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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Battle Of Jutland - 1899 words
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The Battle of Jutland Considered by most to be the greatest naval fleet battle during World War I, the Battle of Jutland was the largest and last full-blown conflict between massive fleets consisting of battle cruisers, dreadnoughts, and destroyers. Despite the fact that Jutland changed nothing strategically within the war, it is still known as being one of the most significant battles in naval history. But this battle was also one that ended with many questions and controversies that have been written about and discussed throughout the years following, even to present day. Jutland commenced on May 31, 1916, after the commander of the German High Seas Fleet, Reinhard Scheer, made plans to maneuver towards the British coast, unaware that the British were able to read their coded messages and were fully prepared for Scheer's plan. Admiral Sir John Jellicoe was in full command of the British Grand Fleet, which had been divided into three groups: the main body led by Jellicoe, six battle cruisers led by Admiral David Beatty, and four dreadnoughts under Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas.
The Grand Fleet departed two and a half hours before the Germans set off in order to rendezvous about 50 miles from Jutland in the North Sea. During the first German encounter, Beatty and his battle cruisers chased a small, weak group of the German Fleet, which was led by Admiral Franz von Hipper, south towards the main High Seas Fleet. After being fired upon, Beatty made an 1800 turn northward in order to now lure the Germans toward Jellicoe and the main body.Next occurred what Louis D. Rubin Jr., who wrote the article "The Continuing Argument over Jutland" in 2001, described as one of "the most controversial episodes of a battle studded with controversial episodes." Evan-Thomas and his dreadnoughts, which had been headed south following Beatty, failed to turn all at once and follow the battle cruisers northward. Although he apparently had not received the signal to do so until three minutes after they had passed, Rubin explains that Evan-Thomas should have, on his own intuition and initiative, proceeded to fall behind Beatty's battle cruisers. Further stipulation was made as to whether or not this turn should have been made simultaneously or one ship after another
But to counter Rubin's opinion, in "Beatty's Official Report on the Battle of Jutland" written on the day of the battle, Beatty described these exact events and stated, "The position of the enemy Battle Fleet was communicated to them, and I ordered them to alter course 16 points. Led by Rear Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, M.V.O., in Barham, this squadron supported us brilliantly and effectively." This statement implies that, although Beatty could have taken other actions that may have resulted with different outcomes, overall his procedures were not as "controversial" as Rubin has made them out to be.Meanwhile, as Beatty and his battle cruisers continued northward, they began angling north-northeast, while Jellicoe and the dreadnoughts began moving southeast in six columns with an armored cruiser screen. The Grand Fleet formed a "crossing the T," position, in which the Germans found themselves crossing in front of the British fleet and suffering heavy hits. Once again, Scheer ordered another retreat.Andrew Gordon, the author of The Rules of the Game written in 1996, comments on Scheer stating that one would assume that, from the direction that Beatty had been angling, Scheer might have suspected that there might be more to what he was doing than an attempt to run away. But it was not until heavy shells began falling among the High Seas Fleet that the German commander realized that he, not Beatty, had fallen into a trap.Scheer ordered a simultaneous turn west to get out of the line of fire.
While doing this they were able to sink a third battle cruiser, followed by completing an 1800 turn southwestward while sending torpedoes toward the Grand Fleet. As the German fleet moved out of Jerricoe's vision, he received no reports from any in command who could see what was going on. This, as Richard Hough, author of The Great War at Sea written in 1984, described, was one of the Grand Fleet's severe problems. Throughout the entire battle, commanders on other ships failed to keep Jerricoe informed of what was happening, as they assumed that he could see whatever they were seeing, which was not always true.Rubin ("The Continuing Argument over Jutland," 2001) points out the next unanswered question from German tactics: for what reason would the next German move be yet another 1800 turn leading the High Seas Fleet back into the direction of the Grand Fleet and the face of trouble? Whatever the explanation, which Rubin nor any other author could explain, the British had been given a second chance to wreak havoc with the German High Fleet.When the night finally ensued, Jellicoe wanted to avoid fighting at night with the Germans, who were better equipped for and rehearsed at battling in this situation. As the fleets made off in what they thought were separate directions, the British fleet unknowingly came upon some German ships shortly after 3 a.m., but by the time Jellicoe could have made any move, Scheer's fleet was safe from attack.
This was another example of Hough's point that there was a definite lack of communication among the British. When ship captains viewed the shapes of what may have been crippled German battle cruisers, they were not fired on for fear that they were British, and Jellicoe was never informed of their presence. Britain's lack of naval communication during this battle was also described in a letter written by an anonymous British sub-Lieutenant. He described his duties on board his battle cruiser which included navigating and controlling gunfire at the German destroyers that had arrived. But his excitement of being able to be involved in the battle was cut short as British destroyers came from the opposite direction, directly between his ship and the enemies. He stated how "we had to stop firing as the risk of hitting one of our own ships was too great." If the lines of communication had been better between the Grand Fleet, this risk could have been avoided, and the battle cruisers would have been able to continue their attack on the Germans uninterrupted. According to Rubin, ( "The Continuing Argument over Jutland" 2001), Germany's first and foremost mistake in the Great War, even above the Kaiser's decision to give Austria-Hungary a blank check that may have turned a small dispute into a world war, was the decision to ever create their High Seas Fleet. He explains that this was a clear and obvious challenge to Britain's Grand Fleet and solidified the fact that if war were to break out, Britain's involvement would be on the German-opposing side.
But the Germans did not feel that way when they arrived home after Jutland. Their fleet was exulted and in their minds, there was no doubt that the they had won the war in terms of ships and men lost. The British had lost three battle cruisers, three armored cruisers, eight destroyers, and 6,094 men, while the Germans lost one battle cruiser, a pre-dreadnought, four light cruisers, eight destroyers, and 2,551 men. But Rubin points out the fact that the High Seas Fleet was severely damaged and remained out of commission for a few weeks, while the British fleet was ready for action within 24 hours. Hough (The Great War at Sea,1984), highly disagreed with German opinion. He stated, "Germany could play with figures as long as she wished, but British control of the world's sea lanes was unimpaired, the blockade of the enemy as tight as ever." Rubin's article agrees as he explains that what mattered most was that nothing had been changed strategically as the fleets had met, the High Seas Fleet had fled, and the Grand Fleet had pursued them. To prove the point further, Geoff Bennett, the author of The Battle of Jutland written in May 1999, describes how Scheer was later convinced that it was not possible for the German naval fleet to impact or altar the course of the war, and informed the Kaiser that "a victorious end to the war within a reasonable time can only be achieved through the defeat of British economic life- that is by using U-boats against British trade." German unrestricted warfare was resumed with the Kaisers reluctant agreement.
Although the majority of sources favor the British as the victor of the battle of Jutland, this episode also unveiled serious problems within the Grand Fleet, which Rubin goes on to explain. "No less than three British battle cruisers had exploded and gone down, with tremendous loss of life, upon being struck by salvos that triggered flash fires and reached the magazines. The big-gun ammunition was unreliable, and its lyddite charges inefficient; investigation revealed lax manufacturing standards and slipshod inspection procedures."But while Rubin blames the destruction of these battle cruisers on the manufacturers, Nicholas Lambert, who wrote the article "Our Bloody Ships: Jutland and the Loss of the Battle Cruisers, 1916" written in 1998, believes that the blame of the loss of those ships should be placed upon the fact that the tactics, operations, and gunnery procedures employed by the Royal Navy had changed considerably since the ships had been designed. Lambert explained that he believes that the battle cruisers had not been designed for the tactical scenarios in which they found themselves employed during the war, but that there was no evidence conclusive enough to support his or any other historians' speculations.In regards to the many controversies about occurrences during the battle of Jutland, Rubin offers many likely analyses of the situations, and although there are some counter opinions, Rubin seems to have completed much research with many valid sources. Within his article, he supports himself and his information indubitably, providing valid explanations for his ideas and opinions.In terms of which fleet won the war, the Grand Fleet or the High Seas Fleet, it is evident that although the Germans won physically, losing less ships and men, the British were able to win strategically, holding their position and not letting the Germans advance or make any distinct changes in the course of the war. As for the causes for the British battle cruisers' destruction, it may not have been one single cause, but a combination of many. Lambert made convincing points in his 12-page article and used over 80 sources to prove his theory that blaming the battle cruisers' designers was too simplistic of an explanation.
In conclusion, this was a fascinating battle that may have left many unanswered questions and theories, but it will forever be known as the greatest naval battle in World War history.Works CitedPrimary Source:Horne, Charles F. "Memoirs & Diaries: The Battle of Jutland by an anonymous British sub-Lieutenant." Source Records of the Great War, Vol. 4, 1923.Secondary Sources:Bennett, Geoff. The Battle of Jutland. Wordsworth Military Library, 1999.Gordon, Andrew.
The Rules of the Game. John Murray Pub., 1996.Hough, Richard. The Great War at Sea. Oxford University Press, 1984.Lambert, Nicholas. "'Our Bloody Ships' or 'Our Bloody System'? Jutland and theLoss of the Battle Cruisers, 1916." The Journal of Military History. Lexington: Jan.
1998. Vol. 62, Iss.1; p.29.Ranft, B. McL., ed. "31 May 1916: Beatty's Official Report on the Battle of Jutland." The Beatty Papers, Vol.
1, p. 323. Navy Records Society, 1989.Rubin, Louis D. Jr. "The Continuing Argument over Jutland." The Virginia Quarterly Review. Charlottesville: Autumn 2001.
Vol. 77, Iss. 4; p.583.
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