A History of the Great War, 1914-1918

By C. R. M. F. Cruttwell | Go to book overview
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XIX JUTLAND1

I

THIS great battle was neither deliberately foreseen, nor was it the result of a purely chance collision. It was brought about naturally by the aggressive tactics of Scheer. The new German Commander, like his predecessors, hoped so to compel a strategic division of the Grand Fleet, as to catch it at a disadvantage; but unlike them he strove actively to achieve this end. As a result of the bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft with his battle-cruisers on April 24th, the day on which the Irish Rebellion broke out in Dublin, the British Admiralty moved the 5th battle squadron of swift Queen Elizabeths from Scapa to reinforce Beatty at Rosyth. In May Scheer's mind was set upon a more ambitious enterprise. The surrender of his government to the Sussex note enabled him to recall a number of submarines from trade destruction to fleet duties. Sixteen of them were sent to lie off the Scottish harbours, Rosyth being particularly menaced. He then intended to bombard Sunderland, with the High Seas Fleet in close support and extensive Zeppelin reconnaissance. This port is so near the Forth of Firth that there seemed a good hope that Beatty, after toll had been taken of his fleet by the submarines as he put out, might be overwhelmed before help could reach him from Scapa. This plan, however, proved unrealizable as the weather continued unkind and one of the battle-cruisers, the Seydlitz, had been delayed in dock for repairs after striking a mine on April 24th. He was determined, however, to attempt something before his submarines returned from their stations on June 1st.2 On May 30th therefore he sent Hipper

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1
The German name for the battle is Skagerack: it was fought over an enormous area but mostly some seventy miles west of the North Jutland coast.
2
Submarines made an abortive attack on Beatty, leaving Rosyth, but otherwise, like the Zeppelins, played no part in the battle on either side.

-318-

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