Battle Of Dogger Bank - Encyclopedia




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"BATTLE OF. DOGGER BANK - One of the most important naval engagements in the World War was fought near the Dogger Bank on Jan. 24 1915 between the British and German battle cruiser squadrons.

Movements of the British fleet had led the Germans to suspect some scheme for blocking their harbours was afoot, and Rear-Adml. Hipper was despatched at nightfall on Jan. 23 to reconnoitre off the Dogger Bank. His force consisted of the four battle cruisers of the First Scouting Group, the " Seydlitz " (flag), " Derfflinger," " Moltke " and " Blucher," four light cruisers of the Second Scouting Group, and 22 destroyers of the 5th Flotilla and the 15th and 18th Half Flotillas. Intelligence of the departure of the German force had been intercepted at the British Admiralty, and Vice-Adml. Sir David Beatty (later Earl) put to sea from the Forth at 6 P.M. on the evening of the 23rd. With him were the five battle cruisers of the ist and 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadrons, the " Lion " (flag), " Tiger," " Princess Royal," " New Zealand " and " Indomitable," and the four light cruisers of the ist L.C.S. under Commodore W. E. Goodenough in the " Southampton." His orders were to proceed to a rendezvous in 55° 13' N 3° 12' E, 180 m. from Heligoland, where he was to meet Commodore Tyrwhitt in the " Arethusa " (flag) with the ist, 3rd and 10th Flotillas, mustering three light cruisers and 30 destroyers. Behind him to the northward was the Grand Fleet. The 3rd Battle Squadron (seven King Edward VII. class) had left Rosyth two and a half hours after him and the commander-in-chief had put to sea from Scapa with the battle-fleet. In the hope of intercepting the enemy on his way back Commodore (S) 1 had been ordered to proceed towards Borkum with the " Lurcher," " Firedrake " and four submarines. In heavy guns the British force was decidedly superior. The British battle cruisers mounted 24 13.5-in. and 16 12-in. against the German 8 12-in., 20 I I-in. and 16 8.2-in.

Beatty reached the rendezvous at 7 A.M. It was a winter morning with a calm sea and good visibility. His battle cruisers were in a single line ahead with Goodenough's light cruisers a couple of miles on the port bow. Course was altered to S. by W. at 18 knots. Ten minutes later the "Arethusa " was sighted to the south-eastward about 7 m. on the port bow. The " Aurora " and " Undaunted," the two other Harwich light cruisers, were still some 15 m. to southward of her out of sight. Hardly had the " Arethusa " been identified by the " Lion " when flashes of gunfire were seen to the S.S.E. This was the " Aurora " engaging the "Kolberg " coming up from the S.E. on the port bow of Hipper's squadron. The " Kolberg " was hit twice and withdrew at 7:25 A.M.

At the sound of the guns Admiral Beatty ordered his light cruisers to chase to the southward. The " Southampton " had hardly gone a couple of miles when the " Aurora " was seen on the starboard bow, and soon afterwards enemy battle cruisers were sighted on the port bow to the south-east. Dense clouds of smoke were pouring from their funnels and they were evidently getting up steam for full speed. It was now ten minutes to eight. Beatty's unexpected appearance had come on Hipper as an unpleasant surprise, and he turned to the S.E. and made off at full speed with Beatty some 13 to 14 m. behind. Beatty's position at 8:30 A.M. was about Lat. 54° 50' N. Long. 3° 40 E., and the two forces had settled down to the long rush to Heligoland 140 m. away (see fig. I). When the chase commenced the British Jan. 24 th 1915 Position 8.30 a.m.

y tst LC.S. y [[Beatty S]] 81 Mag'I 11 m` FIG. I.

battle cruisers were in single line ahead on a S.E. by S. course working up to full speed. The " Arethusa," " Undaunted " and " Aurora " now took station about 5 m. on the " Lion's " port bow in a ragged line abreast some 2 m. apart. Goodenough with his squadron was further off on the port bow steaming hard after the enemy. Hipper was II m. sharp on the " Lion's " port bow on a S.S.E. course in full flight for Heligoland with his light cruisers and destroyers ahead of him sharp on his starboard bow. The action about to commence took the form of a long chase in which speed was the principal consideration. Here Beatty's squadron had a considerable margin of superiority. It maintained an average speed of probably 26 knots; while Hipper's may have done just over 23 till the " Blucher " fell out, and something over 24 afterwards. By 8:42 A.M. the range of the " Blucher " had come down to 22,000 yd., and at five minutes past nine the ViceAdmiral hoisted the signal to engage. At 9:9, some 17 minutes after the first shot, the " Lion " obtained her first hit on the " Blucher. " About ten minutes later, at 9:20 A.M., a movement of some sort was observed among the enemy destroyers, and in 1 Commodore (S) = Commodore (Submarines), Commodore Roger Keyes.

Hipper expectation of an attack British destroyers were ordered to take station ahead, but none of them except the " M " class had the speed to do so and the remainder accordingly dropped back to clear the range. At 9:35 the " Lion " made the signal to engage corresponding ships in the enemy's line, not intending it to refer to the " Indomitable," which had dropped some way astern, but the " Tiger " took it to include the " Indomitable," and instead of firing at the " Derfflinger," the second ship, concentrated on the " Seydlitz," leaving the " Derfflinger " unfired at. It was not till 9:45 that the Germans scored their first hit on the " Lion," sending an 11-in. through her armour aft. Five minutes later a 13.5-in. crashed into the after turret of the " Seydlitz," wrecking a portion of the stern and igniting a charge in the working chamber under the turret. The flames roared up through the turret and passed through a connecting door into the adjoining one, setting the charges alight there and turning both turrets into furnaces where all the guns' crews perished. The " Blucher " was now having trouble with her engines, and at ten o'clock drew out of the line going heavily. The range increased for a time partly due to the " Lion " slowing down to 24 knots at 9:53 to allow the line to close up, partly to the enemy turning away for a time. The " Blucher " was on fire by this time and had dropped behind to a position 3 or 4 m. on the " Seydlitz's " port quarter. At 10:22 Adml. Beatty, to bring the rear of his line into action, ordered his battle cruisers to form on a line of bearing N.N.W. and to proceed at utmost speed. But repeated hits were telling on the " Lion," and at Io:45 she was dropping back. As it was clear that she could no longer maintain her place at the head of the line, Beatty at 10:47 made a signal " to close the enemy as rapidly as possible consistent with keeping all guns bearing," but the " Tiger " was the only one to receive it and then only the words " close the enemy." About 10:50 A.M. the " Lion " received a bad hit on the port side aft, which holed the feed tank and did serious damage in the engine room. This was the crisis of the action; at this moment the wash of a periscope was seen on the starboard bow (in a position Lat. J4 0 9' N. 5° 15' E.), and Beatty immediately made a signal to alter course eight points to port. This was hauled down at 11:02 A.M. and the squadron turned to N.N.E. (see fig. 2).

FIG. 2.

But the " Lion " was no longer able to perform the duties of a flagship. Her wireless and her searchlights were out of action, she had fallen out of line and the rest of the squadron was drawing every moment farther and farther away to the northward. The " New Zealand " was some way behind, and Rear-Adml. Sir Archibald Moore, the second in command, whose flag was flying in her, had not grasped the intention or nature of the turn.

It was urgently necessary to resume the chase. Beatty therefore ordered two signals to be made - compass B (course N.E.) and A.F. (attack the rear of the enemy), and then a third: " Keep nearer to the enemy. Repeat the signal the Admiral is now making." These all went up practically at the same time, and had they been understood in the sense in which they were made would have redeemed the situation. Unfortunately Rear-Adml. Moore only received the first two at I I :21 A.M. and then read them as meaning " attack the rear of the enemy bearing N.E." The " Blucher " was then bearing roughly N.E., and taking them as an order to attack the " Blucher " he steered towards her. Hipper altered for a few minutes to the S., bringing a heavy fire to bear on the " Tiger," which received seven hits at this time, then resumed his course E.S.E. and drew rapidly out of range. The " Lion " in a crippled state steamed slowly to the north-westward, while the remainder of the squadron some 6 or 7 m. off began to circle round the " Blucher," whose fate was now sealed. The destroyers " Meteor " and " Miranda " attacked her, but she was still in action and sent four shots into the " Meteor," wrecking her boiler room. At 11:38 A.M. the " Arethusa " came up and fired two torpedoes into her. She ceased firing, listing heavily with fires raging fore and aft. Hipper was now some 15 m. off, only 70 m. from Heligoland, and Rear-Adml. Moore apparently did not think it worth while to continue the chase. It was not till 11:52 A.M. that he assumed active command and made his first signal to form single line ahead and steer west. Beatty meanwhile had transferred his flag to the destroyer " Attack " and was racing after his squadron. About half-past twelve he reached the " Princess Royal," hoisted his flag in her and was about to resume the chase. But pursuit was now hopeless, and the situation not too favourable. The " Lion " could only go io knots and the High Sea Fleet was supposed to be coming up. Accordingly at 12:45 P.M. the squadron turned back. Hipper meanwhile made for home and got in touch with the German battle-fleet about 2:30 P.M. The " Blucher " had been lost, the " Seydlitz " seriously damaged and the " Derfflinger" hit three or four times. When Beatty turned home Jellicoe was hastening down to him with the battlefleet. They met at 4:30 P.M. and it remained only to get the " Lion " home. In tow of the " Indomitable " and screened by the 1st and 2nd Light Cruiser Squadrons and two flotillas she reached Rosyth safely the next morning.

The loss of the " Blucher " was quickly reflected in German naval policy. Adml. von Pohl took Adml. von Ingenohl's place as commander-in-chief of the High Seas Fleet with definite instructions to revert to a more cautious policy.

On the British side the results were generally regarded as disappointing. It was believed that, had the pursuit been pressed, the " Seydlitz " and " Derfflinger " might have shared the " Blucher's " fate, but it must not be forgotten that the range was still over 18,000 yd. and the enemy's speed not seriously diminished. The battle, however, had a very real result. It fettered the initiative of the German commander-in-chief, and put an end to raids on the English coast for over a year.

See also Filson Young, With the Battle Cruisers (1921).

The following is a list of the forces engaged: British 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron. " Lion " (flag), Vice-Adml. Sir David Beatty, Capt. Alfred Chatfield, 28 knots (designed).

" Princess Royal," Capt. Osmond de B. Brock, 28 knots. " Tiger," Capt. Henry B. Pelly, 30 knots.

Armament 8 13 . 5 -in., 16 4-in. (" Tiger " 16 6-in.). 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron. " New Zealand " (flag), Rear-Adml. Sir Archibald Moore, Capt. Lionel Halsey, 26 knots.

" Indomitable," Capt. Francis W. Kennedy, 25 knots.

Armament 8 12-in., 16 4-in.

1st Light Cruiser Squadron. " Southampton," Commodore W. E. Goodenough, Comm. E. A. Rushton.

" Birmingham," Capt. Arthur A. Duff.

" Nottingham," Capt. Charles B. Miller.

" Lowestoft," Capt. Theobald W. Kennedy.

Armament 9 6-in., " Southampton " 8 6-in., 25 knots. Harwich Flotillas. " Arethusa," Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, Comm. E. K. Arbuthnot. 10th Flotilla: " Meteor " (Comm. Hon. Herbert Mead), " Miranda," " Milne Mentor," " Mastiff," " Minos," " Morris," speed 34 knots.

3rd Flotilla: " Undaunted," Capt. Francis St. John, " Lookout," " Lysander," " Landrail," " Laurel," " Liberty," " Laertes," " Lucifer," " Lawford," " Lydia," " Louis," " Legion," " Lark," speed 29 knots.

1st Flotilla: " Aurora," Capt. Wilmot S. Nicholson, " Acheron," " Attack," " Hydra," " Ariel," " Forester," " Defender," " Druid," " Hornet," " Tigress," " Sandfly," " Jackal," " Goshawk," " Phoenix," " Lapwing," speed 27 knots.

Position 11 a.m.

30 Squadron turn s eeds S.ly ?(bI ? (4 11.02 - ' - Squ to r N N Jterin?

E.

f.B1 2.15 !ucher Sinks tofleligo%and DeriscoPe [[Lion German]] 1st Scouting Group. " Seydlitz." Rear-Adml. Hipper, to t t-in., 12 5.9-in., 26 knots. " Derfflinger," 18 12-in., 12 5.9-in., 27 knots.

" Moltke," to t t-in., 12 5.9-in., 25 knots.

" Blucher," 12 8.2-in., 8 5.9-in., 24 knots.

2nd Scouting Group. " Graudenz," " Stralsund," " Kolberg." " Rostock." (A. C. D.)

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