By Dr Eric Grove
Last updated 2011-02-17
The Battle of Jutland, 1916 On 31 May, the Grand Fleet under Admiral Jellicoe, and the German High Sea Fleet under Vice Admiral Scheer, came into contact in the eastern North Sea. When Vice Admiral Beatty's battle cruisers met their counterparts under Rear Admiral Hipper, the Germans turned to draw the British ships onto the guns of their main force. In this 'run to the south', superior German gunnery and dangerous British ammunition handling arrangements led to both HMS Indefatigable and HMS Queen Mary blowing up.
As the battleships of the main body of the High Sea Fleet came into view, Beatty turned to the north to draw the Germans onto Jellicoe's guns. He succeeded in this, but, faced by the line of gun fire of Jellicoe's vastly superior battle fleet, the Germans turned away to avoid certain disaster. As the main fleets clashed, the battle cruiser Invincible, operating with Jellicoe, also blew up but not before seriously damaging Hipper's flagship Lutzow, which eventually sank.
Scheer found himself cut off by the British and tried to escape, but was again faced by the British battle line and forced to turn away. During the night, however, he was able to slip home behind Jellicoe. The British remained in command of the sea, but the Germans had escaped, succeeded in inflicting disproportionate attrition, and were not put off from coming out subsequently, for further attempts to wear down the Grand Fleet's strength.
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