION ON 3 1st MAY.—SUMMARY OF REPORTS FROM SHIPS OF FOURTH BATTLE SQUADRON

Time Benbow Canada Beller
ophon
Teme
raire
Vanguard
P.M.
5.55
- - - - Ship on bow
flashed I A R.
6.10 - - - - British Ar-
moured Crui-
ser blew up.
6.14 Range of
enemy's ship
in damaged
condition,
13,000-14,000
- - - -
6.15 - Sighted some
grey misty
objects
- - -
6.20 - - - - British Ar-
moured Crui-
ser blew up.
6.22 - Two salvoes
at German
ship which
had suf-
fered hea-
vily.
British Ar-
moured Crui
ser blew up.
-
- -
6.25 - - Opened fire.
Control Offi-
cer given free
hand. Im-
possible to
count enemy
- -
6.28 Director on
German ship,
"Lṻtzow"
class, 16,000
yards.
- - - -

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Time Benbow Canada Beller
ophon
Teme
raire
Vanguard
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Time Benbow Canada Beller
ophon
Teme
raire
Vanguard
Example Example Example Example Example Example
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Enclosure No. 7 to Submission No. 1415/0022 of 20/6/16 from C.-in-C. Home Fleets.
No.0131.
BENBOW
5th June 1916.
Sir,
I HAVE the honour to report that, in the battle of 31st May 1916, off the Jutland Coast the Fourth Battle Squadron was in the centre of the Battle Line with the BLANCHE acting as repeating ship on the off side.
The EMPEROR OF INDIA and DREADNAUGHT were not present, being away refitting.


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The Flag of Rear-Admiral Alexander L. Duff, C.B., was hoisted in the SUPERB.
2. The ships under my direct command were the BENBOW, BELLEROPHON, TEMERAIRE, and VANGUARD, they formed the Fourth Division of the Battle Fleet, \vith the " Benbmv " leading.
The " Superb " and " Canada " were in the Third Division under the immediate command of the Commander-in-Chief who led that Division in the Fleet Flagship " Iron Duke." 3. The Fourth Division being placed in the centre of the Fleet conformed generally to the movements ordered by the Commander-in-Chief 4. On one occasion only was any separate action necessary, when at 7.10 p.m. a Destroyer attack was observed. The Fourth Division were then ordered to turn away by Sub- Divisions two points in succession in conformity with the Grand Fleet Battle Orders. The attack was soon repelled by the gun fire of the ships, and the Division ordered to turn back to the course of the Fleet forming astern of the Third Division. 5. At 8.31. p.m., the track of a torpedo was seen passing ahead. " Benbow " turned towards it. It is beheved that the torpedo passed ahead of " Iron Duke." 6. The attached summary shows the principal points noted by the four ships of the Fourth Division, 7. Our ships were not seriously under fire, but, considering the youth of the ships' companies and the fact that it was their first time under fire, it is most satisfactory to be able to report on the keenness and cool behaviour of the Officers and men of all the ships. No apprehension was shown. 8. The general gunnery efficiency seemed to be good, and no breakdowns were reported. The conditions of hght and haze did not give the ships much opportunity for using their guns and the restraint from firing when the enemy was hidden by haze reflects credit on the control. The rapid manner in which the Destroyers were made to turn away promptly showed good control and effective fire. 9. None of the ships were struck nor were there any casualties. 10. The visibihty Avas low and variable, the maximum range obtained being 13,500 yards, which was recorded in " Benbow " at 6.14 p.m., as the range of an enemy capital ship. The average range obtainable was about 11,000 yards. 11. Owing to the haze and low visibihty the targets were few and consisted of a Light Cruiser at moderate range, a Battle Cruiser at longer range and Destroyers approaching to attack, 12. Firing commenced on an enemy's Battle Cruiser at 6.30 p.m., and due to the varjdng visibihty, was intermittent up to 7.28 p.m., when the enemy retired behind a smoke screen.


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At 7.18 p.m., a big fire was observed in this ship.

13. There was considerable difficulty in distinguishing friend from foe owing to these large Fleets meeting in varying visibility.
14. The following ammunition was expended from the main armament :-
BENBOW - 40 rounds VANGUARD - 80 rounds
BELLEROPHON - 62 rounds TEMERAIRE - 72 rounds
15. Rear-Admiral Duff's report is attached.
I have the honour to be,
Sir,
Your obedient Servant,
F. C. D. STURDEE,
Vice-Admiral


The Commander-in-Chief,
H.M. Ships and Vessels,
Grand Fleet.


REAR-ADMIRAL'S REPORT, 4th BATTLE SQUADRON.

From—The Rear-Admiral Fourth Battle Squadron.
To—The Vice Admiral Commanding Fourth Battle Squadron.
Date—4th June 1916. No.—017.
Submitted. The enclosed report was written before arriving in harbour on June 2nd. It was not sent in at the time as not being in command of a Division the report of the Captain of SUPERB would practically cover all the points coming under my observation.
A. L. DUFF,
Rear-Admiral.

Report on action of 31st May 1916.
No. 017
SUPERB,
1st June 1916.
Sir,
In accordance with your signal 1835 of 1st instant, I have the honour to make the following report.
2. Owing to weather conditions under which the action was fought, and knowing little of the general situation preceding the arrival of the Battle Fleet on the scene of action, or, in fact, at any time, necessarily limits the scope of my remarks to what I actually saw take place.
3. The main features of the action appeared to be :-
(a) The low visibility ;
(b) The difficulty of distinguishing between friend and foe, owing to the weather conditions. This was accentuated through ignorance of the disposition of the Rosyth


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force, already in action, presumably with the enemy Battle Cruisers but possibly with his Battle Fleet as well; (c) The Cruiser line being caught under a heavy fire before being able to take up their Battle station on the flanks of the Battle Fleet. 4. The scene immediately before and during deployment of the Battle Fleet was an interesting one. To the right, in the haze, our Battle Cruisers could be distinguished hotly engaged, but with what portion of the enemy's forces could not be seen. In front, and between us and the enemy whose position was onl}^ denoted by the flash of his guns, were our Cruisers endeavouring to take up their after-deployment station on the flanks under a heavy fire. A Cruiser of the " Minotaur " class was observed to be badly damaged and I was informed that she was observed to blow uj). Another of the " Warrior ". class was being Hterally smothered in salvoes ; and a Light Cruiser, after being hidden from view by columns of water, seemed to have disappeared. 5. At 6.14 p.m. (G.M.T.) the Fleet was deployed by " equal speed pendant " to S.E. by E., and line of battle was formed with the Second Battle Squadron leading. At 6.45, the firing appeared to be general in our Battle Fleet. 6. During the engagement, the Third Sub-division was never under fire of the enemy and the few shots that fell in our vicinity were either ricochets or " overs." Only two ships of the enemy were seen with sufficient distinctness to enable fii'e to be opened on them. These ships I beheve to have been the " Derfflinger " and a Cruiser of the " Prinz Heinrich " type. Identification was an extraordinarily difficult matter, but I am fairly sure that neither were Battleships, and that the only indication I saw of the enemy fine of battle was from smoke and the flash of guns. 7. The ship beheved to be a Cruiser of the " Prinz Hein- rich " type came under a verj^ heavy fire and was apparently disabled and her guns silenced. The " Derfflinger " at fii-st was firing from four turrets, but latterly it seemed from only one. A fire was seen to break out aft. I thought it was followed by an explosion. 8. Visibility.—At the time the signal for deployment was made (6.14 p.m.—G.M.T.) I estimated the visibihty at about 5 to 6 miles. By 6.45 p.m. it had somewhat decreased and the fight was becoming bad. From then on, the visibihty varied, but was not, I think, ever more than 12,000 yards. The tfirection of the wind was S.W. by S.—Light. 9. Destroyer Attack.—At 7.10 p.m., the course of the Fleet being South, enemy Destroyers were observed approximately abeam, attempting under cover of a smoke screen to dehver an attack on the centre and rear of the Fleet. The attack was neither made with dash nor was it pressed home, whether on


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account of the fire from the 6-in. guns of our ships or the threat of a counter-attack from our Light Cruisers, I do not know. The Destroyers, however, before they retired, were well within long-range distance, and possibly the attack might have proved effective, had the Fleet not been turned away by the " Preparative." 10. The weather conditions were very favourable to Torpedo attack, and it is an interesting fact that the enemy made so Uttle effective use of this weapon against our Battle Line. Possibly he was reserving his Destroyers in the hope of making more effective use of them after dark. 11. As the result of turning away, touch was lost with the enemy Battle Fleet and was not regained before darkness necessitated drawing the Fleet off for the night. 12. Of the enemy's Battle formation and movements, I was unable to form any definite idea. 13. The enemy had much to be thankful for to the weather conditions, which, it seems to me, alone saved him from being cut off from his base, and denied the British Fleet the satisfaction of fighting a decisive battle. 14. The steaming of the " Superb " during the afternoon of the 31st was highly satisfactory, and reflects great credit on the Engine Room Department. 15. The incidents as affecting the " Superb " are dealt with in the report of her Commanding Officer. I have the honour to be. Sir, Your obedient Servant. A. L. DUFF, The Vice-Admiral Commanding, Rear-Admiral. Fourth Battle Squadron.

Enclosure No. 8 to Submission No. 1415/0022 of 20/6/16 from C.-in-C. Home Fleets. CAPTAIN'S REPORT, H.M.S. " BENBOW." No. C. 85. H.M.S. "Benbow," Sir, 8th June 1916. I HAVE the honour to forward the following report on the action with the German High Sea Fleet on 31st May 1916, and a simple narrative of events as they appeared from the Control

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Officer's point of view in the Gun Control Tower. * * (1) Very great difficulty was experienced in getting the Director on to the target, and fire could not be opened as soon as it ought to have been, the enemy could be seen from the Gun Control Tower and Conning Tower when using Zeiss Glasses, but not from the Gun Telescope on the bearing plate.


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4: 9ic >ic 4: :|cl At 6.38 nearly all turret Officers thought that we opened fire on the enemy cruiser drifting down between the lines, whereas we were firing at one of the " Kaiser " class beyond her.

  • * * * *2

Attached also are some extracts from reports of officers from their several positions. I have the honour to be, 8ir, Your obedient Servant, H. W. PARKER, The Vice Admiral Commanding Fourth Battle Squadron. II. No. 94. Commander in Chief, Submitted in continuation of former reports. F. C. D. STURDEE, 10th June 1916. Vice-Admiral. EXTRACTS FROM OFFICERS' REPORTS. H.M.S. "BENBOW." Sitting Officer in the Top.—The difficulties of spotting on this occasion were very great. With the mist varying in intensity, enemy ships coming into sight for a few seconds and then disappearing, I found it extremely hard to be certain that I was spotting on to the same ship as that indicated (through the voice pipe) by the Control Officer. The difficulty of being certain that one was spotting on to the ship fired at was even more marked. For some seconds after each salvo my vision was blanked by smoke, my glasses shaken off the object, and owing to the short range and consequent short time of flight in which to recover (to say nothing of the fact that between the moment of firing and the fall of shot there was often a small change of helm) it was practically impossible to be certain that one was spotting on the ship fired at. The position was galling and trying to the last degree; but I had no alternative on more than one occasion but to inform the Control Officer that I could not observe the fall of shot (this being probably due to my spotting on the wrong ship). 1 See note on p. 381. 2 Part omitted here, referring solely to personnel, recommendations, &c., in no way bearing on the course of the action. Captain


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2. Director Layer.—Little difficulty was experienced due to smoke from our own guns, but great ^fficulty due to the short range of visibility. Great difficulty was experienced in getting on to the object at which the Control Officer wished to fire, due to the distance of the Control Officer from Director Tower. When aloft, the Control Officer has the same condition of light as Director Layer, when below, either may see the object, whereas the other may not be able to do so. (3) Spotting.—Was extremely difficult owing to the poor visibihty. It was useless attempting to use the high power glasses, and with binoculars it was not easy to get on the correct bearing. (4) Respirators.—The respirators supphed are unsuitable. The small ones are easily displaced, and the " sausage " ones are awkward and frail. Two came to pieces during handling in the T.S. (5) It was particularly noticed with regard to the enemy's salvoes that in all cases one projectile fell well to the left (our left) of the remainder, and that whereas the single shell invariably exploded on striking the water, the remainder did not. REPORT OF ENGAGEMENT WITH THE GERMAN HIGH SEA FLEET ON 31st MAY 1916. Narrative of Events from a Gunnery Point of View. Wednesday. G.M.T. P.M. 5.59. Observed Battle Cruisers engaged on Starboard Bow. Observed flashes of enemy's guns. 6. 4. Sighted enemy ships right ahead. 6.14. Obtained ranges of an enemy ship with 3 funnels (13,000- 14,000 yards) bearing Green 60, apparently in a damaged condition. Probably " Helgoland " Cla.ss. Trained guns on, but did not fire. 6.26. " Iron Duke " opened fire. 6.29. Aftergreatdifficultyowingtothehazeandsmoke,succeeded in getting Director on to a German ship, apjjarently of the " Kaiser " class, obtaining two ranges from " X " turret, mean of 16,000 yards. 6.30. Opened fire with " A " and " B " turrets, Green 73. Shots lost in haze.


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G.M.T. P.M. G.35. Fired again with " A " and " B " turrets. by haze. Object obscured G.3G. A " and " B " turrets fired. 6.38. " A " and " B " turrets fired, object was then obscured by smoke from an enemy ship on fire drifting down between " Benbow " and the enemy. This ship was apparently an enemy cruiser with three or four funnels. Several of " Benbow's " rangefinders were apparently taking ranges of this ship instead of the ship actually fired at. 6.40. Fire was again opened mth " A " and " B " turrets, at a range of 12,500 yards, the target was crossed after the second salvo, and the order " Control " was given by the Control Officer. The Cease Fire Gong was then rung, mist and smoke obscuring the target. 6.48. The enemy were observed turning away to Starboard. 6.54. Ship turned to Southward. 7, 2. Passed wreck of " Invincible." 7. 9. 6-in. opened fire on Destroyers bearing Green 56, at 8,000

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7.11. Onedestroyerobservedtobeonfire. 7.17. Opened fire with " A " and " B " turrets on enemy ship, " Liitzow " class. Green 132 (about). 7.19, Spotted down * * *i and opened fire with all turrets. 7.20. Hit observed near after turret by several observers. 7.28. Ceased fire. Enemy destroyers making smoke screen. 6-in. ceased fire about this time. 7.32. German destroyer observed to sink. 7.34. German destroyer making smoke observed to sink. 7.34. German destroyer observed to capsize. 7.35. 6-in. opened fire on two lots of Destroyers. Enemy Battle Cruiser reported to be still afloat, 2 masts and 2 funnels showing above water. 7.47. TrembUngshockfeltinT.S. 7.49. Collected reports of rounds fired : "A"turret- 12 "B"„ - 12 - Total rounds fired 38 7.57. Turrets, stand easy. 8.24. Heavy firing heard right ahead.


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G.M.T.
P.M.
8.27. Altered course 4 points to Port. Top reported track of torpedo right ahead, crossing IRON DUKE's bows.
8.34. Course S.W. by S.
8.57. 6-in. firing on destroyers, one salvo (short).
9. 2. Altered cour.se 4 points to Port.
9.14. Observed star shell on starboard bow.

Thursday.
Observed Zeppelin on Port quarter passing astern P. or S.
Opened fire with "Y" turret, 1 round.
Opened fire with 6-in., 1 round.


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