Battle of Jutland
Commander of the German High Seas Fleet Reinhard Scheer returned to an old policy of attacking ships along the British cost while he was in a defensive position. His coding method was considered secure and kept his ship safe from the main British battle fleet. However that wasn’t true, and the British could very much read his coded messages and were made aware of Scheer’s plans.
This led to Scheer running into the entire Royal Navy when he was instead expecting the High Seas Fleet. Admiral Franz von Hipper was the first to make contact and retreated towards the main German fleet. Both sides had a similar formation, and a pretty well thought out strategy. The Germans had the upper hand by destroying the first two battle cruisers.
The battle quickly turned in favor of the British when a timing miscalculation by the Germans led to a surprise attack by Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe’s fleet. Another miscalculation in their retreat led them directly in front of the British fleet.
With the Germans suffering heavy losses, they were forced to retreat and cover their escape with lighter ships.
British intelligence led to the meeting of what is considered the largest naval battle of the first Word War. Admiral David Beatty was not the only threat waiting for Reinhard Scheer, as the Grand Fleet that was minutes away was lying in wait.
Their ability to decipher the secured German messages allowed them to set the trap, but even with the win over the water it was not without its casualties. Heavy criticism by Britain was given to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and Admiral David Beatty for how they handled the intelligence and the following battle.
In the end the driving force of Germany’s naval fleet was nullified with a cost, forcing them to resort to unrestricted submarine warfare to null British resources. This eventually led to America declaring war on Germany, so the Battle of Jutland had more than one positive effect on the war for Britain.
Why Was the Battle of Jutland Important?
The German Naval Supreme Command was a huge nuisance on the waters and led by the intelligent Reinhardt Scheer. A master tactician, he planned several raids on the English coastline. Several British ships were being attacked at random, and with the currently coded messages he was not able to be captured.
Events from the battle led to Germany all but abandoning its battle plans on the water, and going to a low key approach with submarines. The fallout also claimed the rank and title of Reinhardt Scheer, surprising, since Scheer is the main reason the German High Seas Fleet was not completely destroyed in the battle. His dismissal was most likely compounded by a secret suicide mission he planned to launch on the British Royal Navy when the war was nearly over, and officially lost.
Who Was Affected?
Reinhardt Scheer suffered a major hit to his reputation after the battle, and the Germans were pushed almost completely off out of sea warfare. Germany in passing agreed that a retreat would have led to a more reliable outcome as it cost them several of their best ships.
Britain didn’t come out any better, and while they did win the battle, the reputations of their leaders on the water was questioned. Heavy losses in the British Naval Fleet could have been avoided with the intelligence they gathered, as they had the perfect trap set.
Names to Remember
Reinhardt Scheer was born in 1863 and commanded the German High Seas Fleet. His eventual plans for a suicide attack against the British fleet on October 1918 was scrapped, and he faced the Kiel Mutiny in the same year, along with a quick dismissal.
Here are some important things to remember about the Battle of Jutland.
• It was the largest naval battle of the first World War
• Consequences of the battle eventually led to America declaring war on Germany
• British intelligence was able to decode Germany’s secret messages
Both sides suffered heavy losses, but Britain proved itself superior on the open sea. If British intelligence was not able to decode the secret messages from the Germans, then the battle would have never taken place.