H.M.S. Benbow at the Battle of Jutland
Report of Proceedings
No. C. 85.
8th June 1916.
I HAVE the honour to forward the following report on the action with the German High Sea Fleet on 31st May 1916, and a simple narrative of events as they appeared from the Control Officer's point of view in the Gun Control Tower.
(1) Very great difficulty was experienced in getting the Director on to the target, and fire could not be opened as soon as it ought to have been, the enemy could be seen from the Gun Control Tower and Conning Tower when using Zeiss Glasses, but not from the Gun Telescope on the bearing plate.
At 6.38 nearly all turret Officers thought that we opened fire on the enemy cruiser drifting down between the lines, whereas we were firing at one of the "Kaiser" class beyond her.
Attached also are some extracts from reports of officers from their several positions.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
The Vice Admiral Commanding Captain.
Commander in Chief,
Submitted in continuation of former reports.
F. C. D. STURDEE,
10th June 1916.
EXTRACTS FROM OFFICERS' REPORTS. H.M.S. "BENBOW."
Spotting Officer in the Top.—The difficulties of spotting on this occasion were very great. With the mist varying in intensity, enemy ships coming into sight for a few seconds and then disappearing, I found it extremely hard to be certain that I was spotting on to the same ship as that indicated (through the voice pipe) by the Control Officer.
The difficulty of being certain that one was spotting on to the ship fired at was even more marked.
For some seconds after each salvo my vision was blanked by smoke, my glasses shaken off the object, and owing to the short range and consequent short time of flight in which to recover (to say nothing of the fact that between the moment of firing and the fall of shot there was often a small change of helm) it was practically impossible to be certain that one was spotting on the ship fired at.
The position was galling and trying to the last degree; but I had no alternative on more than one occasion but to inform the Control Officer that I could not observe the fall of shot (this being probably due to my spotting on the wrong ship).
2. Director Layer.—Little difficulty was experienced due to smoke from our own guns, but great difficulty due to the short range of visibility.
Great difficulty was experienced in getting on to the object at which the Control Officer wished to fire, due to the distance of the Control Officer from Director Tower.
When aloft, the Control Officer has the same condition of light as Director Layer, when below, either may see the object, whereas the other may not be able to do so.
(3) Spotting.—Was extremely difficult owing to the poor visibility. It was useless attempting to use the high power glasses, and with binoculars it was not easy to get on the correct bearing.
(4) Respirators.—The respirators supplied are unsuitable. The small ones are easily displaced, and the "sausage" ones are awkward and frail. Two came to pieces during handling in the T.S..
(5) It was particularly noticed with regard to the enemy's salvoes that in all cases one projectile fell well to the left (our left) of the remainder, and that whereas the single shell invariably exploded on striking the water, the remainder did not.
REPORT OF ENGAGEMENT WITH THE GERMAN HIGH SEA FLEET ON 31st MAY 1916.
Narrative of Events from a Gunnery Point of View.
|5.59.||Observed Battle Cruisers engaged on Starboard Bow. Observed flashes of enemy's guns.|
|6. 4.||Sighted enemy ships right ahead.|
|6.14.||Obtained ranges of an enemy ship with 3 funnels (13,000-14,000 yards) bearing Green 60, apparently in a damaged condition. Probably "Helgoland" Class. Trained guns on, but did not fire.|
|6.26.||Iron Duke opened fire.|
|6.29.||After great difficulty owing to the haze and smoke, succeeded in getting Director on to a German ship, apparently of the "Kaiser" class, obtaining two ranges from " X " turret, mean of 16,000 yards.|
|6.30.||Opened fire with "A" and "B" turrets, Green 73. Shots lost in haze.|
|6.35.||Fired again with "A" and "B" turrets. Object obscured by haze.|
|6.37.||A" and "B" turrets fired.|
|6.38.|| "A" and "B" turrets fired, object was then obscured by smoke from an enemy ship on fire drifting down between "Benbow" and the enemy. This ship was apparently an enemy cruiser with three or four funnels.|
Several of "Benbow's" rangefinders were apparently taking ranges of this ship instead of the ship actually fired at.
|6.40.||Fire was again opened with "A" and "B" turrets, at a range of 12,500 yards, the target was crossed after the second salvo, and the order "Control" was given by the Control Officer. The Cease Fire Gong was then rung, mist and smoke obscuring the target.|
|6.48.||The enemy were observed turning away to Starboard.|
|6.54.||Ship turned to Southward.|
|7. 2.||Passed wreck of "Invincible."|
|7. 9.||6-in. opened fire on Destroyers bearing Green 56, at 8,000 yards. * * * [?]|
|7.11.||One destroyer observed to be on fire.|
|7.17.||Opened fire with "A" and "B" turrets on enemy ship, "Lützow" class. Green 132 (about).|
|7.19.||Spotted down 1,600 and opened fire with all turrets.|
|7.20.||Hits observed near after turret by several observers. This is borne out by the Dreyer Table Plot where the mean rangefinder range agrees with the range on the sights at this moment.|
|7.28.||Ceased fire. Enemy destroyers making smoke screen. 6-in. ceased fire about this time.|
|7.32.||German destroyer observed to sink.|
|7.34.||German destroyer making smoke observed to sink.|
|7.34.||German destroyer observed to capsize.|
|7.35.|| 6-in. opened fire on two lots of Destroyers. Enemy Battle Cruiser reported to be still afloat, 2 masts and 2 funnels
showing above water.
|7.47.||Trembling shock felt in T.S.|
|7.49.||Collected reports of rounds fired :—|
|" A " turret - 12|
|" B " ...... - 12|
|" Q " ...... - 4|
|" X " ...... - 5|
|" Y " ...... - 5|
|Total rounds fired 38|
|7.57.||Turrets, stand easy.|
|8.24.||Heavy firing heard right ahead.|
|8.27.||Altered course 4 points to Port. Top reported track of torpedo right ahead, closing "Iron Duke's" bows.|
|8.34.||Course S.W. by S.|
|8.57.||6-in. firing on destroyers, one salvo (short).|
|9. 2.||Altered course 4 points to Port.|
|9.14.||Observed star shell on starboard bow.|
Observed Zeppelin on Port quarter passing astern P. or S.
Opened fire with "Y" turret, 1 round.
..................... 6-in., 1 round.
- Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.