The Naval Battle of Jutland

The battle of Jutland was the only major naval battle between England and Germany in World War 1, and although the German High Seas Fleet under Admiral Reinhard Scheer returned to port and did not wish to continue the battle and the British Grand Fleet under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe lost more men and ships, the result was largely undecided. The battle of Jutland was fought in the North Sea about 75 miles from the coast of Denmark on 31st May, 1916.

It began when both the British and the German navies suspected each other of preparing and planning a surprise attack on the other. First to put to sea was the British Grand Fleet which was in three parts. The main part sailed from Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands under Admiral Jellicoe on May 30, the second section sailed from Invergordon on the northeast coast of Scotland, and the third, under Admiral Sir David Beatty, from Rosyth which is further south. All three sailed directly for the North Sea. The whole German High Seas Fleet readied itself and sailed on May 31. The British did not know this. In fact, Admiral Jellicoe had previously been told that there was no particular hurry and that the German High Seas Fleet was unlikely to contain battleships. The Germans were also unaware the the British fleet had sailed.

Both the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet suddenly spotted each other at 2pm on May 31 and headed for battle. There was a great deal of confusion when the battle began because Admiral Jellicoe did not know where the main German fleet was. There was a lot of smoke from the guns and the German High Seas Fleet was shrouded in a sea mist. Darkness soon fell and just as the battle seemed to die down, the German ships appeared out of the mist and the fighting flared up again. This time the British hit their enemy hard. The Germans decided they would return home under cover of darkness after this fierce engagement and there was no more fighting. The battle of Jutland was over at about 4.30am.