fullscreen

MAY 31, 1916: British and German ships clash at the massive Battle of Jutland in the North Sea. Commanding the German High Seas Fleet, Admiral Reinhard Scheer hoped to engage and destroy the British force under Admiral Sir David Beatty before Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s could bring his Grand Fleet to bear. But codebreakers exposed Scheer’s plans, and both British surface groups put to sea. In all some 250 ships and 100,000 sailors would see action in the chaotic battle. In the initial engagement Scheer’s forces damaged Beatty’s flagship HMS Lion and sank HMS Indefatigable and Queen Mary, but when Jellicoe’s main force arrived the Germans soon found themselves outgunned and began to retreat. In all the British lost 14 ships and more than 6,000 men, while the Germans lost 11 ships and more than 2,500 men. Though neither side scored a decisive victory, the British Navy retained control of North Sea shipping lanes for the remainder of the war.