Gary Staff has provided this segment from the Kriegsmarine's Official History (Krieg zur See): many thanks to Gary for his translation.
Without the knowledge that U-Boote thrusts to the north were underway and the Grand Fleet had engaged in an operation to the south, and under the false impression that the British Dreadnoughts were being held back since the operation of August 28th because of German U-Boats, Torpedoboats and mines, the German Fleet Command hoped to lure out the supposed reluctant Grand Fleet with an even more powerful attack. A thrust was planned by the BdA (1) for November 8th with the objective of dispatching the battlecruisers, three or four fast klein kreuzers [ie light cruisers] and two fast torpedoboat flotillas into the Skagerrak to repeat the merchant warfare, and it was hoped this lure the enemy from their bases in the Firth of Forth, Moray Firth or the Humber and then they could be attacked by U-Boats which would previously have been dispatched off these harbours. Nevertheless, the Fleet Command favoured a direct assault against the English coast, as after the attack on Yarmouth it was accepted with certainty that the English constantly kept a squadron ready for defense against a second such German attack. Therefore, on November 16th , the basic plan for the thrust was submitted to the Kaiser for his approval. The plan proposed to send the battlecruisers of the I AG and the newer kleinen kreuzers of the II AG, together with two fast torpedoboat flotilla to the vicinity of the English coast before dawn, where the battlecruisers would separate into groups of two and three and bombard the coastal batteries at Hartlepool and Scarborough. For their support the battle squadrons, the Panzerkreuzers [ie armoured cruisers] of the III AG, the kleinen kreuzers of the IV AG and the remaining available Torpedoboats would remain on a position 130 nautical miles to the east of the battlecruisers, however would still be able to reach the German Bight on the same evening. This excessive holding back of our own main body was hardly compatible with such a risky mission for the battlecruisers, however it seemed that the Fleet Command had to minimize the risk to the battleship squadrons in order to gain approval from the Grand Headquarters for the operation. A concurrent task was the simultaneous mining of the English coast in an area within 6 nautical miles of the attack point, whilst U-Boats would lay off the Humber and Harwich in order to attack the forces putting to sea once the alarm had been given. At this time the view was taken that the operation would be conducted from November 22nd to 24th , assuming that the weather conditions were suitable. The Chief of the Admiralstab, Admiral von Pohl, wrote to the Cabinet Chief, Admiral von Müller, advising him of this, but was reminded that first the Kaiser must speak with Großadmiral von Tirpitz. ... His Majesty now desired this."
The talks took place, and on November 19th the Fleet Command received a telegram from the Cabinet Chief, that the Kaiser understood the purpose of the proposed thrust and wanted a report when the ships put to sea.
Meanwhile the Admiralstab and the Fleet began a detailed study of the English coast around Scarborough and Hartlepool. Wide stretches were occupied by guard personnel of the "territorials", and according to war maps the fortifications were only weak. At Hartlepool there existed the Heugh battery, consisting of two 6" quick-firing guns and two 3 inch quick-firing guns, and the Cemetery battery with two 4.7 inch guns or howitzers, and the Lighthouse battery, which was undetermined. However, at Scarborough, it was known that during peacetime there was a battery of six 6" quick-firing guns and three other guns of this calibre that were not mounted. At Whitby there were only the Naval personnel of the Coast Watch Station. Other information also revealed that with the beginning of the war number of coastal fortifications had been essentially strengthened, from the Bristol Channel to Plymouth. It was likely that the positions on the east coast would also be reinforced. A Reuters report listed West Hartlepool as a harbour at which a foreign landing could be made.
Numerous armed trawlers, anti-submarine vessels and sailing vessels patrolled off the coast and some harbours had also submarines and destroyers. After the advance against Yarmouth this guard had been reinforced. Another report said it was likely that heavy forces had been held back also. Already by mid October such units had been reported in the Tyne, Humber and Firth of Forth. Groups of one or two battleships or armoured cruisers and some destroyers had made reconnaissance trips lasting one or two days into the area of the proposed operation. All this information was nevertheless more or less vague.
Great uncertainty prevailed about whether the German mine barriers off the English east coast remained there, and if they had been incorporated into the English mine fields, as the British declaration of November 2nd seemed to indicate. Dutch information of the 8th September said that 20 to 30 nautical miles NE to SE of the Tyne mouth, and between 53 40' and 54 15' north at a distance of 8 to 30 nautical miles from the coast, there were mines, which could be the German fields lay by Albatroß and Nautilus during the night of 25th to 26th August and which were incorporated into the English fields.
Towards the end of October and beginning of November Dutch and Danish steamer Captains reported that the entire English coast south of the Tyne River was mined outside the 3-mile territorial limit, and that the safe channel inside the 3-mile limit was indicated by red buoys. However, navigation was extremely difficult with bad weather or during darkness because all the navigational lights had been extinguished. Although this report was hardly accurate as England did not possess the requisite number of mines, and such an extended mine field would restrict the freedom of movement of their own forces, it was probable that important turning points and harbour entrances had been mined. Other reports of steamer Captains said that the English declarations that red pointed buoys indicated where mines lay was a bluff and that the roads of Scarborough and Hartlepool were entirely free of mines. To support this view was only the English declaration that merchant ships should hold close under the coast. This opinion was further confirmed when it was learned that the Malmo and Helsingborg steamers, contrary to English instructions, had steered directly out to sea from the Humber and Tyne, and also Hartlepool, towards the Skagen and had not struck mines. This conflicted with the different reports from other agents.
To gain more reliable information the Fleet Command dispatched the U-Boot U27 on November 21st, under the Command of Kptlt. Wegener, who had already conducted reconnaissance off the Flanders coast. He was to steer on the course to be used later by the battlecruisers to the SSW to a point 8 nautical miles NE by E of Whitby lighthouse and from there on the route to Hartlepool and Scarborough and search for mines and buoys, which would act as navigational marks for mine fields. He should also search for the best routes and watch for countermeasures by English guard forces. If possible he was to conceal his presence from the enemy, and there fore only attack if especially valuable targets came along, and if possible return by the 26th November. The objective of the cruise was to be kept secret from the crew, and also after the return nothing was to be said about the operation. (see map 2).
Meanwhile, it appeared necessary to the Chief of the Admiralstab to inconspicuously recall the IV and V Squadrons from their training in the Baltic, and to hold them in readiness in the Elbe, for the reception of the returning battle fleet. It was not possible to use these squadrons for more demanding duties.
On November 26th U27 returned from her scheduled reconnaissance mission, and brought carefully collected and valuable information. According to this it was extremely improbable that English mines lay in the searched area. Certainly the merchant traffic remained close under the coast and proved especially active, but a large number of steamers and sailing vessels were met up to 12 nautical miles off the coast, outside the channels indicated by the English. Sea markers were almost totally absent and the traffic under the coast had no trouble navigating at night, even though the lighthouses were unlit. The boot covered the area on several different courses without noticing anything suspicious and the Commandant was supported in his observation that the area was free of mines. The guard was restricted to some destroyers, which remained in the vicinity of the coast, and to many trawlers on the Dogger Bank. The route to Whitby appeared particularly favourable. Further navigational information and sketches of the coast showing especially good navigation marks completed this excellent report by Kapitänleutnants Wegener.
On the basis of this favourable information November 29th was determined as the time point for the bombardment, when suddenly a news paper report written in London on November 23rd arrived, which mentioned a German intension to bombard the coast and even said a German landing was not out of consideration. This caused a delay to the operation.
Meanwhile, the weather remained unfavourable as a new Low-pressure system moved in and only on December 8th could U27 depart on a second reconnaissance mission. The results were to be reported by wireless on December 12th. If these proved favourable it was determined to put to sea in spite of the wicked weather. To secure the German Bight against observation by the enemy the kreuzers Graudenz, Kolberg, Stralsund, Rostock and the VI and VII torpedoboat flotillas pushed 100 nautical miles NNW of Helgoland on the night of December 10th and in addition the battlecruisers were held in sharp readiness on Schillig Roads. However, according to the report of the I Führers der Torpedoboats, Kommodore Hartog, the thrust by the light forces only encountered three Dutch trawlers and a Swedish steamer with a load of iron ore for Rotterdam, which upon searching had proved harmless.
The advance of the kleinen kreuzers and Torpedoboats was followed on December 11th by the advance towards the Humber of the U-Boats U32 (v. Spiegel) and U28 (v. Forstner) , under the direction of the Chief of the 4th U-Half-flotilla, Kptlt. Prause. They were to report from there when the battlecruisers and other forces put to sea. Already on the following day, at Swarte Bank, the U-Boats ran into a heavy NE storm, strength 9 to 10. The U32 also suffered engine damage so that the enshipped Half-flotilla chief ordered her return on December 13th, before the actual operation had begun. Therefore U30 (v. Rosenberg) still had time to reach the banks of outer Dowsing and remained there with U28 as pickets. (map 4). Meanwhile U27 (Wegener) reached the ordered coastal area and undertook the same tasks as on the first mission, however, on December 12th on the Dogger Bank she could only escape the heavy seas by submerging. Only during the night when the boot reached deeper water did the situation of the boot improve, however it was impossible to transmit the agreed upon signal as the heavy seas had rent the antenna apart and the spliced repair proved too short. The hope that the German picket forces which were met on December 13th could relay the important information proved false, and only on December 14th did the seriously awaited signal arrive with the Fleet Command. At midday of the same day the boot arrived in the Jade. Thereon Kontreadmiral Hipper received orders to begin the operation on the night to December 15th and to make corresponding arrangements. Because of the delays the new Moon period had been entered and it must be reckoned on especially dark nights. Therefore the Torpedoboats were reminded not to come in the vicinity of their own forces during the night, because they would be fired upon if they were not immediately recognized as their own.
On December 15th before dawn (0300 hrs) Kontreadmiral Hipper and his forces quit the Jade and firstly went to the north at 15 knots speed towards a point 170 nautical miles NNW of Helgoland. The five battlecruisers of the I AG, four kleinen kreuzers of the II AG and the Torpedoboats of the I TBF (Goehle) and IX TBF (Herzbruch) were under his command. (maps 4 and 5). At dawn two half-flotillas of Torpedoboats went to port and starboard of the battlecruisers as an anti-submarine screen, whilst an FT order directed the kreuzer to advance with Straßburg (Retzmann) to the NW, Stralsund (Harder) to the west, and Graudenz (Püllen) to the north, whilst Kolberg (Widenmann), which was loaded with 100 mines, was to follow in the wake of the battlecruisers. In avoid a premature report about the operation by English agents on neutral steamers, they were avoided where possible. When 40 nautical miles NNW of Helgoland the aircraft 76 was found with a damaged float and was taken aboard Stralsund. At the same time two trawlers under the Dutch flag were reported by Straßburg and at the same time Dutch wireless traffic was observed. During the course of the day several trawlers of the same nationality were sighted and through small alterations in course were went around. These, however, did not use wirelesses and it was deduced that they were either out of range or were not equipped. About 14.30 hrs the Torpedoboats of the anti-submarine screen began to assemble with the kleinen kreuzers as darkness was approaching, a half-flotilla each with Straßburg, Stralsund and Graudenz and these took station 4 nautical miles ahead of Seydlitz and to port and starboard, to form a vanguard and flank cover. Simultaneously Derfflinger (v. Reuter) and Blücher (Erdmann) exchanged their positions to take up their tactical numbers for the coastal bombardment.
Until now the horizon had been faint and the wind was a weak southerly. As the ships turned onto course WSW¾W about 1800 hrs, to pass north of the Dogger Bank and advance towards the English coast, a rainsquall arrived and the wind freshened, and the weather quickly changed.
The battlekreuzer Moltke (v. Levetzow) was employed to observe enemy wireless traffic. During the advance of the kreuzers seemingly all remained quiet. Towards 1900 hrs the wireless traffic on the 600 and 900 metre wavelength was more active until 2030 hrs, when it ceased and the BdA was lead to believe that enemy submarines had observed and reported the preparations and putting to sea of the fleet. Certainly, whilst the IV Squadron, Vizeadmiral Schmidt, had anchored on the Elbe, the I and III Squadrons, Vizeadmiral von Lans and Kontreadmiral Funke, had already quit the Jade about 1600 hrs, and the II Squadron, Vizeadmiral Scheer, had departed the Elbe only at about 2100 hrs (map 4) and was 20 nautical miles north of Helgoland. There were 14 dreadnoughts and 8 older battleships. S.M.S. Markgraf and S.M.S. Kronprinz were missing, as both were still conducting trials in Kiel, as was König which had damaged her stern and was under repair until January 1st in Wilhelmshaven. Therefore the III Squadron only consisted of five ships.
After the rendezvous the main body took course WNW and advanced towards the eastern corner of the Dogger Bank. (map 4 and 7)
During the night wireless reception was particularly good. According to the observations of Moltke the stations of Bergen, Karlskrona and Madrid were all clearly heard, just as was the strong French traffic and also a large Russian land station. Compared to this the English wireless traffic was quiet and suggested nothing would show itself on the following day.
However, because of the several delays and preparations for the German advance, already on December 14th the English knew that, "a German force would depart the Ems on the morning of December 14th . (Filson Young page 89).
This was strange because a German troop landing on the English home soil in connection with a German advance at this time was unlikely in view of the superiority of the British--German strength ratio at sea, and it must be said that preparations for such an operation were completely absent. However, it seems the aim was to increase work on the fleet and this could be supported by invoking an invasion fear. In any case it seemed that the British Admiralty considered that a German kreuzer thrust was pending, with or without transports. The British Naval Command had expected this. It had become known in Germany that the British Fleet had become weakened in battlecruisers because of the dispatch of ships to the Atlantic Ocean and the Falkland Battle on December 8th. It was therefore only natural that the German High Sea Forces would be active before the return of these units to the Grand Fleet. The English version (Corbett) states that the British Admiralty had therefore already taken precautionary measures. However, the aim of the German operation remained uncertain. The subsequent English reaction, to spread the defenses along the long east coast, splintering the Grand Fleet, proved wrong. They divided the coast into two defensive areas, one north and one south of Flamborough Head. In the south Commodore Tywhitt and his Harwich Force had two flotilla's and the Light Cruisers Arethusa, Fearless, Aurora and Undaunted, and with the first report of German forces off the coast they were to put to sea, whilst the V Squadron had just been formed at the mouth of the river Thames. (map 4). The security to the north of Flamborough Head fell to the Grand Fleet. Admiral Beatty with his four remaining battlecruisers and two divisions of the IV Flotilla were out of Cromarty, and Commodore Goodenough and his I Light Cruiser Squadron were based at Scapa Flow. A Battle squadron, if possible the II (King George V class), the strongest and fastest, was to support them. All these forces were to assemble at a point out to sea, and find the best way to cut off the enemy should he attack.
As a further measure the Admiralty instructed the Leader of Submarines, Commodore Keyes, to put to sea and lay out a submarine line off Terschelling when the Germans were reported with sufficient time to do so. He had eight submarines (E2, 7, 8, 10, 11, 15 and the French Archimede) held in readiness. (map 4).
The coastal defense fell to Admiral Ballard, as the Admiral of Patrols. The forces available to him were extremely weak. The Admiral was in the Humber on the depot ship St George. The old battleships Victorious and Illustrious also lay there, as well as the old light cruiser Sirius, the flotilla leader Skirmisher, two Divisions of the VII, two Divisions of the IX Destroyer Flotilla's, and four submarines. Both Divisions of the VII Flotilla were based in Yarmouth, whilst in the Tyne was the old battleship Jupiter, the light cruiser Brilliant and seven submarines of the VI Flotilla. In Hartlepool was a Division of the IX Flotilla and the cruisers Patrol and Forward and a submarine, and off Whitby the 4th Division of the IX Flotilla formed a floating coastal defense. The Sentinel and VIII Destroyer Flotilla patrolled north of the Firth of Forth. The battleships Mars and Majestic had meanwhile been assigned other tasks in the channel, as were the three monitors previously based in the wash, but now transferred to Dunkirk, and their place was taken by the sloop Ronaldo.
The strategic advances of the Grand Fleet were left up to Admiral Jellicoe. He had assumed no easy task, as he had to cover 300 nautical miles of coastline. However, the dispositions were arranged to cover the most vulnerable points, and it was assumed that the Germans would target the Tyne or Humber. However, so far the surface attacks had been limited to the minefields of Albatroß and Nautilus, but further attacks could be expected. The British Admiralty were uncertain as to the extent of these barriers, and declared the area from Farn Island to the Tees, and from Flamborough Head to the Humber, as mine dangerous. Between the two areas there remained only a single free channel 25 nautical miles wide, that led directly out to sea from Scarborough and Whitby. (map 4). It was accepted that the German Fleet Command was familiar with this declaration and would use this channel to approach the coast. Admiral Jellicoe determined to place his advance forces off this channel, in fact at 54 10' north, 3 00' east, on the line between Helgoland and Flamborough Head, 180nm from Helgoland and 110nm from Flamborough Head.
On the day of the execution of the order, December 15th , the II Battle Squadron was on duty, so the wishes of the Admiralty had been met. Meanwhile a large number of drifting mines had been reported east of the mine dangerous area, so that Admiral Jellicoe extended the danger zone to a new line which extended approximately 80 nautical miles parallel to the coast. From the Firth of Forth to Flamborough Head no dreadnoughts were to proceed to the west of this line. This was reported to Vice-admiral Sir George Warrender, the Chief of the II Squadron, shortly before he sailed. This squadron consisted of only six battleships because of the loss of Audacious, and Thunderer was undertaking dockyard repair work. The light cruiser Liverpool was also undergoing repairs (2) whilst Lowestoft was replenishing her coal and had to remain in harbour, because she had been performing blockade duty with the 1st Cruiser Squadron. Subsequently, Commodore Goodenough, Chief of the I LCS, had only four ships; Southampton, Birmingham, Nottingham and Falmouth. However, effect reconnaissance could be undertaken because Admiral Jellicoe had dispatched the III Cruiser Squadron, consisting of the armoured cruisers Antrim, Devonshire, Argyll and Roxburgh, to Rosyth. Thanks to the readiness of these forces on December 15th they could quickly raise steam and already by 0330hrs could assemble about 60nm east of Aberdeen, and after the rendezvous they pushed ahead. However, as the II Battle squadron ran out of Scapa Flow into Pentland Firth they ran into a heavy storm with exceptionally heavy seas. The attached cruisers Blanche and Boadicea were forced to return. The Boadicea had her bridge washed away and lost several men swept overboard and drowned. The destroyers were unable to put to sea at all. Subsequently all available destroyers in Cromarty were ordered to sea with the I BCS, however it turned out that only seven were in readiness. Furthermore the weather was so bad it was doubtful whether they would be able to follow the battlecruisers. Admiral Jellicoe therefore immediately requested that the Harwich Force be dispatched to a rendezvous east of Scarborough, but the Admiralty declined this request and allowed Commodore Tywhitt to only push forward to Yarmouth, probably wishing to retain this force ready in case German troop transports should approach the coast. Meanwhile, Vice-admiral Beatty, the Leader of the Battlecruiser Squadrons, received a wireless message from Vice-admiral Sir George Warrender, the Leader of the II BS and Senior Sea Commander, which illustrates just how efficient the English espionage and wireless deciphering and observation system was in ascertaining German operations. It ran as follows:
"A German squadron, consisting of 4 battlecruisers (3) 5 light cruisers and 3 flotillas departed the Jade at dawn today, return Wednesday night. Have determined they will advance to rendezvous 5410'N, 30'E at 0830hrs 16th December. Hope to get information to Commodore (T) and for him to join me. If I have nothing from him by 0830hrs I will steer course 090 until 1130hrs, then 270 until 1430hrs, speed 14 knots: then swing to north. With regard to their low strength I want them no further than 5 nautical miles from me. On course 090 I want them behind me, or alternatively ahead of me with the III CS and I LCS, under their command. I believe a raid against Harwich or Humber is likely. If they end up in battle they are to draw the enemy onto the battle squadron. If Commodore (T) does not reach me I fear only the enemy destroyers. The III CS will go ahead 1nm to port, the I LCS 1nm ahead to starboard; at night 5nm. They are to combat enemy cruisers and keep enemy destroyers away, in accordance with their instructions. About 0800hrs all to battle stations, steam on for full ahead until midnight. Warn cruiser about floating mines in the enemies wake. Do you have any suggestions? As soon as you understand this message take station 5nm ahead. If this weather holds, in battle, strive to obtain the lee position, and hold this against enemy destroyers, the wind and swell. (time of dispatch) 1241hrs noon." (4)
According to this signal he estimated joining with the British battlecruisers on the following morning. He was all the more confident because he still new nothing about the German Battleship Squadrons putting to sea. While the battlecruisers were 5nm ahead during the night the armoured cruiser and light cruiser squadrons were to push 5nm to port and starboard. The seven destroyers had orders to hold 10nm west of the battlecruisers until dawn, and then to from an anti-submarine screen. The leader still suspected nothing about how near he would be to the German forces, and was steering to a rendezvous just 30 miles to the south of where the German High Sea Fleet was await the return of the AG group of Admiral Hipper, who had traversed this area about midnight. Seemingly, about 0100hrs the latter had passed just 10 to 15 nautical miles ahead of the English cruisers. (map 4 and 5).
The night was extraordinarily dark. Therefore the German vanguard, consisting of the kleinen kreuzer Straßburg and the seven of the IX flotilla, had great difficult holding station directly ahead of the battlecruisers, especially as several groups of trawlers had to be avoided. The flotilla received orders to maintain contact with the flagship, Seydlitz via the last torpedoboot. This boot, S33 under the acting command of Oblt.z.S Buddecke, lost contact however towards 0100hrs, and despite being forbidden, began calling Straßburg on a low wavelength. This FT signal could have endangered the entire operation. He knew the course and aim of the unit and could easily have rendezvoused at dawn. „To achieve surprise against the enemy strict wireless discipline was of great significance. It was only thanks to the circumstance that the enemy obviously kept a poor watch that the numerous calls of S33 (0114, 0121, 0137 and 0143hrs, December 16th) that the enemy did not notice and did not make a timely interception of the approaching German forces." So ran the report of the Commander of the Reconnaissance Forces of 20th December about wireless traffic. The boot could no longer maintain optical contact and it only remained for Straßburg to silence them. Therewith S33 abandoned her attempts and towards 0300hrs, as the Commander did not know of the rendezvous area with the main body, he set course for the southern tip of the island of Sylt. Towards 0325hrs V29, also of the IX flotilla under Command of Kptlt. Steinbrinck, was dismissed to the main body because of a leaky condenser. Hardly an hour previously the English had crossed the German course line close behind the German ships. In the war diary of Stralsund is the entry that at about 0245hrs „an English wireless station within 30 nautical miles" was heard. In this case it seems the difficult task of determining the range of a wireless station was quite accurate. Therefore the Boats S33 and V29 were in a dangerous position. About 0500hrs S33 encountered the enemy. (map 5 and 6). Suddenly, only 150 metres to port ahead, four enemy destroyers came in sight, which were steering south at slow speed. The German boot immediately went onto the same course and seemingly was taken for an English boat. Only at about 0520hrs she slowly turned off to the east, then reported the enemy by FT signal in 1055._Later the Commander observed gunfire in the west.
This was the right wing of the vanguard of the German main body colliding with the enemy destroyers. The boot V155 had been dispatched by SMS ,Roon' to investigate a steamer and therefore was separated from the remaining Boats of her flotilla. At about 0615hrs they sighted a vessel on a southeastern course 1 point to starboard. (map 4 and 7, battle sketch) The following further events are portrayed by the Commander, Oblt.z.S. Carl:
"V155 went to slow, then low speed and turned to starboard. The boats passed to port with slow speed. V155 made the recognition signal with blinker lantern: the enemy answered with A F J J. Meanwhile V155 lay 300 metres abeam the third boat. The formation of the enemy was line ahead, distance between boats approximately 200 metres. There were 12 or 16 boats. They had clear stern lanterns. V155 had stopped, so that the formation and number of boats could be recognized, as they were thought to be our own Boats. On a further call from V155 they again gave the wrong answer. Now V155 turned NNE and went to half speed and gave the recognition signal by a new method (5). No answer! V155 "utmost power!" At 0625hrs the wireless signal was given, "Enemy Torpedoboats in sight." Range 2000 metres. V155 went to half speed, to reduce smoke development. Turn to east course. The third boat looked for V155 with her searchlight without result, and then extinguished it. However one enemy boat opened fire. Now all boats turned with high speed behind V155 and seemingly put red and white lights horizontally. The enemy formed a half circle and the right wing quickly advanced and opened fire from all directions. V155 replied with her stern gun, range 20hm, with 5 shells. 0648hrs the wireless message was given; "Chased by destroyers in 154_." Utmost power. We were pushed away to the north. The enemy pursue us, the stern gun actively replies. Range 8 hectometres. The salvo's of the enemy lie well, therefore course alteration to NE. V155 fires from both guns. The fourth shot of the bow gun hits the leading boat to starboard in the vicinity of the bridge. This boats ceases fire and allows itself to slack aft. Now V155 could turn onto an easterly course. (map 7, battle sketch). Send corresponding wireless message. The stern gun hits the third boat to starboard under the forecastle. All boats allow themselves to slack aft. Fire was ceased. Suddenly from aft in our own smoke two enemy destroyers come in sight 2 hm distant. Aft gun rapid fire. 0657hrs give the wireless message "Enemy destroyers chase me." Fire very effective. Hits observed. The enemy allows himself to slack aft. He is lost from view. V155 course south. 0738hrs give the wireless message, "Enemy destroyers have quit, are out of sight. I steer south." Total munition expenditure 40 shells. 0830hrs push to the II Squadron. Then collect with the flotilla."
The actions of the Commander deserve the highest recognition. True he had not encountered and been pursued by 12 to 16 boats, as he believed he had recognized in the poor light, however he was in battle with seven for a long time. It was Beatty's destroyers onto which he had pushed: 1st Division: Lynx, Ambuscade, Unity, Hardy; 2nd Division: Shark, Acasta and Spitfire. Despite being outnumbered the German boot remained unhit, however in the short fight she had inflicted considerable damage. The lead boat, Lynx, received several hits and about 0641hrs had to turn away with rudder damage, whilst Ambuscade, the second boat, received an earlier hit on the waterline and pulled out of line, seemingly ending up under fire by her own destroyers. About 0637hrs four boats opened fire to port against an alleged second German torpedoboot, where no such boot stood. V155 was not only successful in heavily damaging the enemy and finally shaking them off, but furthermore, despite the difficulty, she located her own main body and passed on information about the appearance of enemy destroyers so that the latter could avoid them.
On the first wireless report from V155 at about 0615hrs the nearby kleine kreuzer Hamburg, Commandant Korvettenkapitän von Gaudecker, and her two attendant Boats, V158, Kptlt. Recke, and V160, Kptlt. Boehm, immediately turned towards the gunfire with utmost power, to bring help to the endangered torpedoboot and to cut off the destroyers from the main body. (map 7).
"After a quarter hour"--ran the report of Hamburg's Commander--"a darkened vessel which did not answer the recognition signal was sighted 10 ahead , in square 1625_, which when illuminated was recognized as a destroyer and was taken under fire at a range of 8hm. He turned away to make a torpedo shot, and I likewise turned away to bring all the guns into action and to give his torpedo shot an unfavourable angle. The first salvo went wide, however with a range of 600 to 400 metres almost every shot was a hit. Two hits were observed on the command bridge, then several on the waterline. After a brief time the boat lost speed and sank to the upper deck. After three further salvo's from the aft guns the boat quickly sank on an even keel." (map 7).
Immediately after the beginning of the fight SMS Hamburg received a hit from starboard forward, between the forward searchlight and the four men standing at the bottom of the searchlight position. The shell detonated here. Splinters penetrated the cable and resistance box of the forward port searchlight, which together with the starboard signal flags, fell out. Splinters injured some men on the bridge and at the forward gun. A second hit struck between frames 15 and 16, compartment 3, making a hole 73 X 75cm, 1.60m over the waterline. The shell detonated in the wing passage. The splinter destroyed a cabin and the battery locker located on the zwischen deck. Other splinters from the outer hull wing passage went in all directions and injured the gun crew of the starboard fifth gun under the poop, which was not provided with a shield. (6)
Soon after the conclusion of the first battle a second suspicious vessel came in sight to starboard, which also turned out to be an enemy destroyer. He was illuminated by the forward starboard searchlight, however, the searchlight could no longer penetrate through. However, the aft gun could make out the target in the increasing morning gloom without the searchlight and fired four shots at the darkened destroyer. I now turned to the SSE to as not to loose contact with the fleet, which by now had made a turn. Then the destroyer turned away and the intension to keep them away from the main body was achieved. I take it as certain that they had no knowledge of the nearness of our fleet."
The Torpedoboats V158 and V160, which were travelling behind Hamburg, were at times in the enemy fire. Compared to this they could only at times bring their guns to bear, as the kreuzer was mostly between them and the enemy. The Commanders could nevertheless make out several dark shapes behind the first and second destroyers. In the darkness several impacts could be seen in the vicinity of the enemy. The battle was played out at the shortest range, 150 metres. It was striking that the enemy destroyers did not seem to fire torpedoes on the kleine kreuzer. It was clearly seen in the searchlights that at the beginning of the fight the torpedo tubes were midships. Also they did not attempt to blind the gunners of Hamburg with their searchlights.
Under the conditions of such a night battle it was natural that observation to all points was not available. Hamburg had overestimated the effect of her shooting, and the Commander was mistaken in believing he had sunken a destroyer. According to the English version Lynx turned away from V155, being heavily damaged, leaving Ambuscade at the head, but this destroyer could not maintain speed because of leaks and turned to course S8W and would seek the British battlecruisers at dawn. Thereby a gap opened up between Unity and Hardy when suddenly (0635hrs) only a few hundred metres to port of Hardy and Shark a kreuzer (Hamburg) was sighted. Unity and Hardy vanished to the south. In the immediately following firefight the British destroyer group of four turned to port onto the opposite course, in an attempt to loose the enemy, and renewed the attack on Hamburg. Hardy had been damaged during the first phase of the battle and was having difficulty steering, when she was hit twice more by Hamburg. During the battle she suffered 2 dead and 15 wounded. She fired a torpedo, but this remained without effect, perhaps because Hamburg turned away at that moment to regain her own main body. Steering with her engines Hardy was able to pull into line behind Spitfire, and after the four destroyers abandoned attempts to rejoin Lynx and Unity they attempted to reach their own battlecruisers. Thus, at the very least, Hamburg, in connection with V155, had prevented the British destroyers from discovering the presence of the German fleet. (7)
As the report of S33 reached the Fleet Command about 0524hrs it was still two hours before dawn, and thus the opportunity for destroyer attack was favourable. The considerations arising from this were given in the report of the Fleet Commander of December 18th 1914:
"At first we lacked details about the course of the destroyers and whether the reporting boot was observed. It was also not known why a torpedoboot of the forces of the BdA had remained so far behind: this threw doubt on the correctness of the reported square. It was possible nevertheless, that she was held back through investigating vessels, a great number of which had been passed by the main body."
This uncertainness was first removed an hour later with the first report from V155.It was now clear that they were in danger of an enemy destroyer attack and therefore at about 0630hrs the Fleetchief determined to swing to the SE at great speed. At the same time the enemy destroyers jammed wireless activity so that only at 0640hrs could the Z-station give the signal to turn.
During the turn to starboard gunfire was seen and heard ahead. (map 7). The cause of this was reported by Hamburg at 0659hrs.
At about 0652hrs Roon, Kpt.z.S. von Karpf, together with V161, the leader boot of the VI flotilla, and four Boats of the 11th Half-flotilla, took up the movement to the southeast. Approximately 20 minutes later, to port ahead at 1200 metres distance, two Torpedoboats on a southern course could be made out. As they appeared to come from the direction of the main body it was uncertain whether they were their own or hostile. The recognition signal remained unanswered. Their track crossed the German track. For some minutes the Panzerkreuzer was an easy target for their torpedoes. Before there was time to illuminate the searchlights, in order to open fire, the boats turned away to the south. (map 7). With the gathering dawn the searchlights would have trouble penetrating. Without their help the weak telescopes of the guns of the obsolete ship could not achieve their purpose. The Boats of the VI flotilla did not attack because they did not wish to foul the range of the panzerkreuzer. Therefore the moment to destroy the destroyers passed. As Roon went to "utmost power" and turned towards the enemy, they had had already gone to high speed and passed before the bow, quickly vanishing from sight.
It was Lynx and Unity that were responding to a wireless call for help from Ambuscade when they were hunted away by Roon. The speed of the old panzerkreuzer was not sufficient to maintain the pursuit for long, and it appeared correct to the Commander to continue screening the fleet, and not allowing a hole. Already by about 0720hrs the squadrons of the fleet, pursuant of the Fleet Chief's orders had take up course east, and had swung onto ESE½E. He wanted the destroyers encountered by Hamburg and Torpedoboats, and any heavy forces with them, behind himself at dawn. The destroyers in the vicinity of the panzerkreuzer Roon remained unknown to the Fleet Commander. The Commander , Kpt.z.S. v. Karpf saw that the destroyers were no longer a danger to his own main body, especially as it would be dawn and clear in a half hour. About this time (0720hrs) the message arrived from V155 that she was pursued by enemy destroyers, but that these had disappeared from sight. In reality these, after their meeting with Roon, still stood between the vanguard and the main body. What their intention was, to contact their own forces or to maintain contact with their opponents, in unknown. (map 7). About 0812hrs the torpedoboat group following Roon reported enemy destroyers, four in number, to port astern at approximately 6000 metres range and on a parallel course, which were called by searchlight. Whilst the Torpedoboats manoeuvred to give Roon a free field of fire two enemy shells landed in the wake of V153, 400 metres distant. Scarcely had the panzerkreuzer made out the destroyers than they turned away to the north and disappeared at high speed. For a short time they believed they could make out an enemy light cruiser following behind them, but in the confusion it turned out to be Stuttgart, Frgkpt. Friedrich Richter, who was pushing towards the destroyers. About 0850hrs he reported by wireless, six enemy destroyers. The same report was given optically to München, Kpt.z.S. von Studnitz, and Roon. They participated until the destroyers disappeared from sight. Aboard Stuttgart they believed they had sighted a submarine at 160hm between the destroyers. Soon after the kreuzer covering the northern flank, Rostock, Frgkpt. von Trotha, the flagship of the I FdT, made a similar signal. At the 0907hrs the supposed submarine was sighted by the last ship of the II Squadron and turned away when taken under fire. About 0920hrs the kreuzer Roon abandoned the pursuit of the destroyers and took her station at the rear of the main body. (map8) What she had seen was the British destroyer group under Shark. After the clash with V155 and Hamburg the leader was not doubtful that he had pushed on to the vanguard of a much larger force. Therefore at 0750hrs as the destroyers encountered further German ships, they immediately attempted to go to high speed, despite the damage to Hardy, to maintain contact. Soon they five German Torpedoboats in sight and even opened fire on these, but when Roon was made out they broke off the battle. Nevertheless, the leader of the group, Commander Jones on Shark, in no way deterred, held contact at greater range whilst he fruitlessly attempted to signal his extremely important observations to Admiral Warrender. Meanwhile the visibility became bad, and varied between 1 and 4 nautical miles. Hereby at 0840hrs the destroyers were in great danger, as they were suddenly chased by three kleinen kreuzers and were forced away by Roon. There was nothing else to do but turn away to the north and increase speed to 30 knots, in an attempt to draw the German kreuzers away to the west. About 0915hrs the badly damaged Hardy could no longer keep up the speed but about this time the German kreuzer turned to the east so that the destroyers attempted to maintain contact for a second time. This was finally lost. Meanwhile Unity and Lynx fruitlessly attempted to contact the British battlecruisers. With dawn these were not in sight. Because of the damage and because they were without protection should a second clash occur, Lynx, supported by Unity, took course for Leith for repairs. After Lynx was safe Unity returned to escort Ambuscade safely to harbour. No British submarines stood in the vicinity of the destroyers. These observations of the German kreuzers were mistaken but unfortunately significantly influenced the decisions of Admiral von Ingenohl. Certainly he had already initiated the rear march, before the submarine was reported to him, even though with dawn the danger from a surprise destroyer attack was past.
His report ran as follows:
"It must be reckoned that the main body has been sighted: as a result of the high speed of advance, 15 knots, a large smoke cloud stood over the fleet which was highly visible--Our own screening forces, the III and IV Reconnaissance groups, were weak and on contact with the modern enemy reconnaissance forces by day could not hinder them. For the coming night it is also highly likely that the English Torpedoboats would attack the main body in the German Bight, and as the night is particularly dark this would probably produce ship losses.
An advance of the main body by day to join with the forces of the Commander of the Reconnaissance Forces was without pressing grounds and did not correspond with the orders from the All Highest about the use of the High Sea Fleet.
Under normal conditions a uniting towards 1 pm would be a point 250 nautical miles from the Jade. With a speed of 15 knots the river mouths would first have been reached towards 7 am on the following day.
In addition, with our surprise arrival on the English coast a danger to our light forces by superior enemy forces was unlikely. This assumption is not proved."
He spoke further about the possibility of heavy forces being behind the destroyers reported at 0700hrs. In addition a report from the BdA about the success or failure of the operation had still not arrived. The reasons for the assumption that the main body had been sighted were little. The 2 panzerkreuzers, 8 kleinen kreuzers and 4 flotillas were superior in strength and number to any of the encountered enemy forces, but there was concern that more hostile destroyers would be encountered, even though those met had been forced away. Admiral Ingenohl determined that continuing towards the English coast would put his forces in considerable danger, especially as he believed he now had accurate knowledge of the English movements. He had allowed no daring and difficult strategic manoeuvres and showed only the will to avoid battle. At 0932hrs the report arrived from the BdA that he had detached the kleinen kreuzers and flotillas in the direction of the main body, but this did not change his decision to retreat. Certainly the Fleetchief did not recognize the reasons for the premature detachment of the light forces, and thought that the weather on the English coast was no worse than that with the main body. The war diaries of the kreuzers on the 28th August off Helgoland gave weather conditions entirely different to those assumed by the fleet.
The special conditions in which sea war is conducted, with quickly changing forces and weather conditions, had once again revealed themselves with this meeting. The destroyers had formed the port flank cover of the British I Battlecruiser Squadron. Only a few miles behind followed the II Battle Squadron. Without the clash of the destroyers with the German advanced guard the entire force British inferior force would have entered battle with the German main body at dawn. Even after the encounter of the destroyers the British still remained unclear about the position. (map 8).
Whilst V155 succeeded in giving an accurate wireless report about the encounter with the British destroyers, it seems that the German jamming was so effective that neither the leader of the battlecruisers, nor the Chief of Squadron II could gain a clear picture of events. Therefore the destroyers remained without support. Admittedly, according to the English version, aboard Beatty's flagship, Lion, from 0730hrs German wireless messages were heard, and the flash of gunfire and searchlights was observed in a NE direction. However, by 0800hrs Admiral Beatty had heard no more apart from Lynx was hunting A German torpedoboot and Ambuscade had gone to assist. These signals were not definite enough for him and he therefore remained on his course, so that about 0830hrs all four British squadrons arrived at the rendezvous. (maps 4 and 8). They awaited Commodore Tyrwhitt there without success. At this time his position was more than 100 nautical miles away inside the banks off Yarmouth, bound by further orders from the Admiralty. Now Sir George Warrender received the first signal from Shark about contact with the enemy about 0750hrs. He immediately pushed to the east on a zigzag course, which Admiral Beatty, who had just at that moment sighted the Battle Squadron, at first found incomprehensible as he had not received the message from Shark. "Was Roon behind them?" was the seachlight signal from the Leader of the II Squadron. With the reception of this question the flagship became aware that Shark and other unknown destroyers had come into contact with the named panzerkreuzer. Admiral Beatty immediately went to 24 knots speed and onto course ENE, to cut off Roon with his battlecruisers, and the light cruiser that were to the north went in a similar direction so that soon there was a 12 nautical wide reconnaissance line moving to the east. However, soon the chief of the II BS ordered that the cruisers should begin the return to the north at 1530hrs. (??) Then he steered to the south to join with the III Cruiser Squadron.
The hope of catching the enemy was very little really, because of the delay of the important contact signal by Shark, but then a second signal by this destroyer livened things up. He now reported that he was chased by three enemy kreuzers at position 54 34' north, 3 48' east. However, only a little later he and his destroyer group met the light cruiser Falmouth, and he learned that his previous position report and his latest were in considerable error. Nevertheless, Beatty slowly came to the conclusion he was behind the entire German fleet. However, at this moment, 0950hrs, the situation changed. From the opposite direction, at a distance of more than 150 miles, a wireless message arrived from Patrol, leader of the Hartlepool Flotilla, and the Tyne guard ship Jupiter, that they were in battle with two enemy battlecruisers. At the same time the confusion reached a high point as the Admiralty signaled the following to the Commander of the Grand Fleet: "Scarborough is being bombarded!"
In fact the German battlecruisers had meanwhile reached the British coast, although briefly after passing the Dogger Bank about 0500hrs the wind had gone to the NW and freshened, quite unexpectedly, so that the partaking of the Torpedoboats was precluded. However, as a result of the report of S33 that there were now enemy forces between the battlecruisers and their own main body, the dispatch of the Torpedoboats to the main body without the protection of the kleinen kreuzer no longer came into the question. In the face of the approaching storm they would be a defenseless sacrifice. About 0700hrs a report from the vanguard arrived which put the entire operation in doubt. It was a wireless message from Straßburg reporting that they could no longer utilize their artillerie in the heavy weather and they and their Torpedoboats had turned away to the east. It was becoming lighter in the west but the coast could not be made out. In this position Kontreadmiral Hipper and his First Admiralstaff Offizier, Korvettenkapitän Raeder, faced a difficult decision, whether to break off the operation completely, or whether to continue on course and conduct the bombardment without the support of kleinen kreuzers and Torpedoboats. With breathless tension all those on the Command Bridge waited the leaders decision. After the battlecruisers had traversed the entire Northsea for the second time it would be a bitter disappointment for the offiziers and crews to turn back at the last moment. Therefore the decision to continue and complete the bombardment was greeted with great joy. Only Kolberg would continue in the wake of the battlecruisers to lay her mines off the coast. On the other hand the three remaining kleinen kreuzers and the two flotilla, which at 0735hrs stood directly off Whitby in 0475_received instructions to steer for the 0700hr rendezvous with the main body, under the direction of Stralsund. (map 4 and 8). The information that German ships were off the coast would no longer be a secret after the first bombardment. However, the BdA did not have "information that the main body was not on the planned rendezvous, or that they were not in the vicinity of the advanced position, and had not taken the position they should have until the kreuzers had completed their task." If Kontreadmiral Hipper had been aware of these circumstances then obviously he would not have dispatched the light forces back 100 nautical miles without protection. Not long after the kleinen kreuzers and Torpedoboats turned away several clear lights came in sight indicating the proximity of the English coast and in the first morning gloom at 0740hrs land came in sight to port ahead. Now, according to plan, the Admiral detached the ships von der Tann, Derfflinger and Kolberg to the south, whilst he himself went to the north with the powerful group Seydlitz, Moltke and Blücher. (maps 4, 9 and 10).
The ships had a difficult struggle against the wind and swell. The mist lying over the coast made bearing taking considerably difficult and not a single beacon could be located to assist in navigation. For this trip Oblt.z.S. von Ahlefeld, Commander of U27, was enshipped aboard the flagship as after his reconnaissance cruises aboard the U-Boot he could give good service in recognizing navigational fixes. Because of the mine danger the ships had to remain close under the coast and at 0814hrs they sighted the peninsula that marked the northern part of Hartlepool town. Under the coast steamer traffic was observed and further out to sea fishing boats could be seen. Only at 0845hrs could one of the ships make out the southern entrance to the town and the watch station which showed the recognition signal, then soon afterwards the lighthouse of the harbour entrance became visible, which reported them as English ships. Meanwhile the storm had hit in full fury and because the funnel smoke was blown away visibility to seaward became very poor. There was a surprise about 0900hrs when as the battlecruisers attension was directed towards the coast, a group of four "River" class destroyers attacked from the north. As these suddenly appeared from the appeared out of the mist on an opposite course Seydlitz and shortly after, Moltke opened fire at 50 to 70hm. (map 9). After two or three salvo's the first destroyer appeared destroyed and the second, on which Moltke was firing, was hit and sank by the stern. Then Blücher fired on the third and forth. These two turned away, covered by black smoke columns. One disappeared in a violent detonation. A wireless message which they attempted to send during the attack was effectively jammed by Seydlitz. It was also observed that the transmitting wireless station suddenly ceased, which led to the belief that the destroyer had meanwhile been hit and the station destroyed.
According to the English version (8) they were badly damaged and escaped. It was the destroyers Doon, Waveney, Test and Moy, which in line with the orders for coastal defense had before dawn, around 0630hrs, put to sea and had taken up positions in readiness. At daybreak, around 0855hrs, they were 5 or 6 miles north of Hartlepool on a northerly course when suddenly they observed three ships in a SE direction, approaching the coast, which in the smoke, mist and sea spray they could not make out at first. Scarcely had they increased speed and turned towards them than a violent fire opened on them. They discovered early that during daylight a torpedo attack could not be expected and turned away on a zigzag course, in a NE direction. However, before they could vanish in the mist, three of them were hit by splinters, whereby on Doon 3 men were killed and 6 were wounded. With the bad visibility and water columns from the fall of shot landing around the destroyers, it is difficult to understand how the impression was gained that two destroyers were badly hit and sunk. One observer also said a destroyer had fired a torpedo before turning away. At this moment, to avoid the torpedo the German battlecruisers turned north and then NNE to veer away from the destroyer, and in the artillerie director (Gunnery Offizier) in the aft conning tower of Seydlitz claimed to see a torpedo just 20m abeam turret 'D', which jumped from the water then drifted aft in the wake. It passed Moltke to port. At the same time another torpedo passed close under the bow and a third passed close under the stern of Blücher. Oddly the launching of the torpedoes is not mentioned in the English account, similarly the second attack of the destroyer Doon. If a torpedo had hit having a ship near the enemy coast would have greatly handicapped the kreuzers and without doubt would have made things very difficult.
After only seven minutes the battle was concluded. In this time Seydlitz fired approximately 100 shells, Moltke 54 15cm shells, and in addition the latter fired 38 heavy shells with full charges. However, the violent rolling and pounding of the ships and the difficult observation conditions considerably adversely affected the firing and the results remained uncertain. A pursuit of the damaged destroyers, traveling at reduced speed in the stormy conditions would have certainly meant their destruction. However, Kontreadmiral Hipper was under the impression that the coastal bombardment had already been delayed too long, and the operational orders expressly stated take the coastal bombardment should take precedence over the destruction of forces afloat. He could also reckon that he would meet more valuable forces than destroyers on the rear march. Therefore at 0921hrs he dispatched the battlecruisers to their arranged bombardment positions (map 9), about 1.5 nautical miles from the Heugh lighthouse. Seydlitz took the Cemetery Battery under fire from the NE, together with the nearby lying wire cable factory. Moltke took the lighthouse and Heugh Battery under fire from the east, as well as the Coast Watch Station at Town Moor. Blücher fired on the two factories to the north of the harbour, the Middleton dock, the building of the central dock and the gas works, from the SE. Blücher intended to only use the medium and light artillerie, and the heavy guns were only loaded with small charges, ready to immediately open fire on submarines. Only if heavy batteries opened fire from ashore would the heavy artillerie be brought to bear. The destroyer attack had delayed the beginning of the bombardment. The English Territorial Garrison, consisting of 11 Officers and 155 men, had already been told about midnight that a German Squadron attack could be expected from an hour before dawn and they were at battle stations. (9) Therefore, when Blücher, Commander Fregattenkapitän Erdmann, turned as first ship to port towards the coast and opened fire at a range of 50 to 60hm on her assigned targets, she was welcomed by a lively fire. Nevertheless at first the fire was ineffective and Blücher ignored it, particularly as the other two battlecruisers were programmed to defeat the batteries with their fire. However, before long the British coastal guns had hit Blücher four times. The first was a 15cm shell which exploded directly beneath the Command Bridge and put the third and forth 8.8cm starboard guns out of action. Of the operating crew nine fell, two were badly wounded. The splinter effect was considerable and rent apart the ready ammunition. Loose power, destroyed cartridge cases and cartridge bodies whirled through space, however, without exploding. The second hit struck the hood of a 21cm turret. A splinter ruined the turret sight and rangefinder, but the turret remained operational. The third shell struck the side armour below the same turret, without effect. The forth stuck the upper edge of the observation position in the foremast and rent the aerials away and some other signal and searchlight equipment. The crew performed without reproach , the order transmitters being just as fast as in peacetime training. Therefore the hits could not hinder the effectiveness of the fire.
Meanwhile Seydlitz and Moltke manoeuvred to the NE and took up the battle against the batteries. The fall of shot of the Cemetery Battery was generally 100 to 200 metres short, but as about 0937hrs the ships turned onto the opposite course, the Heugh Battery, with rapid salvo fire, struck Seydlitz with three hits. The first struck the forecastle and wrecked several ventilation shafts and lockers. Much water poured in through the shot hole, however it was soon sealed with wood. The second shell passed through the outer mantel of the fore funnel, 2 metres above deck level, and exploded in the inner sleeve, making a hole 4 to 5 square metres in size. The third hit the ventilation shaft of the aft superstructure and searchlight cables and equipment were damaged. Several life jackets caught fire and splinters penetrated the low-pressure turbine room, however there were no casualties, only one man slightly wounded.
Moltke also received a hit that with a powerful detonation destroyed several accommodation cabins in the foreship. The Commander of this ship, Kpt.z.S. von Levetzow, immediately ordered the heavy artillerie to open fire, as observation of the impacts was considerably easier than with the medium artillerie. Soon there were several hits in the English fort. It was not long before the guns were brought to silence. According to the English version there was considerable resistance from the three English 15.2cm guns (6 inch BLMk.VII guns), one of which was near the lighthouse and two of which were in the Heugh Battery. The whirling dust thrown up by the German shells exploding amongst the houses close behind them did not hinder them, and seemingly they were only limited by the training angle of their concrete mountings. The main telephone connection was destroyed by the first German shell, and as a result of the vibrations the range finder was practically useless, therefore the gun leaders fired independently. Therefore the batteries only fired a total of 123 shells. The crew and the covering infantry (Durham Artillery Garrison and 18th Durham Light Infantry) admitted losses of 9 dead and 12 wounded even though the guns were not directly hit. Certainly from the German side shells with delayed fuses should have been used against the coastal works, and the British battery commander had no doubt that if they had, the large number of shells landing inside the battery would have caused greater destruction.
In the inner harbour basin the German fire was directed on the light cruisers Patrol and Forward and the submarine C9. When the destroyers ran out at 0630hrs they reported a heavy mist and therefore it was too dangerous for these forces to pass the bar at low water. Therefore they remained in harbour and only with the arrival of the first shells did they prepare to leave harbour. However, they were delayed because the entrance lay under continuous German battlekreuzer fire. Consequently Patrol, which was following Forward, was hit twice by heavy shells and suffered 4 dead and 7 wounded, whilst C9, which was traveling in her wake, only escaped the fire by diving. True she struck the bar, as the water was only 5.5 metres deep, but soon obtained the open sea. However, Patrol stuck fast and seemingly faced certain destruction, when suddenly the German kreuzers ceased fire and disappeared to the east. The English report says this was to avoid being attacked by C9, which already at 1000hrs was 4nm ENE of the Heugh battery. (map 9).
The German side only sighted Patrol relatively late and she was only reported from the foretops of Seydlitz and Moltke as with the mist and funnel smoke hindrance she could not be recognized from the conning tower or guns. Fire against the remaining targets was ceased about 0946hrs. It had only lasted 16 minutes but in this time no fewer than 1150 shells of heavy, medium and light calibre had been fired at the batteries and other militarily important targets in the city. The report of the English periodical 'The Engineer' of January 1915 is noteworthy as it mentions several industrial installations. Three gasometers went up in flames, along with a water tower and the engine house of the gasworks was partially destroyed. A wood yard and granary at the port, with valuable raw materials, were set afire. The dockyard of Richardson, Westgard, Ropner and Co suffered particularly as did the installations of the Irwing Shipbuilding co at Middelton. Administration buildings, revolving cranes and assembly shops were in a similar manner badly damaged and partly destroyed by fire. Two ships under construction in the yard of the latter were hit several times by shells, and on one the sternpost was rent off. The new steamer Sagoma River, tied up near a shed, and the steamers Fair Field and City of Newcastle were badly damaged and the steamer Denebola, which was in the harbour dock, was also hit. (10) Other shells struck railway buildings and rent up track. Altogether 300 houses were more or less damaged. On the other hand a whole number of shells did not explode and this was attributed to the fact the German ships did not have special shells nor fuses for coastal bombardment. Also exercises against such targets are rare, and almost all fleet training is exclusively for a sea battle. The men of the German battlecruisers would not hesitate ship against ship, but were not trained in this form of combat.
The effect of the bombardment was unmistakable from the German kreuzers. When they began the march to the rendezvous several black smoke clouds could be seen rising above the city. Unfortunately the civilian population suffered great casualties. 86 people were killed and 424 were wounded, but this lamentable sacrifice was brought about by the British Governments presumptuous belief that the English coast was immune from German attack, and therefore the coastal batteries were located in densely inhabited areas.
Meanwhile the southern kreuzer group of German battlecruisers under Kontreadmiral Tapken had also successfully conducted their task. On the route south the navigational lights were also extinguished. However, at the latitude of Robin Hood Bay the ships were able to obtain a position fix so that gradually they were able to come within 1 nautical mile of the coastline. (map 10). Almost beside them on the high shore was a clearly illuminated train traveling south, and shortly after it's arrival in Scarborough the ships also arrived off the town. According to plan at 0900hrs they passed Scarborough Rock, towering from the sea, and began their bombardment. The ships could recognize barbed wire in front of the redoubts of the fortress and also the barracks, up on the cliff, however the expected fire from ashore was absent. Also a flyer that the English newspapers later reported was fished from the sea by destroyers, was not seen.
The first salvo from the medium and light artillerie of Derfflinger, which was fired at a range of 25hm, struck the cliffs. The second flew like a raptor over the cliffs and landed in the middle of the military installations. At the same time the impacts of the 15cm shells from von der Tann were seen to strike the 150 metre high Mount Oliver and high black smoke columns were visible. According to the map there were waterworks there, however these could not be seen and indirect fire had to be employed.
Already at 0910hrs the two ships turned in succession onto the opposite course, with von der Tann maintaining the lead. The main target for the medium artillerie of the latter ship was the gasworks lying 550 metres behind Mount Oliver. A wood obscured direct sight and indirect fire was undertaken at a range of 45hm. The fall of shot could partially be seen behind the foot of the mountain ridge. The target of the light artillerie, the railway station, could also not be made out, despite the low range, because of the haze over the town. Fire was directed by reference to secondary objects and for 18 minutes the station was bombarded at ranges of 38 to 42hm. The observation offizier in the foremast could make out a whole number of direct hits. Beside the Grand Hotel lay the coast watch station and this, the signal station on Scarborough Rock and the other installations on the cliffs were meanwhile taken under effective fire by Derfflinger. One short salvo struck just over the mole where a large number of fishing vessels lay in harbour. When the ships ceased the bombardment about 0923hrs they had fired 333 15cm and 443 8.8cm high explosive shells.
The English report states that the effect of the bombardment was indescribable. From a feeling of complete security the horror of war had suddenly outraged the inhabitants. The people quit their ships and houses and besieged the railway station, attempting to flee by train as fast as possible.
Whilst the bombardment took the attension of those ashore, Kolberg, which had steamed past the battlecruisers, began laying a mine barrier 3.6 nautical miles south of Scarborough. (map 10). The heavy seas caused the kreuzer to roll 12 to either side, and the ship was taking water, which forced the original planned location of the barrier to be changed. At about 0914hrs the first mine was cast and at about 0941hrs the last of the 100 mines fell. All the mines were cast within 10 nautical miles of the coast, as ordered, blockading the steamer route. This barrier complemented the alleged barrier off the Humber. Shallow positioned mines were not observed and according to the water level calculations the depth of the mines would be 2m below the spring tide level.
When Kolberg completed her task she steered directly to the rendezvous, whilst von der Tann and Derfflinger turned to the north at a speed of 23 knots to carry their instructions to destroy the coast watch station at Whitby. Shortly after 1000hrs this bombardment position was also reached, and at 1006hrs, under the fie of the medium artillerie of von der Tann, the signal mast bearing the British battle flag broke, and the coast watch station buildings to the SE of Whitby were damaged. (map 10). Then the light artillerie took the signal station behind the western mole under fire at a range of 38 to 44hm. Derfflinger also took this target under fire. The results of this fire could not be observed. Altogether around 106 15cm and 82 8.8cm shells were fired at targets around Whitby. About 1013hrs the ships ceased fire and steered towards the rendezvous. On the Command bridge there was understandable tension, as to whether they could reunify with the northern group without the enemy intervening. About 1031hrs Seydlitz, Moltke and Blücher came in sight 12 nautical miles N by W, whilst in the SE Kolberg also steamed towards the assembly point. About 1100hrs Kontreadmiral Hipper reported to the main body by wireless that the task had been carried out, together with his position and course. It remained unknown to him that in the meantime considerable English forces had assembled between the German kreuzers and their own main body.
Although the British Admiralty had knowledge 20 hours previously that the German forces had put to sea they again made the same mistake as on August 28th. Again valuable English forces were in close proximity to the Germans without the support of the main body of the fleet. The only counter measures that Admiral Jellicoe could employ after the report of the coastal bombardment was to allow the IV Battle squadron under Vice Admiral Bradford to quickly put to sea from Rosyth, and at least he could be off the Tyne gap by 1600hrs to bar the German ships an escape to the north. To the south, with the first alarm signal (0940hrs) Commodore Tyrwhitt pushed on into the Haisborough Gat. However, scarcely was he free of the sandbank than the seas became so short and steep that he had to dispatch both his destroyer flotilla's to Yarmouth, and continued the advance with only the four light cruisers. Despite all the prior warnings about the German attack the Grand Fleet was only ready to put to sea at 1315hrs. Under these circumstances the important decisions lay with the leaders of the II BS and the I BCS. When Sir George Warrender received the signal from Patrol he immediately swung to the NW, to take the shortest possible route to the gap between the mine barriers off the Tyne and Humber. (0954hrs). (map 4 and 11). By comparison it seemed to Admiral Beatty, whom the signal was not addressed to and was only intercepted, that it was too indefinite and he would have to give up his pursuit of Roon, which according the last report of Shark was still nearby. Therefore until 1000hrs his cruisers remained on a northerly course, especially as he received the wireless report about the bombardment of Scarborough later than Warrender. Only when he received this message did he turn west towards the new theatre of enemy activity, and the meanwhile arrived four destroyers of the Shark group formed a broad reconnaissance line. This was about the time which von der Tann and Derfflinger began the bombardment of Whitby. Between the German and British battlecruisers was more than 150 nautical miles however. Now their main objective was to run down the enemy in the west. Commodore Goodenough now received orders to screen to the east, where Shark had reported German kreuzers, However, soon the report arrived that Scarborough had been bombarded, allegedly by kleinen kreuzers, and three German dreadnoughts were off Hartlepool, and this put the whole situation in a different light. Apparently they were dealing with a more full-scale operation by the enemy than they had originally expected. After the last report it appeared that the enemy had continued along the coast. This cast doubt on the effectiveness of the defensive measures. At 1110hrs a signal arrived from the High Command, showing that the Admirals actions in moving to block the gap coincided with Admiral Jellicoe's intensions. He signaled, "Gap in mine field between latitude 5440' and 5420' and longitude 020' east. Enemy will in all probability come out of this gap."
Directly east of this gap however, was the southwestern shallows of the Dogger Bank on which the raging storm would create surf, so that for the battlecruisers at least, it would be impassible. Therefore the light cruisers would go around it to the north, the battleships and armoured cruisers would go around to the south. This created a 13 nautical mile gap between Beatty and Warrender's forces, which would later prove fateful. The cruisers spread out to the north of the battlecruisers and to the south of the battlesquadron, so that soon a 35 nautical mile wide reconnaissance line had been formed. On the basis of all existing reports the two Admirals still doubted whether their precautions really suited the situation. An Admiralty order of 1150hrs ordered them to await the German forces off the barrier gap, but they were worried the Germans had meanwhile quit the coast at some secluded point and were now making for Helgoland. After Commodore Tyrwhitt was placed at the disposal of Admiral Warrender he was ordered to 5420'N, 130'E, to block the southern escape route and make it impossible for the Germans to get away. About 1200hrs Beatty was free of the northern end of the Dogger Bank and he altered course towards the middle of the barrier gap, allowing the light cruisers to spread to the north of Southampton, which was traveling ahead of him. The visibility at this time was only a few nautical miles and violent rainsqualls further reduced it temporarily. It would be impossible to work the guns on the smaller vessels. Then about 12.30hrs it was suddenly seen from Lion that there were gunfire flashes on Southampton, which was 3 to 4 nautical miles ahead to port. The rumble of cannon thunder could be heard from a still not visible enemy. The manoeuvre appeared successful, the enemy had been brought to battle.
When Kontreadmiral Hipper detached the Kleinen kreuzers and flotillas at about 0740hrs the rolling movements had become so severe and violent that one torpedoboot lost her mast and on the kleinen kreuzers the ready munition on the forecastle and poop, despite being tightly secured, was rent loose, and the middle decks were two feet under water. Because of the mine danger the torpedo tubes had been unloaded, but now they were unable to be reloaded. It is probable that near the coast the ebb current was running against the wind and causing the unusually steep seas. A few nautical miles outside the area designated as dangerous for mines, curiously it was considerably calmer. Under these circumstances there was the possibility for the light forces to await the return of the battlecruisers after their bombardments, outside the barrier gap, and to secure their line of retreat. However, the leader of the group, Kpt.z.S. Harder, the Commander of Stralsund, had received instructions to rendezvous with the main body, supposed to be approximately 100nm further to the east, at as fast a speed as the swell would allow. (map 4 and 11). On these grounds he sought to assemble the three groups of kleinen kreuzers and flotillas after dawn, and then to proceed to the 0700hrs rendezvous of the main body. His battle report ran as follows:
"Towards 0900hrs more lively English wireless traffic was heard. One wireless station continued to increase in strength until 1100hrs and gave the impression enemy forces were near the line Hartlepool--Helgoland. I made the decision to go at highest obtainable speed and put the line of the English Channel--east edge of the Dogger Bank and from Whitby to Amrum Bank behind me as soon as possible."
About 1000hrs they were in optical contact with Graudenz and Straßburg and exchanged recognition signals. At 1020hrs the position, course and speed of Stralsund (162_left upper, EbyS, 19 knots) was reported to Kontreadmiral Hipper. About 1115hrs Straßburg and Graudenz and their Torpedoboats gradually moved into the wake of Stralsund, so that in response to a question from the BdA about 1150hrs the answer could be given that at 1200hrs Stralsund and Straßburg and their flotillas would be the rendezvous in 065, course EbyS, 19 knots, with Graudenz 8nm WSW of Straßburg. Graudenz remained behind because the following Torpedoboats were having trouble steering in the steep swell, and finally had to increase their steering capability by coupling up their bow rudders. A second delay occurred when a torpedoboot lost a man overboard and he had to be rescued. First at 1155hrs was the optical connection to Stralsund restored. At times the atmosphere was very hazy and visibility varied between 15 and 40hm, and at times it became thick. A they approached Dogger Bank the seas began breaking in character , so that the Torpedoboats in particular had heavy breakers crashing over them. In this situation it appeared the best formation was to have a Half-flotilla following each kreuzer, incase of an unexpected meeting with enemy forces, then they would be free to manoeuvre to all sides. Suddenly, about 1230hrs, a vessel could be made out directly ahead of Stralsund , at first only conspicuous by it's white bow wave. (map 4, 11 and 12). At first it seemed like a trawler, then a warship, and finally, because of it's tripod mast, a battlecruiser. On being given the recognition signal it answered three times with the wrong signal (KF). Stralsund turned away hard to starboard and opened fire. Range 48hm, bearing 260. The first salvo was wide and only after the forth was fire returned. Shortly after a second ship came in sight and both were now recognized as cruisers of the 'Town' class. At the same time Stralsund gave the signal "short range fire!" and for the Torpedoboats the instruction "smoke screen!" A wireless signal was sent to the BdA timed at 1238hrs, which contained the first error in identifying the type of ship: "Enemy armoured cruisers in sight 093." (map 12).
Kapitän zur See Harder reckoned--and later was proved entirely correct--that this was the same as the first clash, on August 28th, when the 'Town' class cruisers were followed by heavier forces. On these grounds he kept to a southerly course. The Torpedoboats were traveling astern of Stralsund en-echelon, with V19, Commander Kptlt. Froelich, and flying the flag of the 1st Half-flotilla Chief, Kptlt. Conrad Albrecht, who was deputizing for the I flotilla Chief, KK. Goehle. At first the reason for the hard turn away by Stralsund was not obvious but naturally they joined the turn. As they turned through 4 points away they first sighted the English cruiser to port that passed at high speed on a western course. The boot had already turned too far away for a torpedo shot. Immediately the guns opened fire at 25hm and they thought they achieved a hit in the forecastle and under the bridge of the enemy ship. Soon a second cruiser could be made out behind the first, and two others could be seen 40hm further to the east. (11) Meanwhile at 1312hrs Stralsund gave a further report to KA Hipper in which the confusion between light cruisers, armoured cruisers and battlecruisers was not resolved however. The following Straßburg and Graudenz likewise were uncertain for the reason of the hard turn away, but followed the leader at a speed of 27 knots. Only when the enemy gun flashes were seen could Straßburg count three enemy cruisers, Graudenz two, that were pursuing the German ships and engaging in a running battle with the German ships at a range of 125 to 110hm. The Torpedoboats following the latter pushed on with 'utmost power'. However, one boot, V189, could maintain high speed because of fuel shortage. The Commander, Kptlt. Metger, went around the rear of the English cruisers and by 1340hrs these had disappeared. On a course of EbyS he had rejoined his own ships by 1420hrs.
The seemingly plan less fire distribution of the British cruisers was first at Stralsund and the Boats of the 2nd Half-flotilla, temporary Chief, Kptlt. Hans Kolbe, and the purpose of the distribution was not obvious. On V191 an antenna was shot through, and although shots fell close around the Boats there was no other damage. Traveling to the east and behind Stralsund they replied to the cruisers fire with a lively fire, whilst others successfully laid smoke between the British and Stralsund with smoke from their oil boilers. In the vicinity of the kreuzer only 8 to 10 shells fell, which exploded with a light green 25m high detonation cloud. During the 20 minute long battle Stralsund could only fire 38 shots at a range varying from 48 to 90hm. Several guns were hampered in their field of fire by the aeroplane picked up on the outward passage, whilst the high speed, violent swell and dense smoke of the Boats all also made conditions difficult. The observation of the fall of shot was impossible. About 1255hrs the last salvo fell. A renewed request for the Torpedoboats to launch a torpedo attack during this battle did not come into the question. They would have to have turned into the enemy cruiser's fire and against the swell, and from the start this was a chanceless undertaking. Meanwhile the cruisers brought their fire to bear on the Boats of the 17th HF, Chief KK. Paul Jacobi. In the main V25, Oblt.z.S. Crux, and V26, Kptlt. Hans Köhler, were fired upon, and they returned fire with approximately 30 shots at a range of 74hm. Slowly the German group closed up and then swung in a gradual arc from the south to the SE, utilizing their superior speed. About this time V28, Kptlt. Friedrich Klein, the Leader Boot of the IX flotilla, Chief KK. Herzbruch, standing on the eastern wing, pushed in-between the group and the enemy and laid a smoke screen and then went onto course east, whilst the English cruisers suddenly went onto a western course. The Germans therefore turned onto an easterly course for the passing battle and about 1309hrs Graudenz could open fire at a range of 94hm. Steaming against the seas the enemy cruisers took much water so that they could scarcely utilize all their guns. But also Graudenz could only see the flash of their guns in the swirling seas with the spray blown high, and observation was only possible from the foretop. Accordingly the first salvo was out to the right, the second short 800, but the third followed close to the target. It remains doubtful whether hits were obtained as the shells had delayed fuses. Finally the flash of the enemy guns could on longer be seen and Stralsund, 2000m ahead, was difficult to make out. To close with Graudenz and intervene in the fight Stralsund now turned with starboard rudder. Meanwhile the Boats were now between 500 and 4000m in the fire-lee of the kreuzers and the Half-flotillas also turned away from the smoke clouds sighted to starboard ahead. About 1300hrs these were made out and at first taken to be their own battlecruisers, and then were recognized as enemy. The G193, Kptlt. Oswald Paul, reported these by wireless, but by 0110hrs there was no doubt that these were six ship of the II Battle Squadron on course west at moderate speed, and according to observations from several Boats they were followed by cruisers. Although every single torpedoboat Commander immediately had the feeling that here was a great opportunity, the unfavourable tactical position in relation to the enemy main body and the heavy seas meant that an attack was impossible. Next to sight them were the 2nd Half-flotilla. But they were also outside torpedo range. The middle ship of the enemy squadron was already abeam and the range to the individual Boats was 60 to 90hm. G193, Kptlt. Oswald Paul, and G194, Kptlt. Buß, could not attack. They laid a smoke screen between the enemy and their own kreuzers and then turned towards them. The attack chances for the 1st and 17th Half-flotillas were also unfavourable. As these sighted the enemy the range was 100hm to 120hm, and the 1st HF (Albrecht) passed the enemy at 80hm and the 17th (Jacobi) at 100hm.
The German kreuzer first saw the powerful British dreadnoughts appear from the mist as they turned. On all German ships and Boats immediately realized the danger they were in. Stralsund was still in the turn. She was in great danger. The enemy ships were already at a range of 50 to 60hm. The spirited Kpt.z.S. Harder allowed full rudder to be put on, and his ship described a complete circle (12) and directed the signal Offizier to give the previously recognized English recognition signal ,KF, three times with the searchlight. On V191, Kptlt. Froelich, the same took place. That appeared the salvation! No shells fell and the enemy did not change course, so that by 1320hrs the enemy dreadnoughts disappeared like phantoms in the dense smoke and water spray.
The German Boats had no opportunity to carry out a torpedo attack. To obtain a position ahead for a favourable torpedo attack, the German Boats would have to turn 6 points to starboard and steam against the heavy swell and seas for 45 minutes under the fire of the enemy battleships and cruisers.
Therefore a mass attack did not come into the question whilst the light cruiser groups disengaged one another. They probably would have been shot through before they could have achieved a hit. The 17th HF was further back, hidden behind the other Boats and funnel smoke, so that they would have had to break through this. In addition, on many Boats, the torpedoes were set with the nighttime short range setting, and because of the continuous breakers crashing over the Boats since dawn, there had been no chance to withdraw the torpedoes from the tubes and reset them with the longer daytime range. This would have occupied a considerable time. Various Commanders, however, thought that this was an advantage however, as the higher torpedo speed would have suited the low visibility conditions. To shoot with the night setting the Boats would have to close to a range of at least 3500 metres. They could not have reached such a range under conditions of surprise and en-masse, and the battleships would have the chance to turn away and fire on the Torpedoboats before they could reach a successful firing position. For the Chief of the I and IX flotilla's, KK. Goehle and Herzbruch, there remained no other decision than to renounce an attack and breakthrough with the kreuzers to the east. It was therefore completely baffling therefore when the English forces to the north, would were on an intercepting course with the II BS, and were 115hm north of Graudenz and on a southerly course, turned away and disappeared from sight at about 1328hrs. For the first time since the beginning of the war enemy battleships were within reach of German Torpedoboats. By coincidence it was the same battle squadron that had visited Kiel shortly before the outbreak of the war. Korvettenkapitän Goehle felt that the Torpedoboats should advantage of the attack opportunity presented to them and questioned Stralsund whether they should, with kreuzer help, wait for a night attack. Admittedly there were almost insurmountable problems. His after battle report gave the following circumstances:
"1. With the low coal and oil supplies which were just sufficient to travel to Helgoland, the greater part of the Boats could not return from a night attack.
2.Maintaining contact with the steaming squadron with high speed against the heavy seas would hardly be possible without the support of a kreuzer.
3. Meanwhile, the bombardment of the English coast meant that there would be numerous enemy forces on their way east in pursuit."
The Commander of Stralsund, Kpt.z.S. Harder, spoke against such a night attack and repeated his support for trying a daylight attack. The basis for his decision was not easy, and is expressed in his battle report as follows:
"I answered no because I believed that an attack against the wind and swell were chanceless, and because the battleships had freedom of movement and could turn away as they liked from the torpedoes. The principle aim for me was: breakthrough. Only if this failed would the battleships open fire and the kreuzers would hunt with the torpedo weapon! However, the position was we succeeded in breaking through between the flank cover and the main body.
It was also considered whether to leave behind the oil Torpedoboats and the kreuzers, but because of the low oil stocks and swell this case was forsaken."
The battle reports of the Commanders of Graudenz and Straßburg , Fregattenkapitän Püllen and Retzmann followed similar trains of thought and particularly stressed that to maintain contact for a night attack would require support by stronger forces, particularly as darkness was three hours away. We can see that if the German Torpedoboats had attempted to maintain contact they very soon would have run into the British battlecruisers. This holding back by the light forces, therefore, was considered as correct, although at first in the Admiralstab and Grand Headquarters it was seen differently at first, and this only changed after the Fleet Chief gave his full approval.
After their lucky breakthrough the kreuzers continued off to the NE and 20 minutes later resumed course east under the protection of some mist. The escape was made possible because the English light cruisers turned away just as the battleships were encountered, but this movement only became known later when the English version became known.
When Southampton, Commodore Goodenough's flagship, saw an enemy cruise and 7 or 8 Torpedoboats crossing her course at 1225hrs, she turned north for the moment before taking up the pursuit to the south. (map 11 and 12). At the same moment the Commodore gave a wireless signal to the rest of the light cruisers to assemble, and to Admiral Beatty that his light cruisers were in battle with Torpedoboats. Birmingham was nearby and immediately drew near, but Nottingham and Falmouth were 6 to 10 nautical miles away and could not reach the position of the fight. Once Southampton joined the battle she was no longer visible from Lion. However, after her signal nothing more was heard from her and Admiral Beatty continued pushing ahead onto what he supposed were German battlecruisers. Therefore he did not onto a southern course at first, to support Southampton and Birmingham , but remained on a westerly course to the position he expected the German battlecruisers from and to keep his position relative to the IIBS. Because he did not have destroyers he would assign the task of fighting the enemy Torpedoboats to the light cruisers. As therefore one of these, obviously in battle, came in sight, he received through searchlight signal instructions for the cruiser to place herself at the head of the battlecruisers. When doubt arose as to whether it was Nottingham or Birmingham before them they were signaled not by name, but by the general call "light cruiser". This signal was not only read on Birmingham, which was two miles astern of Southampton, but also by the latter, which no longer had Lion in sight. Naturally Commodore Goodenough though the signal was intended for all light cruisers and that they were recalled to join the fire line. He therefore turned to the west. In this view he was reinforced in that it was hardly likely that the Leader of the Battlecruisers intended a single cruiser to form his head. Still in the turn away, in addition to the previously sighted ships, he sighted a ship which he took to be the armoured kreuzer Prinz Adalbert. In reality it was a mistake by the English and they were dealing with Graudenz. However, even the sighting of a supposed enemy armoured kreuzer did not induce him to maintain contact with the enemy. Meanwhile, (1254hrs) Admiral Beatty had swung his battlecruisers onto course south, to make way for a fishing fleet which he credited with being enemy minelayers, but at 1304hrs he resumed his western course. Ten minutes later Southampton came in sight and only now did Commodore Goodenough learn that the recall had actually been meant for Nottingham and Falmouth , which was further to the north. However, nothing could change the fact that contact had been lost with the enemy forces and it remained so. In this however, it could be seen that they had encountered the vanguard and that the main body still remained to the west, therefore there was still the hope that the latter could be brought to battle and the squadrons maintained course for the centre of the mine barrier gap. At 1325hrs Admiral Beatty was distracted from his aim by a signal from Admiral Warrender, which said that the IIBS now had enemy kreuzers and Torpedoboats in sight and was pursuing them NE. Thereon there remained nothing else for the Leader of the battlecruiser to do other than push back to the east, to cut off the reported kreuzers from the luff side. The reason for Warrenders signal was as follows:
Warrender had laid out his armoured cruisers to the south in a reconnaissance line, with his squadron to the NW, and was advancing towards the south of the mine barrier gap when suddenly at 1315hrs he sighted some kreuzers and Torpedoboats on a reciprocal heading to starboard. (map 4, 11 and 12). However, they were only occasionally visible as they constantly disappeared in rain squalls, and their number and type could only approximately be made out. The doubt was increased as one of the sighted vessels had given the English recognition signal, and although this doubt only lasted one or two minutes, it was enough for the Germans to escape the fire of the English battleships 34.5cm guns. Of course the latter had also escaped great danger. If they had been a little further north and east by chance, as they were without destroyers then they would have been immediately fired on by a great number of German torpedoes before their heavy guns could have been brought to bear. Seldom in naval warfare does fate play such a crucial tactical role. Now the British Admiral threw his battleships onto a western course and sent his armoured cruiser reconnaissance line to the NE at their highest speed, but all efforts to catch the German kreuzers failed because of the slower speed of the older armoured cruisers of the III Cruiser Squadron. (Devonshire class). The outlines of the enemy forces became weaker, and before the pursuers could fire their guns they had disappeared in the uncertain weather. Nevertheless, during the brief time of the pursuit it was ascertained that there were no battlecruisers amongst them. The German ships that had conducted the bombardment must still be in the west. To intercept them therefore, the Chief of the II BS, about 1340hrs, turned onto a western course, and then turned to the south to cover the southern part of the mine gap, whilst Beatty pushed forward in the northern part of the gap. He was of the opinion that the German battlecruisers would be warned by their vanguard about the II BS and would breakthrough on this route. There appeared a chance of success as a signal arrived about the time the German battlecruisers had departed the English coast, giving his course and speed. (map 11).
The first signal of this kind came about 1340hrs from the 'Admiral of Patrols'. With the first alarm he immediately went to sea with the 'Humber Flotilla', although he had to leave behind the Torpedoboats because of the bad weather, and pushed to the NW with his leader ship, Skirmisher, along the coast. After he had reported from abeam Flamborough Head, that no enemy forces were between this point and the Humber, he reported a second signal which the I BCS received at 1418hrs, that all German ships from Whitby and Filey Bay had about 1000hrs departed on an eastern course and were no longer in sight. Ten minutes later Admiral Beatty signaled Commodore Goodenough that he would steer to the north at 15 knots speed until he was free of the Dogger Bank, and then would turn west again. The light cruisers should therefore now work in this direction. Then however, at 1443hrs a signal from the Admiralty wireless station in Whitehall, London, brought fresh doubt. They had intercepted and deciphered a German wireless message about 1315hrs that said that at that time the German battlecruisers were 12 nautical miles west of the outer exit of the barrier gap, speed 23 knots, course East by south. However, this course appeared unlikely to the British Admiral as he had just been over the SW shallows. If the course was incorrect, but the position was accurate, then the enemy could only be breaking out to the SE. Even as he had turned northwards, then the light cruisers would have sighted them. With uncertainty about the position of the opponent the old rule of the cruiser service is correct; retreat, and in this case it would position him between the enemy and his home harbour. On these grounds at about 1455hrs he swung onto course east, and then south 60 east, and when he was free of the Dogger Bank went to 24 knots speed to intercept the track between Dogger Bank and Helgoland as quickly as possible. (map 4, 11 and 13).
Whilst Beatty came to the conclusion that the enemy would breakthrough to the SE, based on the German position at 1315hrs, Admiral Warrender came to the opposite conclusion. Having looked to the south of the barrier gap he concluded that the Germans must break through to the north. Therefore he pushed ahead in a northerly direction across the mine barrier gap, with the armoured cruisers in a reconnaissance line to the NW. The lack of cooperation in these measures between the battlecruiser squadron and battleship squadron, in these critical moments, facilitated the successful outcome for the German battlecruisers.
How strangely this had developed, indeed, is shown in their war diaries. As about 1230hrs when Stralsund clashed with Beatty's vanguard, the German battlecruisers were about 50nm east of Whitby, 40nm west of their light forces. Half an hour before Admiral Hipper had reported to the Fleet Chief by wireless signal that the battlecruisers had completed their task and together with Kolberg were in 0515,_course ESE, speed 23 knots. Towards 1200hrs the first signal from the Fleet Directors (Headquarters) during the operation, gave the following answer:
"At 1100hrs the main body's position 0077 right upper, course ESE½E, all speed. (15kts) Early this morning reported enemy destroyers in 0517_and possibly 1505.__1397_mine suspicious."_
This announcement came as no small surprise on the battlecruisers. Not without reason did they expect the main body to push towards the English coast, and in any case be near the 0700hrs rendezvous, all the more because at 0923hrs Stralsund, Straßburg, and Graudenz with the flotillas had been released, and the battlecruisers would only follow after the conclusion of the bombardment. When Admiral Hipper saw the signal he realized that his expectation was wrong, and the main body was already 150 nautical miles away at 1100hrs, he immediately realized that the nearby Stralsund group was in absolute danger. However, now it was too late to recall them particularly as they would have to steam against the sea. If they awaited the battlecruisers they would have to extend their stay off the Humber. Therefore there was nothing to do except continue their march to the east at high speed. Perhaps with the uncertain weather they could reach the main body without being seen by the enemy. This hope did not come true. Already at 1239hrs Stralsund reported enemy forces in sight. Immediately aboard the battlecruisers the drums and horns sounded and the free watch was called to battle stations. The ships went to 23 knots speed and pushed in the direction of the seemingly developing battle. (map 4, 11 and 12). However, a relatively clear picture of events could not be obtained from the messages. Mistakes in the draughting, enciphering and transmission of the FT signals were explainable as the light forces found themselves hard pressed. The impression on the battlecruisers was that much larger enemy forces were involved than had actually been sighted. One of the first reports mentioned an enemy main body that seemingly was on the northern edge of the Southwest Shallows of the Dogger Bank, and which was pursuing Stralsund to the SW by S. Twelve minutes later followed a report about two enemy light cruisers approximately 5nm south of the first reported position of the enemy main body, which was now 5nm east of the light cruisers on SE course. However, now a signal from Graudenz seemed to contradict this, that "the reported enemy forces" in 092_steered a westerly course. This vagueness reached it's climax at 13.11hrs when a wireless message from Stralsund arrived: "5 enemy battleships in 0895_." This square lay no less than 25nm south of the position of the first reported main body.
The first impression was that the kleinen kreuzers were being pushed SW by an enemy to the north of them and Admiral Hipper steered his ships to the SE firstly, then SE by E. However, when Graudenz spoke the enemy in this direction only as "single enemy forces", Kontreadmiral Hipper swung to the course E by S, at 1323hrs, about the same time as the kleinen kreuzers. This would allow him to close faster, and would put him in the lee position of the 5 enemy battleships reported in the south. (map 11). Two minutes later Stralsund reported her own position and requested the position of her own main body. A further two minutes later she reported enemy battleships bearing SE. As the position was seemingly clarified, at 1332hrs the 2nd boot of the 2 Half-flotilla reported six enemy battleships in 121 on a western course, and a further enemy main body to the north. Whether there was a mistake in the position reporting or whether there were actually two enemy squadrons remained in doubt. Strangely, however, the last and also previous reports had in the main correctly given the position of the English battlecruisers in the north, even though their presence remained hidden from the Germans. To clear up the situation, at 1335hrs Stralsund and Graudenz received orders to again report the number and type of enemy forces in sight. Thereon Stralsund reported two light cruisers such as 'Chatham' class and 6 battleships of the II BS, and Graudenz reported one 'Town' class and one 'Essex' class armoured cruiser to the north, and 5 battleships to the south of their course line. By comparing the two reports the Commander of Graudenz, Fregattenkapitän Püllen, would be able to finally see that he dealt with only one main body. However, this supposed that Graudenz was in the wake of Stralsund, and the BdA could not know that she was not. Rather Admiral Hipper remained under the impression, just as the battlekreuzer Commander were, that there were two separate battleship columns.
Derfflinger, von der Tann and Blücher off Scarborough. Taken from Kolberg.
If it came to a battle the heavy seas would scarcely allow the battlecruisers, and in particular Kolberg, to utilize their speed advantage over the battleships. However, this consideration could not influence the desire to bring help to the kleinen kreuzers as quickly as possible. Only when Stralsund reported that the enemy was out of sight and that the three kreuzers and two flotillas were in 138_on a E by S course, did it seem that direct support was no longer required. Further contact with the reported forces was useless in the opinion of the BdA, as the weather conditions would not allow a torpedoboat attack during the night, and an attack by the main body on the following day was now impossible. Therefore, with the preposition that there were 11 enemy battleships present, there was nothing for Kontreadmiral Hipper to do other than avoid the vastly superior enemy forces with his battlecruisers. Therefore he turned to the north with a speed of 21 knots speed, course North by East. It later turned out that his turning point was just 15nm to the west of the British battlecruisers, on a reciprocal heading, which only a quarter hour before had turned to the east to chase after the German kleinen kreuzers. (map 4 and 11). However, at 1452hrs, there was scarcely 25 nautical miles between the German and English battlecruisers and the II Battle Squadron. Only when Beatty again turned to the east for the second time to search for the enemy did the distance between the ships increase, whilst the II BS again approached. It is possible that four smoke clouds sighted by Kolberg at 1510hrs to starboard, were from the armoured cruisers of the III CS, to the NW of the II BS, which was scarcely 15 to 20 miles distant. At times Kolberg had slacked far astern because on a northerly course she could hold no more than 12 knots. A part of the Command bridge, range finder platform and gun doors were smashed, some people were injured, one man throwing away ready ammunition was lost, and the operation of the artillerie on the kleine kreuzer was impossible in the heavy seas. (13) They would have been virtually defenseless against a dreadnought. Only when the battlecruisers turned to course NE, with the seas abeam, could the ship reach 23 knots. Almost at the same time the smoke cloud to starboard which Kolberg had seen, was observed by the battlecruisers, and two destroyers seemingly appeared on a northerly course. In reality they turned out to be two steam trawlers, which, however, were in the British reconnaissance service. They were passed outside gun range and at 1525hrs turned away, disappearing in the NW. They were not fired upon as this would announce the location of the battlecruisers, which apparently was still not yet known by the enemy. A pursuit was not
Storm damage to the bridge of Kolberg, December 16th 1914.
attempted. (map 11). In case a battle should develop before the coming of darkness all efforts were made to obtain the luff position (up wind) for with the prevailing heavy seas a successful artillerie fight could only be conducted from this position. Therefore course was taken, gradually, more and more to the east, course NE and at 1800hrs the northern end of Dogger Bank was passed. (map 4). From there the battlecruisers reduced speed to 20 knots and steered to a point somewhat to the south of Horns Reef.
Since the signal of 1315hrs the two British Admirals waited with understandable tension for new news about the movements of the pursued enemy. Indeed, already around 1345hrs, after another intercepted and deciphered wireless message, Whitehall stated, with the use of their captured quadratkarte, that the German battlecruisers were in the southern part of the barrier gap and had turned northwards. They estimated that the Germans could be intercepted only at 1620hrs. At that time Admiral Hipper was already 20nm north of Admiral Warrender's forces, whilst Beatty stood 60nm away to the SE. Certainly, on receipt of the message the English battlecruisers immediately turned north but their efforts were in vain. The German battlecruisers had disappeared and remained so, the British Admiralty had delayed too long in sending the message. The hopelessness of the situation was realized and therefore at 1647hrs Admiral Warrender ordered all subordinate forces to follow him to the north, where they would meet the Grand Fleet, which had meanwhile put to sea, on the following day.
With the lively English wireless traffic the German battlecruisers believed that either they still maintained contact, or else destroyers were mining their path of advance. Shortly after 1900hrs very strong wireless traffic was observed, which seemed to be an important signal, and moreover it was from nearby. At 2012hrs the signal suddenly broke off, and then the enemy wireless traffic quickly declined.
At 1800hrs Stralsund and her light forces were ESE of the battlecruisers at a distance of 85 nautical miles. According to their observation of enemy wireless signals they also believed themselves to be pursued. The further they went east the more the wind abated and already by midnight they had reached Helgoland without further incident. Two hours later they anchored in the mouth of the Weser.
Meanwhile the U28 (v. Forstner) and U30 (v. Rosenberg) had been lying in wait off the Humber in vain, and had seen nothing of the movements of Commodore Tyrwhitt. Only between 2000hrs and 2400hrs were two destroyers seen in the distance by U30, as she returned to the river estuary. Therefore on December 18th the U-Boats quit their posts and on December 19th reached the Ems mouth. Their FT-antenna were completely destroyed in the heavy weather and they were unable to convey reconnaissance by wireless on the 16th. (map 4).
Strangely it now emerges from the English version about the cooperation between the battleship squadron and the Admiralty during the German thrust, which was hitherto unknown. When the High Sea Fleet was seemingly observed by an English submarine about 70 to 80 nautical miles NW of Helgoland in the German Bight, it was assumed that they were retiring. Seemingly they reckoned only on a 'raid' and not with the partaking of all German forces. Consequently the Grand Fleet was not engaged in preventative measures. The mistake to push forward with considerable and valuable forces without adequate support was in this case, as bad as the Germans leaving their bombardment forces unsupported. Although with the first alarm Jellicoe put to sea with all his available forces, the I and IV Battle Squadrons, the II Flotilla, and the I, II and VI Light Cruiser Squadrons, during the critical hour they were no closer than 250 nautical miles from the advanced forces. (map 4 and 13). The intervention of the British main body in the battle was therefore not possible.
On the other hand the possibility of the German main body intervening was absolutely certain, if Admiral von Ingenohl had stuck to the original plan and not prematurely turned back by his own decision. Even at 1400hrs when the enemy battleship squadron was reported he would not bring himself to return to the west to support the battlecruisers, but 6 minutes later ordered the dissolution of the Fleet into squadrons, to return to their different bases. He remained embarrassingly still in error, just as before, which was unfortunately shared by members of his staff, that there was no danger to the battlecruisers. "They are superior in speed to the battleships and enemy battlecruisers were not reported." On the other hand the fleet directors considered there was a possibility for him to order the Torpedoboats with Stralsund to maintain contact and carry out a night attack. However, peacetime experience showed that the fuel provisions of the Boats after 38 hours of high revolution would be sufficient for further operations. It also appeared that the lower echelon leader were criticized without knowledge of the prevailing weather conditions.
The retreat of the battleship squadrons was not entirely without incident. Already at 1400hrs the I and II Battle Squadrons were with part of the screening forces on the route north of the Helgoland mine barrier, the III Squadron with the remaining light forces was en-route south of this barrier. About 1550hrs the Flagship had to turn away from an irreproachably sighted submarine. The submarine was in favourable torpedo firing position, but was forced to dive deep by a torpedoboot. Then about 1830hrs she had to turn away yet again. The torpedoboot that gave the alarm claimed to have sighted two torpedo tracks, however, in the total darkness this could have been erroneous. On the other hand it is possible that an enemy submarine found a light of the otherwise darkened lights at Norderney or Borkum, which were lit for the approach of the German forces, and lay in wait in the gap between the Helgoland mine barriers. The appearance of the submarines could only be explained by the British mounting a submarine offensive against the German Bight, by chance to coincide with the return of the German ships, or by the supposed "submarine relay", a chain of submarines from the German Bight to the English coast for reconnaissance purposes, which lay on the line of march.
Already at dawn on December 16th Commodore Keyes, the Leader of Submarines, had put to sea aboard Lurcher to lay out a submarine line off Terschelling. However at 1130hrs from a wireless message only just audible to him he learned that enemy forces were off Scarborough. It now seemed more proper for him to advance with his submarines farther into the German Bight to cut off the line of retreat. However, apparently he was not entitled to act without orders from the Admiralty, or else at least did not want to take responsibility for it. He sent the destroyer Firedrake , his second destroyer, back to within wireless range of Yarmouth to request new orders. Just as foreseen he received approval for his suggestion too late. Only at 1635hrs did the Admiralty signal arrive, and only at 1700hrs did at least four boats, E10, E11, E15 and Archimede collect and set course towards a sector NW to SW of Helgoland. The remainder of the submarines were submerged and could not be contacted. As a result of the constantly deteriorating weather he himself and the destroyers were forced back to Noord Hinder light vessel to await the return of the submarines. As mentioned not one submarine successfully attacked the German main body. On the contrary, the large number of English mines represented a considerable danger to the Fleet. During daylight many were repeatedly seen and shot. The frequent unimportant wireless reports about these by the Torpedoboats frequently complicated more important wireless traffic between the kreuzers and main body during the rendezvous at the Dogger Bank. The large number of mines almost gave the impression the route had been deliberately contaminated according to a plan, and the trawlers were under suspicion. The mines were not anchored, but drifting, and were probably to limit the German freedom of movement to the German Bight. However, in consideration that the enemy had also cruised through this area it is more probable that they were mines rent from their anchors. Although after darkness it was virtually impossible to see these mines and give way to them, no accidents occurred. Towards 2200hrs the Fleet Flagship and III Battle Squadron reached Schillig roadstead, whilst the I and II Squadrons anchored at the same time on the Elbe. Special measures to support the kreuzers which remained at sea, in the event of unexpected events occurring when it became daylight, were not taken.
Just how serious the situation on the battlecruisers was is indicated by the following observation by the Commander of SMS Derfflinger, Kpt.z.S von Reuter, in the war diary:
"After the departure point of the battlecruisers was not cut off, the enemy was not restrained. During the night strong wireless traffic was observed, suggesting the enemy was nearby. Therefore I initiated a signal to the BdA by wireless:
1. Suggest rear march via the Kleinen Belt, a view the Commander of SMS Moltke, Kpt.z.S Levetzow, supported.
2. If the Kleinen Belt were not chosen, Derfflinger could break through to the south independently, utilizing her superior speed.
The second suggestion was rejected by the BdA. The employment of battlecruisers in a unit has the disadvantage that the individual ships high speed cannot be utilized. I held the breakthrough by night at high speed as the most successful chance. Holding contact with other individual ships and communicating complicated matters greatly. One running at full speed had full freedom of movement, and with good armouring and keeping full attension on the opponent--in a unit half the attention is always taken up with holding station on the vessel ahead--even stronger forces can not hold you back. Besides, in breaking through, if it comes to battle, the enemies concentration is taken up with this."
Indeed, several in part very loud wireless signals were heard on the 240 and 400 metre wavelengths nearby. However, the rear march was accomplished without enemy counteraction, in particular the expected destroyer attacks on the battlecruisers as they approached the German Bight. In order to meet such attacks, at 1645hrs the order of march was arranged thus: first went Seydlitz and Moltke; second went Derfflinger and von der Tann and as third unit went Blücher and the kleine kreuzer Kolberg. The distance between the first and second units was 2nm and between the second and third was 10nm. As the ships had lost sight of the English coastline they were unable to obtain a secure navigational fix on a land object, and this created difficulties returning home, particularly as the great number of outer lights had been extinguished and the replacement light at Amrum Bank, the Amrum Bank war light vessel, was inadequate. Therefore the battlecruisers slowly piloted their way down the coast, and it was already daylight when the disjointed formation passed to the west and east of Helgoland and reached the Jade towards 0700hrs. Nevertheless, they escaped the attension of the English submarine which lay in wait for them directly off the estuaries. (map 4). Only as the I BS returned from the Elbe to the Jade did E11 attack Posen off the mouth of the Weser.
At 0800hrs E11 observed a number of Torpedoboats running at high speed on alternating courses, obviously an anti-submarine screen, and therefore expected larger ships to appear. This assumption was correct and soon two ships appeared on zigzag courses, heading towards the Jade. Soon after the submarine fired a torpedo at a range of 400 metres against the lead ship, however, because of the short, steep seas it apparently ran too deep and remain without result. A second attack on the third ship of the now conspicuous squadron had to be abandoned by E11 as a sudden course change by the squadron put the submarine in danger of being rammed and she had to dive deep. The trim of the submarine was adversely affected (14) and the submarine broke surface and was seen. Consequently the German squadron scattered in all directions. A desperate attempt to cut off the last ship failed and it disappeared into the estuary. Despite the poor weather E11 and two other English submarines remained in the German Bight a further two days, until December 18th, before finally returning home. With that the British Admiralty lost the last hope of extracting some revenge.
All German forces had returned from the operation safely. The losses amounted to a total of 8 dead and 12 wounded, and hit damage was done to Hamburg, Seydlitz, Moltke and Blücher. Only Kolberg was temporarily out of readiness to repair the storm damage.
One had to go back 200 years, to the time of de Ruyter in the Thames, to find a similar event in English history. Since then the enemy had never again succeeded "in killing British troops on British soil", (as quoted from the British press) and to return to their native harbours with complete impunity.
However, on the German side it was felt success was limited and many Offiziers were filled with bitterness, about having missed a great opportunity as a result of the premature turning back by the battle squadrons. The fact was that the Fleet Chief had implemented the fundamental operational orders as he did caused the Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff (Admiralstab), Kontreadmiral Behncke, to observe the following in a report:
"The High Sea Chief takes an unalterable interpretation to the operational orders as a rigid guiding rule and feels himself bound by them, that there is little hope remaining of energetic use in favourable circumstances."
However, this warning remained unconsidered in the Grand Headquarters. Certainly Admiral von Pohl did not share the view of the Fleet Chief, however, he desired the Kaiser to alter the operational orders, and suggested, just as the Chief of the Naval Cabinet, a change in the Fleet Chief. However, in the Grand Headquarters they were satisfied and only stressed again that the fleet was not to be risked, even if favourable conditions did arise.
Completed to page 110, Krieg zur See 1914-1918, Nordsee Band 3. 31st January 2002.
1. BdA: Befehlshaber der Aufklärungsstreitkräfte,
or Commander in Chief of the Reconnaissance
2. Liverpool, and her sister ships, had a boiler
defect which became apparent with wear, and
took two to three months to rectify.
3. In fact 5.
4. Filson Young: With the Battlecruisers, page 91.
5. A method unknown to the enemy. Probably by
6. Could possibly be 4th gun.
7. English version by Admiral Jellicoe, page 177" "Whilst the force was on passage to the southward,
the destroyers Lynx, Ambuscade, Unity, Hardy,
Shark, Acasta and Spitfire sighted and became
engaged before daylight on December 16th with a
strong force of enemy destroyers, and, later, with
one enemy cruiser and three light cruisers. The
destroyers appeared to be screening ahead of the
other vessels, and both destroyers and cruisers were
engaged by our small destroyer force. It was
difficult to ascertain the result of the engagement so
far as the German vessels were concerned, although
the Hardy claimed to have hit a light cruiser at close
range: the Hardy's steering gear was disabled by
enemy fire: two men were killed and one officer and
14 men were wounded. The Ambuscade and Lynx
were also holed, the Lynx having one man
wounded. The Hardy finally withdrew under the
escort of the Lynx. .
8. 8 Corbett volume 2 page 33.
9. 9 Report of Colonel Robson in 'Telegraph' 7th
April 1921 and January 1922 issue of 'Journal of
the Royal Artillery.'
10. 10 'British Vessels Lost at Sea' gives Munificent
and Phoebe damaged by gunfire at Hartlepool on
11. 11 Report of Chief of I flotilla.
12. 12 Stralsund was carrying out a turn to starboard
to support Graudenz.
13. 13 See account from ,Drei Kleine Kreuzer.'
14. 14 Loosing trim after firing a torpedo seems to be
a very common problem for all the classes of
English submarine. Instances are too numerous to
1. BdA: Befehlshaber der Aufklärungsstreitkräfte, or Commander in Chief of the Reconnaissance Forces.
2. Liverpool, and her sister ships, had a boiler defect which became apparent with wear, and took two to three months to rectify.
3. In fact 5.
4. Filson Young: With the Battlecruisers, page 91.
5. A method unknown to the enemy. Probably by coloured lights.
6. Could possibly be 4th gun.
7. English version by Admiral Jellicoe, page 177"
"Whilst the force was on passage to the southward, the destroyers Lynx, Ambuscade, Unity, Hardy, Shark, Acasta and Spitfire sighted and became engaged before daylight on December 16th with a strong force of enemy destroyers, and, later, with one enemy cruiser and three light cruisers. The destroyers appeared to be screening ahead of the other vessels, and both destroyers and cruisers were engaged by our small destroyer force. It was difficult to ascertain the result of the engagement so far as the German vessels were concerned, although the Hardy claimed to have hit a light cruiser at close range: the Hardy's steering gear was disabled by enemy fire: two men were killed and one officer and 14 men were wounded. The Ambuscade and Lynx were also holed, the Lynx having one man wounded. The Hardy finally withdrew under the escort of the Lynx. .
8. 8 Corbett volume 2 page 33.
9. 9 Report of Colonel Robson in 'Telegraph' 7th April 1921 and January 1922 issue of 'Journal of the Royal Artillery.'
10. 10 'British Vessels Lost at Sea' gives Munificent and Phoebe damaged by gunfire at Hartlepool on 16.12.1914.
11. 11 Report of Chief of I flotilla.
12. 12 Stralsund was carrying out a turn to starboard to support Graudenz.
13. 13 See account from ,Drei Kleine Kreuzer.'
14. 14 Loosing trim after firing a torpedo seems to be a very common problem for all the classes of English submarine. Instances are too numerous to mention here.
Return to WWI The Maritime War
Return to WWI Archive main page.