Battle or Action:

Jutland, HMS Indefatigable

  Detail :

 The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle of World War I, and the only full-scale clash of battleships in that war. It is considered to be the largest conventional naval battle in history. It was fought on 31 May - 1 June 1916, in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. The combatants were the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet, commanded by Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, and the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet, commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. The German fleet's intention was to lure out, trap and destroy a portion of the Grand Fleet, as the German numbers were insufficient to engage the entire British fleet at one time. This formed part of a larger strategy to break the British blockade of the North Sea and to allow German mercantile shipping to operate. Meanwhile, the Royal Navy pursued a strategy to engage and destroy the High Seas Fleet, or keep the German force bottled up and away from Britain's own shipping lanes. Considered a tactical victory for the Germans but a resounding strategic victory for the British.

The battlecruiser HMS INDEFATIGABLE (Captain Charles Sowerby) was locked in a gunnery duel with the German battlecruiser VON DER TANN when a German salvo was observed to strike HMS INDEFATIGABLE midships. HMS INDEFATIGABLE lurched out of line to starboard only to be stuck squarely by a second salvo. It appears that HMS INDEFATIGABLE received a shell in her X turret which ignited cordite charges, the resultant flash shooting down to the aft magazines. It is equally plausible that a shell may have penetrated the magazine directly. The ship was wreathed in smoke but when it cleared, HMS INDEFATIGABLE was sinking by the stern and listing over to port. She sank in seconds taking 1,017 of her crew with her.

Extract from the Official History; "Naval Operations" by Sir Julian S. Corbett. 1923 "...At the other end of the line the duel between the Indefatigable and the Von der Tann had been growing in intensity till, a few minutes after 4.0, the British ship was suddenly hidden in a burst of flame and smoke. A salvo of three shots had fallen on her upper deck and must have penetrated to a magazine. She staggered out of the line, sinking by the stern when another salvo struck her; a second terrible explosion rent her, she turned over and in a moment all trace of her was gone..."

An eye witness account (L/Sig Falmer, HMS INDEFATIGABLE): "There was a terrific explosion. The magazines went up. I saw the guns go up in thre air like matchsticks. 12" guns they were, bodies and everything. She was beginning to settle down. Within half a minute the ship turned right over and she was gone. I was 180' up in the tops otherwise I would have gone with her. I hit the water unconscious, turning over. At last I came to the surface and I saw this other lad, Jimmy Green. We got a piece of wood between us, he was at one end and I was at the other. A couple of minutes later some shells came over and took off Jimmy's head and I was alone in the water"

Three survivors AB Elliott, L/Sig Falmer, Sig Bowyer were picked up by the German torpedoboat S-16 . Commander Willoughby survived the explosion only to die of wounds and exposure in the water. The wreck - a war grave -was untouched until 1958 when it was commercially salvaged by German and Danish divers using industrial explosives. As a result the ship is now an unintelligible scrap heap spread over a large area."

For more information and a casualty list, see also Wrecksite EU.

 Rank Initials Surname Died Lodge
 Mech. A.J. BOVEY 31-05-1916 Royal Naval No. 3337
  E.G. CARR 31-05-1916 St Aubyn No. 954
 Art. E. DARWIN 31-05-1916 Lodge of Friendship No. 202
 Ft. Pmr. E.H.M. DYER 31-05-1916 St. John & St. Paul No. 349
 E.R.A C. GLOYN 31-05-1916 Metham No. 1205
 Shipwt. W.J. PEARN 31-05-1916 Metham No. 1205
 Ch. Stoker H.M.W. ROYAL 31-05-1916 Huyshe No. 1099
 C.P.O. C. YEO 31-05-1916 Western District United Service No. 2258

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