H.M.S. Iron Duke at the Battle of Jutland

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Report of Proceedings

Enclosure № 1 to Submission № 1415/0022 of 20/6/16 from C-in-C. Home Fleets.

№ 153.

H.M.S. Iron Duke,

3rd June 1916.


SIR,

I HAVE the honour to submit the attached brief report of the part taken by your Flagship, H.M.S. Iron Duke during the Action with the German High Sea Fleet off the Coast of Jutland on the 31st May 1916.

2. As no casualties occurred on board Iron Duke, which was not hit by the Enemy's fire, no strain was thrown on the Ship's personnel or organization and consequently, I am not specially mentioning the services of particular Officers and Men.

The bearing of all was in every way admirable.


I have the honour to be,

Sir,

Your obedient Servant,

FRED C. DREYER,

Captain.

Brief Account of the Action off Jutland of 31ST May 1916

The attached Notes on the Action by the following Officers are forwarded as they are of interest, not only in describing events, but also any difficulties they had to cope with.

Commander (G) Geoffrey Blake, R.N. In Gun Control Tower.
—Principal Control Officer.
Lieut.-Commander Thomas F. P.
Calvert, R.N.
In "B" Turret.
Lieut. Richard Shelley, R.N. In 13.5-in. Transmitting Station
—In Charge.
Mr. Herbert D. Jehan, Gunner, R.N. In 6-in. Control Top, aloft.
—6-in. Control Officer.
Mr. Francis W. Potter, Gunner, R.N. In 13-5 in. Director Tower Aloft
—13.5-in. Director-Gunner.

All times given are G.M.T. All courses magnetic.

I was in the conning tower with Captain Oliver E. Leggett, Master of the Fleet, and Lieutenant Commander (T) Edward W. MacKichan, R.N., throughout the action, and had a very good view of the whole situation.

The Communications worked very well.

The Navyphones were noticeably better than Voicepipes, the former requiring no shouting, but it is fully realised that Voicepipes possess the great advantage of reliability–in fact, they have to be blown away before being out of action. The light was bad, the weather being misty, the visibility varying during the actual firing from 10,000 to about 16,000 yards.

At 4.0 p.m.—"Action" was sounded, the Hands having had Tea, and the decks having been cleared up.

All preparations for immediate action were then made.

At 6.0 p.m.—Course was S.E.—20 knots.

At 6.2 p.m.—Altered course by 9 Pendant to S.—18 knots.

At 6.5 p.m.—Altered course by 9 Pendant to S.E.

At 6.14 p.m.—Formed line of battle to port by equal speed Pendant. Co. S.E. by E. Iron Duke being "straddled" at this time by two enemy's heavy projectiles, with large "spread."

Our battle-cruisers, which had shortly before come in sight on a southerly bearing, firing to south-westward, rapidly cleared the battleline, disclosing a German 3-funnelled cruiser somewhat like the Kolberg Class, but with larger funnels; she was apparently stopped and on fire.

6.23 p.m.—Opened fire with the Turrets on the 3-funnelled cruiser. Bearing about 80 green. Range, 11,000. Fall of shot very easy to observe. The 3rd Salvo "straddled." After the 4th Salvo—ceased fire.

6.25 p.m.—Speed 15 knots.

6.30½ p.m.—Opened fire on a battleship of König class. Bearing 70 green. Range, 12,000. The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Salvoes hitting her, with a total of at least 6 hits. Enemy steaming in the same direction as Iron Duke on a slightly converging course.

6.33 p.m.—Course S. 71° E. 17 knots. The bearing of the enemy was now S. 14° W. The bearing of the sun was N. 54° W. The enemy was lit up by the sun, whereas Iron Duke was probably invisible to them in the mist. However that may be, the König battleship did not return Iron Duke's fire, although heavily hit. 9 Salvoes, comprising total of 43 rounds, were fired at her in 4 minutes 50 seconds.

At 6.40 p.m.—Course 8. 56° E.

At 6.44 p.m.—Course 8. 46" E.

At 6.51 p.m.—Course S. 8° E.

At 7.05 p.m.—Course S.W. by S.

At 7.07 p.m.—Course S.

7.11 p.m.—6-in. Opened fire on enemy T.B.D.'s attacking the battle-fleet. Green, 63°. About 10,000 yards, and sank one enemy T.B.D., and fired on another.

7.13 p.m.—Opened fire with Turrets on enemy battleship, green, 74. Range, 15,400 yards. Enemy steaming nearly directly away. 4 Salvoes fired, no hits were observed.

7.18 p.m.—Ceased fire, as enemy was hidden by a very good smoke screen made by his destroyers.

7.20 p.m.—Trained Turrets on enemy battle-cruiser bearing 99 green, but before fire could be opened she also was hidden by a smoke screen made by attending enemy's T.B.D.'s.

At 7.23 p.m.—Course S. 19° E.

At 7.24 p.m.—6-in. Opened fire on enemy's T.B.D.'s attacking battle-fleet. Green, 115. Range, 10,000.

At 7.27 p.m.—Turrets opened fire. Green, 110. Range, 9,600 yards, on enemy's T.B.D.'s which were attacking the battle-fleet. 1 Salvo fired, which the director-gunner states blew up an enemy T.B.D.

At 7.31 p.m.—Ceased firing.

Total ammunition fired—13-5 in.—90 rounds ; 6 in.—50 rounds.

H.M.S. Oak reports that "at about 7.35 p.m. the track of a torpedo was observed to cross the track of our ships, about 200 yards ahead of Iron Duke. Torpedo was travelling slowly. Track finished about 2,000 yards on the port side of the line, and the torpedo sank. Direction of the track was S.E."

Another torpedo was also reported by Benbow, which was 4th ship astern of Iron Duke, at 8.31 p.m. "It is believed that the torpedo passed ahead of Iron Duke," but this was not seen by Iron Duke, although two signalmen were specially stationed under a signal officer aloft, to look out for torpedoes. It is quite possible that this is due to the difficult light conditions rendering the track invisible from Iron Duke.

During the night, in view of the proximity of heavy enemy's ships, the hands remained at action stations, the gun's crews at their guns, but being allowed to sleep in turn.

The Corned beef and biscuits provided at the Quarters were served out. Cocoa was provided from 9.30 p.m. onwards, and breakfast brought to the quarters at 7.30 a.m.

The Turrets were fired throughout by Director, which system possesses enormous advantages over any other in Action.

The close study which has been made of the Silhouettes of German ships enabled those sighted to be recognised, except a Battle Cruiser with very large square funnels, which might have been the Lützow.

The Rangefinders obtained very good results, notwithstanding the bad light, and were of the greatest assistance in keeping the range. The rangetakers reported that the Enemy's Pole Masts were easier to range on than those of our own ships.

No torpedoes were fired as the large number of our own ships which from time to time crossed the space between the battle-fleets rendered it inadvisable to fire the slow E.R. Torpedoes and the Enemy were out of Range for the 30 knot setting.

The engine room department experienced no difficulties during the action.

FRED C. DREYER,

Captain.[1]

Notes Made by Lieutenant Richard Shelley, R.N., on Iron Duke's 13.5-in. Transmitting Station

G.M.T.

P.M.

5.55. Heavy firing on the Starboard bow.
Stand by to load.
Director firing.
B.C.F. heavily engaged on the Starboard bow bearing about 65 Green.
5.59. Load.
6. 4. Green 40.
6.23. All left Guns to the Ready.
6.25. Straddle.
6.25½. Check fire.
6.29½. 70 Green Inclination 100 to the left.
6.30½. Open fire. Spotting corrections, detailed record not kept, No correction; Straddle no correction; Enemy on fire; record not kept.
6.37.10. No spotting correction.
6.37.40. Check fire. 90 Green.
For information Enemy was straddled and badly hit twice, a fire broke out under "A" and "B" Turrets. Enemy a/c/ 14 points and disappeared in the mist.
Passed sunken ship on starboard side.
Train 60 green follow the Director.
7. 6. Target 28 green. "Q", "X" and "Y" train 40 Green and stand by to pick up target.
Ship altering course to Port.
7.14. Ready.
7.14.20. Open fire.
7.17.30. Fired Record not kept.
7.19.10. Five guns Record not kept. No correction for range.
7.21.20. Target shifted train 99 green. Range 14,000.
7.23. Check Fire.
7.24.45. 6-in. opened fire.
7.26. Destroyer train 136 green. Check bearing 110 green.
7.26.50. Open fire 5 guns.
7.27.50. Check fire (Director reports target has gone).
7.40. All Turrets train 90 Green.
7.42. Ammunition expended:–
"A" 18 rds. Common
"B" 17 rds. Common
"Q" 18 rds. Common
"X" 19 rds. Common
"Y" 18 rds. Common
No breakdowns.
8.10. Turrets load cages with Lyddite A.P. Shell
8.20.30. Battle Fleet is deploying into line of Battle again.
8.23. Heavy firing ahead.
8.30. Train 60 Green.
8.32.50. 70 Green.
8.41. Enemy's Battle Fleet is somewhere on the Starboard beam, a light cruiser has just been engaging them.
9.9. Heavy firing on starboard beam. All Turrets train 90 Green.
11.55. Train 90 Red, follow the Director, stand fast "B" turret.

1st June, 1916.

A.M.

1.4. Light on Port beam (From Director).
2.30. Train 40 Green.
2.35. Alter course to Starboard.
2.37. Alter course to Port, to original course (166 Gyro).
2.45. Lined up for training. Read off elevation receivers. Put range on range transmitter.
2.46. Make certain that all rangefinders and periscopes are clean.
2.55. Cages are to be kept loaded with Common. Train fore and aft.
3.22. For information, Firing right ahead.
3.52. Firing on Port beam. Stand by to open fire.
3.56. 96 Green a Zeppelin.
4. 1½. Zeppelin altered course to Starboard, rate 900 opening.
4. 3. Do not load cages with shrapnel. Zeppelin is apparently retiring.
4.15. All Turrets are to be ready to load with Common.
5.48. Turrets train 60 Green.
6. 7. Turrets train 80 Red follow the Director.
10.46. Cooks of Messes fallen out to prepare dinner.
12. 0. "A", "Q" and "Y" Turrets Crews to Dinner.

P.M.

2.23. Secure.
[2]

Notes Made by Shorthand in "B" Turret at the Dictation of Lt. Commander T. F. P. Calvert, During the Action

P.M.

5.55. Stand By to load.
5.58. Ship 19 knots.
6. 0. Battle Cruiser, Starboard Bow, 64 Green. Turrets load—Belay.
6. 2. Turrets load.
6. 3. Both Guns loaded.
6. 5. Stand by to train 40 Green.
6. 6. White smoke on Upper Deck of "Lion" Port side.
6. 8. Ship 18 knots.
6.10. Turrets train 90 Green. "Lion" still on fire.
6.12. Big shot just short of a destroyer bearing 50 Green. Firing with flashes this way bearing also about 50 Green.
6.13. Shot fell about 4,000 yds. over on our beam.
6.14. Fleet deployed to port.
6.15. 11,000.
6.16.30. Enemy ship, very much on fire, only white smoke, apparently stopped.
6.16.50. "Lion" "A" and "B" fire 2 gun salvo.
6.17.10. Next ship to "Lion" fired a salvo.
6.18. More enemy ships about.
6.18.25. They are right on our beam, 10"" right of where we are.
6.18.45. Two enemy shots fell between "Lion" and 4 funnelled cruiser on her port beam.
6.19. 4. Battle Cruiser, "Inflexible" class, fired salvo.
6.19.30. Ship alter course to starboard.
6.19.50. Enemy ship apparently blown up. (This must have been "Defence.)
6.20. Speed of ship 15 knots.
6.20.22. Ship steady bearing 83 Green.
6.20.35. Ship alter course.
6.20.50. We are 9th ship of line bearing 88 Green.
6.21. 5. Another enemy ship—right on her now—3 funnels. 2 masts.
6.22. 10. Speed of ship 17.
6.23.30. Opened fire. 1st salvo, 3 shots spotted short; 2nd salvo, Straddle; 3rd Salvo, over; 4th salvo, Not spotted.
6.25.40. Check fire.
6.25.50. Ship ahead opened fire.
6.26.10. Steam escaping amidships.
6.26.15. British Destroyer passing, 2 black balls up, Not under control, 2 men on forecastle.
6.26.20. Target 70 Green.
6.30.25. Opened fire, 1st Salvo shots fell right and short.
6.31. 2nd Salvo, all over. Not sighted at all.
6.31.40. 3rd salvo not spotted.
6.32.10. Ship alter course to port.
6.32.30. 4th salvo straddle over.
6.33. Rapid salvoes. 5th salvo not spotted.
6.33.25. 6th salvo enemy on fire.
6.33.48. 7th salvo short.
6.34.25. 8th salvo not spotted.
6.35.13. 9th salvo not spotted.
6.35.55. 10th salvo not spotted.
6.36. Enemy alter course to starboard 300 opening.
6.36.15. Check fire.
6.39.10. Ship 15.
6.40.10. Ship alter course to Starboard.
6.42.50. Passed another British destroyer not under control with "39" on her stern.
6.43.30. Destroyer has collision mat over port bow and fire abaft after funnel.
6.45.10. Very misty, cannot see any enemy ships.
6.48.45. All turrets train 90 Green.
6.50. Ship on starboard bow, broken in half.
7. 0.30. Wing Battleship has just opened fire with a salvo and the second ship.
7. 4.10. 9,300 Turned, went off the target.
7. 5.35. Target 28 Green.
7. 6. 40. 11,400.
7. 6.50. Ship alter course to port. Target is the left-hand ship.
7. 7.48. 11,000.
7. 8.10. 10,600.
7. 8.40. 12,000.
7. 9. 11,900.
7.10. 13,500.
7.10.40. 14,100.
7.11. 14,800.
7.11.20. Our 6-in. fired.
7.11.45. 15,300 One Destroyer on this bearing stopped, and

one turning in circles.

7.12.10. Our 6-in. fired.
7.12.30. Enemy 18.
7.12.35. 15,500.
7.12.50. Our 6-in. opened heavy fire on enemy destroyers.
7.13. 15,400 — 400 closing.
7.13.10. All left guns ready.
7.13.40. 1st salvo, shots fell right.
7.14.25. 15,500.
7.14.40. 15,000.
7.14.45. 2nd salvo, still right.
7.15.5. 15,700.
7.15.50. Enemy reduced to 10 knots. Range 14,900.
7.16. Inclination 40 to the left.
7.16.18. 15,500.
7.16.40. 15,600.
7.16.50. Ship alter course to starboard slowly.
7.16.55. 3rd salvo. 20 Starboard.
7.17. 5. 15,300.
7.17.30. 125 opening.
7.17.45. Enemy destroyers making a smoke screen.
7.18.30. 4th salvo. One of enemy ships got hit all right.
7.18.25. 16,200.
7.20.32. Target shifted 99 Green.
7.20.45. Enemy 17, 11,300.
7.21. 12.200.
7.21.10. 11.900.
7.21.25. 12,000.
7.21.35. 12,200.
7.21.50. 12,500.
7.22.10. Ship alter course to port.
7.22.15. Two enemy destroyers about 9,000.
7.23.15. Check fire.
7.23.50. Six enemy destroyers within range.
7.24. 6-in. opened fire on enemy destroyers short, * *
7.24.50. 6-in. fired on destroyers 135 Green.
7.25.25. 8,900.
7.25.30. Bring left guns to ready.
7.25.40. 8,700.
7.25.48. Enemy 17.
7.26. 5. 9,000.
7.26.20. Ship altering course to port
7.26.30. 9,000.
7.27. 3. 1st salvo, short.
7.28.13. Check fire.
7.30.40. Four Light Cruisers and flotilla going after enemy destroyers, one has stopped.
7.32.10. Passed something floating in water.
8.25.30. Nine heavy ships ahead.
8.20.40. Ship 15.
8.29.50. Turrets train 80 Green.
8.31. 5. Ship 16.
8.31.50. Train 70 Green.
8.33.30. Ship 17.
9.07.00. Train 90 Green.
9.14.00. Star shell burst on starboard beam.
[3]

Notes made in the 13.5-in. Gun Control Tower to the Dictation of Commander (G) G. Blake, Immediately after the Action

Heavy Firing first heard about 70 Green. Shortly after, Battle Cruiser Fleet were made out steering across Bow, firing well on an extreme forward starboard bearing. The Ships seen were " Lion," " Princess Royal," " Tiger," and " New Zealand." Afterward, 4 Ships of the 5th B.S. were sighted, coming obliquely towards Battle fleet from Starboard Wing, they joined Battle Fleet.

Battle Fleet deployed to Port, into Line of Battle.

About this time, a German three-funnelled Cruiser was observed badly damaged and in a sinking condition.

" Iron Duke " to clear bores of Guns, fired four Salvoes. No hits were observed, although straddled. All other ships within Range were firing at her, especially a Cruiser (" Shannon " Class) which got in front of Battle Line, made a large quantity of smoke and obscured everything on firing side, eventually drawing off towards the rear of the line.

After Battle Cruisers had passed, 3 or 4 German Battleships of "König " Class appeared in the mist, about 140 Green.


Details on fire control omitted from the Report as reproduced in the Official Despatches.

Range, 11,000.


Details on fire control omitted from the Report as reproduced in the Official Despatches.

First Salvo Short.
Second Salvo Straddle-3 Hits.
Third Salvo, 1 Hit - Straddle over.
Fourth Salvo, 2 Hits.
Then enemy altered course about 12 Points, and was lost in the mist and smoke. two more salvoes were fired and appeared to be falling short.
Check fire.

An enormous explosion occurred on the starboard quarter, sending up a column of white smoke about 1,000 ft. high.

Passed sunken Ship, which proved to be " Invincible."

We then sighted what appeared to be a Battleship very much like the " Queen Elizabeth " Class, but with two thin pole masts, evidently an enemy ship; several of our own ships were firing at her.

We opened fire at her, at a range of about 16,000 yards,


Details on fire control omitted from the Report as reproduced in the Official Despatches.

shot fell


Details on fire control omitted from the Report as reproduced in the Official Despatches.

to the right, and by the time the deflection was corrected, and about four salvoes fired, she had disappeared in the mist. She apparently had a number of Destroyers around her.

Fire was checked, and shortly afterwards another Battleship came into sight, but before fire could be opened on her, she was obscured by smoke, her bearing was about 93 Green. Nothing happened for some time, but eventually a Destroyer attack developed, and the 6-in. were firing continuously for about ten minutes to a quarter of an hour.

The results were not seen.

Shortly after Turrets were directed on to Destroyer bearing 110 Green, and one Salvo was fired.

The Director Gunner states Destroyer fired at disappeared.

No more firing was carried out.

This was the last occasion of engaging the Enemy.

Heavy firing was observed on the Starboard Bow, and " Calliope " was seen to be hit amidships; the flash lit up the whole of the Main Deck. She, however, continued to proceed.

When it got dark, Course was altered to South, and we appeared to have got well ahead of High Sea Fleet, which have been firing at intervals right aft on the Starboard Quarter. The turrets fired 18 rounds per turret, Capped Powder, Common Shell.

Notes Made in the 13.5-in. Gun Director Tower Aloft, at the Dictation of Gunner F. W. Potter

(Times and Bearings, Approximate.)

At 4 p.m., Action being sounded, I repaired to the 13.5-in. Director Tower, and Tested all Circuits. I then received information from T.S. that our Destroyers were engaging the Enemy's Battle Cruisers, and that we should probably be in action in about one hour's time.

Also that 4 ships of the 5th Battle Squadron were engaging the enemy, and the German High Sea Fleet were standing North.

At about 5.25, I observed flashes from Guns, bearing about Green 60, and about 6 p.m. the Battle Cruisers could be seen heavily engaged with the enemy.

6.25 we opened tire at a three-funnelled Cruiser, which looked like the " Augsburg " Class, Range 11,500.

The first was short, the second over, and the third straddled.

After this the shooting appeared to be good, but unfortunately the enemy got obscured by smoke.

About this time three Battleships of the " König " Class appeared, bearing Green 70.

I then received the order to train Green 70, Battleship of the "Koenig" Class, and fire was opened on her.

About six hits were obtained in the vicinity of " A " and " B " Turrets, one salvo causing a big fire on the fore part of the ship. The last salvo fired was a straddle short, as I distinctly saw one shot hit the ship's side and explode.

The enemy now turned away and were obscured by the mist, and the order "check fire " was given.

One of our Destroyers was observed, badly damaged, and a little later we passed a sunken ship which afterwards was reported to be the "Invincible." There were a good many men in the water, and a Destroyer was standing by, picking them up.

After this we passed what appeared to be a ship bottom upwards, which I reported to the Commander.

I was then shifted to another ship, which disappeared in the mist after a few salvoes had been fired at her.

A large Cruiser of the " Moltke " Clas came into view, accompanied by about seven Destroyers.

I was put on to the Cruiser, which made a splendid Target, but she was very soon screened by the Destroyer's smoke, so I reported the Enemy obscured. It seemed that as soon as she saw the Fleet she turned about and disappeared.

I then received the order to Train Green 110 a Destroyer, followed by the order " Green 120, a Destroyer." After Ranging for a few moments, the order " Open Fire "

The only Salvo was a straddle short.

The order " Check Fire" was given at about 7.30.

Several bearings were given to me during this time, but no further firing took place.

After the Fleet turned to port, heavy firing was heard, and gun flashes were seen well off the starboard quarter.

At about 8.45 p.m., a star light was seen falling off the starboard beam, which lit up the rear end of the Second Battle Squadron.

At 9.5 p.m., and at various intervals, heavy firing was heard astern.

Nothing more transpired until the following morning, 1st June, when at 4. am. I reported a Zeppelin well off the port quarter.

The Fleet now deployed to starboard, and I received orders to stand by to fire at the Zeppelin.

The director was trained and layed on to the Zeppelin, but unfortunately the smoke from our own funnels continually obscured her. Also a hoist of flags blew right across the telescope.

All firing was carried out with the main director circuit.


Details on fire control omitted from the Report as reproduced in the Official Despatches.

The crew of the director tower carried out their work in a very cool manner.

Notes on the Firing of 6-in. Guns, by the 6-in. Control Officer Aloft - Gunner Herbert D. Jehan

A Destroyer attack was observed coming towards the Fleet, starboard bow.

The order was given by the Captain from Conning Tower "Destroyer 63 Green, Open fire when ready."

The Guns were given the Bearing of the Leading Destroyer at an estimated range of 10,000 yards, and 600 closing, fire was opened by salvoes, first salvo was over and out for line. This was corrected


Details on fire control omitted from the Report as reproduced in the Official Despatches.

the next salvo being short, and the third salvo straddled, the fourth hIt the Destroyer which appeared to stagger and Independent was ordered. No less than four hits were observed and the Destroyer sank.

The 6-in. were ordered to Check Fire and shift to another Destroyer bearing 84 Green. Range 9,000. This Destroyer appeared to be hit once by the 6-in., but not disabled, and turned away. Range increased rapidly to extreme Gun Range, and the 6-in. were ordered to Check Fire.

The second attack came from aft, the order given by the Captain from Conning Tower was "Destroyers 135 Green, Open Fire when ready." This was passed to Battery, and 10,000 put on the Sights.

" Salvoes Commence " being ordered. The guns appeared to be a long time before opening fire. One Gun fired, and I could not see the Fall of Shot.

A Check Bearing was given 115 Green, and it appeared to me as if the after guns were on the second Destroyer, and the foremost guns on the leading Destroyer.


Account of Petty Officer Arthur John Brister

Gunfire was heard in due course, becoming louder. Excitement rising within me, I was sorely tempted to peep through the portholes, but I had to keep my head down and concentrate on the important signals buzzing in; however, when handing signals to the Commander I managed a glance. A mile or two ahead, amidst a cauldron of gunfire, smoke and columns of water, a line of our cruisers were in the thick of it and living dangerously. Just then the Signal Commander gave me the first manœuvring signal, ordering "At once!" Having transmitted the signal "JJJ" (battle fleet) I was waiting for acknowledgements when the Commander shouted, "Executive now!"

Notes

  1. Admiralty. Official Despatches, pp. 52-55.
  2. Admiralty. Official Despatches, pp. 55-57.
  3. Admiralty. Official Despatches, pp. 57-60.

References

  • Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.
  • Campbell, N.J.M. (2000). Jutland: An Analysis of the Fighting. New York: The Lyons Press. ISBN 1-55821-759-2. (on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).