Best Books on Jutland?

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AdmiralSemmes
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Best Books on Jutland?

Post by AdmiralSemmes » Thu Nov 19, 2020 3:54 am

Trying to pick out a couple of WWI naval books for the holidays this year, and I'm wondering what books on Jutland are recommended. Andrew Gordon's The Rules of the Game is very often recommended, and John Campbell's massive tome is pricey, but seems to be worth it. Is Nick Jellicoe's book worth looking into? I'll likely be getting Skagerrak, as that's likely the best single book on the High Seas Fleet at the battle.

OpanaPointer
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by OpanaPointer » Thu Nov 19, 2020 4:11 pm

Jellicoe's book would be a good start.

Byron Angel
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Dec 08, 2020 1:48 am

Nick Jellicoe's book is very good. ?You might also want to look at -

"The Battle of Jutland" by John Brooks
https://www.amazon.com/Battle-Jutland-C ... 118&sr=8-1

"Dreadnought Gunnery and the Battle of Jutland" by John Brooks
https://www.amazon.com/Dreadnought-Gunn ... 213&sr=8-2


Happy Xmas!

Byron

OpanaPointer
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by OpanaPointer » Tue Dec 08, 2020 5:13 pm

Damn, I'm out of the book buying window. :oops:

Thorsten Wahl
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by Thorsten Wahl » Thu Dec 10, 2020 2:12 pm

The Battle of Jutland Bank, May 31 to June 1, 1916 the dispatches of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty (1916) 100 pg
The Battle of Jutland The Sowing and the Reaping by Commander Carlyon Bellairs, M.P. ~350 pg
What happened at Jutland,Commander C.C. Gill U.S. Navy ~200 pg
Battle of Jutland Official Dispatches with appendices (~700 pg)
Meine Herren, es kann ein siebenjähriger, es kann ein dreißigjähriger Krieg werden – und wehe dem, der zuerst die Lunte in das Pulverfaß schleudert!

Byron Angel
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by Byron Angel » Sat Dec 19, 2020 9:45 pm

Allow me to add one more book, if I may -

"The Battle of Jutland" by Captain Holloway H Frost
https://www.amazon.com/Battle-Jutland-H ... merReviews

Not a book for idle readers. Frost was a serving officer in the USN, attached to the USN Office of Naval Intelligence immediately after WW1. As such he had extensive contacts with German naval officers present at the battle. He presents a professional's view of the battle that benefits from contact with both opponents.

FWIW.
Happy Holidays to All.

Byron

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wadinga
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by wadinga » Sat Dec 26, 2020 9:54 pm

Hello Byron,

I really can't support your suggestion of Frost's book. My observations were included in another recent thread. Summarized:
Another uncritical cheerleader for the imperial German Navy is the improbably named Holloway Halstead Frost, a US Naval officer whose 1930s Jutland book is quoted extensively by Staff, since like him it accuses Jellicoe of dilatory behaviour bordering on cowardice, accepts uncritically all Scheer's later re-imaginings of what actually happened and unequivocally awards the High Seas Fleet a significant victory. Cheerleader? Well he apparently wrote "Hats off to Hipper!" as a comment.
Both Frost and Staff accept uncritically Scheer's frankly ludicrous assertion that he risked the entire fleet's survival to offer some succour to the crippled Wiesbaden. He didn't deliver any, by the way, and just got his T crossed a second time.
As for Scheer "spinning" his lacklustre performance in post war reflections on the Skagerrakschlacht, it is to be expected, but just as Jellicoe and Beatty's shortcomings have been mercilessly exposed, the job of commentators like Frost and Staff should be to fairly subject German commanders to equal scrutiny. I suspect there was a touch of "Pulling the Lion's Tail" in Frost's account as an officer in a "friendly" rival navy.
To avoid such grotesque distortions as are perpetrated by dyed-in-the-wool Anglophobes like Frost and Staff try

Jutland: The German Perspective by V E Tarrant and/or Jutland 1916 Death in the Grey Wastes by Nigel Steel & Peter Hart. Both are even-handed and detailed accounts. Merciless on both British and German shortcomings, generous to intelligence and bravery on both sides.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

Byron Angel
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by Byron Angel » Wed Dec 30, 2020 12:19 am

Sorry, Sean. Methinks thou doth protest too much.

Frost was an Annapolis graduate and a highly regarded USN career officer. He served for a good period time in the USN Office of Naval Intelligence, where he undertook deep research into both Jutland and the respective fleets; I have copies of several ONI analyses prepared by him during his time at ONI. All told, he devoted sixteen years of study to Jutland, with extensive access to official records and surviving participants from both sides. His book belongs on the shelf of every serious student of the battle, whether one agrees with all his conclusions or not.

B

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wadinga
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by wadinga » Thu Dec 31, 2020 2:26 am

Hi Byron,

Well we are are all entitled to our own opinions :cool:

It may well be that friction created when he was
aide to Commander, American Patrol Detachment, Atlantic Fleet, a billet in which he played a significant role in developing the tactics of surface and air forces in combined operations against submarines
when dealing with perhaps arrogant and overbearing RN officers who regarded the USN as "Johnny-come-latelies" and an adjunct to be ordered about as inexperienced juniors, created a resentment which he harboured and which coloured his judgement in his later writings. Certainly US Army dealings on the Western Front with their Allies were frequently frosty, coloured by the clash of mighty egos.

Ernest King's Anglophobia delayed the adoption of hard-earned expertise in the Second World War. Sadly Allies are often divided by a common language.

George W Prescott is a prolific reviewer of naval books on Amazon, he writes:
Holloway H Frost spent years studying the battle of Jutland and this is his monument. The book is NOT the "be all and end all" on Jutland, however, as Frost was unacquainted with the issue of the failure of the Admiralty of supplying proper wireless intelligence to Jellicoe, and fails to grasp that while Jellicoe could lose the war in an afternoon, he could not win it in an afternoon. Dengrating Jellicoe for not being a Nelson, he forgets that two of Nelson's greatest victories (the Nile and Copenhagen) were against opponents who could not run and the other (Trafalgar) was against one who would not. After facing the Grand Fleet, Scheer's great desire was to run. It takes t[w]o to tango - and two to have a great naval battle.


Mr Prescott is an American.

All the Best to you and all for the New Year

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

Byron Angel
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by Byron Angel » Mon Jan 04, 2021 10:40 pm

Despite his rather superficial and inaccurate (see chapter VIII, Frost) review, it appears that Mr Prescott nevertheless gave Frost's work four stars.

The nub of the problem here is the assumption that Frost's criticisms must unquestionably derive from simple anglophobia. I very much doubt that to have been so. Were that the case, how then does one account for the various points of praise he extended to the British?

B

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wadinga
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by wadinga » Sat Jan 23, 2021 4:19 pm

Hello Byron,

I do indeed apologise to the shade of H H Frost, having not yet read his book and thus being guilty of basing my biased opinion solely on those passages reproduced by Gary Staff.

Frost I discover, having read an article from the US Naval War College review (Dr David Kohnen), was even as a junior officer closely involved with a Jutland reconstruction wargame carried out there in September 1916, under the influence of Captain William S Sims, who had submitted a detailed report on the battle's significance for US naval planning in June, shortly after the action. Later Sims produced a report for Congress based on detailed study of available material plus conclusions gained from "playing with toys on the floor", as Ernie King apparently described it. Sims was a good personal friend of Admiral Jellicoe, but I would imagine his professional judgement and patriotism would mean his conclusions were reasonable. He was extremely supportive of Jellicoe decisions, not so of Beatty's, but was apparently keen that the US Navy should pursue the construction of battlecruisers despite the losses incurred by the RN. He like many others was impressed by the tactical advantage of speed over slower moving battleships.

The 2016 USNWCR article which includes contributions from Nicholas Jellicoe and Nathaniel Sims (both with involved ancestors) considers Frost's later book, but is not very supportive:
Drawing debatable analogies, Frost found Jellicoe most closely comparable to Union Army general George B. McClellan from the American Civil War. This critique perhaps reflected a predetermined conclusion on Frost’s part; previous studies of Civil War battles may have tainted Frost’s objectivity in examining Jellicoe’s decisions. Sims, taking a different approach, recognized that Jellicoe had made all the correct strategic decisions by focusing on the ultimate objective: containing the High Seas Fleet.
Having been involved with studying Jutland from his youngest years, perhaps Frost only saw things from the junior officer's tactical point of view "I could have done it better by being more aggressive and taking much more risk" whereas Sims, who was promoted to Rear Admiral shortly after, and then sent to London to liaise with the Admiralty at the most senior level as the US joined the war, saw the broader strategic picture that Jellicoe had always needed to consider.

Those Frost sections quoted by Staff are uniformly critical of British actions, starting as early as Chapter one of "Skagerrak" where the "King Stephen incident" is referred to briefly in the following quote from Frost:

It was this vessel that, contrary to all customs of honourable warfare upon the sea, had deliberately allowed the crew of the wrecked airship L19 to drown without any attempt at rescue.

The at-the-time unarmed civilian fishing trawler King Stephen had come across the downed Zeppelin when it crashed in the sea after engine failure on the way home and previously being shot at by the neutral Dutch forces. With his unarmed crew potentially outnumbered by German survivors the skipper did not take anyone off the floating wreck, which subsequently sank with all personnel. After King Stephen reached harbour, alerted naval rescuers set out but found nothing. German propaganda attempted to portray this as a War Crime, when a bottle floated ashore with a message from the despairing survivors detailing the refusal of succour, even striking a medallion to commemorate it. Of course, that the Zeppelin had been over Britain bombing civilian targets and any reasonable antipathy this might have created, was glossed over in the mock outrage. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeppelin_LZ_54 for a balanced account

By World War II everybody had got used to the idea of civilians being legitimate targets for aerial bombing

Maybe my initial assessment of Frost's disposition will prove to be correct, since he was still apparently reproducing German propaganda stories in 1935 without qualifying them in any way.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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wadinga
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Re: Best Books on Jutland?

Post by wadinga » Fri Jan 29, 2021 6:01 pm

Hi Admiral Semmes and others,

For a less-Teutonophilic American writer than Mr Frost, I would suggest seeking out Langhorne Gibson's The Riddle of Jutland, which came out a year or so before that other book. Co-authoring with Gibson was British Vice Admiral J E T Harper whose navigational study lead to his Official Report which was suppressed by the British authorities for some time. Harper's own 1927 book The Truth about Jutland and Admiral Reginald Bacon's The Jutland Scandal were recently reproduced together by Frontline Books, A Pen and Sword imprint.

Mr Gary Staff's book Skaggerak, has many glaring inaccuracies, aside from the obvious unquestioning acceptance of the Krieg zur See's highly political account and Scheer's self-aggrandizing re-imaginings of what happened, it fails to use the information correctly which has emerged after such early accounts. For instance, sensitive security information withheld by the British Government.

Although he credits (and quotes) Patrick Beesly's book, Room 40, which describes in detail how much intercepted and decoded German radio traffic was passed to Jellicoe, he deliberately misleads his reader by saying the British Admiral was told by radio that Zeppelin reconnaissance was ordered for the Horns Reef bolthole (p216). This is, of course, to shore up his depiction of Jellicoe as timid and incompetent and keen on avoiding a further battle on the morning of 1st June. Beesly specifically says this sigint information was not passed, and further berates the British Intelligence system for not having a method of telling the at sea commander, that certain "appreciations" were based on decoded orders and were therefore 100% reliable. In WWII the "Ultra" prefix from Bletchley Park indicated information was of the highest reliability but still few knew it was directly decoded. In one way the Admiralty unwittingly risked uncovering Room 40's secret, by transmitting the earlier actual decoded translated text of Scheer's order to his fleet for speed and course, which would indicate Horns Reef, to Jellicoe. If the Germans decoded the British message, and recognised their own words, they would know their own code was broken. Jellicoe disregarded its content because he was convinced the Germans were actually still north and west of him. If he had known the actual origin of the info he might have believed it and caught Scheer before he could scurry to safety behind his minefields.

Staff even acknowledges Arthur J Marder (Dreadnought to Scapa Flow) pointed out these signals were either not sent at all (Zeppelin message) or not identified as actual intercepted orders on p179 but has forgotten it by p216 when he wishes to denigrate Jellicoe further. Marder was an American historian, writing in the 1960s. His description of Jutland Vol III, based on early access to some British classified records is outstanding.

Staff's sycophancy towards and unwillingness to identify clear falsehoods in Scheer's writings is clear as early as p3 when he says:
The interesting part of what Admiral Scheer said was that the U-Boat war was primarily aimed at damaging Britain's economic strength, not mounting a "hunger blockade" as the British had done to Germany. In this the U-Boats succeeded.
Without being interested enough to wonder how U-Boats succeeded in identifying which ships were carrying food, so as to spare them and which had "economicals" onboard before torpedoing them. A writer less interested in parroting Second Reich propaganda would consider how much the Hunger Winters in Germany were a result of German manhood digging trenches in other people's countries instead of potatoes at home, and German draught horses towing guns instead of ploughs. The German government's bungled management was a significant reason for hunger in Germany, as well as the Royal Navy, even diverting nitrates from much-needed fertilizers to the munitions industry. Germany had access to Dutch and Danish agricultural production via land routes, forced 900,000 POWs to work on German farms, had annexed valuable farm land in invaded territories and still German civilians went hungry.

Perhaps finally, on Jutland books, Innes McCartney's Jutland 1916 The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield published in the centenary year is a fascinating read, comparing sidescan sonar of wreck locations with Harper's study, and correlating evidence with descriptions of the various vessels' destruction.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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