---- 8:12 pm, bridge of Ostfriesland, course 000, speed 18 knots
Admiral, Frauenlob reports that the British have formed Line on a westerly
Admiral Rudburg could not see anything of the sort. Ostfriesland was
firing steadily at the burning trail British dreadnought about 9,000 yards to
the north-northwest. That, however, was all that could be seen from here.
All the ships ahead of his also were firing, but he could not tell what their
targets were. He wished he were in the van with the Frauenlobs CO;
he could see very little tucked back in the, and in this evening air, heart
of the Line. He was finding that it was not the place to control this
kind of low visibility battle. All he had to go on were the large shell
splashes near the van ships that indicated that some British remained in range.
At least three shooters, he estimated.
How far north of us are the British?
Sir, based on the time of the report and visibility, I estimate that
the British must be between 4,500 and 6,500 yards north, and about the same
distance to the west from Ostfriesland.
That would likely put the British Line out of visibility except, thought Rudburg,
perhaps for the first couple German ships, as they approached and crossed the
British track. It was not clear what he should be doing. With both
Behncke and Necki out of the Line, he had to keep maneuvers to a minimum.
Where were the British light? He looked around, more than a bit anxiously.
A flash off his starboard bow showed that Konig, though she had visible flames
and was pulling out of the Line, was still engaged and still firing her main
batteries. She was badly hurt, though. Admiral Behncke was wise
to get her out of danger, he thought. Her topside showed significant damage,
likely including the destruction of her wireless and signaling equipment.
Nonetheless, Rudburg deeply regretted the loss of the admirals leadership
in the van; a position now filled by a Captain Schnell.
Has Admiral Behncke replied, or acknowledged?
---- 8:12 pm, bridge of Konig, course ~030 (3 degree right rudder), course 18
Sir, engineering requests 12 knots. The speaker was an enlisted
man on his knees, looking for all the world like he was worshiping the severed
copper tubes poking out of the deck. Tuerme looked at the man, wondering
if he should really slow the ship down, in the middle of the battle. Theyve
got flooding down there, sir, the man added, licking his lips nervously.
Yes, said LCDR Tuerme suddenly, 12 knots. He
noted, as the sailor bent back over the tube, that there were circular scratches
and cuts around the others ear.
The young officer tried to estimate the distance to the Line. About 1,500
yards, he thought. Not enough. He wanted at least another 1,000
yards, maybe twice that.
To after steering, right 10 degrees rudder.
----8:12 pm, bridge of Southampton, course 270, speed 15 knots
Commodore, reported the Signals Officer, from Admiral Burney,
to us and the torpedo boat flotillas: Reinforce screen south.
Very well, Commodore Nott replied. He hesitated a few moments,
glancing towards Marlborough, about 6,500 yards to the northeast. Left
standard rudder, come to course 120, Nott ordered.
Sir, my rudder is left standard ....
Signals Officer, hoist 25 knots. Engineer, All Ahead Flank, make
turns for 25 knots.
Navigator, Nott called, as he turned to watch the other light cruisers
in his group, get me a course to Commodore Hawksleys estimated position.
Satisfied that the others were conforming and noting the speed pennant going
up the hoist, Nott turned to look to the southeast even before his bow was fully
pointed that way.
Back in the wireless room, a young petty officer was wondering if he should
tell his superior officer that, in another message, Commodore Le Mesurier had
been recalled to take command of the main body screen.
---- 8:12 PM, bridge of Kronprinz, course 000, speed 18 knots
Have you identified who is shooting at us? Captain Wilhelm
shouted from the port wingbridge up to the lookout section, again. He
felt like he had asked the same question several times so far this battle.
In fact, he had.
Yes, sir! The shooter is on bearing ....
Shift targets! Wilhelm shouted into the bridge, interrupting
the other. Immediately!
Superb was practically obscured by shell splashes. It looked like half
the main body was shooting at her, Wilhelm thought. Actually, he was very
nearly correct, as half the dreadnoughts in the main body WERE shooting at brightly
Immediately! Wilhelm repeated.
The spotters for Kronprinz had been mistaken, however. The shooter was
Iron Duke. The ship that they were frantically switching to was Dreadnought
who, with just two turrets able to bear (and soon just one), had been sniping
ineffectively at Grosser Kurfurst. Dreadnought was caught in the glow
of Superbs fires, but Iron Duke remained only an intermittent set of muzzle
--- 8:13 PM, bridge of Ostfriesland, course 000, speed 18 knots
Admiral, Konig is turning away and slowing.
Signals Officer, to Admiral Letters: Grand Fleet main body has
formed Line on 270, estimated speed 15 knots. Third Battle Squadron engaged
with trail units, range 8,000 yards. Have sunk three dreadnoughts during
pursuit. Konig heavily damaged, out of Line, slowing. No report
from Admiral Behncke. Continuing on 000, speed 18 knots. Estimate
will cross Grand Fleet track at 8:20 PM. Kaiser with Admiral Necki out
of Line, slowed, lagging in trail.
Admiral Rudburg hoped the baron would get back soon, or at least signal.
---- 8:13 PM, bridge of Iron Duke, course 270, speed 13 knots
There was a brief spark high in the upperworks of their target. There
was no visible fire or damage, but the hit would have a significant effect,
Can you see the target? Captain Smith asked Captain Loureiro
No, Superbs fires are too much.
Only Konigs fires behind the German Line had let Iron Duke keep on target
the last two salvos. The combination of Konig getting separation, Iron
Dukes westward progress, and Superbs glare was about to terminate
the flagships shooting at her current target.
Damn! Smith said, as Superb took another hit. There
was no large explosion, but pieces seemed momentarily thrown into the air as
a shell from Friedrich der Grosse pounded into the back of the forward superstructure.
Unseen was the toll on the damage control teams, who suffered another 50 casualties
in the midst of fighting one of the more threatening fires.
Another hit near Superbs waterline on her port side was not visible to
the foreign observers. This hit, from Markgraf, was more damaging, causing
moderate flooding forward. Already struggling to make 10 knots, the additional
flooding threatened to slow her further, and even threatened her stability.
Superb had taken over a dozen hits in the last 15 minutes, out of about 300
shells fired at her. The effects of the low range and Superbs visibility-enhancing
fires were offset by the growing difficulty in adjusting for fall of shot.
Even as Konigs rear turrets ceased their inaccurate fire and as Kronprinz
shifted targets, Thuringens Captain von Kroon was giving the order to
open fire on Superb
---- 8:14 PM, bridge of Southampton, course 120, speed 18 knots (increasing)
Commodore Nott was staring dead ahead into the growing gloom.
Commodore, 1st Flotilla is altering course. The 1st Flotilla
had been directly on the bow of Marlborough on her new course west distance
Good, what about 9-10 Combined? That group had been roughly
halfway between Southampton and Marlborough.
Not yet, sir.
Commodore? Nott turned; it was the Signals Officer.
Therere some messages from the flagship, other addressees, that
you, uh, probably should know.
Yes? Nott mostly concealed his frown; this wireless stuff
sometimes seemed like eavesdropping. Not gentlemanly at all. The
expression on the Signals Officers face, however, clearly indicated that
he had something of far more import to tell him than simple gossip.
Yes, sir. Commodore Le Mesurier has been recalled and ordered to
assume command of the screen to the south.
Emboldened by Notts reaction, the other continued.
Best we can tell, sir, the Navigator and I, 4th Light Cruiser is something
like 15 miles west of Iron Duke. Together with 4th and 11th Flotillas, they
attacked the German battlecruiser force and drove it off to the east.
Could they have turned back before the order from the flag?
Its possible, sir.
But not likely, both realized. After a moment, Nott cleared his throat.
No report from Hawksley? The other shook his head.
No orders to him? Commodore, the other officer replied
uneasily, the exact wording of the wireless was for Commodore Le Mesurier
to establish screen south of the main body.
Establish, Nott thought, Hawksley? Admiral Heath and 2AC?
Temeraire was just reported as lost.
Temeraire! In addition to Monarch and Emperor?
Well, sir, it couldve been a correction, but ...
But you dont think so, Nott finished for him.
Ah, no, sir. I do not.
Damn, damn, damn!
Double the lookouts.
Aye, aye, sir.
---- 8:14 PM, bridge of Ostfriesland, course 000, speed 18 knots
Admiral Rudburg had worked out the plot in his head. If he kept the HSF
on 000 at 18 knots, then the trail of the GF would be beyond visibility just
before his lead ship crossed the GFs west-bound track.
It seemed he was about to achieve a rare feat. He was going to cross
the T of the British Royal Navys Grand Fleet, but it was going
to do him not one bit of good!
Again, Rudburg lamented the absence of an admiral in the van. Behncke?
---- 8:15 PM, bridge of Phaeton, course270, speed 15 knots
Sir, 1st Flotilla is turning.
Captain Cameron turned to study the torpedo boats, about 4,000 yards off, abaft
his port beam. From the looks of their wakes, they had gone to a
higher bell. With the death of Commodore Alexander-Sinclair and the crippling
of Galatea, he had been plunged into command of 1st Light Cruiser, comprised
now of just three CLs. Is 2nd Light Cruiser in sight? Cameron
asked of the lookout section.
No, sir. Camerons brow furrowed at that, because they
had been in view a few minutes ago, at a little under 8,000 yards, though just
barely. Was visibility that low already? It could be, he thought.
Sir, they may have turned away. They were there a minute ago.
Captain, the Signals Officer reported, Admiral Burney just
dispatched 2nd Light Cruiser and the flotillas to reinforce Commodore Hawksley
and the south light screen.
We were not named in those orders, Cameron mused.
What was the time of that order?
About 10 minutes ago, best I can tell, sir.
Very well. Nott may well have already turned, he realized.
The van is almost open, especially to the SW.
Helm, left 10 degrees rudder, course 210. Ahead Full, make turns
for 18 knots.
---- 8:15 PM, bridge of Erin, course 270, speed 13 knots
It was not a very good target, hardly more than muzzle flashes, but a target
it was, nonetheless!
The flash of the big guns on Grosser Kurfurst had drawn Erins attention
back to her.
The first salvo was probably long, as no splashes could be seen from Erin.
How long was a mystery, and the orders to lower the elevation were based more
on guesswork than anything else.
---- 8:15PM, bridge of Kronprinz, course 000, speed 18 knots
The target showed no effect. Dreadnoughts captain had watched helplessly
as the shell splashes had laddered towards his command. The bow turret
could not even bear on the only visible targets, so he was down to his port
Sir, weve lost the spotting top!
Ironically, the hit scored by Iron Duke moments ago had duplicated the hit
suffered by Markgraf during the initial meeting of the Lines, and had taken
out the primary position in the upperworks used to spot the fall of shell.
Kronprinz had just lost the target solution. In fact, the last half-salvo
that had scored the hit on Superb had been fired without correction from the
previous one. Accuracy now deteriorated quickly and would not be restored
for some time.
Several German historians would later assert that this hit on Kronprinz had
saved Dreadnought from destruction at this point in the battle.
---- 8:15 pm, bridge of Calliope, course 000, speed 15 knots
Commodore Le Mesurier had just been given the Recall message from
the flagship. Admirals, full admirals, in the middle of a major fleet
battle, dont just replace commanders by a simple wireless!
Hawksley? The last Le Mesurier had had in the way of orders was to attack
the battlecruiser force, to drive them away from the flank of the main body.
Certainly he had done that. The Germans had shown no sign of stopping
their eastward flight. Indeed, just a few hours more on their present
course would see them beaching themselves! Calliope and his light cruisers
had fallen behind the flotillas pursuit so he had pulled up around the
edge of visibility from the east-most GF division, partly to stay in contact
and partly to make sure no other force slipped in behind him onto the main body
flank. Commodore Hawksley, the screen CO, had broken off and turned back
to screen the main body trail.
What in bloody hell had happened back there?! He drew a deep breath.
Left full rudder. All Ahead Flank! Hoist 25 knots!
The main body dreadnoughts had been lost from view for the last dozen or so
minutes, but Le Mesurier remained close enough to be sure that no force could
slip between his squadron and the dreadnoughts. In particular, he wanted
to prevent any screen unit from splitting off from the battlecruiser force and
working its way around the RN pursuit. He was confident that he could
regain visual contact with the main body in a very few minutes. The commodore,
however, had slightly over-estimated the GF speed and was not yet aware that
the main body had formed Line on 270 several minutes before.
Lookouts, are 4th and 12th Flotillas in sight? They had been
reported out of sight about 10 minutes ago, but might have turned back.
Very well. Repeat the flag signal to them. They are to form
on us. To Iron Duke: 4th Light Cruiser proceeding at Flank.
He considered for a moment. Signals, to 11th Flotilla: Report
Aye, aye, sir.
Commodore, at the same time we were signaled, Admiral Burney was ordered
to reinforce the screen south of the main body.
What had startled Le Mesurier was a simple matter of arithmetic. He and
his staff had realized immediately that the various orders, when considered
together, translated into four or five flotillas and two light cruiser groups
all being ordered to reinforce the screen to the south of the main body.
What was there, the entire High Seas Fleet? But the Grand Fleet Main Body
had turned north and disengaged!
Bloody hell! Le Mesurier repeated.
---- 8:15 PM, bridge of Frauenlob, course 000, speed 18 knots
Captain Ehrhart did not really consider that he was crossing the GF 270 track
dead astern. All he knew was that he was passing about abreast of the
burning, struggling dreadnought that was Superb, at about a range of 5,000 yards
He had considered signaling an attack several times in the last handful of
minutes, but had rejected it each time. The astern aspect was unfavorable,
and his ordered job was to screen in the van. Maybe Commodore von Hoban
might do differently, but there were an awful lot of British light ships unaccounted
for that might show up at any moment. With only his one CL and 9 torpedo
boats, he considered a simple screen was the limit of his commands capabilities.
On the other side of Superb, the rest of the GF main body was in Line dead
west. It was potentially a magnificent spectacle, but he was more interested
in the small ships that were not there.
---- 8:16 pm, bridge of Hannover, course 000, speed 18 knots
Admiral, Schliesen reports unable to maintain 18 knots.
Damn, Admiral Hanzik thought. Should I order her to pull out and follow
at best speed?
Admiral, were starting to pull up on Pommern; she also appears
to be slowing.
Admiral Hanzik did not like the sound of that. Not at all. Though,
to be honest, the Fraus had maintained 18 knots for far longer than he had ever
Admiral, said Hannovers captain, our own engineer is
saying we cant stay at this speed much longer. Therere at
least three or four bearings running hot. And getting hotter. Much
longer, admiral, and were going to take hardware casualties. Engineer
has requested 16 knots, though 15 would be better.
Left unsaid was that wiped bearings, broken shafts, or whatever probably meant
12 knots or slower. The battle, however, was just tantalizingly out of
Admiral, the others are almost certainly in the same condition.
Very well, Hanzik forced the words out with great difficulty.
Signals Officer, for Admiral Rudburg on Ostfriesland: 2nd Battle
Squadron unable to maintain 18 knots. Best speed 16 knots.
The words hurt. To Hanzik, they seemed to burn in the dank air on the
bridge. Captain, keep station on Pommern. As soon as we get the
word to Admiral Rudburg, Ill slow the Battle Squadron to 16 knots.
Aye, aye, sir. There was a muted cling-cling
as the Engine Order Telegraph ordered a 3 RPM drop.
Five minutes, captain. The COs face continued to show
concern, so Rudburg added, Were already slowing a bit even now to
keep from running up on Pommern. Five minutes, captain.
Aye, aye, sir.
---- 8:16 PM, bridge of Iron Duke, course 270, speed 13 knots
The Iron Dukes guns had fallen silent, as the flagship lost sight of
Kronprinz in the glare of the fires on Superb.
Omigod, breathed Captain Smith as Superb took another hit.
Again, a more damaging hit on her hull was not visible to the observers on Iron
Duke. The hull hit was from Ostfriesland and finished flooding out an
area only partly lost before. Superbs list had grown to 18 degrees,
but the latest hits on the port side had had the effect of counterflooding.
She was getting low in the water, however, and she was down to 8 knots.
It was like Temeraire or Monarch again, though Superbs guns had gone
silent several minutes before. Brightly illuminated by her fires, unable
to disengage, slowed, she was being run down by the German main body like wolves
and a lamed deer.
The growing chorus of British fire from ahead in the Line, thought Smith, seemed
unlikely to be enough to save her.
---- 8:17 PM, bridge of Southampton, course 120, speed 21 knots (increasing)
Commodore, 9th and 10th Combined are turning onto a SE heading.
Very well. Navigator, that course to Hawksley?
Sir, Commodore Hawksleys last position, best I can tell, would
bear something like 145 from us. If the commodore stayed somewhere in
trail screen, then anything between 120 and 135 could be right.
Commodore, recommend course 135 until we get to the edge of visibility to the
Line, then come to 090. That would have them parallel the Line back
Very good, then. Captain, bring the squadron onto 135, if you please.
Course 135. Aye, aye, commodore.
---- 8:17 PM, bridge of Benbow, course 270, speed 13 knots
Sir, Vanguard has opened fire!
Like the other captains in the 4th Division, Captain Herrick had his lookouts
and spotters striving to acquire a target on their port after quarter, the apparent
position of the HSF main body. It was only the apparent position
because the gloom has so far kept the division from opening fire or, for that
matter, being fired upon. Now, it seemed, the trail ship had spotted something
worth shooting at.
Like the captain of Bellerophon, just astern, Herrick was out on the port bridge
wing and had his ships guns trained aft and to port. Earlier, he
had seen a steady glow of some sort, but that had faded and only vague muzzle
flashes could be seen, not good enough to aim at. As more of the German
Line joined in on Superb, however, the images were getting a little better.
Sir, Bellerophon has opened fire.
The report was unnecessary, as the big guns were just 500 yards astern and
Herrick was staring right at her. Her captain couldnt have much
of a target, thought Herrick. He just couldnt.
Captain Herrick looked at the 4th Division admiral, who had also drifted out
onto the wing. The senior officer remained silent, letting Herrick fight
his own ship.
Guns! Herrick called, as he went back onto the bridge.
---- 8:17 PM, bridge of Kaiserin, course 000, speed 18 knots
There was a large explosion on their target. Superb had apparently been
destroyed, or perhaps she had capsized and exploded. Captain Skorpion
was not sure, and historians would debate it, but the shells that had been the
final blow might have come from Kaiserin.
He looked towards the British Line. The momentary flash from Superb had
briefly illuminated them while blinding the GF spotters. Their muzzle
flashes seemed to reveal them further. It should be enough to at least
Gunnery Officer, Skorpion called.
---- 8:17 PM, bridge of Friedrich der Grosse, course 000, speed 18 knots
Gott! Mein Gott!
The large secondary explosion on Superb had come from the former flagship,
or so the voices on the bridge declared, as far as Captain Hadi could make it
Historians generally would credit the great blow to her; they may have been
Almost lost in the glare were multiple hits from Markgraf, one of which punched
a sizeable hole in Superbs port after-quarter, near the waterline.
If the hit low in the superstructure had not doomed her, the flooding would
have. In either case, Superbs life above the waves had ended, though
several more hits would plow into the settling wreckage. A few miles to
the west, Commander Boy swore dreadful oaths mostly under his breath and mostly
in Gaelic; his right hand twitched, as he unconsciously eased his razor-edged
claymore in and out of its scabbard. The others there with him were silent,
but the veins in their hands stood out as gripped the rail on the aft portion
of the port wingbridge of Queen Elizabeth. They did not know which ship
had lost her bid for life, but the position meant she was British.
---- 8:17 PM, bridge of Rostock, course 000, speed 25 knots
Six tall waterspouts had lurched menacingly out of the dark water just ahead
and to the east.
Captain Westfeldt was just as startled as the others, as he lowered his glasses.
His ship was about 1,300 yards to the east of Friedrich der Grosses starboard
bow. Westfeldt had had his binoculars on Konig, who they were rapidly
overtaking. Then he found something blocking and blurring the picture
in his lenses. Konig, slowed and with visible flames, was another 1,500
yards or so to the east of their track. Essentially, Westfeldt had aimed
his command midway between the crippled dreadnought and the Line. The
waters collapsed noisily.
Why am I under fire back here? Westfeldt first thought. Its
the van thats the consumer of light ships. To the captains
disgust, Commodore von Hoban seemed oblivious to it. Instead, the light
force commander had his binoculars scanning the east and northeast quarters.
This is not an over-built AC, Westfeldt thought; doesnt he realize that
just one of those shells that splashed there could have sunk us? He would
have had to signal for another ride! Though, only Stuttgart and her half-flotilla
were left back astern.
Westfeldt did not know who had fired the shells, but post-battle analysis would
conclude that they likely were from Vanguard.
---- 8:17 PM, bridge of Marlborough, course 270, speed 13 knots
Admiral, from Captain Molteno, Warrior: Request 1st Cruiser proceed
in support of screening units.
Admiral Burney did not hesitate. Admiral Arbuthnot had been surprised
by the German battlecruiser force, but those vessels were all far to the east.
For whatever screen units the Germans might have with their main body, the ACs
would be an unwelcome surprise!
Splendid idea, the admiral related to the Marlborough CO.
Should have thought of it myself, actually. Not surprising at all
that Molteno would want to get back into it, eh-what?!
Yes, sir. Agree completely, replied the captain. However,
he kept his binoculars trained back to the ESE.