Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Remembering Jutland 100 years on

A hundred years ago today the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet were locked in combat in the North sea in what became known as the battle of Jutland.

It as far and away the largest naval battle in history up to that point and, on some criteria, was still the largest naval battle of all time.

First the Germans led the British scouting force into a trap, and then the tables were turned as the British led the entire German fleet into an even bigger trap, from which they only escaped by fleeing for home under cover of darkness.

Because of previously unsuspected design flaws, three British battlecruisers blew up with almost their entire crews of about a thousand men each. In consequence the British lost more ships and more men than the Germans, who claimed a victory.

.However, the morning after the battle the Royal Navy, with 27 fully operational battleships and over a hundred other warships, was left in control of the North Sea, from which all German ships had fled, many of them with damage which kept them in dock for months.

The British commander in chief, Admiral  Jellicoe, has been described as the only man on either side who could have lost the war in an afternoon: if the German plan to isolate and destroy a major part of his fleet had succeeded, he would have. As it was, the allied blockade of Germany was maintained and was to cost the Germans the war.

More than six thousand British sailors were killed in the battle. We will remember them.

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