By Dr Eric Grove
Last updated 2011-02-17
The Battle of Heligoland Bight The Heligoland Bight is the stretch of water off Germany's major North Sea base of Wilhemshaven. The battle that bears its name was fought in a confusion of fog and haze on 28 August 1914, when a British attack led by Commodore Tyrwhitt was mounted on German coastal patrols - using the force of destroyers and submarines based at Harwich.
The raid was covered by heavier forces, including Vice Admiral Beatty's powerful 'Cruiser Force A', the First Battle Cruiser Squadron and the First Light Cruiser Squadron, but the operation was marred by poor staff work. Beatty was only sent out at the last minute, and the main attackers did not even know he was coming.
When action was joined, Tyrwhitt had gun problems with his brand new flagship, the light cruiser Arethusa, which was hit by a shell from a German cruiser. More German cruisers appeared to drive off the British destroyers. The day was saved by Beatty, reinforced by two more battle cruisers to make five in all. Three German cruisers and a destroyer were eventually sunk. No British ships were lost, but Arethusa and two damaged British destroyers had to be towed home. The British made much of their victory, but within the Navy there was frustration. A better planned operation could have done so much better.
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