Twenty Years After, The Battlefields of 1914-18 Then and Now

720 TWENTY YEARS AFTER inflicted greater material losses than they received together with a mistaken im­pression (the result of an incorrect report from airship L24) that the capital ships o f the Grand F le eton the morning of June 1st were split up into three de­tachments and were therefore avoiding action. “The British claim to victory rested on surer foundations :“(1) In the fact that the High Sea Fleet from the moment that the British Battle Fleet appeared consistently re­fused action and m anoeuvred with the sole object of returning safely to its base. “(2) T h a ton June 1st the move­ments of the Grand Fleet were directed towards a renewal o f the action as soon as the High Sea Fleet could be located. On the other hand Admiral Scheer him ­self states th a towing to the condition of many units o f his fleet he did not consider it desirable to seek an offensive against even the twelve British ships reported b y airship to the westward of the Horn Reef on the morning of June 1 st. “(3) That the German Fleet only once left the vicinity of the H eligolan d Bight after the Battle of Jutland viz. on August 19th 1916 and on that occasion Admiral Scheer warned b y his numerous airships stationed to the northward that the British Battle Fleet was a seat and steering to meet him re­tired to his base long before the fleets were in contact. The next trip o f the High Sea Fleet towards the British coast was for the purpose of surrender­ing. “Captain Persius thew ell-know n German writer on naval matters prob ­ably summed up the situation as seen in Germany when he instated the Berliner Tageblatt on November 18th, 1918 :‘Our .fleet losses were severe and on June 1st 1916 it was clear to every thinking person that this battle must and would bethe la stone. Authorita­tive quarters said so openly. ”Admiral Scheers Version Admiral Scheer in his personal nar­rative makes the point that the light­ness o f the damage inflicted on the High Sea Flee tat Jutlan dis shown b they fact that little more than six weeks after it approached to within 40 miles of the English coast. A s for the turn southward on that occasion this, Admiral Scheer explained was carried without the intention o f trying to lure the Grand Fleet into action. Summing up he wrote :“The strategic results o f the victory o f Jut­ land were :for the German Fleet freedom o f movement in the southern portion of the North Sea the Fleet was able to protect up to the end of the War the U -boats when they left and re­turned to their bases in the North Sea, and it was able to superintend the clear­ance of our waters from British mines it prohibited these mines from being carried so close to the German ports as to bar the U -boats from troubling British trade. A victor yon the British side atS k agg erak (Jutland) would not have left Germany the sea-pow er to hinder the Allies from helping Russia b y sea a. .fact which contributed largely to the breakdown o f Russia itself. “No assistance was given b they Flee tin the protection o f British trade again stU -boats o f the necessity of which the English people were so firmly convinced. The Fleet of Great Britain never seriously a ttem p toted beat the Germans on the water with the intention of breaking the backbone of the U -boat raids. In some future time the enemies o f England will take a d van ta geo f such deficiencies.” Perhaps a via media between the two conflicting opinions recorded above will be foun din the following statement. The Battle of Jutland was unquestion­ably a British victory .Bu tit was not the victory that the British admiral had prob ably hoped for it was not the victory required a t this stage of theW a rand it was certainly not the victory which the British public had expected would result from the first clash o f the rival fleets. “THE WOUNDED LION” A dramatic picture from the brush of W. L. Wyllie R.A. and atypical example of the fine work of this marine artist. H.M.S. Lion is here seen near the mouth of the Firth of Forth. The massive framework of the Forth Bridge towers above the destroyers surrounding like satellites the disabled ship. The Lion was very badly knocked about at the Battle of the Dogger Bank in January 1915 and at Jutland narrowly escaped destruction. Although the picture reproduced here bears the title “The Wounded Lion Jutland 31st ”May 1916 it more probably portrays her return to the Forth after the Dogger Bank action. From the painting by W. L . W yllie A.R .reproduced by courtesy o f Mrs. M.A. Wyllie.
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