Battle of Dogger Bank: The First Dreadnought Engagement, January 1915

Battle of Dogger Bank: The First Dreadnought Engagement, January 1915

Battle of Dogger Bank: The First Dreadnought Engagement, January 1915

Battle of Dogger Bank: The First Dreadnought Engagement, January 1915

Synopsis

On January 24, 1915, a German naval force commanded by Admiral Franz von Hipper conducted a raid on British fishing fleets in the area of the Dogger Banks. The force was engaged by a British force, which had been alerted by a decoded radio intercept. The ensuing battle would prove to be the largest and longest surface engagement until the Battle of Jutland the following summer. While the Germans lost an armored cruiser with heavy loss of life and Hipper's flagship was almost sunk, confusion in executing orders allowed the Germans to escape. The British considered the battle a victory; but the Germans had learned important lessons and they would be better prepared for the next encounter with the British fleet at Jutand. Tobias Philbin's Battle of Dogger Bank provides a keen analytical description of the battle and its place in the naval history of World War I.

Excerpt

This book is designed to provide new insights into the first battle between the largest fighting machines of the early twentieth century. It seeks the reasons for the battle in the context of what was basically a stalemate on the ground in the opening phases of World War I. The ships involved were novel, powerful, and regarded as national assets that were not to be risked lightly, but which could be gambled in an attempt to even the odds for the battle fleets for which they scouted. The prestige and competence of Imperial Germany and the British Empire were at issue. Efforts of the previous twenty years and the investments of hundreds of millions in gold were at risk. Dogger Bank involved dozens of ships and it was a large, cold, and desperate battle, but it was both novel and a precedent for engagements to come.

It is instructive to understand the roles which time and distance played in the North Sea Theater. To this event, the Germans have left posterity with a remarkable little chart showing the distance in Seemeilen, or nautical miles (2,000 yards or 6,000 feet instead of 5,280 feet on land), between all the key points on the chart. This enables us to view the problems faced by the combatants both in time and distance. The North Sea is shallow and treacherous, providing a challenge to simple navigation, much less naval warfare. It is hostage to incredibly foul dangerous weather and low visibility which affected both combatants throughout the war. It is not possible or wise to ignore the role of the other half of the geography of the north German Coast – the Baltic. Germany faced the prospect of a naval campaign against Russia during the First World War. The subordination of the Russian navy, like the German, to the land . . .

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