Eleventh D.F. (Royal Navy) at the Battle of Jutland

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The composition of the Eleventh Destroyer Flotilla in the Battle of Jutland was 14 "M" class destroyers and two leaders, organised as follows[1][2]


Commodore Hawksley reported as follows.[3]

N. 0017/2.
3rd June 1916.
I HAVE the honour to forward the following report of my
movements on the night of 31st May—1st June.
At about 8.30 p.m. on 31st May the Enemy's Destroyers
were sighted on starboard bow of our van, and the " Castor "
and Half Flotilla proceeded to attack, the Commodore of 4th
Light Cruiser Squadron
detaching 3 Cruisers to support.
2. The enemy destroyers did not develop their attack, and
" Castor " returned to her position ahead of the Fleet, course S.W.
3. At about 9.0 p.m. the Battle Fleet turned, leaders
together, to South, the Flotilla remaining on Starboard bow of
Second Battle Squadron, and a line of Battle Cruisers was then
sighted on the Starboard quarter closing Fleet. They appeared
very much like enemy Battle Cruisers, but by an intercepted
signal from Vice-Admiral 2nd B.S. to the Commodore, 4th L.C.S.,
the Vice-Admiral 2nd B.S. was apparently satisfied they were
our own.
Soon after sighting them these Battle Cruisers opened fire on
two of the 4th L.C.S. ahead of the Flotilla.
I turned the Flotilla away from the Battle Cruisers, and
expected the Fleet to open fire on them.
The leading Battle Cruiser then fired a star shell, which
appeared to justify the opinion that they were enemy ships ;
but as the Fleet still held their fire I could not attack, as it was
not dark enough to make an attack unsupported by fire from
the Fleet.
The Battle Cruisers turned off to starboard and were lost
sight of.
4. At 9.45 p.m. Flotillas were ordered to take station astern
of Battle Fleet.
5. At about 10.5 p.m., when on the starboard quarter of the
Fleet, ships were sighted on the starboard bow.
They challenged us by the first two signs of the challenge of
the day.
They then made T, followed by R.
When about 2,500 yards away the two leading ships switched
on search lights and opened fire on " Castor."
" Castor ' opened fire, and was seen hitting with range on
guns of 2,000 yards. The bursting of shells from the 6-in. guns
was the most noticeable.
" Castor " then fired a torpedo, high speed setting, and turned
to Port.
6. With regard to the eight Destroyers which " Castor " was
leading, two destroyers fired torpedoes, but the remainder of
them which were near " Castor " say they were so blinded by
" Castor's " guns they could not see anything, and the others
were so certain in their own minds that a mistake had been
made, and that we were being fired on by our own ships that
they decided not to fire their torpedoes.
7. Three Captains of Destroyers inform me that their Engineer
Lieutenants reported feeling a violent detonation under water at
the time " Castor " " Magic "and " Marne " fired their torpedoes,
and that they themselves observed the lights of the second ship
go out and the glow of an explosion on her side; but this was
not felt in " Castor," probably as she was receiving other shocks
at the time.
8. The Flotilla then proceeded South after the Battle Fleet,
my object being to be within reach of the Fleet at daybreak
should the Fleet have found the enemy and a Fleet action take
9. At about 12.15 a.m. I sighted a Torpedo Boat on the
starboard bow. As soon as it was distinguished as an enemy
craft, " Castor " turned to ram her and opened fire.
The torpedo boat was too quick on the helm, and just avoided
being rammed, but received the fire of all guns at point blank
range, and was not seen again.
A flare, probably from shell explosion was seen on her deck aft.
Believing her to be sunk, " Castor " turned again to South
to follow the Fleet.
There would appear to be no doubt that she was sunk, as
she was not seen by any of the destroyers who passed the spot
where she was fired on by " Castor,"
10. With reference to paragraph 5, the Enemy consisted of
three or more cruisers, of which the leading ship appeared to be
a large cruiser.
Their firing was not really very good, and though "Castor"
was straddled by the first salvo this was not remarkable
considering the range.
" Castor " drew the whole fire of the two cruisers, and it is
unfortunate that this element of doubt existed in the minds of
the Captains of the Destroyers as to whether the ships were
enemy, as a good opportunity of firing torpedoes was lost.
" Castor " could make no signals to the destroyers, as her
communication and wires were out and W/T temporarily out
of action.
The handling of the destroyers was remarkably good,
considering no signals could be made.

Details on recommendation, personnel &c. omitted from the Report
as reproduced in the
Official Despatches.

14. I would mention that some ship ahead of the Second
Battle Squadron at about 9.0 p.m. made the signal by searchlight :
"Please give me the Challenges and Replies for the day, as I
have lost mine."
I did not see a reply made, but evidently the signal was
taken in by one of our ships, and. the Captain of the "Manners
informs me he saw the reply being made.
It is possible that this was one of the enemy's ships asking,
and may account for " Castor" being challenged by at any
rate part of the correct challenge for the day.
15. The effect of fire on " Castor " was as follows :—A large
hole, 4 ft. by 4 ft. 6 in. Starboard side under No. 2 4-in. 'gun,
evidently high explosive- shell which burst in the heads, splinters
passing through the bulkhead into the Recreation Space,
destroying Fire Main service, Ventilation service, and Voice Pipes
to 4-in. guns.
Two men were killed in the heads, and three of the ammunition
supply party in Recreation Space.
(2) One shot passed through Upper Mess Deck just above the
water line, cut through an iron ladder, and passed out through
the Port side, evidently exploding whilst passing out.
(3) Three shells struck Fore Bridge, doing extensive damage
to bridge, cutting all 'electric circuits and. damaging Bridge
Steering Gear (which was not being used). Five men were killed
on the Bridge,
(4) One shell exploded on the Forecastle, killing two men
but not doing any material damage to speak of.
(5) Several shells hit the ship's side on the armoured plating,
fragments passing up and causing damage to after 4-in. guns,
Funnels, After Control, Casings and Boats.
(6) One shell struck Motor Boat, which set her on_ fire and
completely shattered her.
(7) In all there were 23 wounded. These men were chiefly
forward ammunition supply parties, and others consisted of
men stationed at foremost and after 4-in. Guns and First Aid

I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
J. R. P. Hawksley,
Commodore (F).

The Commander-in-Chief,

Grand Fleet.


  1. Naval Operations. Volume III. p. 432.
  2. Battle of Jutland Official Despatches. pp. 44-5.
  3. Battle of Jutland Official Despatches. pp. 303-5.