Battle of Jutland
The 31st of May 1916 AD
The Battle of Jutland which took place in the seas between Norway and Denmark over May 31 and June 1 1916 was the greatest sea battle of WWI . Indeed, with 250 vessels engaged in the fighting it can be argued that it was the biggest battle at sea in history.
The British fleet had been lured by the Germans into a clash, but the Germans had not finished their preparations – it was intended that U-Boats would be the killer force in the trap – when the gung-ho Beatty led the British battle-cruiser vanguard into the fight.
In spite of the huge forces assembled and two days of engagement the battle was not a truly decisive one. Both sides of course claimed victory. Germany most reasonably because The High Seas Fleet sank 14 British craft with a combined tonnage of more than 113,000 tons, killing more than 6,000 British personnel while losing less than half that number themselves in the 62,000 tons of German vessels sunk. The British claim was because The Grand Fleet drove their enemy back to base, unable to contest control of the seas with the surface fleet for the remainder of the war. The uninterrupted British blockade of Germany had a devastating effect on German conduct of the war.
Admiral Sir John Jellicoe , the senior British commander, was very aware that had he lost the battle Britain would have been greatly weakened, perhaps incapable of continuing the conflict. For this reason, and perhaps because of exhaustion and a natural hesitancy, he failed to follow through when opportunities beckoned.
Both sides learned much of a technical nature from the clash: British firing control and night-fighting equipment were in need of improvement, and many shells were useless unless hitting armour head on. The Germans saw again that their guns’ lack of range was a major problem in engagements. Above all the battle meant that Germany was forced to intensify its use of submarines, becoming more ruthless in attacks on merchant vessels, and it is not unreasonable to see Jutland as the point where the submarine began its dominance of modern naval warfare, though navies the world over continued to be seduced by building huge surface ships. It was also the first battle where a ship carrying a plane was employed, another portent of how future wars at sea would be fought.
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