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

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Captain: Edward Montgomery Phillpotts
Commander: Humphrey Thomas Walwyn

Report of Proceedings

H.M.S. " Warspite,"

4th June 1916.


I HAVE the honour to submit the following combined diary of events and report on action of Wednesday, 31st May, and Thursday, 1st June, 1916:—

2. The enemy was sighted at 3.50 p.m. at the time when the engagement commenced between the battle cruiser fleets.

3. On the signal being received from " Barham " to open fire " Warspite " waited to see at which ship " Barham " was firing, and at 4.2 p.m. fire was opened on the second light cruiser from the van (second from the right)—range, 18,500 yards. She was straddled and turned away either on fire or using smoke protection. On the signal to attack the enemy's battle cruisers, and concentration signal 2P being received, fire was shifted to the rear battle cruiser; range, 19,500; she was straddled several times, turned away, and eventually got out of range.

Fire was then shifted to another battle cruiser; result unknown.

4. As the 5th Battle Squadron turned to the northward at 4.55 p.m. the enemy's battle squadron was sighted, and as their battle cruisers were very bad targets owing to visibility, the leading ship of the enemy's battle fleet was engaged; range 17,000. Only a few salvoes were fired, but it is believed that she was straddled after the second salvo; the target was then right aft and fire was checked.

5. For the next half hour fire was intermittent and ineffective on the enemy battle cruisers owing to low visibility causing great difficulty in selection of target.

6. At 6 p.m. the Grand Fleet was sighted, and course was altered to the south eastward in the wake of " Barham."

At 6.18 p.m. course was altered to the northward, following the motions of " Barham " and " Valiant," but as we were apparently closing " Malaya " I ordered Port 20°, and then the steering gear commenced to give trouble.

7. I have been unable to ascertain the exact cause of the trouble, as subsequent events followed rapidly in succession, and " Warspite " closed the enemy's battle fleet so rapidly that she came under a very heavy fire. However, after careful investigation I have elucidated the following facts:—

(a) The thrust bearing on the steering engine heated, probably owing to the ship having been hit about this time, but it was impossible to distinguish in the Conning Tower between hits and shell falling close alongside.
The result of this was a slowing up of the steering engine.
(b) Taking into consideration that the ship was steaming 25 knots at the time, the helm was put over far too quickly.
(c) The telemotor gearing from the lower conning tower to engine room was bent, probably as a result of (a) and (b) above.

8. " Warspite " shaved close under " Valiant's " stern, and every attempt was made by helm and engines to bring her head back to port with the dire result that she only closed the head of the enemy's battle fleet at decreasing speed. I then decided to go full-speed ahead, and continued the turn to starboard; I am unable to give further details, except that I managed to get away to the northward after practically turning two circles under the concentrated fire of several of the enemy's battleships.

During this time centralised control was impossible, but fire was kept up by all turrets on local control. Closest range was estimated to be about 12,000 yards, and the ship was badly damaged by shell fire, but not completely disabled.

I then attempted to take station astern of " Malaya," but before arriving at 5 cables distance I realised that the ship was still unmanageable, so I withdrew to the northward to shift over steering gear to some other position. The after steering compartment was reported flooded, so the steering position at the engine itself was adopted.

8. A rough survey of the damage by gunfire was made, and I considered that owing to the danger of flooding the engine rooms a moderate speed only was safe for the time; I consequently reported to the Senior Officer 5th Battle Squadron that " Warspite " could steam 16 knots and requested the position of the battle fleet. I received orders to proceed to Rosyth.

9. I shaped course accordingly at 8.30 p.m., steaming 16 knots, and every endeavour was made to plug holes and shore bulkheads. Speed was gradually increased until 9.35 a.m. 1st June, when, whilst zigzagging at 19 knots, two torpedoes passed close to the ship, one on either side; but no periscope was seen, as owing to a southerly breeze there were many " white horses " on the surface of the water. Speed was then increased to 21 knots and subsequently to 22 knots, and a signal was made to the Commander-in-Chief, Rosyth, that " Warspite " had been attacked by two submarines, and was proceeding to Rosyth without escort.

An escort of torpedo boats and destroyers was sent, but just as the first two were sighted at 11.42 a.m., another submarine showed her periscope close under the bows. Orders were given to increase to full speed, and to put the helm over to ram her, but owing to the length of time required to transmit the orders to the engine-room steering position she was missed by a few yards.

I then zigzagged at full speed from the spot where the periscope was last seen, and saw no more of the submarine.

9. This increase of speed necessitated re-shoring up, and consequently speed was reduced at 0.20 p.m., when escort had joined up.

10. " Warspite " arrived at Rosyth at 3.15 p.m., and proceeded straight into dock.

Details on recommendation, personnel &c. omitted from the Report
as reproduced in the
Official Despatches.

I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,

Damage Report

The damage sustained by this ship was principally from gun fire, several large shells striking and penetrating into the ship. The foremost hit was received on the Port side plating between the Forecastle and Upper Decks, about 4 ft. on the Fore side of No. 16 Bulkhead. This was apparently from a splinter of an exploded shell as no further damage was observed in the vicinity of the explosion.

The side plating was also pierced between the Upper and Main Decks on the Port side, 4 ft. forward of No. 23 Station, the diameter of the whole being 1' 8''.

A shell entered the ship through the Port side plating at the line of the Upper Deck at 35 Station piercing the Upper Deck on entry and passing in a forward and downward direction diagonally across the ship, striking the corner of the partial bulkhead at 31 Station, badly damaging it. It then hit the Main Deck which was badly indented over an area of about 2' 0'' × 1' 5'' in extent.

At 53 Station on the Starboard side a large shell pierced the belt armour plating (240 lbs.) about 1 ft. below the Upper Deck, making a whole in the armour 13 inches in diameter on the outside surface, while the inner surface was shelled out over an area 4 ft. × 2 ft. 6 in. This shell evidently exploded on entry, as the Upper Deck above and the Main Deck below in the vicinity were pierced by fragments, in the former the holes being 2 ft. and 1 ft. 6 in. in diameter and in the latter some 10 or 12 holes being made of various sizes, while the deck was badly buckled over an area of some 24 ft. × 12 ft. The ventilation trunks near the Middle Line situated against "A" and "B" barbettes were also badly perforated.

At about 93 Station on the Starboard side a large whole was made by the entry of a shell through the superstructure plating at the line of the Shelter Deck. This shell apparently traversed the deck diagonally in a forward direction wrecking the Port Night Defence Shelter, the crown and floor being much perforated, and the superstructure plating forming the side badly distorted and holed.

The belt armour (of 520 lbs.) was penetrated at 157 Station Port by a large shell, leaving a hole 2 ft. 6 in. × 2 ft., the longitudinal bulkhead inside being badly holed and distorted. On the ship's side Port the Ash and Soil Shoots [Chutes] further aft were carried away.

The Superstructure aft, surrounding the Communication Tube from the after Director Tower, suffered extensively, the plating being riddled and distorted over a large area by the explosion of a heavy shell, causing large holes on the Starboard side. The armour tube (4 in. in thickness) was struck and a large piece 2' 6" deep and extending round half the circumference of the tube was broken out, as shown in the illustrations.[See here.]

The belt armour (240 lbs.) was pierced on the Port side at about 190 Station between the Main and Upper Decks, the hole made being 12 in. in diameter. Two beams, the brackets behind the armour plating, and the ventilation pipes in this compartment were carried away, and the longitudinal bulkheads pierced, the hole in the first being about 5 ft. in diameter. The shell then passed inboard, bulging the Main Deck and splintering the armour to "X" barbette to a depth of 2¼'', perforating a longitudinal bulkhead and damaging three angle stiffeners to the Middle Line bulkhead.

Two holes were pierced in the side plating at about 216 and 218 Stations Port about 2 ft. below the Upper Deck, and two more at 232 and 236 Stations at the edge of the Upper Deck, the shells which entered at these latter positions extensively damaging the cabins in the vicinity.

A hole was made in the belt armour plating (240 lbs.) at 236 Station Starboard between the Main and Middle Decks and immediately above this a large hole a large hole was made in the side plating above the Main Deck, apparently by the inboard explosion of a shell.

Smaller holes were made in the Port side plating, immediately below the Upper Deck at 240 and 246 Stations by the entry of shells which wrecked the cabins in the vicinity.

From 250 Station to the Stern a large elongated hole (shewn in the accompanying illustration) [here] was torn in the side plating Starboard between the Main and Middle Decks. The length of the hole was some 20 ft. and the adjacent cabins were wrecked and flooded.

A large hole 8 ft. × 2 ft. was made in the Forecastle Deck on the Port side near the forward funnel with several other smaller holes adjacent. The Forecastle Deck was holed on Starboard side at the deck edge, at 146 Station, and in the vicinity of the Starboard 6 in. gun, the shield of which was badly perforated as shewn in the sketch reproduced. Towards the Middle Line the planking was torn up over a considerable area, while the deck was pierced in several places.

The forward funnel was pierced on the Starboard side about halfway between the top and the hood, while the after funnel was pierced in three places similarly situated on the Starboard side, and in two places on the Port side. The after funnel-coaming was badly holed on both sides, the base of the funnel being extensively damaged inside above the Upper Deck and between the upper and lower armour gratings. At the after side of the uptake, the stays, divisions and coamings were badly distorted and damaged.

Machinery :— The propelling and auxiliary machinery and boilers were uninjured. Several Fresh Water and Brine pipes in various localities were fractured or damaged, and the machinery of the Steam Pinnace was damaged, also the funnel and ventilating cowls, the propellor being twisted. The exhaust pipe of the Port Steering Engine was partially flattened out, but not perforated. The lever of the differential valve of this engine was bent, owing to the telemotor gear over-running the engine.

"X" Magazine Cooler was struck, necessitating the renewal of some 200 tubes, and air casing, valves, and the back water-way casting to be patched and welded.

Various lengths of Fire Main piping with bulkhead and "T" pieces in the vicinity of all shot holes were smashed. Two lengths of Oil Fuel filling piping, one "Y" piece, and several lengths of Fresh Water piping aft were damaged.

Armament :— The Starboard 6 in. gun on the Forecastle Deck was hit, the shield being badly perforated and the mounting damaged. The sighting arrangements of the 3 in. H.A. gun were damaged slightly. The left gun of "Y" turret was struck on the chase, necessitating the renewal of the gun.

Electrical :— All light circuits and fittings on the bridge were either destroyed or damaged. No. 2 searchlight barrel was perforated, and two 36 in. searchlight projectors on the Midship Superstructure were destroyed. All transmitting instruments and mechanical searchlight controls in the Port Night Defence Shelter were destroyed or badly damaged. All electrical fittings to the Starboard 6 in. gun on the Forecastle Deck were destroyed. The great majority of lighting and other circuits were severed in the Torpedo Control Tower aft, Navigator's Cabin, Boys' Mess Deck Space Starboard, Middle Deck Lobby aft, Sick Bay forwd, Admiral's Dining and Sleeping Cabins, Ward and Gun Rooms, W.O.'s Mess, W.O.'s pantry, Engineer's Workshop, Marines' Mess Deck Port, Engine Room escape trunk, Store Room above "X" and "Y" spaces, Carpenters' Workshop, C.P.O.'s Mess Provision Rooms and Boatswains Store. The electric motors and fans in the Flour Room aft, "X" space on Hold Deck, Steering Compartment, After Cabin Flats, and Upper and Forecastle Decks were damaged by sea-water.