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The Battle of Jutland, Part II

The second phase of the Battle of Jutland was dominated by Jellicoe's resolve to renew the action and Scheer’s determined and successful efforts to escape. By Geoffrey Bennett.

Jellicoe’s battleships opened fire on Scheer’s battlefleet at 1823 on May 31st, 1916. Hurriedly the Germans turned to the west to escape from the trap into which they had fallen; by 1845 they were out of range, but they were far from safe; the Grand Fleet had deployed on a course that was taking it between the High Seas Fleet and its base.

Unfortunately, Jellicoe did not immediately realize that Scheer had altered away; not until 1855 did he turn the British battlefleet south in pursuit.

Moreover, only one of his four light cruiser squadrons performed their prime duty; only Goodenough in the Southampton pressed on to sight Scheer again and, at 1904, to signal that the German battlefleet had turned back to east-south-east, when Jellicoe knew that, if he held his course, he must again cross the enemy’s T.

In thus risking a second encounter with the greatly superior Grand Fleet, Scheer claimed that he intended to attack the centre of Jellicoe’s line, hoping to disorganize it and so to facilitate his own escape.

But a more reasonable explanation is that, being as poorly served with information by his cruisers as was Jellicoe, he supposed that he would pass astern of the Grand Fleet, thereby getting to the east of it before nightfall.

In the event, three things happened. The Weisbaden came under fire from Jellicoe’s battleships; battered into a wreck, she was to sink during the night, but not before she had fired a torpedo that struck the Marlborough, reducing her speed to sixteen knots.

Next to be engaged was the limping Lützow, from which Hipper had transferred to a torpedo boat in order to regain his squadron; after this onslaught, she also sank during the night.

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