H.M.S. Neptune at the Battle of Jutland
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Report of Proceedings
10th June 1916.
I HAVE the honour to forward the following report on the action with the German fleet on 31st ultimo.
|At 5.46 p.m.,||when steering S. 50° E. in columns of divisions line ahead, disposed abeam, one mile apart, (Organisation No. 5) flashes from gun-fire were observed on Starboard bow.|
|5.51 p.m.—||Gun-fire heard on Starboard bow.|
|5.56 p.m.—||One of our cruiser squadrons, either First or Second, was observed on Port bow, engaging enemy, the latter being out of sight of "Neptune."|
|6. 1 p.m.—||Signal "9 Pdt. E— G.18" was hauled down.|
|6. 6 p.m.—|| The inspiring signal—
"Remember the traditions of the glorious First of June—avenge Belgium"
was received and transmitted to all on board.
About this time the First Battle Cruiser Squadron (3 in number) and one "New Zealand" were observed steering to the Eastward across our bow. They were engaging an enemy invisible to "Neptune." The Fifth Battle Squadron appeared some distance astern of them.
The signal "Equal speed Pdt. C.L." (S.E. by S.) was hoisted.
6.16 p.m.—Signal hauled down. Formed into line.
About this time the flashes of enemy's guns were seen on Starboard beam and quarter, and the splashes of his projectiles were observed on Starboard side.
Enemy appeared to be firing on our cruisers, some of which appeared out of the mist. One of "Warrior" class was seen to be badly hit and set on fire; she passed across to Port quarter. Another cruiser, apparently "Defence," was observed to be hit, and was reported to have blown up.
A third cruiser of same type [Warrior], though surrounded with shells, managed to make her escape.
|6.32 p.m.—||"Collingwood" opened fire. About this time 5th Division got somewhat bunched up, and "St. Vincent" came up on "Neptune's" beam, masking her fire and interfering with view of enemy. "St. Vincent" opened fire, which now became general in our line.|
|6.40 p.m.—||"St. Vincent" having dropped astern, "Neptune" opened fire on one of enemy's battleships, which appeared to be unfired on. Owing to the mist, enemy could only be indistinctly seen. Fire was opened at 11,000 yards, but after two salvoes, both of which appeared to be short; owing to the impossibility of spotting and gradual disappearance of the target firing was discontinued. Enemy appeared to fire one or two salvoes in our direction and then to discontinue.|
|6.44 p.m.—||Course altered to S.E.|
|6.50 p.m.—||Passed "Acasta" hove to and putting collision mats over two holes, one on Starboard quarter and one on Port bow.|
|6.55 p.m.—||"9 Pdt. E.—G. 17" hauled down.|
About this time a three-funnel cruiser ("Moraves" class), apparently disabled, was observed to come out of the mist on Starboard beam. She possibly fired the torpedo which hit "Marlborough."
First Battle Squadron opened fire on her. "Neptune" fired one salvo at her, but as so many other ships were firing at this cruiser, I ceased fire. She was observed to be hit several times, and was lost sight of astern. She did not return the fire.
About 7.4 p.m.—"Neptune" opened fire on the leading of two battle cruisers, "Lutzow" class. The first salvo was fired at a range of 10,200 yards and fell over.
—fire." Salvo short. "Up" ----
Straddle and hit. "Up"
and hit again They then turned away, the leader on fire aft, and rapidly disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
An enemy light cruiser was now seen steering to Northward. She was soon hit, while turning to Port, by a salvo from one of our ships. She appeared to stop and to settle down in the water. Believed to have sunk.
7.10 p.m.—About six or eight German destroyers commenced an attack on our line from a position about 2 points before the Starboard beam. A salvo from 12-in. was fired at them while 4-in. guns were being manned. " Neptune " opened fire with 4-in. guns on one destroyer, which was not being fired at, and hit her three times, then opened fire on another (the second in the line) and she was hit too, believed by "Neptune," but might have been another ship. Both are believed to have sunk. The remaining destroyers were driven off, but not without torpedoes being fired at our line. The tracks of three torpedoes were clearly seen from the fore-top, one of which passed very close to "Neptune," and was avoided by use of helm.
Two submarines—one on the surface about three miles on Starboard quarter, and the other in diving trim about two miles a point before the Starboard beam—are believed to have been seen from fore-top about this time.
About 7.5 p.m. a badly damaged vessel, apparently a German light cruiser, was passed about a mile on Port beam. She was very badly crumpled up, with waist below water, and bow and stern above the surface. She seemed to have been abandoned. From subsequent information this appears to have been "Invincible."
About 10.40 p.m. heavy firing, apparently from an engagement between light cruisers and destroyers, was observed to the North-West, about four or five miles off. One ship appeared to be set on fire.
Flashes were observed to the Northward at intervals during the night.
About 3.45 a.m. on 1st instant a Zeppelin was observed on Port quarter. She passed over to Starboard beam. A round was fired at her from "X" turret, after which she turned away and made off.
The white ensign flown by our ships did not seem to stand out clearly at a distance in the white misty weather, nor the union jack either.
It is not known why the red ensign was abandoned, but it is considered that red shows up better than any other colour against any background likely to be met with, and a large red flag, flown in a conspicuous position, such as the foretopmast head, is recommended.
In the case of most of the Officers and men of "Neptune," this was the first occasion on which they had been in any kind of an action. It had an exhilarating and beneficial effect, the opportunity of coming in contact with the enemy being much appreciated.
The behaviour of all during the short and disappointing engagement was most creditable, all orders being rapidly and accurately carried out without undue excitement.
Separate reports giving names of Officers and men recommended are being forwarded.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
The Vice-Admiral Commanding
First Battle Squadron.
- I may be mistaken, but I believe these mean "Proceed to support the battlecruisers to the Ease" and "Proceed at 18 knots", ref Flotilla Signal Book Volume I, 1913, pp 15, 32.
- This was Jellicoe's famous "Equal Speed Charlie London" signal to deploy the Grand Fleet.
- Nearly the same as the first signal footnoted, but at 17 knots?
- Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.