H.M.S. St. Vincent at the Battle of Jutland
Report of Proceedings
H.M.S. " St. Vincent,"
10th June 1916.
I HAVE the honour to forward the following report of the action of 31st May 1916, as far as it concerned " St. Vincent." In the approach " St. Vincent " was rear ship of the 5th Division, i.e., the next division to port of the starboard wing Division led by " Marlborough."
On forming line of battle to port, " St. Vincent," therefore, became the fifth ship from the rear. The weather was very misty—visibility extreme about 5½ miles. Sea smooth.
The first enemy seen, at which fire could be opened, was a three-funnelled cruiser two points before the starboard beam, heading the opposite way to our line, and apparently stopped. Range, 11,000 yards. "St. Vincent" gave her a few salvoes, as did every other ship of the squadron apparently, but she making no reply, and being evidently in a sinking condition, cease fire was ordered.
Ten minutes later (about 6.54 p.m.) three large ships came into view near the starboard beam, steering a roughly similar course. (At times a fourth was seen, and also another Division, very faint indeed, beyond these ships.)
The leading ship that I looked at carefully, I took to be a " Kaiser " class battleship, but her funnels were short, neat and square. Arrangement of them with regard to masts was similar to " Kaiser " class. Also their distance apart was great. It is possible that this ship may have been " Lützow," but was not thought to be so at the time. The German ships opened fire with quick ripples almost simultaneously with " St. Vincent's" first broadside, which was directed against their third ship considered to be a " Kaiser." The third ship was chosen as there were many ships ahead of " St. Vincent " who could attack the two leading ships. And this was clearly done, all ships being continuously surrounded by splashes.
Rangefinders on " St. Vincent's " target agreed closely, gun range varying from 10,000 yards at start to 9,500 yards at the end. Rate very small, about 50 closing. Only small spotting corrections of up or down 50 occasionally necessary to change from 1 short to 2 short. German fire, which was brisk and regular at the start, very soon declined in rate and accuracy.
" St. Vincent's " fire was by Director, and the target was held closely till 7.26 p.m. (32 minutes in all), when the enemy had turned 8 or 10 points away, disappearing into the mist and with a smoke screen made by Destroyers to cover them as well.
Total rounds fired, 96 (88 A.P. Lyddite and 8 Common Lyddite).
To avoid enemy torpedoes crossing the track of the First Battle Squadron all ships were frequently under helm, and this led to a little bunching, but mutual understanding and consideration prevented embarrassment—e.g., " Neptune " turns sharply to avoid torpedo—" St. Vincent," next astern, wishes to keep steady for gunfire and is not threatened by that torpedo—" St. Vincent " must overlap " Neptune " for a short time.
The Director was, of course, invaluable under the conditions obtaining.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
The Vice Admiral Commanding First Battle Squadron, H.M.S. " Royal Oak."
- Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.