H.M.S. Vanguard at the Battle of Jutland

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Report of Proceedings

H.M.S. " Vanguard,"

2nd June 1916.


I HAVE the honour to report on the action of 31st May, the details of which, so far as they came under my observation, are given in the enclosed narrative of events, and general remarks on the action.

2. Although H.M. Ship " Vanguard " was not hit and sustained no casualties, the conditions were a sufficiently severe test of morale to justify a word of commendation of the ship's company. All officers and men did their duty thoroughly well and with a cool and cheerful demeanour which it was a pleasure to observe. Men, organisation, machinery and material in general stood the test well.

3. I beg to draw special attention to item in narrative of events timed 5.55 p.m. From this it would appear the enemy must have a knowledge of Vocabulary Signal Book Number 2, although it has only very recently been brought into use.

I have the honour to be,


Your obedient Servant,



The Vice Admiral Commanding

Fourth Battle Squadron,

H.M.S. "Benbow."

H.M.S. "Vanguard,"

2nd June 1916.




5.52 Battle Fleet being in Columns of Divisions (Organisation No. 5), Course South, Speed 12 knots. Gunfire and flashes were observed between the bearing S. by W. and W.S.W. About this time our Battle Cruisers could be distinguished—" Lion " bearing S. by W.—and the Fifth Battle Squadron bearing W.S.W. with some of our four-funnelled armoured cruisers on about the same bearing as the 5th Battle Squadron. Visibility at this time about 9,000 yards, although flashes of guns could be seen further than the ships producing them.
5.55 A ship on starboard bow (probably German) flashing by signal " IAR " (" Stop engines ")—Vocabulary Signal Book No. 2. She continued repeating this for some time.
5.50 Heard gunfire on port bow—bearing S.S.E.
6.00 Our cruisers coming in.
Forming line of battle. Course, S.E. by E. During this period our Battle Cruisers with the 5th Battle Squadron and four-funnelled cruisers were hotly engaged with enemy Battle Cruisers. During the period 6.15 to 6.25, enemy's shell were falling close to "Vanguard," mostly short, some of them ricochets, but one or two salvoes whistled overhead falhng about 300 yards over.
6.10 One of our four-funnelled cruisers struck by an enemy salvo blew up and disappeared.
6.20 Another of our four-funnelled cruisers struck by enemy's salvo blew up and disappeared.
6.24 One of our four-funnelled cruisers surrounded by splashes of enemy shell, zig-zagging to escape, which she did, but apparently badly hit.
6.26 " Iron Duke " opened fire.
6.32 " Vanguard " opened fire, using director, at a three-funnelled enemy cruiser with swan bow (?"Freya"). Range about 11,000 yards. Hit her at 4th salvo. (This was the first target that presented itself. Enemy Battle cruisers had been visible earlier but were blanketted by our Battle Cruisers and 5th Battle Squadron). Continued firing at this cruiser.
6.35 ( ?) " Freya " apparently stopped (disabled).
6.45 Divisions' 9 Pendant turn to S.E.
6.46 ( ?) " Freya " out of sight—checked fire, no target being visible.
6.50 Passed " Acasta " disabled (two cables on starboard beam).
6.54 Division's 9 Pendant turn to S.
7.00 Observed a German Battle Cruiser ( ? " Lützow ") badly on fire aft. She showed up very clearly against western horizon, but could not fire at her, being blanketted by " Colossus."
7.10 Passed wreck of " Invincible " (2 cables on port beam). A destroyer standing by.
7.10 Turned together to South. About this time enemy destroyers advanced making a heavy screen of black smoke which, drifting to leeward {i.e., towards our line), hid enemy ships from view and also formed a very effective screen for the T.B.Ds. themselves.

Altered course 2 points away from enemy by subdivisions.

7.18 Speed, 13 knots.
7.20 Fired a few 12-in. salvoes into the advancing enemy flotillas. Also fired a few rounds of 4-in. at them. One of the enemy T.B.Ds. drifted disabled out of the smoke screen. It is presumed that enemy destroyers fired their torpedoes about this time, but nothing was seen of tracks.
7.25 Speed, 15 knots. Fired a few salvoes at another group of enemy T.B.Ds.
7.30 Fired at an enemy light cruiser, which was apparently disabled. 9 Point turn to S. by W.
7.50 Forming single line ahead on " Iron Duke." Course S.W.
8.00 Divisions separately alter course W. Speed, 17 knots.
8.25 Divisions separately alter course to S.W.
9.00 Divisions separately alter course to South. About this time, a white star shell was fired bearing west—evidently by a German destroyer preparatory to torpedo attack.
10.10 Torpedo attack on 2nd Battle Squadron—then on starboard beam of " Vanguard," one to two miles distant.
10.35 Torpedo attack on 2nd Battle Squadron—then on starboard quarter of " Vanguard " and from one to two miles distant.


(1) Four targets were fired at :—

1st. Enemy cruiser, 3 funnels, swan bow ( ? " Freya "). About 9 salvoes (each of four guns). She was hit at fourth salvo and several times subsequently and is beheved to have been badly damaged.

Range, 10,000 to 11,000.

2nd. A single T.B.D. lying between the lines apparently disabled, but in a position to fire a torpedo.

2 salvoes—8,300. Hit her, second salvo.

3rd. Enemy flotilla coming out of cloud of oil fuel smoke and turning in succession.

About 3 salvoes fired. Shell fell amongst them, but did not see any definite hits.

Range about 8,000 to 9,000.

4th. Enemy fight cruiser similar to No. 1 target, but straight bow. About 3 salvoes.

She was hit. Fire ceased as she became obscured in smoke. She was not firing.

Range, 9,000 to 10,000.

Total rounds fired :—

12-in. Capped Common 16
12-in. H.E. 42
4-in. Common 5
4-in. H.E. Common 5

(2) Director Firing (aloft position) in conjunction with primary control from Fore Top was used throughout, and with the exception of one small breakage (which was quickly repaired) it worked very well. A few mishaps occurred in the working of gun machinery and mechanisms, but nothing to cause material delay.

(3) Gunnery information ommitted from Official Despatches.

(4) Except for the thick weather, the gunnery conditions were favourable for us—i.e., the lee position and the best of the light.

(5) Two matters contributed to save the enemy Battle Cruisers from receiving the full fire of our battle line, viz. :—

Thick weather and the fact that the line of fire was masked to a considerable extent by our Battle Cruisers and the 5th Battle Squadron. So far as " Vanguard " is concerned there was a difficulty in finding an enemy ship not masked by one of our own.

It is not known whether the enemy Battle Fleet was present or not. They were not seen by " Vanguard."

(6) The employment by the enemy of a destroyer smoke screen appeared to be skilful and well timed, and it probably saved one of their heavy ships (?" Lützow) " from destruction by hiding her from view.

(7) The position of the wreck of " Invincible " is such that it is likely to invite the enemy's attention in the way of diving for secret books, &c.

One of our submarines in the vicinity might do some good work.



H.M.S "Vanguard,"

2nd June 1916.

See Also