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Full text of "Kiel and Jutland"

Presented to the 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO 
LIBRARY 

by the 

ONTARIO LEGISLATIVE 
LIBRARY 

1980 



KIEL AND JUTLAND 



4753? 

KIEL *ND JUTLAND 



BY 



COMMANDER GEORG VON HASE 

(First Gunnery Officer of the " Derfflinger " ) 



Translated by Arthur Chambers and F. A. Holt 



47537 




LONDON: SKEFFINGTON S SON, LTD. 
PATERNOSTER HOUSE, ST. 




ONTARIO 



PREFACE 

WE Germans are faced with a cruel fate. Our 
German youth will grow up in an enslaved Ger- 
many in which foreign Powers are compelling us 
to work for them. We shall see how the Anglo- 
Saxon will look scornfully down upon us. Even 
Frenchmen, Italians, and representatives of other 
races which are inferior to us intellectually, 
morally and physically, will pluck up courage to 
regard us Germans as brute barbarians, rightly 
punished for their crimes. 

I am firmly convinced that our German youth 
will not allow all this to close its eyes to the 
truth. Brave Germans, old and young alike, 
must, and will, see to it that our nation does not 
lose its inherited characteristics in feeble, servile 
and un-German conceptions of life and the world. 
It is the duty of us elders to give young Germany 
the benefit of our advice and help in its approach- 
ing struggle. Part of that duty is to keep alive 
the memory of all that was done by the German 
people when it was proud and strong, and to recall 
the deeds and times in which it proved itself a 
true nation of heroes. 

The twenty-two years during which I was 

5 



Preface 

permitted to serve the Fatherland as a naval 
officer gave me an insight into two phases of pro- 
fessional activity, that of the German officer and 
that of the sailor. To-day, after the Revolution 
and our downfall have almost entirely put an end 
to those two sets of activities, I look back into the 
past with a feeling of gratitude to my profession 
in which I lived and worked all the time with men 
and boys who were German to the core and offered 
their lives and energies for Germany's greatness in 
peace as in war. I am particularly grateful to my 
profession for having brought me into contact 
with almost all the peoples of the earth under 
conditions which always left me proud that I 
was a German and a sailor. 

In relating events from my old professional 
days my aim is to do something towards filling 
young Germany with the same pride in our 
Fatherland which inspired us grown-ups before 
we had to draw our sword against a world of 
enemies. It was with that proud feeling that we 
were in no way inferior to any nation upon earth 
that we fought during four long years and stepped 
from victory to victory until we finally collapsed 
when men of our own race, essentially un-German, 
knocked our weapons out of our hands in the 
moment of betrayal. 

In my little book I shall tell of two historic 
meetings between Germans and Englishmen. 

6 



Preface 

The first was just before the outbreak of the 
war and was as characteristic as possible of the 
relations then existing between us Germans and 
our present mortal enemies, the English. 

It was in June, 1914, that a great English 
squadron visited Kiel. I was appointed personal 
aide-de-camp to the English commander, Vice- 
Admiral Sir George Warrender, for the duration of 
the visit of this squadron. All that time, during 
which the Serajevo assassination occurred, I 
lived on board the flagship, King George V. y 
with the English ambassador and other guests 
of the Admiral. 

I wrote down my experiences and impressions 
of my stay on board the King George V. at the 
beginning of July, 1914, immediately after the 
English squadron left, using notes I had made 
in my diary every day. 

The second historical encounter of which I 
shall speak is the Battle of the Skagerrak.* In 
the Battle of the Skagerrak, as the First Gunnery 
Officer of our largest, most powerful and swiftest 
ship, the battle-cruiser Derfflinger, I had the 
good fortune to be in the thickest of the fight, 
to take a personal part in every phase of the action, 
and thus play a decisive part in the destruction 
of the two English battle-cruisers, Queen Mary 
and Invincible. As at the moment there is no 

* The Battle of Jutland. (Tr.) 
7 



Preface 

description of the battle in which one of the com- 
batants gives an absolutely impartial and critical 
account, free from the shackles of the censorship, 
in recounting my experiences I have endeavoured 
to relate events solely from an historical and thor- 
oughly unbiassed point of view, and to describe the 
course of the action, as far as I was able to judge 
by my own observation, as it really developed. 

But before I begin my story of these two his- 
toric encounters, I should like, here and now, 
to bring forward a classic example of something 
which shows that, in spite of all envy and rivalry, 
no true Englishman before the war ever thought 
of regarding a true German otherwise than as a 
representative of an equal and related race. 

It was in June, 1913. 

Off the coast of Albania ships of almost all the 
nations were lying at anchor. The captain of 
the German cruiser Breslau had invited the 
admirals and captains of the other nations to 
dine with him. The English admiral sat next to 
the German captain, and around them sat Ger- 
mans, English, Italians, French, Russians, 
Spaniards, Turks, Greeks and Albanians. A 
motley throng. There were toasts. The live- 
liest conversation on political events was carried 
on in every conceivable tongue. The English 
admiral and German captain caught each other 
silently examining the members of the " Round 

8 



Preface 

Table/' and exchanged notes on the results of 
their observation of the various national types. 

Suddenly the English admiral raised his glass, 
looked straight into the blue eyes of the German 
captain, and as the glasses clinked, whispered 
in his ear : " The two white nations ! " With 
flashing eyes the two Teutons gazed at each 
other, the representatives of the two greatest 
seafaring Germanic peoples. They felt that they 
were of the same stock, originally members of 
one and the same noble race. 

And before the war all true Germans and all 
true Englishmen felt exactly the same ! 

And now ? The English people and their 
satellites now dare to call us " Huns ! " The 
other of the " Two White Nations " gives our 
noble race, which has fought for right and free- 
dom, hearth and home as none has ever fought 
before, the name of a Mongolian people of the 
lowest degree of culture ! 

German men ! German youths ! Do not let 
such foolish effrontery grieve you. Let us show 
our enemies in our daily actions that the culture 
of our nation is no lower than that of any other 
nation. Let us do all we can to teach the world 
the truth that we fought the war not less chival- 
rously than our opponents, and that it was their 
cruel measures only which compelled us to adopt 
stern reprisals. 

9 



CONTENTS 

PART I 

CHAP. PAGE 

THE KIEL WEEK 15 

PART II 

THE BATTLE OF THE SKAGERRAK 

I. MY FIRST MEETING WITH BRITISH NAVAL 

FORCES 63 

II. THE PRINCIPLES OF GUNNERY IN AN ACTION 

ON THE HIGH SEAS ..... 71 
III. THE TACTICAL PRINCIPLES OF A NAVAL ACTION 

ON THE HIGH SEAS ..... 93 
IV. THE HISTORICAL VALUE OF PERSONAL ACCOUNTS 

OF NAVAL ACTIONS 103 

V. ON BOARD THE " DERFFLINGER," HEADING FOR 

SKAGERRAK . . . . . .119 

VI. FIRST PHASE OF THE BATTLE OF SKAGERRAK 
(5.48 TO 6.55 P.M.). " QUEEN MARY " ENGAGED. 
DESTROYER ATTACKS AND THEIR REPULSE . 137 
VII. THE SECOND PHASE OF THE SKAGERRAK BATTLE 
(6.55 TO 7.5 P.M.). THE FIFTH BATTLE 
SQUADRON ENGAGED. BEATTY'S OUTFLANK- 
ING MANOEUVRE ..... 169 

VIII. THIRD PHASE OF THE SKAGGERAK BATTLE 
(7.50 TO 9.5 P.M.). HEAVY FIGHTING AGAINST 
SHIPS OF THE LINE, CRUISERS AND DE- 
STROYERS. DESTRUCTION OF THE " IN- 
VINCIBLE." "DERFFLINGER" FORCED TO 
STOP TO CLEAR HER TORPEDO-NET . . 175 



Contents 



CHAP. PAGE 

IX. THE FOURTH PHASE OF THE SKAGERRAK BATTLE 
(9.5 P.M. TO 9.37 P.M.). THE DEATH RIDE 
OF THE BATTLE-CRUISERS. ADMIRAL SCHEER 
EXTRICATES THE FLEET FROM THE ENEMY 
ENVELOPMENT. DESTROYER ATTACKS. THE 

ENEMY SHAKEN OFF 193 

X. THE FIFTH PHASE OF THE SKAGERRAK BATTLE 
(9.37 TO 10.35 P - M -) AND THE NIGHT OF JUNE 
IST. LAST ENGAGEMENT. NIGHT FIGHTING. 
SINKING OF THE " POMMERN " . . . 211 

XI. REFLECTIONS ON THE BATTLE OF SKAGERRAK 225 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

The German Battle-Cruiser Derfflinger at 

Anchor ...... Frontispiece 

Vice- Admiral Sir George Warrender . . Facing p. 16 
German and British Fleets saluting the Kaiser 

at Kiel on June 24, 1914 ... ,, 32 

King George V., Flagship of the English 2nd 

Battle Squadron ..... ,, 48 

Southampton, Commodore Goodenough's 

Flagship 48 

The Forward Guns of the King George V. . ,, 64 

The Quarter-deck of the Derfflinger . . ,, 64 

The 30.5-cm. Turrets " Anna " and 

"Bertha" 80 

The 3O.5-cm. Turrets " Caesar " and " Dora " ,, 80 

The Fore- top, or Crow's Nest ... ,, 96 

Range-takers with Bg.-fmder ... ,, 96 

The Quarter-deck of the Derfflinger at Full 

Speed 112 

Line Ahead 128 

Line of Bearing . . . . . ,, 128 

The Secondary Armament firing a Salvo . ,, 144 

Battleship firing ..... ,, 160 

Splashes made by Heavy Guns ... 160 
English Battle-Cruiser Queen Mary, sunk at 

6.26 p.m. on the 3ist May, 1916 . . ,, 177 
English Battle-Cruiser Invincible, sunk at 

8.31 p.m. on the 3ist May, 1916 . . 192 



List of Illustrations 



Derfflinger screened from Submarine Attack 

by Four Destroyers (aerial photograph) . Facing p. 214 
Derfflinger firing a Salvo from her Heavy 

Guns while steaming at Top Speed (aerial 

photograph) 214 

Derfflinger firing a Full Salvo from all eight 

3O.5-cm. Guns simultaneously . . ,, 218 

At Sea M 218 

Sketch I. 188 

Sketch II. . . 208 



PART I 

THE KIEL WEEK, 1914 



Q c^7^ A> 




Vice-Admiral Sir George Warrender. 



\_Tofacep. 16. 



KIEL AND JUTLAND 



ON May 22nd, 1914, The Times made the follow- 
ing announcement : 

The Admiralty announce that four 
squadrons of battleships and cruisers are 
to cruise in the Baltic next month. All the 
principal ports are to be visited, including 
Kiel, Kronstadt, Copenhagen, Christiania and 
Stockholm. These visits are of a similar 
character to those which British squadrons 
have made recently to Austrian, Italian 
and French ports, which an Austrian squad- 
ron is now making" to Malta, a Russian 
squadron made to Portland last summer, 
and a French squadron will make to that 
port next month. 

They have been arranged between the 
respective Governments, and while they have 
no political or international significance, it 
17 2 



Kiel and Jutland 



is hoped that they may not be made occa- 
sions for anything beyond the customary 
exchange of hospitality which such visits 
must be expected to bring forth. These 
cruises will be most welcome to the officers 
and men, since they give relief from the 
routine of service in home waters and add 
to their knowledge of foreign ports. The 
last time a British naval force was in the 
Baltic was in the autumn of 1912, when 
the Second Cruiser Squadron visited Chris- 
tiania, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Reval and 
Libau. 

The following are the prospective move- 
ments of His Majesty's ships of the First 
Fleet, announced by the Secretary of the 
Admiralty : 

The Vice-Admiral commanding 2nd Battle Squadron 
in the King George V., with the Ajax, Audacious and 
Centurion, and the Commodore ist Light Cruiser Squad- 
ron in the Southampton, with the Birmingham and Not- 
tingham, will visit Kiel from June 23 to 30. 

The news of the proposed visit of the English 
Fleet to Kiel caused the greatest excitement in 
Germany and all the world over. Some liked 
to regard it as an important step towards easing 
the political situation, while others saw in it 
nothing but a final bit of espionage before the 
inevitable conflict. The German Press soon be- 

18 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



came very busy with the approaching visit of 
the English Fleet, and the Navy made preparations 
for the reception of the ships at Kiel. 

His Majesty the Kaiser commanded that two 
German officers should be assigned to the two 
English commanders as personal aides-de-camp. 
As early as May I heard that my name had been 
put forward for this duty to one of the English 
admirals, and at the beginning of June it was 
announced in Fleet Orders that I had been posted 
as aide-de-camp to Vice- Admiral Sir George 
Warrender and Lieutenant Kehrhahn as aide- 
de-camp to Commodore Goodenough, command- 
ing the light cruisers. 

During my service in foreign waters, parti- 
cularly the Far East, as well as during a con- 
siderable period of residence in England, I had 
always had good relations with the English, 
especially with English naval officers of my own 
age. I had spent many a pleasant hour in con- 
versation with Englishmen, and so it was a real 
pleasure, when I heard of my new appointment, 
to think of the social intercourse I anticipated 
with the English officers. 

On Tuesday, June 23rd, early in the morning, 
the English Naval Attache in Berlin, Captain 
Henderson, the navigating officer appointed to 
pilot the English flagship, and I embarked in a 
motor-boat, in which we went out to meet the 

19 2* 



Kiel and Jutland 



English squadron at the Bulke lightship, some 
ten sea miles out from Kiel. It was a rainy, 
thick day, and there was only a light breeze. 
At the Bulke lightship we met the six motor- 
launches of the navigating officers who were to 
bring in the other ships. Our little flotilla had 
just assembled when we observed two great 
columns of smoke away to the north. The 
English ships were approaching us in two columns. 
We soon recognized four battleships in line ahead 
in the left column, and three light cruisers in 
the right-hand column which was further astern. 
Seen from our low elevation the English battle- 
ships were an imposing sight. The dark-grey 
objects looked almost black against the smoke- 
grey background. On came the formidable giants, 
the greatest warships in the world. They were 
the celebrated Dreadnoughts, King George V., 
Ajax, Audacious and Centurion, and with them 
were the light cruisers Southampton, Birmingham 
and Nottingham. 

A signal was hoisted by the English flagship, 
which was flying the flag of the English Vice- 
Admiral, as soon as they noticed ours. The ships 
stopped, the engines were reversed, and when the 
mighty vessels had ceased to move our seven 
motor-launches went alongside the seven English 
ships practically simultaneously. We went along- 
side the King George's starboard accommodation- 

20 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



ladder and climbed on board. The ship's second 
in command, Commander Goldie, received us and 
conducted us to the Admiral, who was standing 
on the high Admiral's bridge with the officers of 
his staff. Captain Henderson introduced us to 
the Admiral. I welcomed him in the name of the 
Commander-in-Chief of the High Sea Fleet and the 
Officer Commanding the Baltic Station, and 
reported that I had been appointed his personal 
aide-de-camp for the duration of the visit of the 
English squadron to Kiel. The Admiral ex- 
pressed his pleasure and thanked me very 
kindly. He at once introduced me to the officers 
of his staff, Captain Baird, Flag-Captain and 
Chief of Staff, the Honourable Arthur Stopford, 
Flag-Commander, and Lieutenant Buxton, the 
Flag-Lieutenant . 

Vice- Admiral Sir George Warrender was a good- 
looking man. He was clean-shaven, and had an 
aristocratic face and fine blue eyes. He might 
have been about fifty, was just turning grey, but 
in his manner he had the elasticity of youth, and 
he was cheerful and kind. I had to draw up an 
official report immediately after the visit of the 
English Fleet, and in it I made the following 
observations on the personality of the Admiral 
and the officers of his staff : 



21 



Kiel and Jutland 



VICE-ADMIRAL SIR GEORGE WARRENDER, BART. 

Vice-Admiral Sir George Warrender, Bart., 
is a distinguished man of the world of the true 
English type. He is self-possessed and decided. 

The officers of his staff and his ship have a high 
opinion of his qualities, and he is said to be very 
popular in his squadron, thanks to his personal 
character and his care for his men. 

As we came into harbour, and subsequently, I 
was particularly struck with the way in which 
he and, indeed, almost all the other English 
officers settled all official questions. It was 
a matter of short orders and short replies, for 
which the English language is particularly suited. 
No superfluous words on duty. Thus, in spite 
of a general absence of military formalities in 
address, conversation and behaviour, the manner 
in which work was carried on seemed to me 
very sailor-like and professional. Warren der is 
hard of hearing, but the officers of his staff have 
had such good practice with him that he under- 
stands them even when they speak softly. He 
was in difficulties with the other officers and 
strangers, particularly when general conversation 
was at its height at table. 

When I was with the Admiral alone, as when 
members of his staff were present, he made most 

22 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



minute inquiries about affairs in the German 
Navy, and was particularly anxious to learn 
about the conditions of life and service and the 
spirit of our officers and men. He also showed 
the liveliest interest in our wireless and petrol 
engines, particularly our submarine engines. It 
had become second nature with him and with his 
officers to compare their own navy with ours. 
Sir George Warrender frequently showed himself 
a superlative conversationalist. He knew some 
German, though he never spoke German in con- 
versation. At his request I translated every day 
the German newspaper articles and letters which 
discussed the visit of his squadron. 

Sir George Warrender is said to be a good 
tennis player and a splendid golfer. 

He always spoke of His Majesty the Kaiser and 
His Royal Highness Prince Henry with the 
greatest respect. He was extremely pleased with 
the reception which His Majesty the Kaiser and 
His Royal Highness Prince Henry had given 
him and his wife. He always endeavoured to be 
exceedingly courteous to all German officers. 
To me personally Sir George Warrender always 
showed himself very kind and attentive. He 
frequently said how thankful he was that he and 
Commodore Goodenough had had German naval 
officers attached to them. As a matter of fact he 
used me exactly like a personal aide-de-camp. 

23 



Kiel and Jutland 



Put shortly, my opinion of Sir George War- 
render is as follows : He is a distinguished per- 
sonality, who has his officers and men well in 
hand. He has a good head, is interested in and 
understands his profession, and his alertness 
is almost youthful. 

FLAG-CAPTAIN BAIRD 

He is Chief of Staff and Captain of the flag- 
ship in one. On his legs from morning to night, 
his principal function is to settle all questions 
relating to officers and men which concern the 
whole squadron (fetes, leave, sport, etc.). He 
looks somewhat worn out, but is a clever and 
energetic officer. 

FLAG-COMMANDER THE HON. ARTHUR STOPFORD 

He is the squadron gunnery officer. Has a 
clever head and a frank and honest nature, with 
special sympathy for German family life and 
customs. 

FLEET-PAYMASTER HEWLETT 

Has a very confidential position. He comes 
before the Flag-Commander. His duties corre- ' 
spond entirely with those of our Squadron 
Secretary. 

24 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



About nine o'clock in the morning of June 23rd 
we ran into Kiel Bay. It amused me to think 
that I, who had made this trip so often before, 
should now be making it on the Admiral's bridge 
of an English flagship. Off the entrance we ran 
into a heavy squall, but it cleared up as the storm 
passed over Labo and we saw the lovely harbour 
of Kiel lying in bright sunshine. A large number 
of yachts and naval launches circled round us, 
and the shore was black with curious folk, who 
had hurried up to witness the entry of the cele- 
brated English Dreadnoughts. From Labo we 
were accompanied by the white motor launch of 
Prince Henry, who greeted us, with his ladies. 
The Admiral and Prince Henry welcomed each 
other with much waving of caps. In good order 
and showing splendid seamanship, all the ships 
made fast to their special buoys practically 
simultaneously. 

Shortly afterwards we all assembled for break- 
fast with the Admiral. The Admiral had a very 
large dining-room occupying the whole width of 
the ship and panelled with mahogany. He had 
also a state cabin appointed very elegantly with 
light furniture. With all its cushions and its 
light carpet it looked just like a lady's drawing- 
room. These two rooms were for general use by 
the members of the Admiral's mess, though the 
latter usually spent their free time in their large 

25 



Kiel and Jutland 



cabins or the wardroom. For his personal use 
the Admiral had a large office, a capacious bed- 
room, bath and dressing rooms. 

We made an excellent breakfast, and the 
Admiral discussed the arrangements for the day 
with me. Provision had been made for : n a.m. 
Exchange of visits on S.M.S. Friedrich der Grosse. 
Then report to Prince Henry. The Admiral 
asked me where I was to be found. I requested 
to be allowed to stay on the King George V., 
which pleased him very much. He gave me 
temporary quarters in the state room intended 
for the Ambassador, and so my servant, Able 
Seaman Hanel, moved in with all my gear. It 
was a small, self-contained apartment, a cabin 
prettily appointed, bed, bath and dressing rooms. 
Unfortunately I did not enjoy it long, for the same 
evening the British Ambassador came on board, 
and I moved into a cabin on one of the lower 
decks, which was certainly roomy, but very 
uncomfortable and hot. 

I lived and slept on board the King George V. 
all through the Kiel week. As a result of my 
continuous contact with Admiral Warrender, and 
his officers and men, I had a chance of getting 
to know them well, and forming an opinion on 
their spirit. 

In addition to the English Ambassador, the 
latter* s son and a nephew of the Admiral, young 

26 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



Lord Erskine, were the Admiral's guests on 
board. At the time appointed we went in the 
Admiral's " barge/' a very large and fine steam 
launch fitted up in mahogany, to the Fleet Flag- 
ship Friedrich der Grosse, where all the admirals 
and captains present in Kiel were assembled for 
the formal reception. Admiral von Ingenohl 
and Admiral Warrender presented their respective 
officers. The German officers adopted a cool and 
reserved attitude, and the English more or less 
did the same, so that, in spite of formal courtesies, 
the political tension could be observed. 

In the subsequent festivities I failed to notice 
anything similar, especially in the intercourse of 
the junior officers, who were very soon good 
friends. At all the balls and dinners the young 
English officers could be seen getting on famously 
with the German officers and flirting zealously 
with the German ladies. A good many English 
officers were also invited out by our married 
naval officers, and so they enjoyed many an 
hour of German domestic hospitality. Many 
officers and men made use of the opportunity 
of free railway journeys which were offered them. 

Every day hundreds of them went to Berlin 
and Hamburg, so that a large proportion of the 
officers and men were away from Kiel. 

From the Friedrich der Grosse we went to the 
Royal Castle. We were received by Prince 

27 



Kiel and Jutland 



Henry, the Princess, the young princes and the 
household. Their Royal Highnesses talked very 
intimately to the English officers. Both of them 
had a particular predilection for everything 
English before the war, and, indeed, among 
themselves hardly spoke anything but English. 
I had a long talk with the youthful Prince Siegis- 
mund and then with Princess Henry, who dis- 
played a keen interest in what I was doing on the 
King George V. All the Englishmen were greatl) 
charmed by the kindness and distinction oi 
Prince Henry. 

From the Royal Castle we went back to the 
King George V., where meanwhile the two naval 
attaches, Commander Erich von Miiller, who 
had come from London, and Captain Wilfrid 
Henderson, had arrived as guests for lunch. 
Commander von Miiller drew me aside, and 
said: " Be on your guard against the English! 
England is ready to strike ; war is imminent, 
and the object of the naval visit is only spying. 
They want to see exactly how prepared we are. 
Whatever you do, tell them nothing about our 
U-boats." ' 

This information completely confirmed my own 
views, but I was none the less taken aback to hear 
the point put so baldly. I paid strict heed to his 
advice during the whole of the English visit. 

The future was to justify Commander von 

28 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



Miiller up to the hilt. He realized the approach 
of danger, even before the murder at Serajevo, 
so much better than his chief, Ambassador Prince 
Lichnowsky. 

We had only been on board a few minutes 
when Prince Henry appeared to pay his return 
call, and he was soon followed by the Commander- 
in-Chief and the officer in command of the Base. 

In the afternoon Flag-Lieutenant Buxton and 
I accompanied the Admiral on a round of visits. 
First we went to the Yacht Club, where War- 
render had quite a touching reunion with his 
friend Rear- Admiral Sarnow, whom he had met 
in Eastern Asia long years before. For a whole 
hour we sat drinking champagne with the old 
gentlemen who could not do enough to revive 
the memories of bygone days they had spent 
together. Then we had tea with Admiral von 
Coerper, commanding the Baltic Naval Station, 
and afterwards went with him and Frau 
von Coerper to watch the tennis tournament 
for the Kaiser Prize on the square in front of 
the Marine Akademie. 

When we went back on board we found that the 
English Ambassador, Sir Edward Goschen, had 
arrived and moved into the feudal stateroom, 
in which I had had to be content with an after- 
noon nap. During the next week I was to learn 
what a particularly kind and witty man he was. 

29 



Kiel and Jutland 



He always treated us Germans with the greatest 
cordiality. He was descended from the Leipzig 
bookseller family, the Goschen, and was thus 
more German than English in origin. 

After a short talk with the Ambassador we 
all shifted for dinner with Prince Henry. Full 
mess dress, i.e., mess jacket with white waistcoat 
and gold braid on the trousers, was the prescribed 
rig. Just before eight we all went to the Royal 
Castle in the splendid " barge " in which we 
were to make many a trip in the next week. 
Dinner was a very jolly affair. We dined at 
eight small tables in the " White Room." In 
addition to the senior English officers, the 
admirals present in Kiel were invited with their 
wives, as well as a few members of the Holstein 
nobility. While the sumptuous banquet was in 
progress, a splendid orchestra played alternate 
English and German selections. 

Soon after ten o'clock we again returned to 
the King George V. in the barge. With Stopford 
and Buxton I went into the wardroom, where I 
made the acquaintance of several officers of the 
ship. We spent a long and pleasant time 
together, drinking whisky and soda. The officers 
of the English ships almost always had two pretty 
large rooms for their common use the officers' 
mess proper, which is used almost exclusively 
as a dining-room, and the ante-room, which is 

30 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



provided with club chairs and leather sofas, 
and in which the officers smoke, read and play 
cards. The furniture is the property of the 
officers. On the King George V. both rooms 
were furnished in particularly good taste. 

The following programme had been arranged 
for June 24th : 10 a.m. Visit to the Secretary of 
State of the Imperial Admiralty. 1.30 p.m. 
Arrival of His Majesty in the royal yacht Hohen- 
zollern. The English flag officers and captains 
report on board the Hohenzollern (immediately 
after she anchors). 7.30 p.m. Dinner with 
the English Consul. 

Lieutenant-Commander Kehrhahn, Buxton and 
I accompanied Admiral Warrender and Commo- 
dore Goodenough to the Secretary of State of the 
Imperial Admiralty, who had hoisted his flag on 
S.M.S. Friedrich Karl. Admiral von Tirpitz 
received us at the gangway and took us to his 
cabin. He there sat at a small table with the 
two English flag officers, while we juniors sat 
at another table with his aides-de-camp. English 
alone was spoken, as the Admiral spoke it very 
well. Warrender and Goodenough brought him 
kind messages from his many friends and ac- 
quaintances in the English Navy. Tirpitz then 
spoke of the development of the German fleet. 
Champagne was handed round. We remained 
about half an hour, and then returned to the 

31 



Kiel and Jutland 



King George V., where the preparations for the 
reception of the Hohenzollern were at their height. 
During the whole stay at Kiel the men had no 
duties beyond keeping the ships clean. The 
result was that they all looked " tip-top/' All 
the damage to the paintwork on the voyage over 
had been made good ; the decks had been 
swabbed, and the space for the inspection of the 
crew had been marked off into equal distances 
with thin chalk lines. 

At the appointed minute the Hohenzollern 
passed through Holtenau Locks. This trip marked 
the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal to 
public traffic. The work of widening it had been 
completed. Of course some dredging was still 
required before battleships could pass through, 
but this work was carried on at full pressure. 
On July 30th, 1914, the Kaiser in was the first 
dreadnought to pass through the canal. It was 
thus ready at the very moment the war began. 
The result was that when the fleet returned from 
Norwegian harbours at the end of July, Admiral 
von Ingenohl was able to distribute the battle 
fleet between its bases, Wilhelmshaven and Kiel. 
When the order came for the concentration of the 
fleet in the North Sea, the battleships from Kiel 
passed through the canal for the first time, 
though they had first to empty their bunkers. 
The fact that the war broke out practically the 

32 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



same day as that on which the canal was ready 
fulfilled a prophecy which I had made in the year 
1911. As I was firmly convinced that the mad 
competition in armaments of all the great nations 
would inevitably lead to a war some day, just 
as in the days gone by the creation of every 
fleet had led to its being used for war purposes, I 
prophesied to some merchants in Hamburg in 
1911 that we should have war as soon as we had 
a high-sea fleet, consisting of two great dread- 
nought squadrons, with the necessary battle- 
cruisers, light cruisers and destroyers, in addition 
to a considerable number of U-boats, and imme- 
diately the coast defences we had planned, 
particularly Heligoland, had been completed. On 
August ist, 1914, when the canal was ready, all 
these conditions precedent were fulfilled. The 
Dance I had prophesied could begin and it 
began ! Subsequently one of the Hamburg mer- 
chants referred to the astounding accuracy of 
my prophecy. I must admit that at the time 
I had not thought that my conditions would be 
satisfied before the spring of 1915. 

When the Hohenzollern passed through the 
Holtenau Lock, on June 24th, all the ships fired 
the Imperial salute. Several aeroplanes and a 
Zeppelin circled over the flohenzollern. Un- 
happily one aeroplane crashed, and the officer, 
Lieutenant Schroeter, was killed. 

33 3 



Kiel and Jutland 



The Hohenzollern passed us very swiftly. The 
Kaiser waved from the bridge of the Hohen- 
zollern to where he saw Admiral Warrender 
standing. The red-coated marines were drawn 
up on the quarter-deck of the English ships. The 
crews manned ship, and every ship gave three 
loud hurrahs, the men waving their caps at each 
hurrah. The bands of the Royal Marines struck 
up the salute. It was a magnificent sight, which 
I shall never forget. 

The English officers were to be presented on 
the Hohenzollern immediately after she had been 
made fast. We therefore quickly shifted into full- 
dress uniform, and were quite ready to start 
when the Admiral reappeared on deck. The 
English captains had been told about the pro- 
gramme, but not one of them was in sight. We 
could see their gigs lying at the gangways, but 
not a boat moved. The Admiral was angry, 
and had the signal, " All captains to come on 
board the flagship," hoisted. There was quite a 
pause before the signal was understood by all 
the ships. Then, at last, all the gigs, pretty 
but slow boats, put off. It turned out subse- 
quently that the captains thought they were not 
to come on board until a special signal was given. 
The Admiral was very much displeased, and I 
must admit that this want of initiative on the 
part of the captains was somewhat incomprehen- 

34 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



sible to me also. They had not used their fast 
picket-boats because there was a regulation that 
for official purposes the captain must only use 
his gig. 

The Admiral's barge now quickly took us to 
the Hohenzollern, where there was already some 
excitement over the half-hour's delay. The 
Kaiser stood on the upper promenade deck to 
receive us. He was in high spirits and full of 
humour, as usual. Not one of the English 
officers failed to look anything but very pleased 
while the Kaiser was talking with him. As we 
were returning all the officers congratulated them- 
selves on their good fortune. 

After lunch, the Admiral, with Buxton and 
myself, went to the station to meet his wife. 
Lady Maud Warrender was a very tall and 
beautiful woman, of perhaps forty, the typical 
English society lady. I knew from the English 
papers that she was one of the leaders of London 
Society. She was known as a singer with a 
magnificently trained voice. She was staying 
on board the Hamburg-Amerika liner Viktoria 
Luise, which Ballin always sent to Kiel for the 
Kiel Week. This ship was the evening rendez- 
vous of the social world at Kiel. 

In the afternoon Princess Henry and her 
sons paid a visit to the King George V . Every 
spare moment I had was taken up withdrawing 

35 3* 



Kiel and Jutland 



up the list of invitations to a great banquet on 
board the King George V. In this task I was 
helped by the Flag-Lieutenant of the High Sea 
Fleet and the aide-de-camp of the Officer Com- 
manding the base. In addition I had to keep in 
constant touch with the English officers of the 
watch, the Admiral's secretary, the Commander 
of the King George V., and many others. I was 
frequently called to the telephone, which had 
been laid on the flagship, to give information to 
German officers and authorities. These were 
appallingly strenuous days for me, to the strain of 
which the excellent meals with the best of wine 
and much drinking of whisky and cocktails at 
all hours of the day and night contributed not a 
little. 

In the evening of June 24th we assembled in 
the Hotel Seebadeanstalt, to which the English 
Consul Sartori and his wife had invited us. I 
had an opportunity of making the closer acquain- 
tance of Commodore Goodenough and the cap- 
tains. I was particularly impressed by Com- 
modore Goodenough, the commander of the 
light cruiser squadron, who subsequently took 
an outstanding part in the war. After the 
Skagerrak Battle, in particular, Admiral Jellicoe 
emphasized his share in the action. As O.C. 
of the light scouting force he established contact 
with our main fleet, and is said to have kept 

36 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



Jellicoe always well informed of our move- 
ments. 

This evening he showed himself a great wit in 
company. I also found out what a great con- 
versationalist Captain Dampier, commanding the 
Audacious, was. Inter alia he taught me an 
amusing toast, which runs : 



" I drink to myself and another, 
And may that one other be she (he), 
Who drinks to herself (himself) and another, 
And may that one other be me ! " 



Most of the captains looked somewhat over- 
worked. One of the principal causes may be 
that the officers of the First Fleet live quite a 
different kind of life from that which we lead on 
board the ships of our High Sea Fleet. Service 
in the First Fleet usually lasts two years. During 
that period the ships are almost always either 
at sea or in different harbours. It is highly 
exceptional for the officers to have a chance of 
living ashore. Our ships, on the other hand, 
always return to their so-called " Main Base " 
after fleet exercises, and then we officers live 
ashore with our families, and during free times 
there are no officers on board except a senior 
officer and two juniors as officers of the watch. 
Thus we have plenty of opportunity of recuper- 
ating from the wearing life on board. The 

37 



Kiel and Jutland 



result of the unsettled life of the English naval 
officers (with whom, moreover, two or three years 
of foreign service are far more frequent than 
with us) is that most of the married ones cannot 
have a home of their own, but have to bring their 
families to the place where they and their ships 
are likely to remain for a considerable time. 
Their families then live in the boarding-houses, 
which are so common in England, or else they 
live somewhere inland, where their men folk can 
visit them from time to time. 

In view of the fact that they spend so much 
time on board, the cabins of the officers are 
much larger and more habitable than ours. 
Most of them have a fireplace, as there is no steam 
heating on the English ships. The great leather 
club chair is a feature of every cabin. The 
mahogany furniture of the cabins is practically 
of the same style as that which was seen on 
board in Nelson's days. After two years on 
board the First Fleet the whole complement of 
the ship is paid off a few particularly important 
individuals alone remain on board and then the 
whole crew have six months ashore during 
which home leave is freely granted. 

On June 25th the yacht regatta began. It 
had been preceded on the 23rd by the races of 
the men-of-war's boats. The bay was the scene 
of the usual sporting contest, the sight of which 

38 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



fills every seaman's heart with joy. Un- 
fortunately the starting-point was too far from 
the King George V. for us to follow all the details 
of the start from on board. A very large number 
of yachts had been entered, particularly foreign 
boats. The King George V. was made fast to a 
buoy in the immediate vicinity of Bellevue Bridge. 
South of her lay the Fleet Flagship Friedrich 
der Grosse and the Hohenzottern] north of her 
the other English ships, and on the east the 
Viktoria Luise moored between two buoys. At 
9 a.m. the 8m. and 5m. Class started, the igm. 
and I2m. Class at 10 a.m., the i5m. Class at n 
a.m., and the Special Class at midday. Thus 
the bay was flecked with sails practically the 
whole day. 

A comprehensive programme had been pro- 
vided for the 25th : 

Midday. Lunch with the Commander-in-Chief 
of the Fleet. 

Afternoon. Three functions : Kiel Town sports, 
a fete on board the Preussen, flagship of the 
Second Squadron, and a garden-party at the house 
of the Mayor, Dr. Ahlmann. 

Evening. Invitation to the Kaiser's dinner 
on board the Hohenzottern. 

Early in the morning came a note from Admiral 
Miiller, Chief of the Cabinet, to say that the Kaiser 
would visit the King George V. at twelve o'clock. 

39 



Kiel and Jutland 



At the appointed time the whole ship's comple- 
ment was drawn up for inspection on the upper 
deck. The Kaiser came on board in the uniform 
of a British Admiral of the Fleet. He looked 
very happy and well and was apparently in the 
best of spirits. He was accompanied by Admiral 
von Miiller and his aide-de-camp, Commander 
Baron von Paleske. All the English captains 
and the officers of the King George V. were present 
on the quarter-deck. Lieutenant Kehrhahn and I 
were on the left. The Kaiser asked Admiral 
Warrender to present all the officers to him. 
When the Admiral was about to present us also 
the Kaiser said : "I know my officers/' and 
gave us his hand with the words : " Konnen Sie 
sich denn einigermassen mit den Leuten ver- 
standigen ? "* The Kaiser did not inspect the 
ship's company, as is usual on such visits, but 
went immediately with Admiral Warrender to the 
Admiral's cabin, where he stayed talking with 
him more than half an hour. Before he left 
the Kaiser signed the Visitors' Book of the 
King George V. y which already bore the signatures 
of many famous people. He conversed for some 
time longer with young Lord Erskine, who had 
put on his Highland full-dress uniform in honour of 
the day, and then bade a very warm farewell to 
Admiral Warrender and the English captains. 

* " Do you find you get on fairly well with these gentlemen ? "* 

40 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



Lunch with the Commander-in-Chief of the 
Fleet, Admiral von Ingenohl, passed off very 
smoothly. We lunched in the Admiral's cabin 
at small tables charmingly decorated with flowers. 
A special small orchestra played works exclusively 
by German composers. I sat with our first 
flag-lieutenant, and, of course, Stopford and 
Buxton. Ingenohl and Warrender both made 
very good speeches about the English and German 
fleets respectively. Indeed Warrender spoke twice 
and devoted the whole of his second speech to 
the spirit of good fellowship which had always 
existed between our navies. He referred to all 
the friends in the German navy whose acquaint- 
ance he had made in his professional career, and 
specially mentioned his friendship with Rear- 
Admiral Sarnow. 

In the afternoon we had the difficult task of 
putting in an appearance at three simultaneous 
functions. With the help of fast cars and the good 
barge we easily solved this difficulty. First we 
went in several cars which I had had brought 
to Bellevue Bridge to the sports which the town 
of Kiel were holding in honour of the English 
crews on the town sports ground. The ladies 
watched the events from the stand while the 
Admiral went down with us among the com- 
petitors. Warrender had a wonderful way of 
talking to his men. He talked like a friend to 



Kiel and Jutland 



the seamen about the contests and made them tell 
him what was happening. The events comprised 
a football match, a shooting competition, relay 
races, tug- of- war and so forth. It was extra- 
ordinary to see how our people won nearly all 
the events. We arrived just in time for the tug- 
of-war. Four times in succession the same process 
was repeated. With one irresistible swift pull 
our sailors drew the English crews over the line. 
The English could not claim a single victory in 
the tug-of-war. It was just the same with the 
other events. The football match alone was a 
draw. 

I was not particularly surprised at the success 
of the German sailors. Most of the English 
sailors were little fellows. Many of them were 
very young the King George V . alone had 70 
men under seventeen while there was also an 
excessive proportion of old men. The tall Teutonic 
type was far rarer than among our men. Indeed, 
I observed that a large number looked strongly 
Jewish, a thing which astonished me, as I knew 
that the Jews had a fundamental aversion to 
seafaring. 

From the sports ground we went in cars to Dr. 
Ahlmann's splendid place. Unfortunately it came 
on to rain, so that the party could not be held 
in the park in Diisternbrook Wood. We had 
to go into the fine rooms of the great house. 

42 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



There was tea-drinking, dancing and flirting. 
We did not stay long and then went by car and 
barge to the Preussen. The Base authorities 
had given me carte blanche as regards the use 
of cars, and that alone made it possible for the 
Admiral to meet all the demands upon his time. 
Prince and Princess Henry were present on the 
Preussen, but otherwise it presented the usual 
picture of a fete on board. The decks were 
prettily decorated and we danced zealously. 
For the reception of the English guests the 
Commander-in-Chief of the Fleet had permanently 
assigned two Germans to each English ship, and 
the German ships were instructed to invite the 
English officers to lunches and functions on board. 
The result was that a large number of English 
officers were seen at the festivities on board 
during the Kiel Week. This was true of the 
Preussen also. 

Introducing the Admiral to Kiel society kept 
me going the whole time. I knew so many 
people I introduced that he asked me in astonish- 
ment : "Do you know everybody ? " 

At eight o'clock in the evening we were com- 
manded to dine on the Hohenzollern. It was the 
last banquet which was ever given on the splendid 
royal yacht. On this day the Hohenzollern 
showed herself in all her glory for the last time. 
We assembled on the promenade deck, where 

43 



Kiel and Jutland 



the Kaiser welcomed us. He was wearing 
as we were guests the simple mess uniform. The 
tables were set in the great saloon and decorated 
with superb orchids. Germans and Englishmen 
sat together in a gay throng. I give opposite 
the order of the seats at this last great Imperial 
banquet on board the Hohenzollern. The letter B 
before the names indicates a British officer. 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



OFFICER OF S. M. Y. HOHENZOLLERN 



Staff-Surgeon Dr. Wezel 
Commander v. Miiller 
Capt. Begas 

(B) Lieut. B. Buxton 
Vice-Admiral Scheer 

(B) Capt. A. Duff 
Admiral von Ingenohl 

(B) Capt. M. Culme- 

Seymour 

Col.-General v. Plessen 
(B) Vice-Admiral Sir 

George Warrender 
H.M. the Kaiser and 

King 
Ambassador Sir Edward 

Goschen 
Admiral of the Fleet 

von Tirpitz 
(B) Capt. William E. 

Goodenough 
Admiral v. Pohl 
(B) Capt. Wilfrid Hen- 
derson 
Ambassador Count v. 

Wedel 
(B)Commander the Hon. 

D. Stopford 
Rear-Admiral Mauwe 
Lieut.-Col. v. Estorff 

Lieut. Kehrhahn 



Lieut, v. Hase 
Capt. v. Karpf 
Rear - Admiral Heb- 

binghaus 

Rear- Adml . Eckermann 
Ambassador v. Eisen- 

decker 

(B) Comdr.E.A.Rushton 
O.H.M. Baron v. Rei- 

schach 
(B) Capt. Charles B. 

Miller 

Admiral v. Miiller 
(B) Capt. Cecil F. 

Dampier 
H.R.H. Prince Henry of 

Prussia 
(B) Capt. Sir Arthur 

Henniker-Hughan 
Admiral v. Coerper 

(B) Capt. George H. 

Baird 

Vice-Admiral Koch 
(B) Fleet - Paymaster 

Graham Hewlett 
Rear-Admiral Funke 

Wirkl. Geh. Rat v. 

Valentini 

Captain Hopmann 
Commander Baron v. 

Paleske 
Lieut, v. Tyszka 



OFFICER OF S. M. Y. HOHENZOLLERN 



45 



Kiel and Jutland 



There were no speeches, but the conversation 
was lively. Indeed, the conversation on the 
Imperial yacht was always as unrestrained as 
possible. I had the pleasure of sitting next to 
Captain von Karpf , commanding the Hohenzollern, 
of whom the whole navy and particularly the 
royal family had the very highest opinion. He 
is well known for his splendid humour. We did 
full justice to the excellent food and the choicest 
of wines. Of one particular hock Captain von 
Karpf said that it was the best drop to be found 
in the Kaiser's cellars in Berlin. I noticed that 
the Kaiser did not get on very well with Admiral 
Warrender. Unfortunately Warrender also had 
the Kaiser on his practically deaf side, so that 
the latter talked almost all the time to the English 
ambassador. After dinner we had coffee and 
cigars on the promenade deck and conversation 
was merry and free. The Kaiser spoke to almost 
all his English guests. We noticed the way 
in which he devoted himself to showing himself 
to his guests as nothing but a kind host. 

I had a very interesting conversation with 
the English captains Dampier and Sir Arthur 
Henniker-Hughan on the political situation and 
Germany's prospects in the world. Both insisted 
that England had no idea of isolating Germany 
from the world, but if war came it would be 
Germany that started it, not England. 

46 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



It was pretty late when we returned to the 
King George V., where we sat for some time 
longer in the ante-room of the officers' mess. 
It was on this occasion that I struck up a friend- 
ship with Commander Brownrigg, Gunnery Officer 
of the King George V. He told me many interesting 
points about guns, and in his cabin showed me 
shooting charts, the results of gunnery tests and 
gunnery prizes. We were at one in our mania 
for everything to do with naval gunnery. The 
English naval authorities knew how to make 
the career of the gunnery officer the most dis- 
tinguished and coveted among naval officers. 
In the German navy the gun was a secondary, 
not the main weapon, and the torpedo arm had 
become the object of the ambition of every 
efficient officer. 

This has always seemed to me regrettable, and 
I regarded it as a great mistake. The preference 
for the torpedo was justified when our navy was 
so weak that a battle for the mastery of the 
seas which could only be waged with the guns 
of powerful ships seemed to have no prospects 
from the start. Churchill said very aptly during 
the war, after the Battle of Skagerrak : " The 
first sea-power relies on the gun ; the second is 
bound to place its hopes on the torpedo/' 

The fact that we put our hopes almost entirely 
on the torpedo in the war meant that to a certain 

47 



Kiel and Jutland 



extent we renounced the battle methods of a 
first-class naval power. It was only at the Battle 
of Skagerrak, almost two years after the out- 
break of war, that Admiral Scheer, the Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Fleet, ventured on an 
artillery action on the high seas, and that was 
after his predecessors, Admirals von Ingenohl 
and von Pohl, had failed to exploit any of the 
opportunites for a high seas action which had 
offered themselves so frequently. 

Commander Brownrigg told me of gunnery 
exercises in which he had been successful at a 
range of 150 hm.* This seemed to me an enor- 
mous range. As a matter of fact, in the war 
itself, shooting was almost always at even greater 
ranges. 

For Friday, June 26, Admiral Warrender had 
been invited by the Kaiser to sail on the Meteor. 
The large yachts started for their race at 10.15. 
As I was not accompanying him I was able to 
devote myself to the preparations for the great 
fete which was to be held on the King George V. 
in the afternoon. For the afternoon also, the 
Imperial Yacht Club had arranged a regatta for 
the ships' boats of the English squadron. In the 
evening we had been invited by the officers of 
the Baltic Station to a ball at the Marine 
Akademie. 

* i hectometre = 100 metres = no yards (approx.). 




King George V., Flagship of the English 2nd Battle Squadron. 




Southampton, Commodore Goodenough's Flagship. 



[.To face p. 48. 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



Admiral Warrender did not get back until 
the afternoon. Meanwhile we had had a very 
pleasant lunch, at which Sir Edward Goschen 
presided and which was graced by the presence 
of several young ladies. The Admiral was de- 
lighted with the regatta, in which Rear-Admiral 
Begas had steered the Meteor to victory. 

The " At Home " (on the King George F.), as 
the English call their ships' fetes, was an affair 
of the first order. All Kiel was there and 
the invitations were issued through me. Of 
course some folk grumbled because they were 
not invited. Lady Warrender did the honours 
very skilfully and was supported by several 
German ladies, notably her friend, Frau von 
Meister, wife of the Regierungsprdsident of Wies- 
baden. The huge decks of the King George V. 
were unanimously approved by the German 
ladies owing to the large amount of dancing space 
they afforded. Borchert of Berlin had supplied 
the excellent refreshments, the splendours of 
which met with well-earned praise. 

I made the acquaintance of old Lord Brassey, 
who was in Kiel with his yacht the Sunbeam, 
to which he invited me. He has written a famous 
book on his cruise round the world in this yacht. 
I was also introduced to his daughters, Lady Helen 
and Lady Mary. The yacht is rather old, but 
very large and comfortable. A few days later 

49 4 



. 



Kiel and Jutland 



Lord Brassey had a remarkable experience. In 
one of the yacht's dingheys he went into the 
U-boat dock of the Imperial Yards, which was 
closed to all civilians. There were several of 
our latest U-boats there. He was arrested by 
a dock-guard and spent several hours in the guard- 
room. It was only after he had been identified 
by a German officer he knew that he was released 
on the orders of the director of the dockyard. 
There was general indignation in Kiel at Lord 
Brassey's great want of tact, and even the Kaiser 
spoke rather sharply about it. 

I realized the very day after the English ships 
arrived in Kiel that the English were extremely 
anxious to know all about the modern ships and 
craft of our fleet. Admiral Warrender sent me 
that day to our Commander-in-Chief, Admiral 
von Ingenohl, and I was commissioned to tell 
him that Admiral Warrender placed the English 
ships at the disposal of German naval officers who 
desired to see them. The Admiral particularly 
insisted that the German officers would be shown 
everything which they cared to see for professional 
purposes. 

Admiral von Ingenohl was absolutely averse 
to this proposal and instructed me to present 
his compliments to Admiral Warrender and say 
that he regretted that he could make no use of 
this kind invitation, as he could not return the 

50 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



compliment, because, in accordance with regula- 
tions, we were not allowed to show many parts 
of our ships to anyone. I reported accordingly 
to Admiral Warrender, and the next day he sent 
me back to Admiral von Ingenohl with a commis- 
sion to tell him that of course the English also 
had similar regulations, e.g., the conning- tower, 
the torpedo-room and the wireless could not be 
shown. Everything else could be seen, and of 
course he did not expect that his officers should 
be shown anything contrary to orders. 

It was not until June 26th that I received from 
Admiial von Ingenohl a reply by letter in which 
he said that I was to tell Admiral Warrender that 
" he thanked the Admiral for his willingness to 
show the German officers the English ships, and 
invited the English officers to visit the German 
ships. " 

Simultaneously Admiral von Ingenohl issued 
orders that the visits of English officers to the 
German ships were permitted, but that the 
regulations for the visits of strangers were to be 
observed. As these regulations absolutely for- 
bade the visits of foreigners to our most modern 
ships those of the Third Squadron, the latest 
destroyers and all submarines the only vessels 
the English could see were the old battleships of 
the " Deutschland " Class. They certainly could 
not find out much about us from them. 

5i 4* 



Kiel and Jutland 



The English themselves had prepared their 
ships which were actually the very latest in the 
English navy for the visit of the German officers, 
by either removing or covering with wood all 
important apparatus, particularly all fire-control 
apparatus and the sights. Personally I was fre- 
quently shown most of the gear on the King 
George V. y although I did not ask to see it. Com- 
mander Brownrigg took me into the most remote 
corners of his turrets and magazines. It was only 
the famous Percy Scott " firing director" which 
all the officers shrouded in a veil of mystery. 
This was a device with the help of which it was 
possible to direct and fire all the guns from the 
conning-tower or fore- top, a device which was 
the invention of the English Admiral Sir Percy 
Scott. Of course the English officers who showed 
me round generally asked me about our corre- 
sponding arrangements, but they did not get much 
out of me. 

The ball which the officers of the Baltic Station 
gave to our English guests on June 26 in the 
splendid rooms of the Marine Akademie was a 
brilliant affair. For the flower- waltzes flowers 
were scattered in a riotous profusion such as I 
have seldom seen. It was a pure battle of flowers. 
We danced far into the morning hours. 

For Sunday, June 28, we were invited to a 
luncheon given by the town of Kiel, and in the 

52 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



afternoon to a garden-party given by the officer 
commanding the Baltic Station. For the evening, 
Admiral and Lady Warrender had issued invita- 
tions to a dinner on board. 

At i p.m. we found ourselves in the fine rooms 
of the new Town Hall of Kiel for the luncheon in 
honour of the English officers. Lord Mayor 
Lindemann made a speech on the English, and 
then Warrender followed with an excellent one 
on the town of Kiel, and everything else which 
had made an impression upon him. He described 
how the German officers had received the squadron 
in their motor launches and how they had come 
on board in the open sea. He even had a few 
grateful words for myself and all I had done. 
After Admiral of the Fleet von Koster, as a 
freeman of the city, had spoken about the English 
navy, Warrender made a second speech in brilliant 
form. Thanks to the many speeches and inter- 
vals in the meal, lunch lasted so long that we only 
just had time to get back, by car and barge, on 
board to change for the garden-party. 

The historic garden-party of the officer com- 
manding the Base, at which the Kaiser is always 
expected but to which he hardly ever goes, passed 
off very smoothly in brilliant sunshine. The only 
princes present were Prince Henry with his family, 
and Princess Marie von Hoist ein-Gliicksburg. 
That year Prince Adalbert was absent for the 

53 



Kiel and Jutland 



Kiel Week for the first time. Moreover, the 
Kaiserin, the Crown Prince and the other Prussian 
Royalties had not come to Kiel this time as they 
usually did. I was assured from a well-informed 
quarter that the Kaiserin and the Princes had 
not turned up owing to the English visit. I 
considered this aloofness quite justified towards 
a nation whose Government had so frequently 
thwarted ours, for indeed the cool reserve of all 
Germans in high position had not failed to make 
an impression upon the English. 

The garden-party was a particularly gay scene 
this year. We stood about, talked to everyone, 
and drank a cup of tea while the younger guests 
danced in the great hall of the house. Some 
ladies and gentlemen of Kiel society danced a 
quadrille (which they had practised beforehand) 
on the lawn. I took part in this. A large red 
carpet had been put down on the lawn behind 
the house, and here there were basket chairs for 
the most distinguished guests. 

During the garden-party Admiral Warrender 
and his wife received an invitation to dine on board 
the Hohenzollern. The guests invited to the 
dinner-party on the King George V. were there- 
fore released with the exception of a few of the 
younger ladies with whom we dined very pleasantly 
in the evening. Sir Edward Goschen again 
presided and got on very well with the German 

54 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



ladies, who supported him in his duties as 
host. After dinner we danced a little on the 
deck of the King George F., and then transferred 
to the Hamburg-Amerika liner Viktoria Luise, 
and danced there. The international character 
of the Kiel Week was even more obvious here than 
elsewhere. All languages could be heard. As 
there was very little room for dancing, owing to 
the crush, Stopford, Buxton and I collected a few 
nice people together, returned to the King George V. 
and continued dancing there. It was pretty late 
before the last guest left the ship. Thus the 
last day before the fateful day of Serajevo ended 
for us in the merriest association with our English 
guests. 

Another very full programme had been arranged 
for Sunday, June 28. The Admiral and Lady 
Warrender were invited to lunch with Admiral 
von Tirpitz. In the afternoon there was to be 
a great reception in the Royal Castle, and in the 
evening we were to dine with the officer command- 
ing the Base. Dinner was to be followed by a ball. 

I was not invited to the lunch with Admiral 
von Tirpitz, so I lunched quietly at home. When 
I returned to the King George V. after lunch I 
was called to the telephone, and there received 
the order issued by the Kaiser : " Flags half- 
mast, ensigns half-mast, Austrian flag at main- 
mast, for murder of the Austrian heir." Admiral 

55 



Kiel and Jutland 



Warrender and Sir Edward Goschen immediately 
came back from the Hohenzollern. Both looked 
very serious and the ambassador was in great 
agitation. I told them of the telephone message 
I had received. I stayed with them on deck for 
a time. Sir Edward Goschen had tears in his 
eyes, so that I asked him if he attached special 
importance to the assassination. He simply said 
that he had known the Austrian heir very inti- 
mately and loved him as a friend. Goschen then 
suggested to Warrender that they should send 
a joint telegram to Sir Edward Grey. I therefore 
withdrew. When Warrender came on deck again 
he was even more serious. He told me frankly 
of the consequences the assassination might have. 
He bluntly expressed his fears indeed his con- 
viction that this crime would mean war between 
Serbia and Austria, that Russia would then 
be drawn in, and thus Germany and France could 
not remain lookers-on. He said nothing about 
England, but before he had finished he said openly 
that this murder would certainly result in a general 
world war. I recorded this conversation in my 
official report, which I handed in on July 4, 1914. 
Even as we were talking together on deck Prince 
Henry came on board to bring us the news of the 
murder, and discuss it with Sir Edward Goschen 
and the Admiral. He was already in possession 
of some details of the murder. 

56 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



The character of the Kiel Week was now revolu- 
tionized at a blow. The reception at the castle 
and the ball at the Base headquarters were can- 
celled. The Viktoria Luise received instructions 
from Hamburg to return there next day. The 
regattas were continued, but all dances stopped. 
We could begin to feel the thunderladen atmo- 
sphere which filled the world until the outbreak 
of war. In the afternoon we learned that the 
Kaiser would leave next morning. 

Very early in the morning of Monday, June 29, 
we left in the barge for the station, Warrender 
and Goodenough with their staffs, and Lieutenant 
Kehrhahn and I. The admirals and generals 
who had been summoned assembled on the 
quay side. Just before the Kaiser appeared 
Her Majesty the Kaiserin arrived. She had 
hastened from Grunholz by car, and was now to 
accompany the Kaiser to Vienna. She was 
all in black and looked as if she had been weeping. 
The Kaiser's launch came alongside and the Kaiser 
stepped out with his suite. He looked terribly 
serious. He received various reports and among 
them the notice of the departure of Warrender and 
Goodenough. He talked to both of them for 
several minutes. Then he had a long talk with 
Sir Edward Goschen, and spoke to the American, 
Mr. Armour, Prince Miinster, Admiral von Ingen- 
ohl and others. We all followed to the train 

57 



Kiel and Jutland 



to see them off. The departure was marked 
by a heavy silence, which was observed even by 
the numerous throng which had assembled not- 
withstanding the early hour. 

In the morning the Admiral was present at the 
public funeral of Lieutenant Schroeter, who had 
crashed with his aeroplane. It was followed by 
an official luncheon on board the King George V. 
to which practically no one but the German ad- 
mirals and their wives were invited. Owing to 
shortage of space only a limited number could be 
invited. Admirals von Tirpitz, von Ingenohl and 
von Coerper were among the guests. It was quite 
a simple meal, only distinguished from the 
ordinary daily lunch by a few good wines. After 
lunch Admiral Warrender offered to show the 
German admirals over the King George V. 
Curiously enough Admiral von Ingenohl accepted, 
while Admiral Tirpitz and the other admirals 
declined. Admiral Warrender took Admiral von 
Ingenohl and his officers (I myself joined the 
party) into a 34.5 cm.* turret and Commander 
Goldie operated all the machinery of the turret 
for our benefit. 

In the afternoon I accompanied the Admiral 
alone by car to the dockyard convalescent home, 
where there was a sailors' function which was being 
given for our men by the English, as some return 

13.5 in. (Tr.) 
58 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



for the fete given in their honour. As Admiral 
Warrender entered the room he was received with 
thunderous stamping, a spontaneous act of homage 
which made a deep impression upon me. War- 
render mounted a table as if he had been a boy, 
and made an enthusiastic speech about the friend- 
ship of the two nations. It ended with three 
cheers for the German navy. Rear- Admiral 
Mauwe then mounted the table and replied. 
When he had concluded his speech and three 
cheers for the English navy had been given, 
Warrender gave him his hand, and thus the 
German and English sailors could see him hand in 
hand with the German Admiral in a somewhat 
theatrical pose. A terrific stamping, renewed 
time after time, was the answer. 

At this time Warrender often spoke to me about 
the form which a naval war between England and 
Germany would take. I was particularly in- 
terested in his remark that it was owing to several 
articles by German naval officers that the atten- 
tion of people in England had been drawn to 
the importance of Scapa Flow, and that prepara- 
tions were being made to convert Scapa Flow 
into a base for the so-called " long-range " 
blockade of the German Bight. His words were : 
" Scapa Flow is a German invention.'* 

He and the officers of his staff often mocked 
at the well-known " submarine " letter of Admiral 

59 



Kiel and Jutland 



Sir Percy Scott in which the latter had said 
that the submarine meant the end of England's 
control of the seas. But even Admiral Warrender 
thought that submarines would effect a funda- 
mental change in the strategic situation in the 
future, and that, owing to them, a distant blockade 
only, i.e., in Norwegian waters, would be possible. 

In the evening of June zgth the official dinner 
of the Imperial Yacht Club took place. Before 
it began there was the distribution of prizes, 
a duty which Prince Henry performed on behalf 
of the Kaiser. A large number of yacht owners 
and naval officers had assembled at the Yacht 
Club. I shall never forget how critically War- 
render looked at every one of the young officers 
present, in order to gain some idea of his per- 
sonality. He took quite a special interest in 
the officers of the submarine arm. He and his 
officers always tried to get to know as many of 
them as possible. 

All kinds of interesting people were present 
at the club dinner, Field-Marshal Von der Goltz, 
Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, the foreign 
naval attaches, and so forth. That night I 
slept for the last time on the King George V . 

The departure of the English squadron had been 
fixed for June 3oth. I was very sorry to see the 
end of a time which had been extremely in- 
teresting for me. 

60 



The Kiel Week, 1914 



At their request I sent my photograph to 
Stopford and Buxton, who had always been most 
friendly to me. In return they sent me theirs. 
I also gave each of them some good hock. They 
replied by jointly presenting me with a very 
fine silver inkstand. They sent it from England 
on July 3oth and it reached me at the end of 
August through the channel of the German 
Admiralty ! 

On saying good-bye, Admiral Warrender gave 
me a wonderful tie-pin, consisting of a large 
ruby set in brilliants. It was only in my pos- 
session a short time, as in August, 1914, I handed 
it over to the Red Cross. He also gave me his 
photograph. 

I remained on board until the ship slipped 
her moorings. Then I left. Everyone was 
extremely kind, and I said farewell with feelings 
of gratitude. The fatherly, affectionate hos- 
pitality of the English Admiral I shall never 
forget, in spite of all the evil things which the 
English nation has done to our people since then, 
things which for the time being make it impossible 
for any self-respecting, honourable German to 
have friendly relations with an Englishman. 
The demand for the surrender of our Kaiser has 
produced an impassable gulf between us and the 
English. 

I dropped into my launch and saw the ships 

61 



Kiel and Jutland 



leave the harbour at high speed. From the 
German ships the signal flew, " Pleasant Journey." 
As the ships stood out to sea, Warrender sent 
the farewell message of his squadron to the 
German fleet by wireless : 

" Friends in past and friends for ever/' 



62 



PART II 
THE BATTLE OF THE SKAGERRAK 



CHAPTER I 

MY FIRST MEETING WITH BRITISH NAVAL FORCES 




The Forward Guns of the King George V- a 




The Quarter-Deck of the Derffingcr 




ON December i5th, 1914, I witnessed for the first 
time a collision between German and English 
naval forces. On that day our battle-cruisers 
had been bombarding Scarborough, a fortified 
English port. I myself was on board a battle- 
ship, and had to be satisfied with seeing the 
Hamburg successfully beat off an English de- 
stroyer at daybreak. Just about the same time 
we had a meeting with our friends of Kiel Week 
which was extremely interesting, though for 
obvious reasons it has not been made public 
hitherto. 

Our light cruisers had been attached to the 
battle-cruisers with the object of taking part 
in the bombardment. Unfortunately the seas 
were running so high off the English coast and 
the weather was so bad that it was impossible for 
the light cruisers to use their guns. Vice- Admiral 
Hipper, in command of the battle-cruisers, 
therefore decided to send the light cruisers back 

65 5 



Kiel and Jutland 



to the main fleet. The execution of this order 
was exposed to the great risk that the ships 
might meet a superior force on their way back. 
About halfway home our light cruisers came 
across a squadron of English light cruisers which 
were probably under the command of Commodore 
Goodenough. Owing to the thick weather the 
ships suddenly found themselves quite close 
to each other. The English flagship made an 
identity signal in Morse with her searchlight, 
and this signal consisted of two letters of the 
alphabet. This was read off by the German flag- 
ship, and replied to with certain letters also in 
Morse. The English at length realized whom 
they were dealing with and opened fire, to which 
the German cruisers immediately replied. Thanks 
to the storm which was raging, however, hits were 
practically impossible on both sides. A thick 
squall came down in which the two sides lost 
sight of each other. 

Almost immediately afterwards our six small 
cruisers ran into the eight Dreadnoughts of the 
English 2nd Battle Squadron, commanded by 
Vice-Admiral Sir George Warrender ! With 
wonderful presence of mind, the commander of 
our light cruisers immediately made the English 
signal which he had previously noted. The 
English squadron was taken in and its officers 
thought they had their own light cruisers in front 

66 



My First Meeting with British Naval Forces 

of them. That was the salvation of our ships, 
for a few salvoes from the 34.5 cm. (12 in.) guns 
of the King George V . would have been quite 
enough to send them all to the bottom. The 
two squadrons were only in sight of one another 
for a short time : then another heavy squall 
separated them and our light cruisers soon met 
our own battleships, in high spirits that they had 
successfully escaped so dire a peril. I think that 
both Admiral Warrender and his flag-lieutenant, 
Buxton, must have looked a bit foolish when they 
learned subsequently what kind of ships they had 
had in front of their guns. 

Soon afterwards, Sir George Warrender gave 
up his command of the 2nd Battle Squadron, 
and was appointed to a shore command, undoubt- 
edly because he had missed the one and only 
opportunity of successful action with which fate 
had ever presented him. In 1916 I read in a 
wireless message of the British Intelligence service 
that he had died while in command of a naval 
station. 

The next bombardment of the English coast 
by German battle-cruisers took place on April 
25th, 1916, and this time, as First Gunnery Officer 
of S.M.S. Derfflinger, the largest and most powerful 
of our battle-cruisers, it was my duty to direct 
the iron hail at the harbour establishments of 
Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. 

67 5* 



Kiel and Jutland 



As soon as our bombardment of the harbour 
began two small English cruisers and about 
twenty destroyers ran out of Lowestoft, and after 
the bombardment was over a short running 
fight developed between us and these units. 
Unfortunately this action, in which we could 
easily have destroyed a large number of the 
enemy ships, was broken off after a few minutes, 
as the approach of a superior enemy force was 
reported by the light cruisers sent out to secure 
our flank in the south. Thus we did not get 
much satisfaction out of this action, though in 
the few minutes at our disposal we had set a 
small cruiser on fire and sunk one or two de- 
stroyers. The report of our light cruisers subse- 
quently turned out to be false. Just as we were 
leaving the coast we were attacked by an English 
aeroplane which got so hearty a reception from 
our anti-aircraft guns that it left us, and, as I 
read later in an English paper, the officer was 
seriously wounded and only just succeeded in 
reaching safety on the coast. 

In spite of our small military success against 
the English forces our raid against the English 
coast was none the less a very heartening ex- 
perience. I shall never forget the moment when 
the high shores of England emerged from the 
grey mists of dawn and we could make out the 
details of Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, and 

68 



My First Meeting with British Naval Forces 

fire mighty salvoes from our great guns at the 
harbour works. In his book " Nordsee," Gorch 
Fock has written about this voyage of April 24th 
and 25th to England in the " Tag- und Nachtbuch, 
S.M.S. Wiesbaden." He was on board the Wies- 
baden, the same ship on which he was killed in 
the battle of Skagerrak. The splendid lines 
which follow will show what an immense im- 
pression this affair had made on the poet : 

" About midday we make ready for sea, and 
all at once the whole ship knows that there is 
to be a raid against England, and that a great 
and solemn hour may once more have struck ! 
A world power rushes out for its race with death, 
a mighty fleet. Here we are only beaters, and 
the giant grey torpedo-boats are only hounds for 
great hunters such as a Liitzow, a Seydlitz or a 
Derfflinger ! Beware, John Bull, beware ! Ger- 
man wrath, the fierce, smiling anger of a Siegfried 
at Saxon perfidy, is about to break over you. 

***** 
' ' How the ship trembles ! As far as the eye can 
reach there are German ships of war, tearing, 
racing, wrathful hunters and hounds ! Ever bluer 
is the sea, ever higher rise the mounting waves, 
ever whiter is the foam from our bows. How 
our wake flashes behind us ! 

***** 
69 



Kiel and Jutland 



' ' Rapidly darkness settles about us. Now we 
plunge forward into the night in grim earnest, 
raising great mountains of glistening spray. Pale 
stars gaze down upon us. The seas mount yet 
higher. Now and then a searchlight flashes 
forth. The destroyers can hardly be seen, but 
their white track of foam reveals their presence. 

" The ship has become a mountain vomiting 
forth flames. All our neighbours are also vol- 
canoes. An angry giant of superhuman powers 
has given vent to his rage. All the old gods have 
come back to fight with us. Valhalla in the 
Goiter ddmmerung. 

" Not a light to be seen on the seas ! Almighty 
and primeval they menace us with the hammers 
of night ! 



" A Zeppelin passes above our heads a streak of 
shadow in the night clouds. There are stars. . . ." 

The rest of this diary went down with the poet 
in the Wiesbaden, in the battle of the Skagerrak. 



70 



CHAPTER II 

THE PRINCIPLES OF GUNNERY IN AN ACTION ON THE 
HIGH SEAS 



ON the day of the attack on Lowestoft I learned 
a great deal which was useful to me, subsequently 
in the battle of the Skagerrak. Several failures 
in the armament itself as well as mistakes of the 
guns' crews, revealed to me quite clearly once 
more that a perfect handling of the guns is possible 
only if all the gunnery mechanism functions 
faultlessly and the guns themselves are served 
without a hitch. It is only when the gunnery 
officer's instrument is working perfectly that he 
can obtain the maximum effect from his guns 
and their officers, gun-layers and crews can 
show that they know how to make a proper use 
of the complicated mechanical devices, mostly 
worked by hydraulic or electrical power, of their 
turrets, casemates and ammunition-chambers, as 
well as how to keep them in such perfect condition 
that however rapid the rate of fire their guns are 
always loaded and ready to fire the moment the 
fire-gong goes. If this is to be possible a daily 
examination which is in some respects a most 

73 



Kiel and Jutland 



laborious business of all the electrical and 
mechanical devices is necessary and the artificers 
must at once put right any defects discovered. 
In this book I must give a special word of thanks 
to the tireless personnel of the Derfflinger. At 
the head of nine petty officers and more than 
twenty men of the gunnery mechanics branch we 
had our warrant officer Wlodarczek, who was 
known as the " goblin " all over the ship because 
he got things done even before they were thought 
of. He was my right-hand man and helped me 
most splendidly in achieving my aim. In the 
Skagerrak battle, there was scarcely a single 
failure in the mighty and complicated machine 
of the Derfflinger 1 s armament which was due not 
to the effects of the enemy's fire, but to the 
incessant use of the gunnery mechanism which 
went on for hours on end. And what an enormous 
business the ship's armament meant with all its 
subsidiary paraphernalia. It had cost seven or 
eight million marks and improvements to the 
value of several hundred thousand marks more 
had been added during the war. 

In the forward part of the ship, the forecastle, 
were two huge turrets, each with two 30.5 cm. 
(12 in.) guns. There were two similar turrets in 
the after part of the ship, over the quarter-deck. 
These four turrets with their eight 30.5 cm. guns 
formed the main armament of the ship. We called 

74 



The Principles of Gunnery 



the turrets after the letters of the alphabet 
"Anna," "Bertha," " C^sar " and "Dora. 11 
" Anna " was the most forward of the turrets, 
" Dora " the furthest aft. Each turret had a 
turret officer who was either a lieutenant-comman- 
der or a lieutenant, but owing to the shortage of 
officers, turret " Dora " was in charge of a warrant 
officer. Our men had given turret " Bertha " a 
special name. It had been christened " the 
Schiilzburg," after its turret officer, Kapitan- 
Leutnant Baron von Speth-Schiilzburg, who was 
particularly popular with his men. 

The secondary battery of the Derfflinger con- 
sisted of fourteen 15 cm. (6 in.) quick-firing guns, 
seven on each side of the ship and each of them 
in a splendidly armoured casemate. For other 
armament we had only four 8.8 cm. anti-aircraft 
guns (Flaks) ; the rest of them had been given 
up long before for our brave minesweepers and 
merchant ships in the Baltic. 

The ammunition for these guns was kept in 
about fifty magazines which were protected 
against torpedoes by longitudinal bulkheads of 
strong nickel steel. 

For all the guns I had under me three lieutenant- 
commanders, three lieutenants, four sub-lieu- 
tenants, four midshipmen, six warrant officers 
and about seven hundred and fifty petty 
officers and men. The whole ship's company of 

75 



Kiel and Jutland 



the Derfflinger comprised fourteen hundred 
men. As First Gunnery Officer I commanded all 
the guns, but in action I directed the main arma- 
ment only. The secondary armament and the 
anti-aircraft guns were in charge of two of my 
officers, to whom I gave only general instructions 
for their tactical handling. 

If the reader wishes to get an idea of the 
gigantic gunnery action which the Skagerrak 
battle mainly represented, he must be in a posi- 
tion to realize how it comes about that it is actually 
possible to shoot and score hits from a ship which 
is tearing along at top speed through high and 
stormy seas, a ship which pitches and rolls, 
changes its course, alters its speed, and is thus in 
motion in all directions. He must see how it is 
possible, at ranges of more than twenty kilo- 
metres, not merely to hit enemy ships now and 
then, but to destroy them in a moment ! And 
he must remember that the enemy, too, is making 
the same crazy motions. He, too, is twisting 
and turning, pitching and rolling and making 
the same effort as ourselves to dodge the fatal 
shower of steel by repeated alterations of course. 

At this point I must give a short description 
of what I consider necessary for a proper under- 
standing of an action on the high seas if the reader 
is to get a true idea of the Skagerrak battle. In 
doing so I will start from the armament with 

76 



The Principles of Gunnery 



which we of the Derfflinger fought in the Skager- 
rak battle. The armament to be found on all 
great modern battleships is very similar. 

Our first object of interest will be the controls 
from which we officers directed the guns. The 
" fore control " was an armoured chamber which 
formed the rear portion of the conning tower, 
from which the Captain, supported by the Navi- 
gating Officer and the Signal Officer, navigated the 
ship and conducted the action. During the action 
I was in this " fore control " with my three 
gunnery officers who fought the secondary bat- 
tery, one sub-lieutenant, two men on the range- 
finder, three petty officers on the " director " (a 
secret gunnery apparatus of which I shall speak 
later), and five men for transmitting orders. 
Below us, but only separated from us by the iron 
grating on which we stood, were six other mes- 
sengers and below these again in the so-called 
" pear " (the lower part of the conning tower was 
in fact pear-shaped) were one petty officer, two 
messengers and one gunnery artificer as a reserve. 

There were thus not less than thirty-three 
men in my fore control alone ! We were cer- 
tainly pretty cramped, but quite satisfied with 
our station all the same. It was a splendid cham- 
ber, with armour protection of about 350 mm. 
of hard nickel steel which stood the test of battle 
magnificently. Even a direct hit from a 30.5 cm. 

77 



Kiel and Jutland 



gun at short range did not succeed in quite pierc- 
ing the armour belt. The shock threw us all 
against each other and struck our shelter as if 
it intended to pitch the whole thing bodily over- 
board. However, we were all unharmed with the 
exception of a few slight wounds. 

In action there were two other controls in 
addition to the fore control the " after control, " 
where the secondary gunnery officer, my reserve, 
had his post, and the " fore-top," usually called 
the "crow's nest." The " crow's nest" was in 
the foremast, about thirty-five metres above the 
water level. It consisted of a circular steel 
chamber in which the observer for the main 
armament, a lieutenant, and the spotting officer 
for the secondary armament, a warrant officer, had 
their posts, in addition to two messengers, and 
these observed the splashes round the enemy 
through splendid glasses and transmitted their 
position to us gunnery officers through their head 
telephones. 

After the fore control, the most important 
part of the ship from the gunnery point of view 
was the transmitting-stations, two rooms down 
at the bottom of the ship. These transmitting- 
stations were under the armoured deck and there- 
fore considerably below the water line ; they were 
thus protected by the armour belt and the bunkers 
against hostile fire so far as it was humanly possible. 



The Principles of Gunnery 



All orders from the gunnery officers went to these 
rooms by telephone and speaking tube, and from 
there were transmitted by a very complicated 
apparatus to the individual guns. 

It is necessary to determine the range very 
accurately before attempting to shoot at long 
ranges at sea. For this purpose we had seven 
huge range-finders which gave excellent results 
up to distances of 200 hm.* Our range-finding 
gear was all manufactured by Carl Zeiss at Jena, 
and was based on the stereoscopic principle. We 
had the so-called Basis Gerdt (Bg.). Each range- 
finder had two " Bg." men. One of them took 
the range while the other read off the distance 
in hectometres and set the figures on a telegra- 
phic indicator. The telegraph transmitted these 
figures to the so-called " Bg.-transmitter," an 
apparatus which automatically transmitted the 
figures given by all the range-finders. This 
" Bg.-transmitter " was quite near me in the 
fore control, and thus the average of the ranges 
given by all the instruments could be read off at 
any time. When the action began this range was 
given to all the guns by the gunnery officer. 

As soon as the gunnery officer has made up his 
mind which enemy ship he intends to fire at 
he gets his periscope on to that ship. Periscope ? 
some of my readers will ask in astonishment. It 

* Hm. equals hectometre = 100 m. = 328 ft. 
79 



Kiel and Jutland 



is the fact that the gunnery officers as well as the 
captain of the modern battleship no longer 
observe the enemy through a telescope or marine 
glasses, but use the same periscope as the sub- 
marine officer in his U-boat. At the lower end, 
i.e., in the conning tower or fore control, is the 
eye-piece, while the lenses are above the roof. 
The great advantage of this is that during an 
action the small observation slits of the con- 
ning tower can be completely closed by armoured 
caps, so that we fight under a lowered visor, so 
to speak. On the periscope of the gunnery 
officer there is the director, to which I have 
already referred, an extremely ingenious piece 
of mechanism which is of the highest importance 
in controlling the ship's fire. It has the follow- 
ing most astonishing effect. It enables all the 
guns of the ship which are connected with the 
director to follow every movement of the gunnery 
officer's periscope. Indeed, various devices on 
the periscopes enable us to train all the guns, some 
of which are as much as a hundred metres apart, 
on one and the same point, i.e., in the direction 
fixed by the periscope, the distance of which has 
been established by calculation or registration. 
That is the point where the enemy is to be found ! 
Thus where the director is at work all the guns 
are kept dead on the enemy without anyone 
working the guns needing to see the target at all ! 

80 



The Principles of Gunnery 



The enemy may be near or far away. He may be 
right ahead or far astern. The ships may be 
travelling side by side or passing one another. As 
long as the periscope is on the target, and as long 
as the proper distance from the enemy has been 
established, every gun is aiming dead at that part 
of the hostile ship at which the periscope is point- 
ing. Even when our own ship turns sharply the 
guns remain on the target so long as the periscope 
is kept on it. This is the duty of a special petty 
officer who keeps the periscope permanently on 
that point of the enemy which the gunnery officer 
orders. For obvious reasons I cannot say more 
about the construction of the director here. I 
can only say that the turrets themselves are not 
of course turned directly by the movements of the 
periscope. It merely operates an indicator in 
every turret which shows all the corrections for 
range and deflection. An indicator attached to 
the turret is kept permanently connected with the 
electric indicators when the turret moves ; the 
turret officer follows the slightest movement ex- 
tremely closely and it is thus possible to make the 
heavy turrets follow every movement of the 
periscope. 

We now know how the guns are trained on the 
enemy. We know further how the first ranges 
are taken. The guns must now be raised or 
lowered according to the range, i.e., the elevation 

81 6 



Kiel and Jutland 



must be adjusted according to the distance from 
the enemy. Owing to the perpetual variations of 
the range which changes several hundred metres 
every minute when the two opponents are ap- 
proaching or going away from each other with the 
speed of an express train, it is not enough for the 
elevations to be given by the gunnery officer and 
then transmitted to the guns by word of mouth. 
The following ingenious piece of mechanism is 
required : 

In the transmitting-station there is a so-called 
" elevation telegraph." When the elevation given 
is recorded on this telegraph an electrically con- 
trolled indicator on each gun moves to the figure 
indicated. There is another indicator on the sight 
of the gun. When the indicator on the sight 
moves in conformity with the electric elevation- 
indicator the proper elevation is transmitted to 
the gun. Once again the men serving the gun 
need not know how many hectometres the enemy 
is distant. The proper elevation is given when 
the two indicators record the same figure. 

On the elevation telegraph there is another very 
important piece of mechanism, the so-called range 
clock. Let us suppose that the gunnery officer has 
established as the result of computations and 
calculations, which I will discuss later, that the 
distance between our ship and that of the enemy 
is diminishing at the rate of 750 metres per second. 

82 



The Principles of Gunnery 



He merely gives the order " rate 750 minus/' 
The man at the range clock now puts the indicator 
on a speed " minus 7.5." As the clock works the 
range given on the elevation telegraph gradually 
diminishes by 7.5 hectometres each minute. The 
indicator on each gun changes to conform with 
it 7.5 hm. every minute and yet there has been 
no necessity to give any orders. 

Thus we have now a gun for which the desired 
elevation has been given and which is also trained 
accurately on the enemy. But owing to the heavy 
rolling of the ship it is pointing at the water one 
minute and up into the sky in the next. Yet it is 
obvious that the gun must be in the same position 
as if it were accurately emplaced on solid ground. 
As this is quite impossible on board, the skill of the 
gun-layer has to make up for it. In spite of the 
rapid motion of the ship the gun-layer must make 
it his business to see that the sight of the gun 
is always kept trained on the enemy. Of course 
that means years of daily practice ! And indeed 
it was astonishing what a high degree of skill our 
gun-layers had obtained. Shooting on a rolling 
ship was one of the most important features of our 
crews' training on the high seas. By the use of 
clever expedients it was even made possible for our 
gun-layers to practise shooting from a rolling ship 
though the ship was anchored in port. Small 
targets are moved about in front of the ships. Thus 

83 6* 



Kiel and Jutland 



it is not the ship and her guns which move, but 
the target, which comes to much the same thing, 
as the targets move on curves which correspond 
to the rolling of a ship. 

For a whole decade experiments had been made 
in our navy to replace the operations of the gun- 
layer by a cleverly constructed apparatus. Indeed 
we were actually successful ! A complicated piece 
of mechanism like a top an arrangement which 
certainly represents one of the triumphs of the 
human brain. It enables the loaded gun to fire 
automatically at the moment in which the tele- 
scopic sight is on the enemy. Further, this piece 
of mechanism allows for the amount of roll on the 
ship. It fires sooner when the ship is rolling fast 
than when she is rolling slowly. This is necessary 
because a fairly considerable time elapses between 
the moment of firing and that in which the shell 
leaves the muzzle. Anyone who knows how the rate 
of a ship's different movements varies will be able 
to realize with what a difficult problem our tech- 
nical experts were faced in this matter. 

But this is a digression, as I have been speaking 
of an apparatus which we did not have on board 
at the time of the Skagerrak battle. We did not 
get it until later. I wanted to mention it, how- 
ever, because to a certain extent it represents the 
zenith of all gunnery developments for shooting 
at sea. 

34 



The Principles of Gunnery 



I must now refer briefly to the main armament of 
the Derfflinger. I said that the eight 30.5 cm. 
quick-firing guns were set in four turrets. Let us 
have a closer look at these turrets. The upper 
part revolved and consisted of the heavily armoured 
revolving turret and the revolving platform on 
which the two 30.5 cm. guns stood. The turret was 
turned by electricity. Close to the guns were the 
ammunition hoists, which also turned when the 
turret revolved. Behind the guns was a relay of 
ammunition, about six 30.5 cm. rounds for each 
gun. 

We had two types of ammunition armour- 
piercing shell and high-explosive. The armour- 
piercing shell was painted blue and yellow, made 
of the best nickel steel and had only a relatively 
small charge of high-explosive. The object of 
the armour-piercing shell was primarily to pierce 
the enemy's thick armour and then burst inside. 
Of course, in comparison with the enormous power 
of penetration, the explosive effect could only be 
small. 

On the other hand, the high-explosive shell, which 
was yellow all over, had only a comparatively thin 
steel case which contained a large amount of high- 
explosive. This nature could not penetrate power- 
ful armour, but had an enormous explosive effect 
on contact with unarmoured or only lightly 
armoured targets. 

85 



Kiel and Jutland 



Our powder was contained in brass cases. Thus 
a 30.5 cm. cartridge looked exactly like a giant 
sporting cartridge except that the whole case was 
made of brass. Large cases such as these were 
very difficult to manufacture ; they were also 
expensive and extremely heavy. Notwithstand- 
ing these drawbacks we used these brass cases in 
the German navy even for the heaviest calibres, 
and in the war this practice preserved us, generally 
speaking, from such catastrophes as we saw in the 
Battle of the Skagerrak, with the sudden destruc- 
tion of the Indefatigable, Queen Mary, Invincible 
and older armoured cruisers. 

Of course we could not keep all the powder 
required for a shot from a large calibre in a 
brass case and so, in addition to the so-called main 
cartridge (in a brass case), we had a secondary 
cartridge the powder of which was contained in 
a doubled silk pouch only. These latter naturally 
caught fire much more easily than the others. 
But our enemy kept all his powder in silk pouches ! 
Further, we kept all the cartridges which were 
not by the gun or on the ammunition hoists in tin 
canisters so that they could not easily catch fire, 
while the packing of the English ammunition 
must have been very defective. The immediate 
destruction of the whole ship as the result of a 
single explosion occurred only twice in the German 
navy Pommern blew up on June ist, 1916, on 

86 



The Principles of Gunnery 



the morning after the Skagerrak battle, and Prinz 
Adalbert had previously blown up in the Baltic. 
Both disasters were the result of a torpedo hit. 

The storage of powder, particularly cartridges, 
was of course a dangerous business for us too. 
With a view to avoiding catastrophes orders were 
therefore issued that only one secondary and one 
main cartridge were to be kept at a time on the 
platform by each gun, and the same rule applied 
to the lower tiers of the turret. 

The revolving turret stood on the fixed gun 
turret which reached down through several decks 
and had the armoured deck as its base. The 
interior was divided into several tiers the trans- 
fer room, the switchroom, the magazine and the 
cartridge magazine, i.e., including the gun platform, 
five stories, in which the turret complement of 70 
or 80 men were distributed. In the magazine and 
cartridge magazine the lower ammunition hoists 
which ran up to the transfer room were loaded. 
The function of the transfer room was to send up 
the ammunition to the guns. We had no hoists 
running right through ; they connected in the 
transfer room. The business of transfer delayed 
the process (in itself) of sending the shell or cart- 
ridge from the magazine to the gun. But on the 
other hand two rounds of cartridges for each gun 
were simultaneously on their way. The fact that 
a small stock of ammunition and cartridges was 

87 



Kiel and Jutland 



kept in the transfer room meant that the latter, 
and not the magazine and cartridge magazine, 
became the reservoir from which the gun was 
supplied. The vital factor for the supply of 
ammunition to the gun was thus the time taken 
by the upper hoists in sending up ammunition 
from the transfer room to the gun, a time only 
half of the whole period required for the passage 
from the magazine to the gun. 

We could fire comfortably with each gun every 
thirty seconds. Thus each turret, even if only 
one of the two guns were used, could fire a round 
every fifteen seconds. In the Battle of the Skager- 
rak I fired a salvo of four roundsone from each 
turret every twenty seconds for a considerable 
time, a thing which would have been impossible 
with the continuous ammunition hoists such as 
the older ships possessed. 

The transfer room contained in addition to the 
apparatus for the ammunition supply the hydraulic 
pumps for the elevating gear and much other 
machinery. In the switchroom were the switch- 
boards for all the electrical machinery in the turret. 
In the magazine was all the machinery for sending 
up the ammunition, most of it being electrically 
driven. A 30.5 shell weighed about 400 kg.* and 
a cartridge about 150 kg.* 

The complement of a turret comprised i lieu- 

* About 8 cwt. and 3 cwt. respectively. 
88 



The Principles of Gunnery 



tenant-commander or lieutenant as turret officer, i 
Stuckmeister* to work the turret and 75 petty 
officers and men. These were distributed as 
follows : On the gun platform there were 4 
petty officers and 20 men to serve the gun, as 
well as a few messengers and range-takers. In 
the transfer room there were i petty officer and 12 
men, in the switchroom i warrant officer and 3 
men of the gunnery mechanics branch ; in the 
magazines i petty officer and about 18 men, and in 
the cartridge magazines i petty officer and about 

14 men. This turret complement was swelled in 
action by about 12 men as a reserve : they usually 
took the places of men on leave or on the sick list. 
Thus the main armament had a total complement 
of about 350, not reckoning 25 messengers. 

The serving of the 15 cm. guns was a more simple 
matter. Each gun, which was laid by hand, was 
served by 10 men in the casemate, while there were 
4 or 5 men in each 15 cm. magazine. That meant 

15 men for each gun and therefore a complement 
of 210 for the secondary armament, not counting 
20 messengers. 

I am afraid I have already tormented the reader 
too long with the detailed description of gunnery 
apparatus, so I will stop for the time being. When 
I come to deal with the gun duel in the Skagerrak 
battle I shall have to refer to a few ingenious 

* No English equivalent. 

8 9 



Kiel and Jutland 



instruments which were invented to facilitate fire 
control and, above all, relieve the officer responsible 
of some of the business of calculation which fire 
control requires (continually) in shooting at high 
speed and where both one's own ships and those 
of the enemy are continually changing course. 

As I have said before, Lowestoft and Great Yar- 
mouth left us with a feeling of great dissatisfaction. 
After Lowestoft I was possessed by a burning 
desire to engage our proud Derfflinger in action 
with an English battle-cruiser worthy of her. Day 
and night this thought never left me. I pictured 
to myself how, on outpost duty or one of our re- 
connaissances, we came across an English battle- 
cruiser, how the Derfflinger joined action and thus 
a gigantic gun duel developed while we both 
tore along at a delirious speed. I could see how 
every salvo from the enemy was replied to by one 
from us, how the fight became ever faster and more 
furious, and how we struggled together like two 
mighty warriors who both know well enough that 
" only one of us will survive/' 

In my dreams I saw the English gunnery officer 
get his periscope on to my ship : I heard his Eng- 
lish orders and my own. This thought of such a 
contest between giant ships intoxicated me, and 
my imagination painted pictures of monstrous 
happenings. Previously I had regarded our 
target practice as a kind of sport and done my 

90 



The Principles of Gunnery 



best to get hold of my officers and men through 
their sporting ambitions. In peace we had seen 
many a strenuous competition between the ships of 
a single squadron in trying to secure the largest 
possible number of hits on one of the old, obsolete 
battleships which lay anchored as a so-called target 
in some shallow place off Kiel Bay : or when our 
exercise was night-firing at destroyers which were 
represented by low targets which were painted 
black and towed. Many a time whole squadrons 
had fired at a squadron of targets, each ship having 
her own target. There had been the fiercest 
rivalry between the gunnery officers to score the 
most hits. This sporting spirit was less con- 
spicuous in war and I missed it sorely. 

And now I dreamed of a sporting contest more 
gigantic than I could ever have imagined. We 
should face our opponent with the same weapons 
and the duel would decide which of us knew his 
business best and which of us possessed the better 
weapons and the stronger nerves. My longing for 
such a duel was such that the idea of the danger to 
life it involved seemed to me something wholly 
secondary. Such a battle would at the same time 
mean an awakening from the lethargy in which we 
sailors threatened to sink as the result of the in- 
action of our fleet in comparison with the glorious 
feats of our army. 



CHAPTER III 

THE TACTICAL PRINCIPLES OF A NAVAL 
ACTION ON THE HIGH SEAS 



A FEW days ago a regular captain in the army 
asked me : " Do fleets really lie at anchor in a 
naval battle, or do they steam all the time ? " 
Again, other men particularly well informed on 
military affairs have often assured me that they 
had not the slightest notion of naval tactics. 

As I have not written this book for my old 
comrades alone, but primarily for the largest 
possible number of German boys (who are likely, 
alas, to grow up with piteously little notion of 
sailoring, particularly such knowledge as can only 
be gained on the high seas), may I be allowed to 
say something about the way in which ships are 
brought into contact with the enemy ? 

Of course, there is no such thing as anchoring 
the fleets a certain distance apart and then 
beginning a gun duel. Quite the reverse. It 
may be assumed that during a naval action 
every ship is always steaming at the highest 
speed she can, by hook or crook, develop. It is 

95 



Kiel and Jutland 



scarcely possible to compare a naval battle with 
any form of operation on land. An aerial battle 
between squadrons of aeroplanes is the nearest 
approach. Perhaps the war of the future will 
unfold battle pictures which will not be altogether 
unlike a naval action masses of giant, heavily- 
armoured tanks rushing to meet each other, with 
the speed of racing cars, trying to get round each 
other, to secure the better tactical position by 
manoeuvring and finally to force a decision by a 
fierce artillery and aerial-torpedo action at long 
and close ranges. 

With a ship, " action speed " is the same thing 
as " maximum speed." This is simply due to 
the fact that on a great waste of waters such as 
the high seas there are certain tactically favour- 
able positions which both the two adversaries 
would like to have secured when real contact is 
established and the gun duel begins, positions 
which both of them desire to reach or maintain 
during the action. The determining elements 
for the value of a position are the direction of 
the wind, sun, the amount of sea and visibility. 

It is unfavourable if the smoke from one's own 
guns hangs in front of them, i.e., "clings" to the 
ship, or drifts towards the enemy's line. It is 
bad if the enemy has the sun behind him, 
because in that case our gun-layers will be dazzled 
and the silhouettes of the hostile ships will be far 

96 



Tactical Principles of a Naval Action 

less sharp. It is also unfavourable if we have to 
shoot right towards a high rolling sea, which 
means that the spray often comes over the guns 
and makes things difficult for the gun-layer at 
the telescopic sight, as well as for the gun's crew. 
Lastly, visibility and light may be of paramount 
importance, as these may vary so greatly in differ- 
ent quarters that it may happen that we can 
easily see the enemy ship, ourselves being con- 
cealed as completely from the enemy as if we were 
shrouded in the hood of invisibility. 

Apart from these tactical advantages, which 
are to a certain extent local, there are tactical 
points which have advantages purely as such, and 
arise out of the position of the ships. For example, 
if a ship has the enemy ship at right-angles to her 
bows, the latter can use all the guns of her 
broadside, and in a modern ship that means all 
the main armament and half the secondary arma- 
ment. The former, on the other hand, which has 
her opponent across her bows, can only use one 
or two turrets against the enemy. Both broad- 
sides of the secondary armament and half the 
main armament can play no part. Every ship will 
thus always move heaven and earth to avoid 
this so-called " T position/' in which the ship 
steaming along the horizontal limb of the T 
enjoys a great advantage. The English call it 
" Crossing the T." 

97 7 









Kiel and Jutland 



Even whole squadrons and fleets may find 
themselves in this T position. It has always been 
the aim of the faster ships to get across the head 
of the enemy column in order to " enfilade " it, 
i.e., get it under fire from ahead, or, at any rate, 
force it back. If the leading ships of a fleet are 
well headed off, the line of this whole fleet will 
gradually become circular, the circle will get 
smaller and smaller and at last the fleet finds 
itself in the so-called " caldron." 

Of course this can only happen to a fleet which 
is very materially inferior in speed or is surprised 
by the sudden appearance of new hostile units 
on its own course. Exactly what happened to 
us at the battle of Skagerrak ! Our fleet ended 
up by butting into the very centre of the enemy's 
fleet, which was forming a semicircle around us ; 
it would thus have been exposed to the murderous 
fire of the whole hostile fleet, and soon lost all 
power to manoeuvre if but I will not anticipate. 
We must not go through all that until we get to 
the turmoil of the action itself. 

At the moment I shall only ask to be permitted 
to explain a few expressions of naval tactics. 
" Line ahead" means a line of ships steaming 
behind each other. When the ships steam side 
by side they are in " Line abreast." If they steam 
diagonally ahead of or behind each other they are 
" disposed on a line of bearing." A fleet which 

98 



Tactical Principles of a Naval Action 

is cruising usually steams in line ahead, and as a 
rule the strongest squadron is in the van and the 
weakest in the rear. On such occasions the battle- 
cruisers take station ahead of the battleships and 
are generally also in line ahead. Ahead of the 
battle-cruisers the light cruisers are disposed as 
a scouting force. The rate of steaming is generally 
not more than fifteen to seventeen knots, though 
the ships have steam up in all the boilers so that 
they can put on full steam the moment they get 
news of the enemy. 

Now how does a fleet, which is deploying 
against the enemy whose approximate position has 
been reported to it by its light cruisers, but 
whose actual position is not known, protect itself 
from " crossing the T" ? On this matter there 
is one very simple rule. We must bring our 
own fleet up on a line at right-angles to the direc- 
tion in which we suspect the centre of the hostile 
fleet is to be found and thus get the centre of 
our own line opposite the enemy 's centre. We 
shall thus get the enemy " by his centre/' With 
such dispositions we shall close the enemy at 
full speed in a broad formation. The squadrons 
will steam in line abreast or in short line ahead, 
the divisions consisting of not more than four 
ships. As soon as we know whether the enemy 
is deploying to port or starboard we shall turn 
our whole line on approximately the same course 

99 7* 



Kiel and Jutland 



as that of the enemy, and by sending forward our 
swift battle-cruisers and steaming in line ahead 
at our maximum speed get across the head of 
the enemy's line. In this attempt to envelop 
or head off the hostile fleet the faster fleet will 
always, have a great advantage. 

If, in the course of the action, the fleets get 
within short range by which I mean ranges 
under 100 hm. the fleet furthest ahead enjoys 
the further advantage that it can use its tor- 
pedoes sooner than the fleet further back. The 
latter is running to a certain extent into the 
torpedoes fired at it while the former is running 
away from the torpedoes fired at it from behind. 
Thus a ship from the squadron ahead which 
possesses torpedoes of 100 hm. range can fire 
them when the enemy is still 120 hm. and more 
away, while a ship of the squadron further astern 
must be within 80 hm. or less in order to be able 
to use its torpedoes. Of course there is no ques- 
tion of using torpedoes except at short range, and 
the English, aware of the torpedo danger and the 
high penetrating power of our ammunition, always 
tried to avoid such ranges. Thanks to the 
higher speed the English ships of every type 
possessed in comparison with German ships of 
the same type, they were unfortunately always 
in a position to keep us at the distance that 
suited them. 

100 



Tactical Principles of a Naval Action 

To obtain the best position from the point of 
view of wind, sea and sun tedious manoeuvres are 
necessary and here again the faster fleet always 
has the advantage. Thus even during the 
Skagerrak battle the superior speed of the English 
enabled them to convert what was for them a 
bad position from the point of view of wind 
into a good one, which also gave them the pull 
from the point of view of light. 

I will close this chapter, as I think I have dis- 
cussed those principles of naval tactics which are 
necessary to a proper understanding of the mighty 
conflict which we called the " Battle of the 
Skagerrak," and the English the "Battle of 
Jutland." 



101 



CHAPTER IV 

THE HISTORICAL VALUE OF PERSONAL ACCOUNTS 
OF NAVAL ACTIONS 



WHEN a man sits down to recount his war experi- 
ences two methods are open to him. In the first, 
the narrator takes his own experiences, the details 
of which are often uninteresting to many of his 
audience or readers, and decorates them roman- 
tically with what he has heard from other sources. 
He even combines them, and his business is not so 
much to give an absolutely truthful picture of the 
events in which he actually participated personally 
as to paint a thrilling picture in lively colours of 
the whole action, which shall be as complete as 
possible. The, other method of describing war 
experiences is that in which the narrator con- 
fines himself strictly to speaking only of what he 
himself witnessed, however homely his own 
experience may have been or however trivial in 
compaiison with the grandeur and immensity of 
the whole action. In this case the narrator is con- 
scious in everything he says of his historical 
responsibility, even in the smallest details. It 

105 



Kiel and Jutland 



will be my endeavour to employ this second 
method in describing the Skagerrak battle. 

Lowestoft had shown me very plainly that 
even immediately after an action it is almost 
impossible to reconstruct the course of events in 
the fight from the verbal reports of those who 
took part in it. It was the custom in our navy 
for no gunnery-logs to be kept, as every man had 
to devote all his energies to the action itself. 
Thus, immediately after the fight off Lowestoft I 
was not able to establish beyond dispute at what 
ranges and in what direction we had approxi- 
mately fired when we bombarded the towns, 
and then fired at the cruisers and destroyers. 
Opinions as to whether the enemy destroyers 
had fled west or east were utterly conflicting 
when we came to draw up the report of the action ! 

I therefore decided that in all future actions a 
detailed and careful record of all orders and 
occurrences relating to the gunnery side as well 
as my own observations should be kept. I com- 
missioned a tried senior petty officer in the 
transmitting station of the main armament to 
record each order given by me. 

He heard all my orders through his head tele- 
phone, which was connected with the one by means 
of which I communicated with the Spotting 
Officer in the fore-top and the midshipman at the 
elevation clock in the transmitting station. In 

106 



Historical Value of Personal Accounts 

addition to my orders, for every salvo of the main 
armament he recorded with what elevation (i.e., 
at what range from the enemy) it was fired and 
in what direction the gun was trained. The 
direction is given from the bow, beginning at 
o. When the guns are directed from the star- 
board beam they are at 90, at 180 they are 
pointed straight aft and at 270 on the port 
beam. In the transmitting station was an 
electric control apparatus which registered exactly 
the direction of each gun-turret in degrees at the 
given moment. Against each order and each 
shot the exact time within ten seconds was also 
recorded. With the help of the battle charts 
prepared by the navigating officer during the 
action, and plotted with the greatest accuracy 
according to the compass and log by a petty 
officer in the transmitting station, it was easy to 
fix afterwards the exact position of the enemy 
at a given time if the direction of fire and the 
range at given times were known. This system 
of keeping a gunnery-log I introduced at firing and 
battle practice after the battle of Lowestoft. I 
also had recorded all orders and reports received 
at, or issued from, other important action stations, 
such as gun-turrets and the transmitting station 
for the secondary armament. In addition I 
had all important events recorded in the after- 
control, which was the action station of the 

107 



Kiel and Jutland 



Second Gunnery Officer, my deputy, and the 
Fourth Gunnery Officer, the deputy of the Third 
Gunnery Officer. At practice I repeatedly 
emphasized the great value I placed on the keep- 
ing of these records in action. During the 
battle of Skagerrak the records were kept in all 
the places ordered and these put me in a position to 
give an exact account of almost every single 
shot fired. Apart from this, these records make 
it easy to plot a mathematically accurate chart 
of the action if the position of the enemy ships is 
fixed at those points where salvoes are known to 
have hit or to have fallen quite close to them. 
My report of the battle is based on these records, 
which are still in my possession, and on my diary 
and letters home. Unfortunately the records 
kept by the 30.5-001. turrets " Caesar " and " Dora " 
were lost with the total destruction of these 
turrets. On the gth June, 1917, an article 
appeared in the English journal, The Spectator, 
dealing with the value of official and personal 
accounts of sea fights and in particular of the 
battle of Skagerrak. The author, Bennet Copple- 
stone, gives an excellent summing-up of the 
value of all such accounts as they must inevitably 
appear in war time when they are decisively 
influenced by the censor and military interests. 
This makes it all the more important that all 
those who describe their war experiences after 

108 



Historical Value of Personal Accounts 

the war should endeavour to write only what they 
can personally guarantee to be historically 
accurate. I believe the author of the article in 
the Spectator was even then making a serious 
effort to determine the true course of the 
battle from the English and German accounts. 
Naturally he could not completely avoid looking 
at the matter with English eyes. The author 
reveals to us some completely new facts about 
the battle, particularly the tactics of the leader 
of the English battle-cruisers, Admiral Beatty, 
who took advantage of the greatly superior speed 
of his ships to bring off a splendid out-flanking 
manoeuvre. I reproduce here the Spectator article, 
the publication of which in German newspapers 
in 1917 was prohibited by the German censor. 



SEA FIGHT OFF THE SKAGERRAK.' WHAT 
THE GERMANS CLAIM. 

" Mit dem Wissen wdchst dev Zweifel (Doubt grows up with Know- 
ledge). GOETHB. 

" It is a great mistake to dismiss German official 
and personal accounts of naval actions as fiction 
composed with intent to deceive. Even if they 
contained no word of truth, they would be worth 
study as unconscious revelations of the mind of 
the enemy. The German communications vary 

109 



Kiel and Jutland 



greatly in quality. Graf von Spec's letters on 
Coronel set forth the modest uncoloured story of 
a brave and honourable gentleman. Descriptions 
furnished by his officers of the Coronel and Falk- 
lands actions are in value equal to the contem- 
porary stories of English officers seiving in those 
sea fights. Very few officers or men in a naval 
action see anything at all of what takes place ; 
some more favourably placed see a great deal ; 
but when one comes to examine individual 
accounts, even of those most favourably placed 
for observation, the discrepancies are baffling. 
The personal equation dominates all stories. 
Official communications, whether German or 
English, are the concentrated essence of a mass 
of individual observations cut and censored for 
political or military reasons. We get in the result 
an English distortion and a German distortion, 
direct conflict of evidence on observed facts, an 
obviously English point of view and another 
point of view as obviously German. 

' The English accounts of Jutland were written 
by men who were disappointed ; a chance had 
come to them to destroy the High Seas Fleet, to 
cut away the base upon which the whole fabric 
of German naval plans rested. They were robbed 
of their chance by low visibility at the critical 
stage, and by the consummate skill with which 
the German Admiral Scheer made use of the 

no 



Historical Value of Personal Accounts 

mist and darkness to withdraw his outnumbered 
and out-manoeuvred Fleet. On the other hand, 
the German accounts are those of men exalted 
de tetes montees of men who had seen themselves 
and their Fleet within a very little of total destruc- 
tion and had been saved as by a miracle. Their 
stories, both official and personal, glow with 
exaltation. But when the Germans call the sea 
fight off the Skagerrak a victory they do not mean 
that the English Fleet was defeated in the military 
sense. They mean that it was baffled of its pur- 
pose to destroy themselves. They had been in 
the Lion's jaws, but had managed to wriggle out 
before those terrible jaws could close. That is 
what the Germans mean when they celebrate 
Skagerrak (Jutland) as a * victory/ They 
declare that the battle of May 3ist, 1916, ' con- 
firmed the old truth that the large fighting ship, 
the ship which combines the maximum of strength 
in attack and defence, rules the seas/ The 
relation of strength, they say, between the English 
and German Fleets ' was roughly two to one/ 
They do not claim that the English superiority 
in strength was sensibly reduced by the losses in 
the battle, nor that the large English fighting 
ships admittedly larger, much more numerous, 
and more powerfully gunned than their own 
ceased after Skagerrak to rule the seas. Their 
claim, critically examined, is simply that, in the 

in 



Kiel and Jutland 



circumstances, it was a very successful escape for 
the German ships. And so indeed it was. 

" This sense of exultation, of almost inexpressible 
relief, runs through the long official story which 
was published in the German papers of July ist 
to 5th, 1916. It is not less to be seen and felt 
in the glowing description of Captain Scheibe, 
who at the time of the action was a First Lieuten- 
ant in one of the German battle-cruisers. His 
' Die Seeschlacht vor dem Skagerrak ' of which 
an abridged translation was published in the 
Journal of the R.U.S.I. of February weaves his 
own experiences into the Marinamt's official nar- 
rative. I have examined both these stories line 
by line, seeking to winnow out the grains of truth 
from the chaff flung about in handfuls to please 
the civilians of the Fatherland. In some respects 
these stories are quite wonderfully accurate. 
There is an outstanding notorious mistake, a 
rather curious mistake : Captain Scheibe, who 
was with the battle-cruisers, accepts the official 
statement that there were five Queen Elizabeths 
in our Fifth Battle Squadron, and that one 
(War spite) was sunk. We know that there were 
but four the Queen Elizabeth herself was absent 
and that not one was lost. Apart from this 
mistake, Captain Scheibe and the official story 
identify and place the big ships on our side with- 
out apparent difficulty. I have never yet found 

112 




C5 
I 

f 



Historical Value of Personal Accounts 

a list of the five German battle-cruisers which, 
under Hipper, were first encountered by Beatty 
upon which our authorities are agreed. As against 
this English uncertainty in regard to a squadron 
which was under observation from the first when 
the light was not bad the Germans give the names 
and classes of our battle-cruisers and battleships 
with complete confidence. They are remark- 
ably good at identifying ships which they saw ; 
but their understanding of what they did not see 
is imperfect. 

" The Germans divide the battle into four phases 
in much the same manner as we do ourselves. 
There was, first, the encounter and the running 
fight between the English and German battle- 
cruisers, six English and five German. Up to 
the end of this phase, in which the Queen Mary and 
Indefatigable were sunk, there is no great diver- 
gence between the English and the German 
stories. The lamentable loss of the Indefatigable 
and the Queen Mary unhappily did give the 
Germans substantial reason for crowing. The 
second phase then began. Beatty turned to the 
north and raced away to head off the German 
line. The Fifth Battle Squadron, which had been 
too far off to take much part in the first phase, 
remained to engage all the German battleships 
and battle-cruisers within range, and, by stalling 
off the Germans, to give Beatty's diminished 

113 8 



Kiel and Jutland 



squadrons the opportunity to execute a most 
effective manoeuvre. Here we reach a great dis- 
crepancy between the English and German 
stories. We know that Beatty did in fact com- 
plete his tremendous task, did get round the head 
of the enemy's line, and did open up the way for 
Jellicoe's later deployment. The Germans dismiss 
Beatty and his battle-cruisers into space as no 
longer in the picture they ' were gradually 
disappearing in the distance, and, so far as was 
noticed, took no further part in the battle on 
account of the considerable damage they had 
already suffered/ This profoundly obtuse sen- 
tence occurs both in the official story and in 
Captain Scheibe's pamphlet, and illuminates the 
mental confusion of the enemy in regard to the 
higher tactics of the battle. 

"The third phase is described by the Germans 
as a ' battle with the whole concentrated force of 
the English Grand Fleet/ Visibility was poor, the 
mist troubled both sides, and it is difficult to make 
out what really happened. The Germans slur 
over their spiral turn towards the south and 
their home ports within the enveloping arc of 
the Fifth Battle Squadron, Jellicoe's Main Fleet, 
and Hood and Beatty's battle-cruisers ; but the 
fact is admitted between the lines. Much is 
made of Scheer's decision, when confronted by 
greatly superior forces, to ' attack ' and to keep 

114 



Historical Value of Personal Accounts 

on attacking. The claim is that the German 
battle-cruisers and destroyers, covering the with- 
drawal of the battleships, attacked twice success- 
fully, and that when they rushed in to attack a 
third time the English Fleet had disappeared ! 
' In what direction he had fallen back before the 
third attack prepared for him it is impossible to 
determine/ 

" We know that Scheer did withdraw his Main 
Fleet in a very masterly fashion out of the closing 
jaws of Jellicoe. We know that he held Jellicoe 
off: with most gallant and spirited torpedo attacks, 
so that we could rarely close in to within a visible 
range of the German battleships. In this limited 
sense Scheer ' attacked ' he fought an effective 
rearguard action but a retirement, covered by 
battle-cruisers and destroyers against superior 
forces, is not quite the same thing as a ' battle 
with the whole concentrated force of the English 
Grand Fleet/ 

" How the opposing Fleets, with their screens of 
light cruisers and destroyers, so completely lost 
touch after the night scrimmage one cannot call 
it a battle that the dawn found them out of 
sight of one another, I am unable to explains 
Neither the English nor German stories give one 
the slightest help. It may be presumed that the 
Germans made off, under cover of the darkness, 
for the protection of their minefields. Their own 

115 8* 



Kiel and Jutland 



story is far otherwise. ' When the first ray oi 
dawn reddened the eastern sky on the historic 
" First of June " everyone expected the rising sun 
to illuminate the English line drawn up for a new 
battle. These hopes were dashed. The horizon, 
all round as far as the eye could see, was empty.' 
One may, without injustice, dismiss the dashed 
' hopes ' as guff. A battle fleet which is, by its own 
admission, not half the strength of its opponent does 
not welcome the renewal of an action at dawn of a 
long summer day. It was very lucky indeed for 
the Germans that the dawn found the sea empty. 
" I do not propose to discuss the estimates of 
losses inflicted upon their respective enemies by 
the English and the Germans. Our own losses 
have been officially stated ; the Germans have 
issued a list of theirs, and however firm one's 
belief may be that the German admitted losses 
are understated, there is no definite evidence to 
compel a further disclosure. Observations of 
damage done to an enemy during the confusion 
of a naval fight, especially when the light is bad, 
are highly untrustworthy. Damaged vessels fall 
out of a rapidly moving line, and are often believed 
to have sunk when they are making crippled for 
ports of safety. We shall probably never know 
how much damage was done by us at Jutland to 
the German Fleet. 

"BENNET COPPLESTONE." 
116 



Historical Value of Personal Accounts 

This article in the Spectator shows the difficulty 
of getting a clear idea of a sea-battle. In order 
to be able to give a perfectly accurate account 
of the Battle of Skagerrak, the historian must have 
at his disposal all the official and personal records 
of both sides. But the English will have no 
interest in giving to posterity an unvarnished 
account of the details of this battle, so inglorious 
for them. And are we to undertake this after 
our naval collapse and with a pacifist govern- 
ment at our head ? I hope so ! Meanwhile we 
who took part in the action must do our part to 
ensure that this duel of the " Two White Nations/' 
sea-power against sea-power, is passed on truth- 
fully to our posterity. 



CHAPTER V 

ON BOARD THE " DERFFLINGER," HEADING FOR 
SKAGERRAK 



ON 3ist May, 1916, the battle-cruisers weighed 
anchor at 3 a.m. There were the Lutzow (the 
flagship of Officer Commanding the reconnais- 
sance squadron, Vice-Admiral Hipper), Derfflinger, 
Moltke and Von der Tann. We had spent the 
night at anchor in the Schillig Roads, off the 
entrance to the Jadebusen. Ahead of us stretched 
the small cruisers and some flotillas of destroyers. 
It was a beautiful, clear night which soon gave 
place to a splendid morning. The sun rose 
magnificently, covered the sea with its golden 
rays and soon showed us the picture of the whole 
High Seas Fleet proceeding to meet the enemy, 
always a wonderful sight and one never to be 
forgotten. Far ahead of us steamed the small 
cruisers in line ahead, surrounded by a cordon 
of destroyers steaming ceaselessly round the 
cruisers, on the look-out for enemy submarines, 
like dogs round a flock of sheep. 

121 



Kiel and Jutland 



Then came the battle-cruisers. Five powerful 
ships with imposing names, the pride of the 
fleet. The Ltitzow and the Derfflinger of the 
same class, both completed during the war, the 
Liitzow having only joined the fleet two months 
before the battle. One of the first cruises of the 
Liitzow had been against Lowestoft. The Derf- 
flinger and the rest of the battle-cruisers had been 
in action together at Scarborough and the Dogger 
Bank (24th January, 1915) and Lowestoft. All 
the battle-cruisers had been in action and were 
manned by picked officers and excellent ship's 
companies, as yet uninfected by harmful in- 
fluences. On the 3 ist May the Derfflinger carried 
1,398 men, practically her full complement as 
none was absent on leave and only quite a small 
number were sick. A batch of men were to have 
gone on leave the day before, when the order 
came to get ready to put to sea, so we kept them 
back. The fact that no man happened to be 
absent on leave helped greatly towards securing 
complete co-operation in action. 

The captain of the Derfflinger was Captain 
Hartog, the second-in-command, Commander 
Fischer (Max), navigating officer, Commander von 
Jork. The gunnery officers under me were : 
Second Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant-Commander 
Lamprecht ; Third Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant- 
Commander Hausser ; Fourth Gunnery Officer, 

122 



On Board the " Derfflinger 



Lieutenant-Commander von Mellenthin ; turret- 
officers, Lieutenant-Commander Freiherr v. Speth- 
Schulzburg, Lieutenants, Hankow and von Bolten- 
stern ; the observation officers, Lieutenant von 
Stosch and Lieutenant Schulz ; communications 
officer, Lieutenant Hoch, and Bg. officer, Lieu- 
tenant Friedrich. The torpedo officers were : 
Lieutenant-Commander Kossak, Lieutenants Schil- 
ling and von der Decken. Adjutant and signal- 
officer, Lieutenant Peters. Wireless officer, Lieu- 
tenant Thaer. Medical officer, Staff-Surgeon Dr. 
Freyer. Chief engineer, Engineer-Commander 
Kohn. All officers with the exception of Lieu- 
tenant-Commander von Mellenthin, who was 
doing a course, were on board. 

The battle-cruisers, too, were surrounded by a 
cordon of destroyers which circled round us like 
a fewarm of excited insects. On our numerous 
cruises in the North Sea and the Baltic, we had 
often drawn the torpedo fire of English sub- 
marines, but so far the only successful shot had 
been one that hit the Moltke. During the attack 
on Lowestoft the Seidlitz had struck a mine, and 
had been forced to turn back damaged after the 
Admiral had transferred his flag to the Lutzow. 
It was necessary therefore to keep a sharp look- 
out if all five of us were to reach the Norwegian 
coast, for which we were said to be making. 

Far astern the clear weather enabled us to see the 

123 



Kiel and Jutland 



main fleet, our ships of the line. These numbered 
twenty-two, a proud armada. They were led 
by the 3rd Squadron, our most modern ships, 
with the flagship, the Konig, ahead, then the 
Fleet-flagship, the Friedrich der Grosse, flying the 
flag of the Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Scheer. 
Then the ist Squadron, the ships of the Heligoland 
and Nassau class, and finally the 2nd Squadron, 
the obsolescent battleships of the Deutschland 
class, including my old ship the Hessen, on which 
I had for five years directed so much firing- 
practice as gunnery officer. 

The ships of the line were surrounded by a con- 
siderable number of light cruisers, which served 
as a screen for both flanks of the fleet. In addi- 
tion to these there was, of course, the usual swarm 
of destroyers scouting for submarines and mines. 
We steered west of Heligoland and the Amrum 
bank on a northerly course. One half of the 
gun-crews were manning the guns, the other half 
were sleeping in their hammocks slung near the 
guns or near their respective action stations, 
such as ammunition chambers, transmitting 
stations, etc. I spent the night on the bridge. 
While cruising I had no definite duties to perform. 
The Second and Third Gunnery Officers shared 
the watch. My Commanding Officer laid down the 
principle that the first officer, the First Gunnery 
Officer and the First Torpedo Officer should get as 

124 



On Board the " Derfflinger 



much sleep and rest as possible, so that they 
might be fresh when the ship came into action. 
An excellent principle which with us was followed 
not only in theory but in practice. For me, there- 
fore, every cruise of this kind was a complete rest. 
If there was news of the enemy, or if there was 
anything unusual to be seen, or in particularly 
fine weather, of course I kept to the bridge. For 
the rest, however, I slept, read, or played chess 
in the ward-room and made a round of all the 
guns only about once every two hours, talked 
with the officers and gunlayers on watch and 
saw that everything was in order. As a rule " The 
Goblin " came with me on my rounds through 
the ship and we frequently came across some- 
thing that had to be put right immediately. " The 
Goblin " called his band together, the electrical 
artificers, armourers, the transmitting-station 
specialists, and in a very short time I received the 
message : " Port elevation telegraph third i5-cm. 
gun in working order again ! " " Left gun-mounting 
in Caesar turret repaired ! " and so on. 

Of course I was always on the bridge when we 
came to an area where submarines or mines had 
been recently reported, and on dark nights when 
destroyer attacks might be expected. But I 
could make my own arrangements, and so these 
days of cruising were generally a very pleasant 
time for me. 

125 ' 



;& 

v\ - 



Kiel and Jutland 



I had a large double cabin on the upper deck, 
not too near the ship's side. Consequently I 
could keep my scuttle open except in rough 
weather. In this way I had from my cabin a 
good view of the sea and saw at once if anything 
unusual was happening. 

After enjoying the sunrise on the 3ist May 
a sight which at sea was a never-failing source of 
joy, though at anchor in the brown Jadewasser, 
it could not drag me out of my bunk I lay down 
again for another couple of hours' sleep, after which 
I appeared, shaved, washed and rested, for break- 
fast in the mess. Most of the officers had to 
forego the luxury of a careful toilette, as they 
couldn't get to their cabins between decks owing 
to the fact that all the hatches had been battened 
down and watertight doors closed as a precaution 
against mines. After breakfast I sat down in 
my comfortable cabin, dealt with some writing 
work and enjoyed the view over the sea. Before 
midday dinner a round of the guns and then dinner, 
at which the natural subject of conversation was : 
shall we see the enemy ? The goal of our cruise 
was further afield than had so far been the case. 
On the night of the ist June, the cruisers 
and destroyers were to search for enemy and 
neutral merchantmen off the Skagerrak. It was 
to be supposed that on this night our presence 
off the Skagerrak would be made known, that 

126 



On Board the " Derfflinger 



the English fleet would put to sea from England 
with all possible speed and that there was even 
a chance of encountering the English Grand 
Fleet on the ist June. Moreover, strong forces 
of English armoured cruisers and light cruisers 
had been reported in the neighbourhood of the Nor- 
wegian coast, and an encounter with these was 
probable for the ist June, and was not out of 
the question for the 3 ist May. That the entire 
English fleet was already at sea and bearing on 
the same point as ourselves, not a man in the 
German fleet suspected, not even the Commander- 
in-Chief. And in the same way, according to all 
published reports, no one in the English fleet 
knew that the German fleet had put to sea. 
There is no reason to believe that this was not the 
case, and yet in the inland parts of the country 
the question is always being asked : How did 
the English get to know that we were off the 
Skagerrak ? Or : How did we learn that the 
English intended to enter the Baltic ? 

All such talk is mere idle chatter. As has been 
stated by both Admiralties, the battle of the 
Skagerrak came about by an accidental meeting 
of the two fleets on one of their many cruises in 
the North Sea. When it is considered that the 
North Sea is larger than Germany, and how easy 
it is in such a laige area for two cruising fleets 
to pass one another unnoticed, there can be 

127 



Kiel and Jutland 



nothing but wonder at the strange chance that 
brought the head of their scouting squadron 
right on to that of the English. The Battle of 
Jutland developed in the early stages like a 
carefully prepared instructional manoeuvre, in 
which, according to plan, first the light cruisers, 
then the battle cruisers, and finally the ships of 
the line come into action. 

At midday dinner, at which the officers of the 
watch were not present, there was great excite- 
ment and enthusiasm. Nearly everyone was 
agreed that this time there would be an action, 
but no one spoke of anything more important 
than an action involving the lighter fighting forces 
or the older armoured cruisers. No one thought 
of the possibility that the whole English Fleet 
could be only a few hours away from us. Some 
few were pessimistic, and said we should soon 
turn about again without having accomplished 
anything. The P.M.O. always carried a large 
pocket compass about with him, which he used 
to place beside him on the table, for, as the ward- 
room scuttles were closed, and consequently the 
sea could not be seen, we could not tell when 
the ship altered course. We used to call him our 
between-deck strategist. He now kept a careful 
eye on his compass. Altogether there was a 
tense atmosphere about the mess, as though we 
were on the eve of important happenings. As 

128 




Line Ahead. 




Line of Bearing. 



[To face p. 128. 



On Board the " Derfflinger 



was always the case when we were engaged in 
one of our sweeps of the North Sea, no one drank 
a drop of alcohol at meals, and that, in spite of 
the fact that we were none of us despisers of 
wine, woman and song. On all cruises in war- 
time we treated ourselves like sportsmen in 
training : from the moment of putting to sea until 
we came back to our home moorings we were 
practically all total abstainers. 

We smoked our cigars, and then the junior 
officers took the watch while those they had 
relieved came down to dinner. I went to my 
cabin, lay down for a siesta, watched the blue 
rings from my cigar, and dreamed of battle and 
victory. If only it came to gunnery action this 
time ! My whole career seemed so incomplete, 
so much of a failure if I did not have at least 
one opportunity of feeling in battle on the high 
seas what fighting was really like. Blow for blow, 
shot for shot, that was what I wanted. I had 
had twelve years' experience of gunnery practice ; 
I had learned all about it. It was a sport I 
understood. Once I had fixed the target with 
the periscope and once the first salvo had crashed 
from the guns, nothing could disturb me. It is 
true I did not yet know how I should get on in 
the dense hail of enemy fire. But that did not 
worry me. I should find that out all in good 
time. 

129 9 



Kiel and Jutland 



At two o'clock the drums beat through the 
ship. A long roll. The signal to clean guns. 
Every man except the officers had to go to his 
action station. For the gunnery officer this is 
the most important hour of the day. At gun- 
cleaning all the machinery is set in motion, 
cleaned, oiled ; all apparatus carefully adjusted. 
I went from gun to gun, accompanied by " The 
Goblin/' In the "Bertha" turret the fore- 
most rope of the ammunition hoist had given 
way, and in replacing this it was discovered that 
the wire rope was badly perished in one place. 
I decided that it should be replaced by a new 
rope. This took about an hour. For an hour 
the enemy would, if possible, have to oblige us 
by keeping away ! I made sure that the gun 
crews were provided with all they needed for 
action. On the 2Qth May the fleet had at last, 
after prolonged pressure, been provided with a 
few thousand gas-masks from the army. The 
Commander-in-Chief had given orders that these 
should be issued to the battle-cruisers and the 
most modern ships of the line. Now we had to 
see that every man had his gas-mask at hand 
near his action station. In the gun turrets the 
ammunition for immediate use lay near the guns, 
everywhere in the small quantity stipulated by 
regulations. The guns of the secondary arma- 
ment were already loaded, so as to be able to 

130 



On Board the " Derfflinger 



open fire at once at any submarine that might 
chance to break surface. 

For the time between three and four o'clock, 
the Commander, who regulates the division of 
duty on board, had placed the gun crews at my 
disposal, and I had started some gun drill and 
turret exercises. My officers and men were not 
too pleased with this, but I knew only too well 
how great my responsibility was. I could only 
answer for the perfect working of the whole 
complicated apparatus if each part of it were 
set moving once more under battle conditions. 
The Third Gunnery Officer, who controlled the 
secondary armament, came with me somewhat 
reluctantly to the fore-control for the fire- 
control practice. We fixed our telephone 
receivers over our heads and got to work. 
" Normal direction for starboard fire ! " In the 
transmitting-stations about forty levers were 
moved as directed. All parts of the ship received 
the order : " Direction for starboard fire ! " I 
had trained my periscope on one of our small 
cruisers and gave the order : " Direction in- 
dicated ! " All the other gunnery periscopes and 
all the guns were trained on the electric indicators, 
and so with absolute accuracy on the given 
target fixed by my sighting petty officer. I 
called : " Question : E-U ? " This meant : The 
Gunnery Observation Officer will report at once 

131 9 * 



Kiel and Jutland 



to the First Gunnery Officer what is the rate of 
change of range per minute, minus or plus, 
shown by his E-U range indicator. And the 
Bg. Officer will report the change of range per 
minute calculated from the difference of the 
range-finder readings. " Report from the fore- 
top : the new E-U range indicator is missing in 
the fore-top ! " " Good God ! the thing must 
be fetched at once from the gunnery office. 
Gunner's mate X will report to me after duty. 
The fore-top meanwhile will carry on with the old 
indicator ! " 

I should like to say a few words here about 
E-U (Entfernungs-Unterschieds) indicator. It 
was invented in its newest form by Commander 
Paschen, the First Gunnery Officer of the Lutzow. 
It served at the same time to determine the 
range variation (E-U), and to fix the deflec- 
tion. I will not bother the reader here with a 
description of the fixing of the deflection ; it is 
enough for him to know that to compensate for 
all influences which may deviate the shot 
laterally from its true course, a lateral correction 
is effected by what is called a deflection-corrector. 
The influences which may deviate the shot 
laterally from its original line are : wind, the 
ship's speed and the rifling of the gun. A further 
correction must be made to take into account the 
enemy's speed. The excellent, highly-perfected 

132 



On Board the " Derfflinger 



apparatus invented by Commander Pas'chen 
allowed the deflection to be read off without 
any calculation after the estimated speed and 
course of the enemy had been determined ; the 
gunnery officer himself had only to correct 
further for the wind. The principal object of 
the E-U indicator was to determine the range 
variation per minute or '" rate." The apparatus 
was first adjusted to the ship's speed, all varia- 
tions of which were reported from the fore- 
control. The enemy's speed and course were 
then estimated, and a further adjustment made. 
The range variation could then be read off the 
indicator without any further calculation. This 
apparatus had already been fitted all over the 
ship, for the most part, it is true, of an older 
type, which did not allow of reading off the 
deflection. If the fore-top was put out of action, 
the gunnery officer could have the range varia- 
tion calculated in another part of the ship, even 
though the man at the indicator could not see 
the enemy. Of course, the gunnery officer would 
then have to keep him posted during the action 
with all information as to course and speed, 
which would make the fire-control very difficult. 
In addition to this, the gunnery officers themselves 
were supplied with similar apparatus, so that in 
action they could check the reports of the observa- 
tion officers, and could themselves estimate the 

i33 



Kiel and Jutland 



range variation, in case communication with the 
observation officers should be interrupted. 

The fire-control practice continued : " 15,000 ! 
Salvoes fire ! " The orders were passed from 
the transmitting-station to the 3 0.5 -cm. turrets 
by telephone and fire-gong. On the order, 
" Fire ! " during rapid fire the moment the gun 
was fired the men whose duty it was to announce 
the fall of shot, and who were stationed behind 
the communications officers in the fore-top, gun- 
positions and fire-controls, immediately pressed 
back the levers of the hit-indicators. Then 
came a tense silence. At the end of the time 
corresponding to the trajectory, each hit-indicator 
should emit a loud buzz, which can only be 
compared to the bleating of a flock of sheep. 
With my telephone receiver I ought to have 
heard simultaneously the buzz of the hit-in- 
dicators of the heavy guns from the fore- 
top, the fore-control and the transmitting- 
station. But I only heard one, that of the 
fore-top. " Question : Why are the hit- 
indicators not being used ? " " Report : Hit- 
indicators have been used but are not working ! " 
More work for " The Goblin." I order : " Fresh 
elements to be put at once in all hit-indicators ! " 
and so it goes on, until at last I am convinced 
that all defects are made good, and that the guns 
are completely ready for action. With this 

134 



On Board the " Derfflinger 



pleasant feeling I return to the wardroom to 
enjoy an excellent cup of coffee on the comfortable 
leather settee. 

I could have done with a considerably longer 
period in this position, but at 4.28 the alarm 
bells rang through the ship, both drums beat for 
action, and the boatswains of the watch piped 
and shouted : " Clear for action ! " 



CHAPTER VI 

FIRST PHASE OF THE BATTLE OF SKAGERRAK 
(5.48 TO 6.55 P.M.). " QUEEN MARY " EN- 
GAGED. DESTROYER ATTACKS AND THEIR 
REPULSE. 



WHEN I reached the bridge a report had come 
through from the Frankfort saying that isolated 
enemy forces had been sighted to the westward. 
The battle-cruisers were already steaming in line 
ahead at full speed towards the reported position. 
Ahead of us could be seen the light cruisers, with 
their destroyers driving forward amid dense 
clouds of smoke. Our own main fleet was no 
longer in sight. Our escorting destroyers could 
scarcely keep up with us ; they lost much weigh 
owing to the heavy swell. Otherwise, however, 
the sea was fairly smooth, with only a light 
north-westerly wind, wind pressure 3. 

I climbed up to the fore-control. I say 
climbed, as a considerable climb was necessary 
after passing through the armoured door to 
reach the platform on which the gunnery peri- 
scopes stood. Already reports were coming in : 
" Secondary armament clear ! " " Order com- 
munication clear ! " " Fore-top, after control, 
main-top clear/' and so on. Finally all gun 

i39 



Kiel and Jutland 



positions had reported, and I reported to the 
Captain : " Guns clear/' 

We officers adjusted our head-telephones and 
were ready for the show to begin. I now ask 
the reader to study closely the accompanying 
sketch. The first time indicated is 4.28 p.m. 
Until then the battle-cruisers had been steering 
a northerly course. At 4.28 they swung round 
on a westerly course, which was maintained 
until 5.22. After that the courses steered were 
north until 5.33, south until 6.53, north until 
7.55, widely varied courses until 9.20, west until 
9.45, and then mainly south until the end of the 
day's fighting. With the help of this sketch 
it will be easy for the reader to follow in my 
description of the individual phases of the battle 
the course of the Derfflinger, which was at the 
same time the course of the rest of the battle- 
cruisers and of the enemy's ships which were 
engaged by the Derfflinger. The red dotted 
lines running from the Derfflinger's course show the 
direction and range (in hm.) of the salvoes which 
were registered in the gunnery log as hits, or at 
any rate as straddling the enemy. In the case 
of these salvoes the range given is the true range, 
so that the end of the range line is at the same 
time the position of the enemy at the moment of 
impact. 

The course of the enemy engaged is indicated 

140 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

by a red line. This course is mathematically 
correct in so far as it is established by the range 
of our salvoes. The course between these points 
cannot claim to be mathematically accurate, 
but cannot be far out from the actual course of 
the English ships. 

We steered, therefore, to begin with, about 
half an hour west and then half an hour north- 
west. 

All our periscopes and telescopes were trained 
on the enemy, but the smoke from our light 
cruisers hampered our view. About five o' clock 
we heard the first shots, and soon saw that the 
Elbing was being engaged and was returning the 
fire strongly. My log-keeper in the transmitting- 
station wrote under the first report I sent to the 
guns : "5.5. Our light cruisers report four enemy 
light cruisers ! Nothing yet visible from the 
Derfflinger ! " And later the following orders : 
" 5.30. Our light cruisers have opened fire ! 
Direction on the second cruiser from the right ! 
Load with high-explosive shell and fix safety 
bolt ! Train on extreme right water-line ! 
18,000 ! Fire from the right ! Deflection left 20 ! 
17,000! " 

It was already beginning to get hot in the 
fore-control, so I took off my overcoat and had 
it hung in the chart-room behind. I never saw 
it again ! 

141 



Kiel and Jutland 



At this time none of us yet realized that we 
were engaging enemy ships of our own type. 
Then a message from the captain reached me 
in the fore-control : " Enemy battle-cruisers have 
been reported/' I passed this message on to 
the gun crews. It was now clear that within a 
short time a life-and-death struggle would develop 
For a moment there was a marked hush in the 
fore-control. But this only lasted a minute 
or so, then humour broke out again, and every- 
thing went on in perfect order and calm. I had 
the guns trained on what would be approxi- 
mately the enemy's position. I adjusted my 
periscope to its extreme power fifteen diameters, 
the adjustment for perfect visibility. But still 
there was no sign of the enemy. Nevertheless, 
we could see a change in the situation : the 
light cruisers and destroyers had turned about 
and were taking shelter behind the battle-cruisers. 
Thus we were at the head of the line. The 
horizon ahead of us grew clear of smoke, and 
we could now make out some English light 
cruisers which had also turned about. Sud- 
denly my periscope revealed some big ships. 
Black monsters ; six tall, broad-beamed giants 
steaming in two columns. They were still a 
long way off, but they showed up clearly on the 
horizon, and even at this great distance they 
looked powerful, massive. We only maintained 

142 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

our northerly course a short time longer. At 
5.33 our flagship Lutzow, immediately astern of 
which we were following as second in the line, 
swung round on a southerly course. The enemy 
also altered to a southerly converging course, 
and so both lines steamed south at full speed, 
coming continually nearer together. Admiral 
Hipper's intention was clear : he meant to 
engage the enemy battle-cruisers and draw them 
on to our main fleet. 

The log-keeper at this time entered my orders : 
" 5-35- Ship turning to starboard ! Normal 
direction for starboard fire ! 17,000 ! 16,500 ! 
Heavy guns armour-piercing shell ! Direction 
on second battle-cruiser from the right, 102 
degrees ! Ship making 26 knots, course E.S.E. ! 
17,000 ! Our target has two masts and two 
funnels, as well as a narrow funnel close to the 
foremast ! Deflection 19 left ! Rate 100 minus ! 
16,400 ! " Still no permission to open fire from 
the flagship ! 

It became clear that both sides were trying 
for a decision at medium range. Meanwhile I 
examined the enemy carefully. The six giants 
recalled to my mind the day on which I had gone 
out to meet the English squadron in the Kiel 
Bight to welcome the English admiral. Once 
more I saw the proud English squadron approach- 
ing, but this time the welcome would be very 



Kiel and Jutland 



different ! How much bigger and more menacing 
the enemy ships appeared this time, magnified 
fifteen times ! I could now recognize them as 
the six most modern enemy battle-cruisers. Six 
battle-cruisers were opposed to our five : we 
went into the battle with nearly equal forces. 
It was a stimulating, majestic spectacle as 
the dark-grey giants approached like fate it- 
self. 

The six ships, which had at first been proceed- 
ing in two columns, formed line ahead. Like a 
herd of prehistoric monsters they closed on one 
another with slow movements, spectre-like, 
irresistible. 

But now there were other things to be done 
than gaze at the enemy. The measured ranges 
were continually decreasing. When we got to 
165 hm. I had given the order : " Armour- 
piercing shell ! n That was the projectile for 
close-range fighting. Now every man in the 
ship knew that it was to be a short-range struggle, 
for I had often explained how the two types of 
projectile were to be used. 

Following the reports of the Bg. officer, I 
gave the ranges continually to the guns. 
Immediately after altering course the signal was 
hoisted on the flagship : " Take targets from the 
left ! " That meant that each German ship was 
to train on a corresponding English ship, reckon- 

144 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

ing from the left. Accordingly the first five 
English ships were to be engaged by our five Ger- 
man battle-cruisers, and to the Derfflinger fell the 
second ship in the line, which I identified as of the 
Queen Mary class. It was the Princess Royal, a 
sister-ship of the Queen Mary. All was ready to 
open fire, the tension increased every second, but I 
could not yet give the first order to fire. I had to 
wait for the signal from the flagship : " Open fire." 
Our enemy, too, were still holding their fire and 
coming continually closer. 

" 15,000 ! " As my last order rang out there was 
a dull roar. I looked ahead. The Lutzow is firing 
her first salvo and immediately the signal " Open 
fire " is hoisted. In the same second I shout : 
" Salvoes-fire ! " and like thunder our first salvo 
crashes out. The ships astern follow suit at once 
and we see all round the enemy jets of fire and 
rolling clouds of smoke the battle has begun ! 
My log-keeper in the transmitting station wrote 
at 5.48 : " 5.48. Ship turning to starboard ! 
Rate 200 closing ! 15,000! Salvoes-fire ! " Nearly 
thirty seconds pass before our hit-recorders this 
time all three together " bleat." The newly- 
adjusted elements have saved the situation ! The 
splashes are well together, but " over," i.e., behind 
the target and to the right. " Deflection 2 more 
left ! down 400 ! continue ! " Those were the 
orders for the next salvo. " Down 400 ! " : the 

145 10 



Kiel and Jutland 



midshipman in charge of the elevation telegraph 
had to put back the indicator 400 m. And 
" continue " meant : as soon as he had made his 
adjustments he was himself to give from the trans- 
mitting station the order " salvoes-fire ! " This 
relieved the gunnery officer ; otherwise it might 
happen that the order " Fire " would be given 
before the gun was adjusted to the new elevation. 
The midshipman in the transmitting station 
could, by means of a special electric control-indi- 
cator, see that every gun was already correctly 
adjusted. 

At the elevation telegraph in the transmitting 
station sat Midshipman Stachow, a young fellow 
of seventeen, who had charge of the elevation 
telegraph and the elevation clock, transmitted my 
orders to the gun turrets and regulated the fire 
orders. He was connected up to me by a head- 
telephone so that I could check all orders given by 
him. Until the end of the action this young mid- 
shipman regulated the fire discipline of the heavy 
and secondary armament coolly and efficiently 
he only made one mistake and that at the begin- 
ning of the action. 

The second salvo crashed out. Again it was 
" over." " Down 400," I ordered. The third and 
fourth salvoes were also over in spite of the fact 
that after the third I had given the order, " Down 
800." " Good God, Stachow ! there's something 

146 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

wrong/' I cursed. " Down 800 ! " It appeared 
later from the gunnery-log that the midshipman 
had probably not understood the first " down 
800, " or, at any rate, it had not been acted 
upon. This time, however, the "down 800 " 
was effective. The sixth salvo, fired at 5.52, 
straddled, three splashes over the target, one 
short ! We had meanwhile reached a range of 
11,900, as the elevation clock had shown a rate of 
200 closing and then 300 closing per minute, and I 
had already gone down 1,600. We had already 
been in action four minutes and only now had we 
straddled our target. That wasn't a very cheering 
result. Our first rounds had been well over. This 
was due to inaccurate estimation of the opening 
range and a delay in the first reports of the 
measured range. I explain the serious error of 
calculation as follows : The Bg. men were com- 
pletely overwhelmed by the first view of the 
enemy monsters. Each one saw the enemy ship 
magnified twenty-three times in his instrument ! 
Their minds were at first concentrated on the ap- 
pearance of the enemy. They tried to ascertain who 
their enemy was. And so when the order suddenly 
came to open fire they had not accurately fixed 
the estimated range. It cannot be put down to 
incapacity, for throughout the remainder of the 
action the range-takers did their work excellently. 
Nor can it be put down to the inefficiency of our 

147 10* 



Kiel and Jutland 



instruments ; on the contrary our Zeiss stereo- 
scopic finders worked admirably throughout the 
action. The Bg. officer reported to me later 
that there was seldom a variation of more than 
300 m. between any of the range-finders even at 
the longest ranges. 

Valuable minutes had been lost, but now I had 
found the target and at 5h. 52m. 205. p.m. the log- 
keeper recorded my order : " Gut schnell Wirkung." 
" Gut schnell " meant that Midshipman Stachow 
in the transmitting station was to give the order 
" Salvoes-fire ! " to the heavy guns once every 20 
seconds. And the word " Wirkung " meant that 
after each salvo of the heavy guns the secondary 
armament was to fire two salvoes in quick succes- 
sion and henceforward fire in conjunction with the 
heavy guns. Then began an ear-splitting, stupe- 
fying din. Including the secondary armament we 
were firing on an average one mighty salvo every 
seven seconds. Anyone who has had experience 
of gun-fire with full charges on board a large 
battleship will imagine what that meant. While 
the firing was going on any obversation was out of 
the question. Dense masses of smoke accumu- 
lated round the muzzles of the guns, growing into 
clouds as high as houses, which stood for seconds 
in front of us like an impenetrable wall and were 
then driven by the wind and the weigh over the 
ship. In this way we often could see nothing of the 

148 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

enemy for seconds at a time as our fore- 
control was completely enveloped in thick smoke. 
Naturally such furious rapid fire could only be 
maintained for a limited time. It made almost 
superhuman demands on the gun-crews and 
ammunition men. Also it would be easy in time 
to confuse the respective splashes of the heavy and 
secondary armaments. I gave the order : " Second- 
ary armament, cease fire." It was not long before 
our shots fell over or short, as a result of the 
enemy's altering course, and then the fire slackened 
again. Each salvo was then directed afresh and 
this continued until the target was again straddled. 
And then the devil's concert began again on the 
order : " Good, Rapid." Once more a salvo 
from the heavy guns crashed out every 20 
seconds, with the secondary armament firing in 
the intervals. Unfortunately at that time the 
secondary armament could only fire at a range 
of 13,000 m. 

What astonished me was that so far we had ap- 
parently not been hit once. Only quite rarely did 
a shot stray near us. I observed the gun-turrets 
of our target more closely and established that this 
ship was not firing at us. She too was firing at our 
flagship. I observed the third enemy ship for a 
moment ; by some mistake we were being left out. 
I laughed grimly and now I began to engage our 
enemy with complete calm, as at gun practice, and 

149 



Kiel and Jutland 



with continually increasing accuracy. All thought 
of death or sinking vanished. The true sporting 
yoy of battle awoke in me and all my thoughts 
concentrated on the one desire : to hit, to hit 
rapidly and true, to go on hitting and to damage 
the proud enemy in any possible way or place. 
He should not find it easy to bar my return to my 
home and hearth ! I had spoken the words, " They 
are not firing at us," quite gently and half to my- 
self, but in a second the words flew from mouth 
to mouth in the fore-control and filled every 
man with unalloyed delight. Apart from us two 
gunnery officers, only the two sight-setting petty 
officers and the Bg. officer could see anything 
of the enemy. It is true we had left the apertures 
open from a not quite justifiable curiosity 
but of course the enemy was hardly visible to 
the naked eye. The hands in the fore-control 
therefore eagerly absorbed all the information we 
let fall. 

And now the battle continued. Our shots 
raised waterspouts from 80 to 100 metres 
high, twice as high as the enemy's masts. 
Our joy at being immune from fire was short- 
lived. The other side had noticed the mis- 
take, and now we were often straddled by 
salvoes. 

I again fixed the enemy gun-turrets with my 
periscope and watched them carefully. I now 

150 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

saw that they were directly trained on us. I 
made a further discovery which astonished me. 
With each salvo fired by the enemy I was able 
to see distinctly four or five shells coming through 
the air. They looked like elongated black spots. 
Gradually they grew bigger, and then crash ! 
they were here. They exploded on striking the 
water or the ship with a terrific roar. After a 
bit I could tell from watching the shells fairly 
accurately whether they would fall short or over, 
or whether they would do us the honour of a 
visit. The shots that hit the water raised colossal 
splashes. Some of these columns of water were 
of a poisonous yellow-green tinge from the base 
to about half their height ; these would be 
lyddite shells. The columns stood up for quite 
five to ten seconds before they completely 
collapsed again. They were giant fountains, 
beside which the famous fountains of Versailles 
were mere children's toys. In a later stage of 
the battle, when the enemy had got our range 
better, it frequently occurred that these water- 
spouts broke over the ship, swamping everything, 
but at .the same time putting out any fires. The 
first hit that I observed struck us just over the 
casemate. It first pierced a door with a round 
glass window, behind which an excellent petty 
officer, Boatswain's Mate Lorenzen, had taken 
shelter to watch the battle. His curiosity was 



Kiel and Jutland 



severely punished, the shot severing his head 
clean from his body. 

Our distance from the enemy decreased to 
11,300 m. At 5.55 p.m., however, I was again 
firing at an elevation of 11,500, and then the range 
increased further. At 5.57 I had an increase of 
"plus 600*' recorded on the elevation-clock. 
At 6 p.m. the range was 15,200 ; at 6.5, 18,000, 
our longest range. I could increase our range a 
little by making the gunlayers train, not on the 
waterline of the enemy, but on the top of the 
funnels, the tops and, finally, the mastheads. 
But that only made a difference of a few hundred 
metres. Subsequent to the Battle of Skager- 
rak, our range was increased considerably, as 
the result of all kinds of improvements. Now, 
however, we were powerless against the enemy, 
and could no longer return his fire. This state 
of affairs lasted until 6.17 p.m. At 6.10 p.m. our 
flagship had turned several points to starboard; 
the enemy had apparently also altered course, and 
so we were converging on one another fairly 
rapidly. At 6.19 p.m. the range had already been 
reduced to 16,000 m. ; 16 km. is indeed a very 
respectable range, but actually the good visibility 
and spotting conditions made it appear small. 
The Zeiss lenses of our periscopes were excellent. 
At the longest distances I could make out all 
details of the enemy ships, as, for instance, all 

152 



First Phase of the Battle of Skaggerak 

movements of the turrets and individual guns, 
which were lowered almost to the horizontal for 
loading. Before the war no man in our navy 
had thought it possible to fight effectively at a 
range of over 150 hm. I can still remember 
quite well various war games we used to play at 
the Kiel Casino a year or two before the war 
under Admiral von Ingenohl's direction, in which 
on principle all shooting at more than 100 hm. 
was ruled out as ineffective. 

What was the enemy's situation now ? At 
6 p.m. his rear ship, the Indefatigable, blew up. 
I did not see this, as my attention was completely 
occupied in directing the shooting against the 
second ship. The sound of what must have 
been a terrific explosion was completely drowned 
by the hellish din in our own ship and the bursting 
of the shells round us, though when our own 
guns were silent we could hear the dull roar 
of the enemy salvoes. In the after fire-control 
the blowing up of the Indefatigable was observed 
and recorded. The Indefatigable was engaged by 
our rearmost ship, the Von der Tann, and was 
sunk by excellent shooting. The successful 
director of the shooting on the Von der Tann was 
that ship's First Gunnery Officer, Commander 
Mahrholz. 

The north-westerly wind was blowing the 
smoke from the English guns between them and 



Kiel and Jutland 



us. As a result of this, their view was often 
hampered and shooting made difficult. As the 
visibility facing east was also inferior to that 
facing west, the English battle-cruisers had 
a decidedly unfavourable tactical position. The 
clouds of smoke in front of the enemy hampered 
us little, as it sufficed for our stereoscopic range- 
finders if the range officer could see the smallest 
speck of the mast-heads. 

At 6.17 I again engaged the second battle- 
cruiser from the left. I was under the impression 
that it was the same ship that I had engaged 
before, the Princess Royal. Actually, however, 
it was the Queen Mary, the third ship of the 
enemy line. This was due to the fact that, just 
as I was finding my target, Admiral Beatty's 
flagship, the Lion, was obliged to fall out of the 
enemy line for a time, and, owing to the heavy 
smoke covering the enemy line, could not be 
seen by us. It appears from subsequent reports 
in the English Press that at that time Beatty 
transferred his flag from the Lion, whose conning- 
tower had been put out of action, to the Princess 
Royal. 

Later in the battle Admiral Hipper had also 
to change his flagship. Our flagship, the Liitzow, 
had kept the Lion under continuous, powerful 
and effective fire of high-explosive shell. The 
Lutzow's gunnery officer had preferred not to 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

change his type of shell, as this is liable to result 
in certain unfavourable ballistic influences, and to 
fire nothing but high-explosive shell from the 
first. By their tremendous explosive and incen- 
diary properties he had forced the Lion to leave 
the line for a time to extinguish fires that had 
broken out on board. From 6.17, therefore, I was 
engaging the Queen Mary. Certain difficulties 
in the fire-control now occurred, as a result of 
the dense smoke from the guns and funnels, 
which continually blurred the lenses of the 
periscopes over the deck of the fore-control, 
making it almost impossible to see anything. 
When this occurred I was entirely dependent 
on the observations of the spotting officer in the 
fore-top, Lieutenant-Commander von Stosch. 
This excellent officer observed and reported the 
fall of shot with astonishing coolness, and by his 
admirable observation, on the correctness of 
which I had to rely absolutely, he contributed 
very considerably to the success of our gun-fire. 
While we could see nothing, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander von Stosch, in his draughty observa- 
tion post, 35 metres above sea-level, kept his 
fore-top periscope trained dead on the enemy. 
A control-indicator marked on my periscope 
the line of the fore-top periscope. My direc- 
tion petty officer covered this with his indicator, 
and in this way we kept all our guns trained 



Kiel and Jutland 



on the enemy without being able to see him. 
Of course this was only a makeshift. Mid- 
shipman Bartel, who assisted me in the fore- 
control during the action, by calling out the 
mean ranges, working my rate and deflection 
indicator, and observing the enemy through the 
aperture, quickly remedied the defect by wiping 
the smoke from the lenses with mops kept specially 
for this purpose. In the later phases of the battle, 
when from time to time the columns of water 
raised by the enemy fire broke over the ship 
and the smoke continually drove down on to 
the lenses, he had to clean them after nearly 
every shot. At last, however, the mops became 
too dirty, and I was reluctantly forced to send 
a man frequently on to the roof of the fore- 
control to keep the lenses clean. In this position 
he was unprotected from the enemy fire. This 
duty was carried out for the most part by my 
messenger from the gunnery department, Artificer 
Meyer, who, throughout the battle, remained 
on the forebridge near the fore-control, until at 
last fate overtook him and a splinter smashed his 
leg below the knee. 

As I have already pointed out, from 6.10 p.m. 
the tw r o lines were steering a sharply converging 
southerly course. At 6.15 p.m. we observed that 
the enemy was sending his destroyers to the attack. 
A little later our destroyers and the light cruiser 

156 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

Regensburg passed through our line and pressed 
home an attack. Between the lines of fighting 
battle-cruisers a small independent action de- 
veloped. Here about twenty-five English de- 
stroyers and almost as many of ours waged a 
stubborn action and successfully prevented each 
other respectively from using torpedoes against 
the battle-cruisers. About 6.30 p.m. several tor- 
pedoes were fired against the lines on both sides, 
but no hit was made. This destroyer action was 
a magnificent spectacle for us. 

During the destroyer action the two lines 
were continually converging, and now came 
what was, from the point of view of gunnery, 
the most interesting struggle of the day. I es- 
tablished that the Queen Mary had selected the 
Derfflinger as her target. The Queen Mary was 
firing less rapidly than we, but usually full 
salvoes. As she had an armament of eight 13.5- 
inch guns this meant that she was mostly firing 
eight of these powerful " coffers/* as the Russians 
called the heaviest guns during the Russo-Japan- 
ese war, against us at the same time ! I could 
see the shells coming and I had to admit that the 
enemy were shooting superbly. As a rule all 
eight shots fell together. But they were almost 
always over or short only twice did the Derf- 
flinger come under this infernal hail, and each 
time only one heavy shell hit her. 



Kiel and Jutland 



We were firing as at gunnery practice. The 
head-telephones were working splendidly, and 
each of my orders was correctly understood. 
Lieutenant-Commander von Stosch reported the 
exact fall of each shot with deadly accuracy. 
" Straddling ! Two hits ! " " Straddling ! The 
whole salvo in the ship ! " 

I was trying to get in two salvoes to the enemy's 
one. Several times I was unable to attain this, 
as for full salvoes the enemy was firing with fabu- 
lous rapidity. I observed that the gunnery 
officer of the Queen Mary was firing the guns 
himself with central fire-control, using the famous 
Percy Scott " Firing-director," for all the guns 
fired, and the shots fell absolutely simultaneously. 
The English gunnery officer was probably sta- 
tioned in the fore-top, where he was above the 
smoke, and firing the guns electrically from there. 
The ability to do this gave the English ships a 
great advantage. Unfortunately for us it was 
only in the light of our experiences in this battle 
that we succeeded in inventing an apparatus 
allowing of director firing from the fore-top. 
I myself played not a small part in the intro- 
duction of the director firing into our navy, and 
conducted in the Derfflinger the first director firing 
in our fleet by a system invented by me and later 
generally known as the " Derfflinger system/' 

And so the Queen Mary and the Derfflinger 

158 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

fought out a regular gunnery duel over the de- 
stroyer action that was raging between us. But 
the poor Queen Mary was having a bad time. 
In addition to the Derfflinger she was being 
engaged by the Seydlitz / and the gunnery officer 
of the Seydlitz, Lieutenant-Commander Foerster, 
was our crack gunnery expert, tried in all the 
previous engagements in which the ship had 
taken part, cool-headed and of quick decision. 
The Seydlitz only carried 28-cm. guns. These 
could not pierce the thickest armour of the 
Queen Mary, but every ship has less heavily 
armoured places which can be pierced with great 
damage even by a 28-cm. shell. 

The good functioning of our hit-indicators 
prevented any danger of Lieutenant-Commander 
von Stosch or myself ever confusing our own 
shots with those from the Seydlitz's 28-cm. guns. 
As the range was always more than 130 hm. 
neither ship could yet bring her i5-cm. guns to 
bear. A simultaneous engagement of the same 
enemy by two ships was also only possible so 
long as both ships were using their heavy guns 
only. If the i5-cm. guns had fired in between, 
it would have been impossible to distinguish 
the fall of the shots. 

For the time between 6.22 and 6h. 26m. los 
p.m. my log-keeper in the transmitting station 
made out the following table : 



Kiel and Jutland 



GUNNERY LOG DURING THE DESTRUCTION OF THE " QUEEN MARY." 



h. 


Time, 

m. s. 


Training 
angle. 


Range 

in m. 


Deflection. 


Orders for elevation 
telegraph, etc. 


6 


22 


_ 


52 


14,000 left 10 


E-U-3 ! 


6 


22 


40 


5i 


13,900 1 6 2 short ! 


6 


2 3 


45 


5 2 13,700 ,, 14 i short! 


6 


24 


20 


5 2 13,500 14 Good, Rapid ! 


6 


24 


40 


52 13, 4 T 4 


6 


25 


- 


52 13,400 M 




6 


25 


20 


52 13,200 ,, 14 


6 


25 


45 


52 13,100 ,, 14 


6 


26 


10 


52 ; 13,200 


,, 10 2 short ! 








! 




Heavy explosion 














on our enemy ! 












Change of target 








i 




left to the second 












battle-cruiser from 












the left ! 



It is noticeable in this list that the training 
angle of the turrets remained practically un- 
changed and that, therefore, during these vital 
minutes the ship steered an admirable course. 

About 6.26 p.m. was the historic moment 
when the Queen Mary, the proudest ship of the 
English fleet, met her doom. Since 6.24 p.m. 
every one of our salvoes had straddled the enemy. 
When the salvo fired at 6h. 26m. los. fell, heavy 
explosions had already begun in the Queen Mary. 
First of all a vivid red flame shot up from her 
forepart. Then came an explosion forward which 
was followed by a much heavier explosion amid- 

160 




Battleship firing. 



Splashes made by Heavy Guns. 



[To face p. 160. 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

ships, black debris of the ship flew into the air, 
and immediately afterwards the whole ship blew 
up with a terrific explosion. A gigantic cloud 
of smoke rose, the masts collapsed inwards, 
the smoke-cloud hid everything and rose higher 
and higher. Finally nothing but a thick, black 
cloud of smoke remained where the ship had been. 
At its base the smoke column only covered a 
small area, but it widened towards the summit 
and looked like a monstrous black pine. I 
estimated the height of the smoke column at from 
300 to 400 m. 

In The Times of gth June, 1916, a gunlayer 
of the Tiger, the next astern of the Queen Mary, 
gives the following description of the sinking of 
the Queen Mary : 

" The German squadron again came ahead, 
their guns being concentrated on the Queen Mary. 
They had been poking about for the range for 
some minutes without effect, when suddenly a 
most remarkable thing happened. Every shell 
that the Germans threw seemed suddenly to strike 
the battle-cruiser at once. It was as if a whirl- 
wind was smashing a forest down, and reminded 
me very much of the rending that is heard when 
a big vessel is launched and the stays are being 
smashed. 

"The Queen Mary seemed to roll slowly to 

161 ii 






Kiel and Jutland 



starboard, her masts and funnels gone, and with a 
huge hole in her side. She listed again, the hole 
disappeared beneath the water, which rushed into 
her and turned her completely over. A minute 
and a half, and all that could be seen of the Queen 
Mary was her keel, and then that disappeared/' 

In the course of the day our destroyers picked 
up two survivors of the Queen Mary, a mid- 
shipman and a seaman, and brought them as 
prisoners of war to Wilhelmshaven. According 
to their account there were more than 1,400 men 
on the Queen Mary, among whom was a Japanese 
prince, the Naval Attache in London. The 
Captain of the Queen Mary was Captain C. J. 
Prowse. In their list of officer losses the Admiralty 
said, speaking of the Queen Mary : " With the 
exception of four midshipmen all officers on board 
were lost." 

Scarcely had the Queen Mary disappeared in 
the cloud of smoke when I began to find a new 
target with my periscope. I veered the periscope 
to the left and saw to my astonishment that 
there were still two battle-cruisers there. It 
was not until this moment that I realized that 
hitherto I had been engaging the third ship in 
the line. The Lion, then, had meanwhile taken 
station again at the head of the enemy line. Our 
target was once more the Princess Royal. 

162 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 



After the destruction of the Queen Mary the 
following orders were recorded in the fore-control : 



Time, 
h. m. s. 


Training 
angle. 


Range 
in m. 


Deflection. 


Orders for elevation 
telegraphs, etc. 


6 27 15 


47 


12,200 


left 12 


Fire ! 2 short 1 


6 28 - 


60 


12,400 


M 


4 short I 


6 28 30 


83 


12,600 






6 29 20 


88 


14,000 


14 




6 30 20 


88 


14,600 


10 


4 short ! 


6 31 20 


87 


15,000 






6 32 10 


8? 


15,700 


2 


4 short ! 


6 33 10 


105 


16,400 







One minute five seconds, therefore, after the 
last salvo struck the Queen Mary, the first salvo 
struck the Princess Royal. I had had the range 
of this ship measured by the Bg. man in the 
fore-control. The measured range was only 
12,200 m. At this range I fired the first salvo, 
which fell short. The same thing happened 
with the next two salvoes, so that I increased 
the range considerably for the fourth. The 
Bg. man had apparently not realized that after 
the sinking of the Queen Mary the range no 
longer decreased but began to increase rapidly. 
The continually changing training angle recorded 
in the log shows that the ship was steering a very 
irregular course and was bearing to port. The 
enemy's bearing was now somewhat more abaft 
the beam. This put successful rapid shooting 
out of the question. As a rule there was a full 

163 ii* 



Kiel and Jutland 



minute between the salvoes. Each time we had 
to wait for the splashes. When these were ob- 
served new orders had generally to be given for 
deflection, rate and elevation. 

At 6.36 p.m. the range was 16,800 m. 

Meanwhile we saw that the enemy were being 
reinforced. Behind the battle-cruiser line ap- 
peared four big ships. We soon identified these 
as of the Queen Elizabeth class. There had been 
much talk in our fleet of these ships. They were 
ships of the line with the colossal armament of 
eight J-5-in. guns, 28,000 tons displacement and a 
speed of twenty-five knots. Their speed, there- 
fore, was scarcely inferior to ours (twenty-six 
knots), but they fired a shell more than twice as 
heavy as ours. They engaged at portentous 
ranges. We were now being subjected to heavy 
fire and so we steered a zig-zag course. Between 
6.36 and 6.45 p.m. I did not fire the heavy 
guns at all. The reason for this lay for the most 
part with the smoke from the destroyer action 
which was still raging between the lines, and our 
anti-destroyer fire which was being controlled 
by the Third Gunnery Officer, Lieutenant-Com- 
mander Hausser. The English destroyers had 
by now pressed forward infernally near to us. 

As I could see nothing of the big ships I had 
ample opportunity of observing the course of this 
action. It was a wonderful spectacle, when the 

164 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

Regensburg, flying the flag of Commodore Heinrich, 
formerly my commanding officer on the Derfflinger, 
passed through our line at the head of a flotilla all 
firing furiously. Our destroyers and those of the 
enemy closed one another to the shortest range. I 
saw two of our destroyers fall out. They were 
leaking badly and it was obvious that it was all 
up with them. Others went alongside under fire 
and took off the entire ship's company. One 
English destroyer sank and others hauled out, out 
of control. Meanwhile our 15-cm. salvoes crashed 
out unceasingly, Lieutenant-Commander Hausser 
very effectively straddling several destroyers, 
which he engaged one after the other. On one 
he registered a visible hit ; she stopped suddenly 
and then disappeared in a cloud of smoke. 

What a pity it was that there was no marine 
artist on board ! The well-known marine painter 
Klaus Bergen had often accompanied us on our 
sweeps in the North Sea. This time something 
had prevented his coming. He regretted this 
very much afterwards, but in spite of his absence 
he became the most successful painter of the 
Skagerrak battle. Unfortunately photography 
on board was strictly forbidden. Cameras were 
not allowed in the ships. This was a precaution 
against espionage. As a result, not a single 
photograph was taken of the Battle of Skagerrak 
in the whole German fleet. 

165 



Kiel and Jutland 



The log-keeper in the secondary armament 
transmitting station, Midshipman Hauth, who kept 
an admirable log throughout the whole action, 
recorded as follows for the time of the destroyer 
repulse : 

" 6.37 p.m. : Secondary armament on de- 
stroyers ! As directed ! 6,000 ! On the de- 
stroyer to extreme left ! Fire ! 7,000 ! 
Fire ! 6,400 ! Fire ! 6,000 Fire Fire Good, 
Rapid ! Fire Fire Fire ! 

" 6.42 p.m. : Secondary armament, cease fire 

- 6,800 Fire 5,500 Fire 5,000 Fire 

Fire 5,600 Fire Fire ! 7,000 Fire 

6,800 Fire ! Good, Rapid ! Fire Fire 

Fire ! 7,000 Fire Fire ! 

" 6.45 p.m. : Ship turning to port ! - - Fire ! 
8,000 Fire ! 8,400 Fire Fire ! 

" 6.48 p.m. : Secondary armament, cease fire ! " 

At 6.48 p.m. the anti-destroyer fire broke off and 
at 6.50 p.m. the whole squadron altered course to 
N.N.W. With this manoeuvre Admiral Hipper 
with the battle-cruisers took a position about 
seven sea miles in advance of the head of our main 
fleet, who were steering approximately a N.N.W. 
course at full speed and whose head soon after- 
wards engaged the ships of the Queen Elizabeth 
class. 

From numerous hits with io.5-cm. shell we 

166 



First Phase of the Battle of Skagerrak 

ascertained later that the English destroyers had 
also subjected us to a heavy fire. In the general 
uproar of the battle this had escaped my notice. 
The io.5-cm. shell were, of course, entirely in- 
effective against our armour ; they had only taken 
effect in the unprotected parts of the ship, particu- 
larly in the rigging, where they had damaged our 
wireless aerials and some of the gunnery telephone 
wires in the tops. After the action an officer 
found an unexploded io.5-cm. shell in his bunk 
when he was turning in. 

Between 6.45 and 6.50 p.m. I fired eight more 
salvoes with the heavy guns at 18,000 m. at the 
Princess Royal, but without any particular success . 

As we were altering course to N.N.W. we caught 
sight of the head of our 3rd Squadron, the proud 
ships of the Kdnig class. Everyone now breathed 
more freely. While we had been engaged by 
the English 5th Battle Squadron with its I5~in. 
guns in addition to the Battle Cruiser Squadron 
we had felt rather uncomfortable. 

At 6.50 p.m. I sent the following message to 
the guns : " Ship slowly bearing to starboard. 
Our 3rd Squadron has come up." 

This closed the first phase of the battle. We 
had seen one English giant blown to pieces by 
our fire like a barrel of gunpowder. The Derf- 
ftinger, however, had come out of the engagement 
with her fighting strength unimpaired. What 

167 



Kiel and Jutland 



wonder that we were in high spirits and looked 
forward confidently to the next action ! We 
were now in close touch with our most powerful 
battle squadron and we thought that we were 
only opposed to the four remaining battle-cruisers 
and the four ships of the Queen Elizabeth class. 
We were filled with the proud joy of victory and 
hoped to accomplish the destruction of the whole 
force opposed to us. We had acquired an absolute 
confidence in our ship. It seemed quite out of 
the question that our proud ship could be shattered 
in a few minutes like the Queen Mary and the 
Indefatigable. On the other hand, I had a feeling 
that we could blow up any English ship in no time, 
given a straight course for a time and not too 
long a range if possible not over 15,000 m. 
We were burning to win fresh laurels. One could 
feel that a feeling of exaltation reigned throughout 
the ship. The gun crews had done their work 
with incredible efficiency and even during the 
most rapid fire had always had their guns ready 
as soon as the fire-gong rang. The gun-barrels 
began to get very hot after an hour's firing, the 
grey paint began to blister and to turn brown and 
yellow. The coolness with which the captain 
commanded the ship had been exemplary. He 
had frequently helped me with messages, but for 
the rest had left me a free hand, particularly 
as to choice of targets. 

168 



CHAPTER VII 

THE SECOND PHASE OF THE SKAGERRAK BATTLE 
(6.55 TO 7.5 P.M.). THE FIFTH BATTLE 
SQUADRON ENGAGED. BEATTY'S OUTFLANK- 
ING MANOEUVRE 



THE second phase was just as unsatisfactory as 
the first was successful and interesting from 
the point of view of gunnery. The enemy had 
learned a devil of a lesson and acquired a deep 
respect for the effectiveness of our gun-fire. 
During the wild dash north they kept as much 
as possible out of our range, but kept us within 
reach of their own long-range guns. It will be 
seen from Sketch I. that in this second phase 
the ranges are scarcely ever less than 18,000 m. 
I only fired to make quite sure that the enemy 
were still out of range, and then, to save ammuni- 
tion, I contented myself with isolated shots from 
one turret. The guns were again trained on the 
upper edge of the funnels or the mastheads. 

At these long ranges the enemy's shooting was 
not good either, though their salvoes, it is true, 
fell well together and always over an area of not 
more than three hundred to four hundred metres 
diameter. The control, however, was not very 
efficient, perhaps owing to the poor visibility. 
At any rate, the salvoes fell at very irregular 

171 



Kiel and Jutland 



distances from our ship. Nevertheless, we 
suffered bad hits, two or three heavy shells 
striking us during this phase. When a heavy 
shell hit the armour of our ship, the terrific crash 
of the explosion was followed by a vibration of 
the whole ship, affecting even the conning-tower. 
The shells which exploded in the interior of the 
ship caused rather a dull roar, which was trans- 
mitted all over by the countless voice-pipes and 
telephones. 

The four English battle-cruisers were travelling 
at top speed, and it was not long before they 
vanished from our view in mist and smoke. 
They were steering north and our inferior speed 
made it impossible for us to keep up with them, 
though at 7.21 p.m. the Commander-in-Chief of 
the fleet signalled : " Follow the battle-cruisers." 
Our Battle Cruiser Squadron, however, could not 
maintain a speed of more than twenty-five knots 
for any length of time, and with their speed of 
twenty-eight knots the English ships left us 
standing. 

At the time we did not grasp the object of the 
enemy's manoeuvre. We assumed that they 
were merely trying to get into touch quickly with 
their main fleet, whose presence we inferred from 
the movements of the English battle-cruisers. 
Actually Admiral Beatty, by completely out- 
flanking us in spite of our highest speed, accom- 

172 



Second Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

plished an excellent tactical manoeuvre, and his 
ships carried out an admirable feat of technique. 
He accomplished the famous " crossing the T," 
compelled us to alter course, and finally brought 
us into such a position that we were completely 
enveloped by the English Battle Fleet and the 
English battle-cruisers. In the later phases of 
the battle we were, as a rule, no longer able to 
tell to which enemy ship we were opposed, and 
I cannot therefore say with any certainty when 
we engaged Beatty's four battle-cruisers again, 
or if we ever did so. 

After the gradual disappearance of the four 
battle-cruisers we were still faced with the four 
powerful ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron, 
Malaya, Valiant, Barham and Warspite. 

These ships cannot have developed very high 
speed in this phase of the battle, for they soon 
came within range of our 3rd Squadron, and 
were engaged by the ships at the head of the 
line, particularly the flagship, the Konig. In this 
way the four English battleships at one time 
and another came under the fire of at least nine 
German ships, five battle-cruisers and from four 
to five battleships. According to my gunnery-log, 
we were firing after 7.16 p.m. at the second 
battleship from the right, the one immediately 
astern of the leader. At these great ranges I 
fired armour-piercing shell. 



Kiel and Jutland 



The second phase passed without any important 
events as far as we were concerned. In a sense, 
this part of the action, fought against a numeric- 
ally inferior but more powerfully armed enemy, 
who kept us under fire at ranges at which we 
were helpless, was highly depressing, nerve- 
wracking and exasperating. Our only means of 
defence was to leave the line for a short time, 
when we saw that the enemy had our range. 
As this manoeuvre was imperceptible to the 
enemy, we extricated ourselves at regular intervals 
from the hail of fire. 

I may remark here that these slight alterations 
of course to get out of the enemy's fire are 
not shown on the sketch, as we always took 
station again in the line at top speed immediately 
afterwards. 

It was not long before the gunnery conditions 
underwent a fundamental change. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THIRD PHASE OF THE SKAGERRAK BATTLE (7.50 
TO 9.5 P.M.). HEAVY FIGHTING AGAINST 
SHIPS OF THE LINE, CRUISERS AND DE- 
STROYERS. DESTRUCTION OF THE " INVIN- 
CIBLE/' " DERFFLINGER " FORCED TO STOP 
TO CLEAR HER TORPEDO-NET 





g 5 

e 



a 



Ax 7.40 p.m. enemy light cruisers and destroyers 
launched a torpedo attack against us. We there- 
fore altered course to N.N.E., i.e., about six 
points to starboard. 

The visibility was now so bad that it was 
difficult for us to distinguish the enemy ships. 
We were engaging light cruisers and destroyers. 
At 7.55 p.m. we turned on an easterly course, and 
at 8 p.m. the whole Battle Cruiser Squadron formed 
a line of bearing on a southerly course as the 
destroyers pressed home the attack. This 
brought us very effectively out of the line of the 
torpedoes that had been fired against us. At 
8.12 p.m. we again altered course towards the 
enemy. During this time we had only fired 
intermittently with our heavy and secondary 
armament. At 8.15 p.m. we came under heavy 
fire. It flashed out on all sides. We could only 
make out the ships' hulls indistinctly, but as far 
as I was able to see the horizon, enemy ships 
were all round us. As I could not distinguish 

177 12 



Kiel and Jutland 



either the end or the beginning of the enemy 
line, I was unable to engage the " second ship 
from the right," but selected the one I could see 
best. 

And now a terrific struggle began. Within 
a short time the din of the battle reached a 
climax. It was now perfectly clear to us that 
we were faced with the whole English Fleet. I 
could see from her gigantic hull that I had 
engaged a giant battleship. Between the two 
lines light cruiser and destroyer actions were 
still raging. All at once I saw through my peri- 
scope a German light cruiser passing us in flames. 
I recognized the Wiesbaden. She was almost 
hidden in smoke, with only the quarter-deck 
clear, and her after-gun firing incessantly at an 
English cruiser. Gallant Wiesbaden ! Gallant 
crew ! The only survivor was Chief Stoker Zenne, 
who was picked up by a Norwegian fishing boat 
after drifting about for three days on a raft ; all 
the rest, including the poet, Gorch Fock, who 
loved the sea above all else, sealed their loyalty 
to their Kaiser and Empire by a sailor's death. 
The Wiesbaden was subjected to a heavy fire 
by an English light cruiser. Again and again 
her shells struck the poor Wiesbaden. Seized 
with fury, I abandoned my former target, had 
the English cruiser's range measured, gave the 
range and deflection, and " crash ! " a salvo 

178 



Third Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

roared out at the Wiesbaden's tormentor. One 
more salvo and I had him. A column of smoke 
rose high in the air. Apparently a magazine 
had exploded. The cruiser turned away and 
hauled out at top speed, while I peppered her 
with two or three more salvoes. 

At this moment Lieut .-Commander Hausser, 
who had been engaging destroyers with his 
secondary armament, asked me : "Is this cruiser 
with four funnels German or English, sir ? " I 
examined the ship through the periscope. In the 
misty grey light the colours of the German and 
English ships were difficult to distinguish. The 
cruiser was not very far away from us. She had 
four funnels and two masts, like our Rostock. 
11 She is certainly English/' Lieutenant-Comman- 
der Hausser shouted. " May I fire ? " " Yes, fire 
away." I was now certain she was a big English 
ship. The secondary armament was trained on 
the new target. Lieutenant-Commander Hausser 
gave the order : " 6,000 ! " Then, just as he 
was about to give the order : " Fire ! " some- 
thing terrific happened : the English ship, which I 
had meanwhile identified as an old English 
armoured cruiser, broke in half with a tremendous 
explosion. Black smoke and debris shot into the 
air, a flame enveloped the whole ship, and then she 
sank before our eyes. There was nothing but a 
gigantic smoke cloud to mark the place where 

179 12* 



Kiel and Jutland 



just before a proud ship had been fighting. I 
think she was destroyed by the fire of our next 
ahead, Admiral Hipper's flagship, the Lutzow. 

This all happened in a much shorter time than 
I have taken to tell it. The whole thing was 
over in a few seconds, and then we had already 
engaged new targets. The destroyed ship was 
the Defence, an old armoured cruiser of the same 
class as the Black Prince, which was sunk on the 
following night by the Thuringen and other 
ships of the line. She was a ship of 14,800 tons, 
armed with six 23.4-011. and ten 15.2-cm. guns, 
and carrying a crew of 700 men. Not one of the 
whole ship's company was saved. She was blown 
to atoms and all the men were killed by the 
explosion. As we saw the ship at a compara- 
tively short distance in good visibility, magnified 
fifteen times by the periscopes, we could see exactly 
what happened. The whole horror of this event 
is indelibly fixed on my mind. 

I went on to engage other big ships, without 
any idea what kind of ships they were. At 8.22 
p.m. we turned on a south-easterly course, but 
in the general confusion of the battle that was 
now raging I had lost all grasp of the tactical 
situation. Once the thought flashed across my 
mind : " Can we be firing at German ships ? " 
At that moment, however, the visibility, which 
changed from one minute to the next, but which 

180 



Third Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

on the whole was gradually growing worse, im- 
proved and revealed distinctly the typical English 
silhouette and dark grey colour. It is my opinion 
that our light grey colour was more favourable 
than the dark grey of the English ships. Our 
ships were much more quickly concealed by the 
thin films of mist which were now driving across 
the sea from east to west. 

At 8.25 p.m. Lieutenant von der Decken, in 
the after-control, recorded : " Lutzow heavily hit 
forward. Ship on fire. Much smoke. " At 8.30 
p.m. he wrote : " Three heavy hits on the 
Derfflinger" Of these one hit the 15-cm. battery 
on the port side, went clean through the centre 
gun and burst, killing or wounding the whole 
of the casemate crew. The explosion also knocked 
the first 15-cm. gun off its mounting and killed or 
wounded several men. The other hits were aft. 

I now selected my target as far ahead as possible, 
the leading ship of the enemy line, for I saw that 
the Lutzow's fire was now weak. At times the 
smoke from her burning forepart made fire- 
control on the Liitzow impossible. 

At 8.24 p.m. I began to engage large enemy 
battleships to the north-east. Even though the 
ranges were short, from 6,000 to 7,000 m., the 
ships often became invisible in the slowly advanc- 
ing mists, mixed with the smoke from the guns 
and funnels. It was almost impossible to observe 

181 



Kiel and Jutland 



the splashes. All splashes that fell over could 
not be seen at all, and only those that fell very 
short could be distinguished clearly, which was 
not much help, for as soon as we got nearer the 
target again it became impossible to see where 
the shots fell. I was shooting by the measure- 
ments of the Bg. man in the fore-control, Lead- 
ing Seaman Hanel, who had been my loyal 
servant for five years. In view of the misty 
weather these measurements were very irregular 
and inexact, but as no observation was possible 
I had no alternative. Meanwhile we were being 
subjected to a heavy, accurate and rapid fire 
from several ships at the same time. It was 
clear that the enemy could now see us much better 
than we could see them. This will be difficult 
to understand for anyone who does not know the 
sea, but it is a fact that in this sort of weather 
the differences in visibility are very great in 
different directions. A ship clear of the mist 
is much more clearly visible from a ship actually 
in the mist than vice versa. In determining 
visibility an important part is played by the 
position of the sun. In misty weather the ships 
with their shady side towards the enemy are much 
easier to see than those lit by the sun. 

In this way a severe, unequal struggle developed. 
Several heavy shells pierced our ship with terrific 
force and exploded with a tremendous roar, 

182 



Third Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

which shook every seam and rivet. The Captain 
had again frequently to steer the ship out of the 
line in order to get out of the hail of fire. It was 
pretty heavy shooting. 

This went on until 8.29 p.m. 

At this moment the veil of mist in front of us 
split across like the curtain at a theatre. Clear 
and sharply silhouetted against the uncovered 
part of the horizon we saw a powerful battleship 
with two funnels between the masts and a third 
close against the forward tripod mast. She was 
steering an almost parallel course with ours at 
top speed. Her guns were trained on us and 
immediately another salvo crashed out, straddling 
us completely. " Range 9,000 ! " roared Leading 
Seaman Hanel. " 9,000 Salvoes-fire ! " I 
ordered, and with feverish anxiety I waited for 
our splashes. " Over. Two hits ! " called out 
Lieutenant-Commander von Stosch. I gave the 
order : " 100 down. Good, Rapid ! " and thirty 
seconds after the first salvo the second left the 
guns. I observed two short splashes and two 
hits. Lieutenant-Commander von Stosch called : 
" Hits ! " Every twenty seconds came the roar 
of another salvo. At 8.31 p.m. the Derfflinger 
fired her last salvo at this ship, and then for the 
third time we witnessed the dreadful spectacle 
that we had already seen in the case of the Queen 
Mary and the Defence. 

183 



Kiel and Jutland 



As with the other ships there occurred a rapid 
succession of heavy explosions, masts collapsed, 
debris was hurled into the air, a gigantic column 
of black smoke rose towards the sky, and from 
the parting sections of the ship, coal dust spurted 
in all directions. Flames enveloped the ship, 
fresh explosions followed, and behind this murky 
shroud our enemy vanished from our sight. I 
shouted into the telephone : " Our enemy has 
blown up ! " and above the din of the battle a 
great cheer thundered through the ship and was 
transmitted to the fore-control by all the gun- 
nery telephones and flashed from one gun-position 
to another. I sent up a short, fervent prayer 
of thanks to the Almighty, shouted to my ser- 
vant : " Bravo, Hanel, jolly well measured ! " 
and then my order rang out : " Change target to 
the left. On the second battle-cruiser from the 
right ! " The battle continued. 

Who was this enemy ? I had not examined 
her carefully nor given much thought to her 
identity, but I had taken her to be an English 
battle-cruiser. I described her as such in giving 
the target, as my gunnery log-keeper recorded. 
There had been no time to discuss her class while 
we were engaging her, for there had only been a 
few minutes in which to recognize her with any 
certainty. Only the gunnery officers and gun- 
layers and the torpedo-officers had seen her blow 

184 



Third Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

up, the attention of the Captain and his assistants, 
the navigating and signal officers being entirely 
taken up with keeping the ship in her station. 
It was difficult work navigating astern of the 
Lutzow, which was hardly in a condition to keep 
her place in the line. 

When, after the battle, the reports came to be 
drawn up, most of the officers were convinced 
that she was a ship of the Queen Elizabeth class. 
I was of the opinion that she belonged to the 
Invincible class, but I admitted that I was not 
at all sure. If you take a naval pocket-book 
and compare the silhouettes of the Queen Elizabeth 
and Invincible classes, there is at first sight a 
perplexing similarity. We therefore entered in 
our report that at 8.30 p.m. we had destroyed by 
gun-fire a battleship of the Queen Elizabeth class. 
Our report ran : " The ship blew up in a similar 
way to the Queen Mary at 6.26 p.m. Clearly 
observed by the First and Third Gunnery Officers, 
and the First Torpedo Officer in the fore-control, 
the Second and Fourth Gunnery Officers in the 
after control and the Gunnery Observation Officer 
in the fore-top. Ship of the Queen Elizabeth 
class/' 

After the battle, the following statement was 
made by English prisoners at Wilhelmshaven : 
" One of the Queen Elizabeth ships, the War spite, 
left the line, listing heavily, and hauled away to 

185 



Kiel and Jutland 



the north-west. At 8 p.m. the English destroyer 
Turbulent received a wireless report that the 
War spite had sunk." 

On the strength of our battle report and the 
statements of the prisoners, our Admiralty au- 
thorities were obliged to assume that the ship 
destroyed by the Derfflinger was the Warspite, 
and, accordingly, the Warspite instead of the 
Invincible was reported as an enemy loss. That 
the Invincible was sunk we learned from the 
report of the English Admiralty, and naturally 
her loss was added afterwards to the previous 
report. As a matter of fact, it was the Invincible we 
had engaged and blown up and not the Warspite. 
The English reports soon made this quite clear. 

On the 3rd June, the Manchester Guardian 
said that the German Admiralty report of the 
ist June contained a detailed and frankly exact 
report of the English losses, except that it gave 
the name of the battleship Warspite instead of 
the battle-cruiser Invincible. 

The Times of 6th June, 1916, reports on the 
evidence of combatants : * The Invincible, flying 
the flag of Admiral Hood, Sir David Beatty's 
second in command, singled out the Hindenburg, 
and after a hot fight, in which some of our men 
claim that the Hindenburg received mortal injury, 
the Invincible went down." 

At this time the Hindenburg was still being 

186 



Third Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

built. The Derfflinger was her sister-ship and the 
English account is correct but for the names : 
it was the Derfflinger and not the still uncompleted 
Hindenburg that engaged the Invincible. 

The account of the engagement between the 
Derfflinger and the Invincible given by one of the 
two officers saved from the Invincible is perfectly 
correct with the exception of the time. The 
Times of the I2th June, 1916, reports that the 
father of a lieutenant who went down with the 
Invincible received from the two surviving officers 
a letter, in which they say : " Your son was 
with the Admiral and we were engaged with the 
Derfflinger. There was a tremendous explosion 
aboard at 6.34 p.m. The ship broke in half and 
sank in ten or fifteen seconds/' 

On the I3th June, 1916, The Times, quoting 
a letter from the brother of the late Lieutenant 
Charles Fisher says : " We learn from Com- 
mander Dannreuther, the sole surviving officer 
of H.M.S. Invincible, that a shell fell into the 
powder-magazine. There was a great explosion, 
and when Dannreuther recovered consciousness he 
found himself in the water. Ship and crew had 
disappeared." 

That they were the ships of Hood's battle- 
cruiser squadron that we had been engaging 
from 8. 24 p.m. onwards, at ranges varying between 
6,000 m. and 7,000 m., is confirmed by Admiral 

187 



Kiel and Jutland 



Beatty's official dispatch. This reports as follows 
on the part played by the Invincible, Indomitable 
and Inflexible of the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron : 

" At 6.20 p.m. the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squad- 
ron appeared ahead, steaming south towards 
the enemy's van. I ordered them to take station 
ahead, which was carried out magnificently, 
Rear- Admiral Hood bringing his squadron into 
action in a most inspiring manner, worthy of his 
great naval ancestors. At 6.25 p.m. I altered 
course to the E.S.E. in support of the 3rd Battle 
Cruiser Squadron, who were at this time only 
8,000 yards from the enemy's leading ship. They 
were pouring a hot fire into her and caused her 
to turn to the westward of south." 

A Reuter telegram of the 5th June, 1916, states 
that when the action had been in progress some 
hours the Indomitable, Invincible and Inflexible 
appeared on the scene ; that this phase was 
chiefly a duel of heavy guns and that the In- 
vincible, after fighting bravely and inflicting 
heavy punishment on the enemy, met her doom 
and sank. 

My reason for supporting my own description 
of this event from the English accounts of the 
battle is that, hitherto, the German reports have 
left it open as to whether the sinking of the 
Invincible was due to gun-fire or a torpedo. On 
historical grounds I consider it necessary to make 

188 



SKETCH I. 



6 East 




Course of the Derfflinger and other German Battle- Cruisers during 

the Battle of Skagerrak. 
_ Approximate Course of English Battleships engaged by the Derfflinger. 



Direction and Range of the Derfflinger's Heavy Guns. 



[Tofacfp. 188. 



Third Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

clear that the Invincible, like all the other English 
ships lost in this battle, was destroyed by gun-fire. 

The Officer Commanding the 3rd Battle Cruiser 
Squadron, Rear-Admiral Hood, who went down in 
the Invincible, was a descendant of the famous 
English Admiral Hood, who distinguished himself 
brilliantly as a strategist and tactician in the 
North American War of Independence under 
Graves and Rodney, and later as Commander-in- 
Chief at the Battle of St. Christopher (1782). 
During the Anglo-French War of 1793-1802 he 
was Commander-in-Chief (1793-1794) of the 
Mediterranean Fleet and bombarded Toulon. 

According to the record of my log-keeper the 
heavy guns fired until 8.33 p.m. At 8.38 p.m. I 
gave the order : " Heavy guns stand by ! " There 
was no longer any enemy to be seen. At 8.35 
p.m. we had altered course sharply to the west. 
After the loss of their leader the remaining ships of 
the 3rd Battle Squadron did not immediately 
venture into the zone of our death-dealing fire. 
At 8.50 p.m. the whole ship was ordered to cease 
fire. Then feverish efforts were made to put out 
the fires that had broken out in various parts of 
the ship. 

At this time we noticed a destroyer slowly going 
alongside the Lutzow. The flagship had a list, 
that is to say, she was leaning over to one side, and 
her bows were very deep in the water. Great 

189 



Kiel and Jutland 



clouds of smoke were rising from her forepart. 
Admiral Hipper boarded the destroyer, which then 
cast off and steered for the Seydlitz. While pass- 
ing the Derfflinger the Admiral signalled : " Captain 
of the Derfflinger will take command until I board/ ' 
Our Captain was therefore in command of the 
battle-cruisers until nearly n p.m., for, owing to 
the headlong speed of the battle-cruisers, which 
were almost continuously under enemy fire, it was 
not until then that the Admiral succeeded in 
boarding another ship. 

The Derfflinger, too, was now a pretty sorry sight. 
The masts and rigging had been badly damaged 
by countless shells, and the wireless aerials hung 
down in an inextricable tangle so that we could only 
use our wireless for receiving ; we could not trans- 
mit messages. A heavy shell had torn away two 
armour plates in the bows, leaving a huge gap 
quite 6 by 5 m., just above the water-line. With 
the pitching of the ship water streamed con- 
tinually through this hole. 

While we were steering west the Commander 
came on to the bridge and reported to the Captain : 
" The ship must stop at once. The after torpedo- 
net has been shot away and is hanging over the 
port screw. It must be cleared/' The Captain 
gave the order : "All engines stop ! " 

I surveyed the horizon through the periscope. 
There was nothing of the enemy to be seen at this 

190 



Third Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

moment. The Seydlitz, Moltke and Von der Tann 
were not in very close touch with us, but they now 
came up quickly and took their prescribed stations 
in the line. It was a very serious matter that we 
should have to stop like this in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the enemy, but if the torpedo- 
net were to foul the screw all would be up with us. 
How many times we had cursed in the ship at not 
having rid ourselves of these heavy steel torpedo- 
nets, weighing several hundred tons. As we hardly 
ever anchored at sea they were useless and, in any 
case, they only protected part of the ship against 
torpedo fire. On the other hand, they were a 
serious source of danger, as they reduced the ship's 
speed considerably and were bound sooner or later 
to foul the screws, which meant the loss of the ship. 
For these reasons the English had scrapped their 
torpedo-nets shortly before the war we did not 
do so until immediately after the battle of Skager- 
rak and as a result of our present experience. 

The boatswain and the turret-crews of the 
" Dora " and " Caesar " turrets, under Lieutenant- 
Commander Boltenstern, worked like furies to lift 
the net, make it fast with chains and cut with axes 
the wire-hawsers and chains that were hanging 
loose. It was only a few minutes before the report 
came : " Engines can be started." We got under 
weigh at once. 

The Lutzow had now hauled out of the line and 

191 



Kiel and Jutland 



was steering a southerly course at low speed. The 
Captain wanted to signal to the other ships to follow 
the leader, but all the signal apparatus was out of 
action. The semaphores and heliographs had all 
been shot away and the flags all destroyed by fire. 
However, our stout ships followed without signal 
when the Captain turned on a northerly course 
and led the battle-cruisers to a position ahead of 
the main fleet. 

The lull in the battle lasted until 9.5 p.m. and 
then suddenly fresh gun-fire flashed out and once 
more the cry, " Clear for action ! " rang through 
the ship. 



192 



CHAPTER IX 

THE FOURTH PHASE OF THE SKAGERRAK BATTLE 
(9.5 P.M. TO 9.37 P.M.). THE DEATH RIDE OF 
THE BATTLE-CRUISERS. ADMIRAL SCHEER 
EXTRICATES THE FLEET FROM THE ENEMY 
ENVELOPMENT. DESTROYER ATTACKS. THE 
ENEMY SHAKEN OFF. 



THE previous phases of the battle had been a 
glorious progress from one triumph to another. 
We had experienced all the wild splendour of a sea 
action. Now we were not to be spared its terrors. 
During the lull in the fighting I had remained 
on the bridge without removing my head-tele- 
phone. " Where are the enemy ? >J I shouted, 
when I was back at my periscope. " Light 
cruisers on the port beam ! " was reported. In 
order to spare the heavy guns for more impor- 
tant targets, I ordered Lieutenant-Commander 
Hausser to engage the light cruisers with the 
15-cm. guns. He opened fire at 7,000. Mean- 
while I scanned the horizon. As there were 
no other ships in sight, I also opened fire with the 
heavy guns at one of the ships reported as light 
cruisers. The enemy ships were again at the 
extreme limit of visibility. Now they opened 
a lively fire, and I saw that the ship I had selected 
as a target was firing full salvoes from four double 
turrets. The light round the enemy cleared for 

i95 13* 



Kiel and Jutland 



a moment and I saw distinctly that they were 
battleships of the heaviest class, with 38-cm. 
guns ! Fire was now flashing from them. 

Meanwhile the Commander-in-Chief had realized 
the danger to which our fleet was exposed. The 
van of our fleet was shut in by the semicircle 
of the enemy. We were in a regular death-trap. 
There was only one way of escape from this 
unfavourable tactical situation : to turn the line 
about and withdraw on the opposite course. 
Before everything we must get out of this 
dangerous enemy envelopment. But this 
manoeuvre had to be carried out unnoticed and 
unhindered. The battle-cruisers and the de- 
stroyers had to cover the movements of the fleet. 
At about 9.12 p.m. the Commander-in-Chief gave 
the fleet the signal to turn about on the opposite 
course and almost at the same time sent by 
wireless to the battle-cruisers and destroyers 
the historic order : " Close the enemy/' The 
signal man on our bridge read the message aloud, 
adding the words, which stood against it in the 
signal book : " And ram ! The ships will fight 
to the death. " Without moving an eyelid the 
Captain gave the order : " Full speed ahead. 
Course S.E." Followed by the Seydlitz, Moltke 
and Von der Tann, we altered course south at 9.15 
p.m. and headed straight for the enemy's van. 
The Derfflinger, as leading ship, now came under 

196 



Fourth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

a particularly deadly fire. Several ships were 
engaging us at the same time. I selected a target 
and fired as rapidly as possible. At first the 
ranges recorded by my faithful log-keeper in the 
transmitting station were 12,000, from which 
they sank to 8,000. And all the time we were 
steaming at full speed into this inferno, offering 
a splendid target to the enemy while they were 
still hard to make out. Commander Scheibe, 
in his description of the battle, describes this 
attack as follows : " The battle-cruisers, tem- 
porarily under the command of the Captain of 
the Derfflinger, while Admiral Hipper was chang- 
ing ship, now hurled themselves recklessly 
against the enemy line, followed by the destroyers. 
A dense hail of fire swept them all the way." 

Salvo after salvo fell round us, hit after hit 
struck our ship. They were stirring minutes. 
My communication with Lieutenant-Commander 
von Stosch was now cut off, the telephones and 
speaking-tubes running to the fore-top having 
been shot away. I was now left to rely entirely 
on my own observation of the splashes to con- 
trol the gun-fire. Hitherto I had continued to 
fire with all four heavy turrets, but at 9.13 p.m. 
a serious catastrophe occurred. A 38-011. shell 
pierced the armour of the " Caesar " turret and 
exploded inside. The brave turret commander, 
Lieutenant-Commander von Boltenstern had both 

197 



Kiel and Jutland 



his legs torn off and with him nearly the whole 
gun crew was killed. The shell set on fire two 
shell-cases in the turret. The flames from the 
burning cases spread to the transfer chamber, 
where it set fire to four more cases, and from there 
to the case-chamber, where four more were 
ignited. The burning cartridge-cases emitted 
great tongues of flame which shot up out of the 
turrets as high as a house ; but they only blazed, 
they did not explode as had been the case with 
the enemy. This saved the ship, but the result 
of the fire was catastrophic. The huge tapering 
flames killed everyone within their reach. Of 
the seventy-eight men inside the turret only five 
managed to save themselves through the hole 
provided for throwing out empty shell-cases, 
and of these several were severely injured. The 
other seventy-three men died together like heroes 
in the fierce fever of battle, loyally obeying the 
orders of their turret officer. 

A few moments later this catastrophe was 
followed by a second. A 38-cm. shell pierced 
the roof of the (< Dora " turret, and here too, 
exploded inside the turret. The same horrors 
ensued. With the exception of one single man, 
who was thrown by the concussion through the 
turret entrance, the whole turret crew of eighty 
men, including all the magazine men, were killed 
instantly. The crew of the " Dora " turret, under 

198 



Fourth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

the leadership of their brave turret officer, Stuck- 
meister Arndt, had fought heroically up to the 
last second. Here, too, the flames spread to the 
cartridge-chamber and set fire to all the cases 
which had been removed from their protective 
packing. From both after-turrets great flames 
were now spurting, mingled with clouds of yellow 
smoke, two ghastly pyres. 

At 9.15 p.m. I received a message from the 
transmitting station : " Gas danger in the heavy 
gun transmitting station. Station must be 
abandoned.'* This gave me a shock. Things 
must be in a pretty bad way in the ship if the 
poison gases had already penetrated the trans- 
mitting station, which was so carefully protected. 
I gave the order : " Connect with the fore-con- 
trol/' and at once received the report that the 
gunnery apparatus was actually connected with 
the fore-control before the transmitting station 
was abandoned. I could now control the guns 
by shouting my orders through a speaking tube 
to a messenger who sat under a grating. The 
latter passed on the orders direct to the gun- 
turrets by means of his gunnery telephones and 
telegraphs. This, of course, added to the noise 
of the shouting in the fore-control, but made 
it possible to go on with the fire control. 

Now hit after hit shook the ship. The enemy 
had got our range excellently. I felt a clutch at 

199 



Kiel and Jutland 



my heart when I thought of what the conditions 
must be in the interior of the ship. So far we 
in the armoured tower had come off very well . . . 
my train of thought was sharply interrupted. 
Suddenly, we seemed to hear the crack of doom. 
A terrific roar, a tremendous explosion and then 
darkness, in which we felt a colossal blow. The 
whole conning tower seemed to be hurled into 
the air as though by the hands of some portentous 
giant, and then to flutter trembling into its 
former position. A heavy shell had struck the 
fore-control about 50 cm. in front of me. The 
shell exploded, but failed to pierce the thick 
armour, which it had struck at an unfavourable 
angle, though huge pieces had been torn out. 
Poisonous greenish-yellow gases poured through 
the apertures into our control. 

I called out : " Down gas-masks ! " and 
immediately every man pulled down his gas- 
mask over his face. I went on controlling the 
fire with my gas-mask on, which made it very 
difficult to make myself understood. But the 
gases soon dissipated, and we cautiously took off 
the masks. We assured ourselves that the 
gunnery apparatus was still in order. Nothing 
had been disturbed. Even the delicate mechan- 
ism of the sighting apparatus was, strange to 
say, still in order. Some splinters had been 
flung through the aperture on to the bridge, 

200 



Fourth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

where they had wounded several men, including 
the navigating officer. 

The terrific blow had burst open the heavy 
armoured door of the tower, which now stood 
wide open. Two men strove in vain to force it 
back, but it was jammed too tight. Then came 
unexpected assistance. Once more we heard a 
colossal roar and crash and with a noise of a 
bursting thunderbolt a 38-cm. shell exploded 
under the bridge. Whole sheets of the deck were 
hurled through the air, a tremendous concussion 
threw overboard everything that could be moved. 
Amongst other things, the chart house, with all 
the charts and other gear, and " last but not 
least " my good overcoat, which I had left 
hanging in the chart house, vanished from the 
scene for ever. And one extraordinary thing 
happened : the terrific concussion of the bursting 
38-cm. shell shut the armoured door of the 
fore-control. A polite race, the English ! They 
had opened the door for us and it was they who 
shut it again. I wonder if they meant to ? In 
any case it amused us a good deal. 

I looked towards the enemy through my 
periscope. Their salvoes were still bursting round 
us, but we could scarcely see anything of the 
enemy, who were disposed in a great semicircle 
round us. All we could see was the great reddish- 
gold flames spurting from the guns. The ships' 

201 



Kiel and Jutland 



hulls we saw but rarely. I had the range of the 
flames measured. That was the only possible 
means of establishing the enemy's range. With- 
out much hope of hurting the enemy I ordered 
the two forward turrets to fire salvo after salvo. 
I could feel that our fire soothed the nerves of 
the ship's company. If we had ceased fire at 
this time the whole ship's company would have 
been overwhelmed by despair, for everyone 
would have thought : "A few minutes more and 
it will be all up." But so long as we were still 
firing, things could not be so bad. The secondary 
armament were firing too, but of the six guns on 
that side only two could be used. The barrel of 
the fourth gun had burst, and the third gun had 
been completely shot to pieces. The two 15-cm. 
guns still intact kept up a lively fire. 

Unfortunately the direction-indicator in the 
" Bertha " turret now failed us. I was left with 
one single turret that I could train on the enemy 
by means of my periscope. The direction of my 
periscope as indicated by the control apparatus 
had to be continually shouted from the trans- 
mitting station to the "Bertha" turret, which 
meant a certain amount of delay for the turret 
officer, and was, of course, inadequate, while 
the ship was under weigh. The turret officer 
was not in a position to keep the enemy under 
continual observation with his telescope. Nothing 

202 



Fourth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

could be seen of the monster facing us but 
the flickering fiery eyes it opened alternately 
when it fired a salvo. I was now concentrating 
my fire on a ship which was firing alternately 
from two double turrets. The flashes from the 
muzzles looked like the opening of two wide 
blazing eyes and suddenly I realized where I 
had seen something of the sort. Sascha Schneider's 
picture, " The feeling of dependence/' had created 
an impression something similar to that I was now 
experiencing. It depicts a black monster of 
shadowy outline, turgidly opening and shutting 
its smouldering eyes and fixing a chained human 
form, which awaits the fatal embrace. Our 
present position seemed to me similar. But the 
monster had to be fought. The " Anna " turret, 
under the brave Stuckmeister I had sent the 
turret officer to the after control to replace the 
Fourth Gunnery Officer who was wanted else- 
where went on firing undisturbed, as also the 
doughty " Schiilzburg," though it is true, the 
latter frequently fired at another target than 
that ordered. Without a direction-indicator it 
was impossible to keep both turrets firing at the 
same enemy flashes. 

At 9.18 p.m. we received a wireless message 
from the Commander-in-Chief : " Manoeuvre on 
the enemy van." That meant we were to break 
off our charge against the enemy and carry on 

203 



Kiel and Jutland 



a running engagement with the ships of the 
enemy's van. We therefore turned to the south 
of westward. Unfortunately the enemy were 
now so far abaft the beam that in my forward 
position I could no longer see them. Now the 
control had to be shifted aft. But the necessary 
readjustment of connections could only be 
carried out in the transmitting station. At the 
time this was not possible. There was no 
possibility for the moment of directing the two 
forward turrets, which were now the only ones 
available. I gave the order : ' Turrets indepen- 
dent/* and for a time the two turrets fired 
independently, under the control of their turret 
officers. I observed that the "Bertha" turret 
soon got the range of the target far astern and 
maintained a lively fire in which the " Anna " 
turret was soon participating. For some time 
the enemy was dead astern of us, so that the for- 
ward turrets lost sight of him, for their angle of 
training was limited to 220. We were now 
helpless ! As we turned, the torpedo officer fired 
a torpedo at 8,000 m. At the same time our 
destroyers, which until then had been following 
in our wake, pressed home their attack, several 
flotillas together. A dense smoke rose between 
us and the enemy " monsters." Once more we 
watched the wild turmoil of battle before us. 
It was hard to distinguish friend from foe. More 

204 



Fourth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

and more destroyers dashed into the fray, dis- 
appeared in the smoke and then for a few moments 
were visible again. Others which had already 
fired their torpedoes were beginning to return. 
After the attack the flotillas reassembled behind 
us and then attacked a second time. The enemy 
now disappeared from our view and their fire 
ceased as far as we were concerned. We breathed 
a sigh of relief ! The enemy fire thundered and 
roared on all sides, it is true, but we were no longer 
the target. As my gunnery log-keeper had to 
evacuate the transmitting station at 9.15 p.m. 
no log for this phase of the battle was kept 
subsequent to this time. 

At 9.23 p.m. a report came from the transmit- 
ting station : " Transmitting station untenable ! " 
I learnt later that this was due to the invasion 
of thick yellow streams of gas through the voice- 
pipes from the " Caesar " turret. In the heat 
of the battle no one had noticed them until 
suddenly the whole transmitting station was filled 
with poisonous fumes. The Communication 
Officer, Lieutenant Hoch, gave the order : 
" Connect gunnery apparatus to the forward 
control/ ' and then he had the transmitting 
station evacuated. Immediately afterwards brave 
Artificer Schoning, his gas-mask carefully adjusted 
re-entered the transmitting station. Feeling his 
way through the poisonous clouds of gas, with 

205 



Kiel and Jutland 



which the place was filled, he reached the voice- 
pipes and closed them with wooden bungs. 
Meanwhile the electric ventilators were set going, 
and in a few minutes the transmitting station 
began to clear, the gas was drawn off, and the 
men returned to their stations. 

A lull in the fighting was an urgent necessity. 
At 9.37 p.m. cease fire was ordered, as no enemy 
ship was now visible. All gun crews were called on 
deck to put out the fires. The forward bridge 
was completely enveloped in smoke and flames 
which the 15-cm. gun crews were set to put 
out. 

The gun fighting had ceased, but now a stub- 
born struggle was waged against fire and water. 
Although as far as possible everything inflammable 
had been taken out of the ship, the fire continued 
to spread, fed principally by linoleum, the wooden 
decks, clothing and oil paints. About ten 
o'clock we had practically mastered the flames, 
the fire now only smouldering in a few isolated 
places. The " Caesar " and " Dora " turrets were 
still smoking and giving out clouds of thick yellow 
gas from time to time, but this gradually ceased 
after the ammunition chambers had been flooded. 
No one could ever have believed that a ship 
could endure so much heavy fire. The powers 
of resistance of our ships and the tremendous 
effectiveness of their fire were a splendid testimony 

206 



Fourth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

to the builders of our fleet, particularly the 
brilliant Admiral of the Fleet, von Tirpitz. 

The Lutzow was now lost to sight. At 9.20 
p.m. the following was recorded in the after 
control : " Target covered by thick smoke from 
the Lutzow." After this the burning ship had 
vanished with the ever decreasing visibility. 

But the other ships of our squadron, the 
Seydlitz, Moltke and Von der Tann were still with 
us. They, too, were in a bad way. The Seydlitz 
had been particularly badly knocked about. 
On her, too, flames as high as houses leapt out 
of one gun turret. There were fires on all the 
ships. The Seydlitz was badly down at the bows. 
When Admiral Hipper came alongside the 
Seydlitz in his destroyer, he was told that all her 
wireless was out of action, and that she had shipped 
several thousand tons of water. He therefore 
tried to board the Moltke, commanded by Captain 
von Karpf , the former captain of the Hohenzollern. 
As he was about to board, the ship came under 
such a desperate fire that the captain could not 
reduce speed. Admiral Hipper then inquired 
what damage had been sustained by the Derfflinger. 
The following was reported : " Only two 30.5-011. 
and two 15-011. guns still firing on the port side. 
Three thousand four hundred tons of water in the 
ship. All signal apparatus destroyed except wire- 
less receiver/' whereupon he decided not to 

207 



Kiel and Jutland 



transfer his flag to us. As soon as the situation per- 
mitted he boarded the Moltke, but during all four 
phases of the battle the battle-cruisers were com- 
manded by the captain of the Derfflinger. The name 
of Captain Hartog is for all time inseparably bound 
up with the death-ride of the battle-cruisers at 
Skagerrak. 

On all our battle-cruisers large numbers of 
men had been killed. Hundreds had met a hero's 
death in this proud attack. But our duty of 
covering, together with the destroyer flotillas, 
the withdrawal of the fleet had been brilliantly 
fulfilled. Admiral Scheer was able to withdraw 
the fleet from the threatened envelopment com- 
pletely intact. 

Sketch II. shows how the fleet was withdrawn. 
From this it can be seen that the fleet, in a line 
of bearing, had steered a north-westerly course 
until 7.48, and then, in line ahead, north-east 
until 8.35 p.m. At 8.35 p.m. the fleet once more 
changed course to the west, but turned again on 
an easterly course so as not to leave in the lurch 
the Wiesbaden, which was still under heavy fire. 
At 9.17 p.m. they completed the westerly course 
ordered at 9.12 and then, covered by the battle- 
cruisers and destroyer flotillas, withdrew from 
the semicircular envelopment. From 7.48 p.m. 
the ships in the van, those of the 3rd Squadron, 
were engaged by the ships of the Queen Elizabeth 

208 



SKETCH II 




8**Beatty and 
Hood's Battle- 
Cruisers 



Course of German Battleships. 

Approximate Course of German Battle-Cruisers. 

Course of English Battle-Cruisers and Battleships. 



[_To face p. 208. 



Fourth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

class. While steering the easterly courses, which 
ended at 8.35 p.m. and 9.17 p.m., they also came 
under the fire of the English main fleet, drawn 
up in semicircular formation round them. The 
ist Squadron in the centre of the line did not 
come under fire at all during the day's fighting, 
but in the night-fighting bore the brunt of the 
battle. The 2nd Squadron, owing to its slow 
speed, had been left several miles behind. By 
an accident it took part in the last phase, as I 
shall describe later. As a result of the correct 
tactical disposition and leading of our fleet, only 
our most modern and most powerful ships were 
engaged by the English ships at the crises of the 
battle. Only in this way could it have happened 
that during the battle itself not a single ship 
was totally lost the severely damaged Lutzow 
was abandoned by her ship's company on the day 
after the battle and torpedoed by us whereas 
the English sacrificed three of their best ships. 
This fact is brilliant testimony to the perfect 
tactical skill of Admiral Scheer and his brilliant 
Chief of Staff, Rear- Admiral von Trotha. 



209 14 



CHAPTER X 

THE FIFTH PHASE OF THE SKAGERRAK BATTLE 
(9.37 TO 10.35 P - M AND THE NIGHT OF JUNE 
1ST. LAST ENGAGEMENT. NIGHT FIGHTING. 
SINKING OF THE " POMMERN " 



THE thrill of our dash straight at the enemy 
was followed by a lull lasting until 10.22 p.m. 
In the Derfflinger we spent this time making 
preparations for the night. Nearly all our search- 
lights had been destroyed. We still had one left 
on the starboard side and two on the port side. 
" The Goblin " and his assistants had their 
hands full to meet even a part of the demands 
that were made upon them. I remained on 
the bridge, ready at any moment to engage the 
enemy. At every periscope a man stood 
searching the horizon; every telescope was in 
action. 

About 10 p.m. we sighted our ist Squadron 
bearing on a southerly course. Our captain, who 
at this time was commanding the battle-cruisers, 
led our squadron on the head of our main fleet, 
where we were to take station. The rest of the 
battle-cruisers followed the Derfflinger without 
any signal. As we were carrying out this 

213 



Kiel and Jutland 



manoeuvre we and the ist Squadron suddenly 
came under heavy fire from the south-east. It 
had already grown dusk. The mist had rather 
increased than diminished. " Clear for Action ! >: 
sounded once more through the ship, and a few 
seconds later I had trained the " Anna " turret 
on the target and fired. In the thick mist the 
" Bertha " turret could not find the target, so I 
had to fire as well as I could with the " Anna " 
turret alone. Then this, too, was interrupted. 
A heavy shell struck the " Anna " turret and bent 
one of the rails on which the turret revolves, so 
that it stuck. Our last weapon was snatched out 
of our hands ! 

Then Stuckmeister Weber, with great quick- 
ness of decision, ran out of the turret and, with 
the help of some petty officers and gun hands, 
cleared away the bent rails with axes and crow- 
bars and put the turret in action again, so that 
it was again possible to fire an occasional shot. I 
had to shoot almost entirely by estimated range, 
for only rarely was the Bg. man able to get 
the range of a gun-flash. I fired at ranges of 
8,000, 6,000, 1,000, and so on. It was impossible 
to observe the splashes. The situation had once 
more become very uncomfortable. 

Then help came from the quarter from which 
it was least expected. After the fleet had turned 
about on a southerly course our 2nd Squadron, 

214 




Derjflinger screened from Submarine Attack by Four Destroyers 
(aerial photograph). 




Derfflinger firing a Salvo from her Heavy Guns while steaming at 
Top Speed (aerial photograph). 

[To face p. 214. 



Fifth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

the old ships of the Deutschland class, found 
themselves in the van of the fleet. Admiral 
Scheer now thought the moment favourable to 
dispose the fleet in the best tactical formation 
for the withdrawal south. The 2nd Squadron 
was therefore ordered to take station astern of 
the two modern squadrons. The Officer Com- 
manding the 2nd Squadron was carrying out 
this manoeuvre at this very moment, bringing 
his squadron west of the remainder of the fleet 
and of us. In doing so he came between us and 
the enemy, who were now pressing us hard. 
Suddenly the enemy saw seven big ships heading 
for them at top speed. At the same time the 
unwearying destroyers again pressed home the 
attack. That was too much for them : the enemy 
turned about and disappeared in the twilight. 
We did not want to see any more of them, but 
felt a great relief at this sudden improvement in 
our situation. I saw all the good friends of my 
old squadron coming up, the good old Hessen, 
in which I served for five years, the Pommern, 
the Schleswig-Holstein and others. They were 
shooting vigorously and themselves came under 
a heavy fire. But it was not long before the 
enemy had had enough. I wonder if they would 
have turned about had they known what kind 
of ships these were ! They were the famous 
German " five-minute-ships/' to settle which 

215 



Kiel and Jutland 



the Englishman could not spare more than five 
minutes, but bravely withdrew ! 

At 10.31 p.m. my faithful log-keeper recorded 
the last shot fired by the Derfflinger's heavy 
guns at an angle of bearing of 244 and a range 
of 7,500. 

The long northern day came to an end. The 
short night, which only lasted from n p.m. to 
2 a.m., was beginning. 

For the night the battle-cruisers received the 
order to take station in the rear of the line. We 
were thus entrusted with the honourable task of 
covering the rear of the fleet during the with- 
drawal south. I don't know how the Seydlitz and 
the Moltke spent the night. The heavily damaged 
Seydlitz was already having a hard struggle to 
keep above water. Only by dint of the most 
strenuous efforts did the crew of this ship, under 
its efficient Commanding Officer, Captain von 
Egidy, and his excellent Second in Command, 
Commander von Alvensleben, succeed in bringing 
their ship to Wilhelmshaven two days after the 
battle. 

Only the Derfflinger and the Von der Tann took 
station in the rear of the line. We certainly did 
not feel very well suited to this station. Our 
starboard was our best side, for it still had all 
six 15-cm. guns intact. But one single search 
light was hardly enough. On the port side only 

216 



Fifth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

two 15-cm. guns were still in action. We should 
therefore have to urge the English destroyers to 
confine their attacks as far as possible to the 
starboard side. There we were still capable of 
administering a cold douche ! 

As the sky was overcast the night became very 
dark. We officers had now left the conning 
tower for the bridge. The Captain came out. 
He shook me warmly by the hand and said : 
" Well done ! " These words were more to me 
than any recognition I received later. As it was 
beginning to get chilly he had a bottle of port 
wine brought out, the glasses were filled and we 
drank to the day which was now closing. I sent 
my servant below to see how things were down 
there, and to fetch me a fresh overcoat. Hanel 
came back with the overcoat and reported, beam- 
ing : * Your cabin is the only one still ship- 
shape, sir. All the other cabins are completely 
wrecked/' When I saw his smiling face I couldn't 
help thinking of the lines : 

" O heiliger Florian, 
Beschiitz* mein Haus, ziind' andre an ! " 

As we were the last ship but one in the line we 
might assume that we should be protected from 
destroyer attacks, which are nearly always made 
from ahead. As it turned out, only one English 
destroyer found her way to us during the whole 

217 



Kiel and Jutland 



night. All the other destroyers had been driven 
off by the ships ahead. About the night fighting 
I can say little, as we were for the most part well 
out of it. Firing went on throughout the night. 
It must be admitted that the English destroyers 
returned again and again to the attack with amaz- 
ing pluck. And yet they achieved practically 
nothing. The only German ship sunk during the 
night itself was the light cruiser Frauenlob, and 
she was not sunk by the destroyers, but by an 
English cruiser, which raked her with gun-fire 
and also torpedoed her. Not until dawn did the 
English destroyers score a success. At very long 
range one of them succeeded in torpedoing and 
sinking the Pommern. 

From our present position we were able to 
watch undisturbed the fighting which went on 
for the most part at a considerable distance from 
us. Searchlights flashed out and lit up the 
destroyers rushing to the attack. We saw the gun- 
flashes of ships and destroyers, great splashes 
were lit by searchlights, thick clouds of smoke 
drove past the ships and destroyers. We were 
unable to distinguish details, but the result of 
the struggle was made clear to us when one 
blazing, red-hot vessel after another passed us. 
I could not help thinking of the living torches 
driven about by the Romans in their orgies of 
cruelty. All metal parts were aglow and the 

218 





Derfflinger firing a Full Salvo from all eight 30.5-cm. Guns 
simultaneously- 




{To face p. 218. 



Fifth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

destroyers looked like fine filigree work in red and 
gold. The reason for the rapid spread of the 
fire in the English destroyers lay in the fact that 
they used only oil fuel. The oil, once alight, 
spread rapidly over all parts of the pitching 
vessels. We must have seen quite ten destroyers 
and other ships dash past us in this way. We 
watched them with mixed feelings, for we were 
not quite sure whether any among them were 
German. As a matter of fact not a single German 
destroyer was sunk that night. Our destroyers had 
gone off to scout for the enemy fleet. It is remark- 
able, and much to be regretted, that throughout 
the whole night our destroyers, searching for the 
great English fleet, failed to find them, although 
they knew exactly where they were last seen. When 
the firing ahead had died down a little I heard, 
as I was standing near the captain, the noise of 
a turbine destroyer heading for us at full speed on 
the starboard side. Soon a black object emerged 
about four points to starboard. Should we use our 
single searchlight and so betray ourselves, or 
would it be better to wait until the destroyer's 
searchlight lit us up to ascertain our position 
before firing her torpedo ? I quickly suggested 
to the captain that the searchlight should not 
be lit. He agreed and the destroyer dashed past 
us. She was quite near, only 300 to 400 m. away, 
but she did not show her searchlight and did not 

219 



Kiel and Jutland 



fire either her guns or torpedo. Our next astern, 
the Von der Tann, did exactly as we had done. 
They, too, as the Gunnery Officer told me later, 
had been afraid that by lighting their searchlights 
they might draw on themselves the whole 
destroyer pack. Can the English destroyer not 
have seen us ? Had she already fired all her 
torpedoes ? Had she already been under 
such heavy fire that her only idea was to get 
away ? I don't know. " Ships that pass in the 
night." 

This brought the night to a close, and the morn- 
ing broke. At 2.15 a.m. a burning ship drove 
past us, the English armoured cruiser Black Prince. 
The whole ship was red hot. There could not 
have been a soul alive on board for some time. 
At 3.10 a.m. we heard two heavy explosions to 
port, but could not discover what had happened. 
We had frequently to stop because the whole line 
ahead of us was thrown into disorder as a result 
of the numerous destroyer attacks. To avoid 
these and to press home counter-attacks, ships 
were frequently hauling out of the line and steer- 
ing a circular course, and had to take station 
again wherever they could. In this way the 
Nassau, originally the second ship of the line, 
gradually fell into the last place and became our 
next ahead. It was no light task for our Navi- 
gating Officer and Officer of the Watch to keep 

220 



Fifth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

station at the correct distance astern of the line 
so that we should not lose touch in the darkness. 

When the first signs of dawn appeared we 
thought it certain that we should again have to 
engage the whole English fleet. All preparations 
were made for the day's fighting. The sighting 
apparatus of the " Bertha " turret had been put 
in order again by " The Goblin " and his faith- 
ful band. 

We stood on the bridge forward and searched 
the darkness and twilight. The destroyer attacks 
appeared to have ceased. Suddenly it was about 
3.50 a.m. we heard a heavy explosion, and a 
mighty tower of flame rose into the sky ahead of 
us. From the distance it looked like a sheaf of 
flame from some gigantic firework. We saw our 
two next ahead put down the helm hard to star- 
board. What could have happened ? What was 
this new tragedy ? Our ship cut her way through 
the waves as we held on our course, and passed 
the scene of the disaster. We looked out on all 
sides for wreckage or men struggling in the water, 
but there was nothing to be seen. Even as we 
passed over the actual scene of the catastrophe, 
we could not realize what had happened. And 
yet, only a few minutes before, the Pommern, a 
battleship of 13,000 tons, had passed over this 
same spot. An English destroyer had crept 
up to the limit of visibility and torpedoed the 

221 



Kiel and Jutland 



Pommern. The ship must have been shattered to 
atoms, as only a few minutes later not the slightest 
trace of her was to be seen. Not a man of the 
whole ship's company was saved. My cheery 
friend and old shipmate, Commander Elle, died 
1 ke a hero in the Pommern. As Gunnery Officer, 
he had worked with great enthusiasm, and taken 
great trouble to secure the stowing of ammuni- 
tion out of danger from torpedoes now it had 
been all to no purpose, for obviously the torpedo 
had hit the magazine direct. It was not till the 
next day that we learned the name of the ship 
that had blown up here. 

At 4.10 a.m. the 2nd Squadron immediately 
ahead of us opened fire. We had the " Clear 
for action " sounded, for we felt sure that now the 
great decision was to be fought out. But it 
turned out to be merely an English destroyer that 
had ventured too near and drawn our fire. It 
may have been the one that had torpedoed the 
Pommern a short time before. At any rate she 
had a bad time now. The destroyer, which was 
not far away from us, was shot into flames, and 
added one more to the gruesome procession of 
living torches. 

Meanwhile the sun had risen. Hundreds of 
marine-glasses and periscopes from all our ships 
scanned the horizon, but no sign of the enemy 
could be discovered. The fleet held on its 

222 



Fifth Phase of the Skagerrak Battle 

southerly course, and in the forenoon of June ist 
we ran into Wilhelmshaven. 

Our ship was badly knocked about, in some 
places whole sections were now mere heaps of 
ruins. The vital parts, however, had not been 
hit. Thanks to the strong armour, the engines, 
the boilers, the steering gear, the propeller shafts, 
and nearly all the auxiliary engines were unharmed. 
The engine rooms had for some time been filled 
with poisonous gases, but by using gas-masks 
the engine room personnel though they had suf- 
fered some losses had been able to carry on. 
The whole ship was strewn with thousands of 
shell-splinters of all sizes. Among these we found 
two 38-cm. shell caps, almost intact, formidable 
objects shaped like great bowls, which were used 
later in the captain's cabin and the wardroom 
as champagne coolers though it is to be 
assumed that this is not the purpose for which 
the English threw them on board. The armour 
belt had been pierced in several places, but the 
holes had all been patched up or the water 
localized in small compartments. 

At Wilhelmshaven we buried our dead, who 
now lie there in the cemetery of honour. There 
were nearly two hundred from the Derfflinger. 

On the 4th June the Kaiser inspected our ship, 
and then she went on the slips at Kiel to be 
refitted." After numerous gunnery and other 

223 



v. ( 



Kiel and Jutland 



improvements we were ready for action again in 
December, 1916. But the Battle of Skagerrak 
was our last encounter with the enemy at least, 
our last encounter with our flag flying at the mast- 
head, the flag to which we had sworn our loyalty. 
Now this proud ship lies with the others on the 
sea bottom at Scapa Flow. 



224 



CHAPTER XI 

REFLECTIONS ON THE BATTLE OF SKAGERRAK 



WHEN the sun rose on the ist June the German 
fleet lay level with the Horn Reef, on the same 
meridian of longitude as the Danish town, Esbjerg. 
As we could then discover no signs of the enemy, 
far and wide, I confess frankly, a load fell from 
my heart, for with our battered ship and especially 
with our decimated armament we should not 
have been in a position to fight a victorious 
engagement against one of their heavy battle- 
ships with armament intact. I had already 
fired nearly the whole of the ammunition of 
" Anna " and " Bertha " turrets and the rest of 
the ammunition in the " Caesar " and " Dora " 
turrets could not be got at, as these turrets were 
still completely filled with poisonous gases and 
the ammunition chambers were flooded. For 
our fleet and our Fatherland I regret from the 
bottom of my heart that the battle was not 
fought to a finish. This fact was certainly a 
source of great regret and disappointment for 
our Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Scheer. It 

227 15* 



Kiel and Jutland 



would have been easy for the English to bring us 
to action in the early morning. Throughout the 
whole night their cruisers and destroyers had 
kept in touch with us. All our movements were 
continually reported by wireless to the English 
Commander-in-Chief. It would have been the 
greatest good fortune for our Fatherland if, at 
that time, the battle had been reopened off Horn 
Reef, and so not far from Heligoland. Judging 
from the experience of the 3ist May, many more 
English ships would have been destroyed, and 
it would have required an enormous consump- 
tion of ammunition to put the German heavy 
battleships completely out of action. 

Had Jellicoe sought a decision off Horn Reef on 
ist June there is no doubt that the English fleet 
would have had to cede its place as the strongest 
fleet in the world to America. 

I admit readily that there was no question of 
a complete annihilation of Jellicoe's fleet on ist 
June. But as one closely acquainted with our 
ships and our naval guns and also well acquainted 
with the English ships and their naval guns, 
and in the light of my gunnery experiences in 
the Skagerrak battle, I think I can state with 
certainty that a naval battle fought straight 
through to a finish between the English and 
German main fleets would have cost the enemy 
a very great number of heavy battleships. 

228 



Reflections on the Battle of Skagerrak 

On the 3ist May it was impossible for Admiral 
Scheer, after his withdrawal out of the " lion's 
claws," to bring the fleet afresh into a tactically 
favourable formation before dawn broke. A 
night battle between two such powerful fleets 
was an impossibility. In spite of all identifica- 
tion signals provided for night-fighting a wild 
melee, a rending of ship against ship without 
distinction of friend or foe would have been 
inevitable. But even if we had been reckless 
enough to seek a night action, the English fleet 
would have had to avoid it. In a night action 
they would have had to forgo all the advantages 
of their preponderating numerical superiority, 
their greater speed, their long-range guns, and 
leave everything to blind chance. Jellicoe acted 
perfectly rightly in disengaging his fleet at night- 
fall and so skilfully leading his squadron away 
during the night that our destroyer flotillas, 
systematically searching the outlying areas of 
the scene of battle, did not find them. And 
Jellicoe also acted perfectly rightly from a 
strategic point of view in not reopening the battle 
on the ist June. The English fleet, by remaining 
a " fleet in being," by its mere continued existence, 
had so far fully fulfilled its allotted task. The 
battle of Skagerrak did not relax the pressure 
exerted by the English fleet as a " fleet in being " 
for one minute. Had Jellicoe on 3ist May not 

229 



Kiel and Jutland 



accepted the Skagerrak battle, and had he instead, 
in order to keep his fleet intact, returned to his 
base at Scapa Flow, we should have been able to 
carry on our allotted task, war on commerce in 
the Skagerrak and Kattegatt, and so have kept 
for a time the naval control of the North Sea. 
But by the battle of Skagerrak the fulfilment 
of our task was frustrated. By not attacking 
on ist June our fleet heading for the German 
mine-fields and home ports, Jellicoe kept unin- 
terrupted the mastery of the seas. Why should 
he, in this strategic game of chess, choose a 
mutual sacrifice of pieces when his position was 
such that the mating of the enemy was bound to 
follow ? 

Jellicoe returned to Scapa Flow. Later, when 
he yielded his position as Commander-in-Chief to 
Beatty and his King made him a peer, he assumed 
the name of " Viscount Scapa." At the time 
there was a good deal of scoffing in Germany, 
and, indeed, in England too, that an Admiral 
should take the name of a desolate place where 
his fleet had remained at anchor almost con- 
tinuously for four years. And yet by these four 
years at anchor the English fleet exerted that 
decisive pressure which ended in our whole 
fighting fleet being led to this same Scapa Flow 
where it lies on the sea bottom. What a triumph 
for the " Viscount of Scapa ! " 

230 



Reflections on the Battle of Skagerrak 

When, after the battle of Skagerrak, English 
belief in their victory had been heavily shaken, 
Churchill published in the October number of the 
London Magazine a series of articles on the war 
by land and sea. What he said about the naval 
war and the battle of Skagerrak is, in my opinion, 
correct. Alas ! it should have taught us the 
following lesson : The English fleet will only 
accept battle outside our mine-fields and at a 
certain respectful distance from our submarine 
bases and coast defences. But if we are to make 
any attempt to escape from the iron grip with 
which England is strangling us we must do all in 
our power to bring about a naval battle. We 
must therefore seek out the English fleet off their 
own coasts and fight them there. 

Against this it has been contended that the 
submarine war could only be carried through so 
long as our High Sea Fleet remained intact, and 
that if we had lost our fleet our ports would have 
been hopelessly blockaded. This argument may 
be met as follows : In the first place, battle with 
the enemy fleet was not necessarily synonymous 
with the loss of our whole fleet. Skagerrak 
ought to have proved this. And, secondly, in 
any case we should have been left with enough 
cruisers, old battleships and destroyers, as well 
as U-boats, mine-layers, mine-sweepers, airships, 
aeroplanes and coast defences to carry on the 

231 



Kiel and Jutland 



submarine campaign. Also we should have had 
the Kattegatt at our disposal as an exit for our 
U-boats. The submarine campaign in Flanders, 
where there was no fleet, was carried on in the 
face of much greater difficulties than we had to 
contend with in the North Sea. Moreover, a 
decisive battle on the high seas ought to have 
made the submarine campaign unnecessary and 
brought the war to a speedy close. 

I do not want these reflections to mar our joy 
at our partial victory over the English fleet at 
Skagerrak. But ultimately this victory went 
the way of all our individual victories on land and 
sea : it failed to win the final victory for the 
German nation. At the time, however, it acted 
on the fleet like a bath of steel, gave the German 
people new strength and confidence in the future, 
and added much to the prestige of the German 
nation. It was a black day for England on which 
we sent ten thousand English sailors, together 
with the proudest ships of the English fleet, to 
the bottom of the sea, while only a few more 
than two thousand German sailors had to sacrifice 
their lives under our victorious flag. 

I close my account of the greatest day we 
Germans have ever experienced at sea, with the 
hope that my little book and Churchill's essay 
may be the means of enlightening many Germans 
on the enormous influence that sea power has 

232 



Reflections on the Battle of Skagerrak 

had on the world's history and will continue to 
have in the future. I also express the hope that 
in the years to come many a German, proud of 
being a German and a sailor, will feel the sea wind 
whistling past his ears. 

Indeed we have become a poor nation. It is 
true that our national honour has been deeply 
humiliated. But we will not on that account 
allow ourselves to be robbed of the courage for 
fresh deeds. Let us think of the words : 

Money lost Nothing lost ! 
Honour lost Much lost ! 
Courage lost All lost. 



233 



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