Jutland Myths

From the birth of the Dreadnought to the period immediately after the end of World War I.
Djoser
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Jutland Myths

Postby Djoser » Wed Jun 20, 2012 10:22 am

There are many of them.

First and foremost might be the oft quoted 'There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today. Steer two points closer to the enemy."

When in fact this was an(other) invention of Churchill's. Beatty did not in fact order a closer course to the 1st Scouting Group immediately after witnessing one of his battle cruisers erupting into flaming ruin--and according to a couple of witnesses, he was rather more upset about it than most accounts would have us believe, as opposed to being the generally presented paragon of sangfroid at the time.

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Karl Heidenreich
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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Jun 25, 2012 12:42 am

But did he say the phrase about "something wrong with our ships today..."?
:think:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Byron Angel » Mon Jun 25, 2012 11:08 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:But did he say the phrase about "something wrong with our ships today..."?
:think:



.....According to RAdm W S Chalmers (Beatty shipmate and biographer):
Beatty came into the LION's charthouse. Tired and depressed, he sat down on the settee, and settling himself in a corner he closed his eyes. Unable to hide his disappointment at the result of the battle, he repeated in a weary voice, "There is something wrong with our ships", then opening his eyes and looking at the writer, he added, "And something wrong with our system." Having thus unburdened himself he fell asleep.


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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Djoser » Wed Jun 27, 2012 4:05 pm

Another Jutland myth--that the High Seas Fleet never left port again afterward, for fear that it might run into the British Navy. Not true.

The HSF sortied just a few months later, and at least once more before the war's end.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby simonharley » Sat Jun 30, 2012 6:59 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:But did he say the phrase about "something wrong with our ships today..."?
:think:


Good question. As Byron states Beatty allegedly said something after the battle which was overheard by Lion's assistant navigator. But after the loss of Queen Mary, right at the start, he supposedly turned to Chatfield and said "There's something wrong with bloody our ships to-day." (Chatfield. The Navy and Defence. p. 143.) Sounds all too convenient to me given the catastrophic lack of grip Beatty had on his command. ("Blame the ships, blame the system, just don't blame me or my lousy hand-picked staff.")

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Djoser » Tue Jul 03, 2012 9:28 am

My new favorite Jutland story is how Beatty tried to forever after deny that Lion turned a complete circle (due to a fairly innocuous error) shortly after the HSF did its battle turn away, despite witnesses and documentary evidence to the contrary.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Byron Angel » Tue Jul 03, 2012 11:14 am

I know this treads upon dangerous ground, but the claim that BCF gunnery during the "Run to the South" was dramatically hindered by "bad visibility" is IMHO highly questionable, except for the self induced component early in the action when 9DF (IIRC??) attempted steaming down the engaged side of the battle cuiser line.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby mike1880 » Wed Jul 04, 2012 10:28 pm

John Brooks in "Dreadnought Gunnery" has a thoroughly damning analysis of the BCF's gunnery in general and during the Run to the South i particular. Well worth reading. needless to say, 5BS had no visibility problems.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Djoser » Sat Jul 14, 2012 12:17 am

I think it was fairly common knowledge that the BCF gunnery was deficient, even before the battle--though no doubt the officers and men of the BCF might have argued with this assertion. I just finished re-reading The Rules of the Game and The Fighting at Jutland, and the first book in particular deals with this perception to a fair degree. Otherwise there wouldn't have been a need to temporarily switch out the 3rd BCS with the 5th BS. Also the number of shells fired comoared to the number of hits obtained at the Falklands was embarrassing.

They had somewhat of an excuse due to the more limited facility of target practice at Rosyth.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Byron Angel » Sat Jul 14, 2012 3:26 pm

Djoser wrote:I think it was fairly common knowledge that the BCF gunnery was deficient, even before the battle--though no doubt the officers and men of the BCF might have argued with this assertion. I just finished re-reading The Rules of the Game and The Fighting at Jutland, and the first book in particular deals with this perception to a fair degree. Otherwise there wouldn't have been a need to temporarily switch out the 3rd BCS with the 5th BS. Also the number of shells fired comoared to the number of hits obtained at the Falklands was embarrassing.

They had somewhat of an excuse due to the more limited facility of target practice at Rosyth.



..... The case of the BCF's gunnery performance at Jutland may be rather more complex than simply the result of a lack of practice opportunities. After its experience at Dogger Bank ,which, it must be emphasized, was the very first long range dreadnought gunnery engagement in history and therefore a seminal moment, the BCF undertook a painstaking and detailed review of its experience. See the "Beatty Papers", Chatfield's "Navy and Defence", and the Grand Fleet Gunnery & Torpedo Memoranda". Chatfield's report to Beatty (Chatfield oversaw BCF gunnery) can be briefly summed up as follows:

[ 1 ] Ranges cannot be accurately measured/estimated at such long distances.
[ 2 ] Plotting doesn't work, because the Germans evade as soon as salvoes get close.
[ 3 ] The rate of fire demanded by the bracketing method is too slow.
[ 4 ] Overs are impossible to spot

Chatfield's proposal was, somewhat simply put, as follows:
[ 1 ] Open fire short with salvoes at a rapid rate, with director-fitted ship firing double-salvoes.
[ 2 ] Correct up in small increments (200 yards per salvo, for example)
[ 3 ] When the target is crossed, make one or more large corrections down (800-1000 yds?) until the spot is once again short.
[ 4 ] Repeat the process from [ 2 ].

Chatfield conceded that this would involve a large expenditure of ammunition, but argued that the vital importance of hitting early was a valid justification. Beatty fully concurred with Chatfield, adding an observation that investigation also should be undertaken to determine the optimal salvo spread to optimize the chances for straddles and hits. BCF working committees were established by Chatfield to pursue these topics. At this point, the archival trail goes mysteriously cold. I have been unable to discover any documents regarding the deliberations, recommendations, or consequences of these BCF gunnery committiee.

IMO, what happened was this. The BCF, in isolation from the GF at Scapa, went its own route with respect to gunnery (According to Dreyer's "Sea Heritage", there was no standard fleet gunnery method until the 1916 Spotting Rules were issued after Jutland). The BCF employed their new method at Jutland and it was found to be faulty. For reasons of politics, ego, and reputation, "bad visibility" was cited as the reason for the BCF's poor shooting performance, and evidence of the failed gunnery system was quietly expunged from the BCF records.

Strictly my opinion, of course.

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Ersatz Yorck
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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Ersatz Yorck » Mon Jul 16, 2012 9:42 am

@Byron Angel: Very interesting post about BCF gunnery.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby Byron Angel » Mon Jul 16, 2012 11:18 am

Ersatz Yorck wrote:@Byron Angel: Very interesting post about BCF gunnery.



..... There is a good amount of circumstantial evidence from Jutland that suggests the BCF employed a gunnery method akin in at least some respects to that which Chatfield described in his post-Dogger Bank memorandum. Chatfield himself mentioned LION opening fire with double-salvoes in his memoir "Navy and Defence"; in the book "The Fighting at Jutland", the gunnery officer of TIGER described firing of double-salvoes under circumstance in which his target had not previously been straddled.; von Hase related observing full broadsides by fired at DERFFLINGER by either PRINCESS ROYAL or QUEEN MARY (can't recall which at the moment) in his book "Kiel and Jutland/Die Zwei Weissen Volk". The gunnery logs of the surviving British BCs all indicate repeated strings of salvoes fired at such short time intervals that fall of shot could not have been spotted and corrections input into the FC system before the discharge of the next salvo.

There is also a tantalizing suggestion (either in Chatfield's post-Jutland report or in the following 1916 Spotting Rules pamphlet) that Beatty's suggestion of spreading the shot in order to exaggerate the salvo pattern (in range, presumably) had been tried and abandoned as a failure. This fits with USN ONI post-war reports of comments from German officers of 1SG present at Jutland stating that their ships had often been straddled without being hit.

The trouble is that, so far at least, no British documentary evidence can be found to support the theory.


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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby culverin » Sat Mar 02, 2013 8:18 pm

There are many Jutland myths.

This one concerns the Warspite / Warrior incident.

Warspite, from Warrior lads.
A deputation from Warrior was sent to the Warspite bearing gifts, boxes of cigars and sundry bottles that in most cases would rouse enthusiasm.

"Take 'em mates-you saved us" said the grateful emissaries.
"Take 'em back, you blighters" was the reply, roared through a gale of Homeric laughter.
"Take 'em back. We didn't try to save you,
we was chasing our own damned tail.
Ow, could we 'elp it ? Our 'elm was jammed".

There is one caveat however.
This is no myth.
A full broadside. The traditional English salute.
Thanks. Sean.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby paul.mercer » Sat Mar 02, 2013 9:54 pm

Djoser wrote:Another Jutland myth--that the High Seas Fleet never left port again afterward, for fear that it might run into the British Navy. Not true.

The HSF sortied just a few months later, and at least once more before the war's end.

True,
But having escaped from annihilation by turning away and running for home at Jutland when confronted by the entire High Seas Fleet, I believe it never again sought to engage the British in all out battle again.

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Re: Jutland Myths

Postby culverin » Sat Mar 02, 2013 10:42 pm

Paul, you mean the German High Seas Fleet never ventured to meet the Grand Fleet of course.

My favourite myth about Jutland is that SMS Seydlitz never sank.

Seydlitz was the finest, best handled and most fortunate battlecruiser of the Great war.
Nothing comes remotely close to what she and her men endured.
A full broadside. The traditional English salute.
Thanks. Sean.


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