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worsted, and why, under such advantageous conditions, should they have run home to their base under a rout.
Jellicoe, however, was thought to have made out a good reason for his decision not to fight a night battle. Pollen and other critics of his tactics had been contending that he should have continued fighting until darkness fell, and that his attack had not been sufficiently aggressive. Pollen insisted that the British fleet was torpedo-shy at Jutland, and Admiral Jellicoe admitted as much. A comparison of several capital ships of the two fleets showed that German constructors had put more faith than the British in torpedo tubes. Again, Jellicoe made a surprizing revelation in saying that the British were weaker than the Germans in destroyers. to dreadnoughts, the Germans were supposed to be at a hopeless disadvantage, but Admiral Jellicoe presented a catalog of misfortunes to the British fleet to prove that its superiority on October 27, 1914, existed only on paper:
The Ajax had developed condenser defects. The Iron Duke had similar troubles. The Orion had to be sent to Greenock for examination of her turbine supports, which appeared to be defective. The Conqueror was at Devonport refitting, and the New Zealand was in dock at Cromarty. The Erin and Agincourt, having been newly commissioned, could not yet be regarded as efficient, so that the dreadnought fleet consisted only of seventeen effective battleships and five battle-cruisers. The German dreadnought fleet at the time comprised fifteen battleships and four battle-cruisers, with the Blücher in addition."
The chief impression made by Jellicoe's book was that he exalted German strength and minimized British. It was a fact, however, that at Jutland at least the gun-power of the British was superior and greatly so. Jellicoe's showing in general seemed to be that at Jutland the Germans had had a fine opportunity to wrest the mastery of the sea from Great Britain and had stupidly let it slip out of their hands.
All other naval fights in this war had been comparatively small affairs. Encounters had been exaggerated beyond measure by inexpert observers. When the unfortunate Cradock was defeated off Chili, the event was magnified into a disaster. It was apparent that the Germans off Jutland
avoided a general fleet action and drew off when the main body of the British fleet came up. If there had been a victory for Germany-even a victory that Germany believed was hers—the action would undoubtedly have been followed up. Instead of doing that the German ships retired to port and stayed there. That the conduct of the German commander in his retirement was strategically sound was not doubted, but the act showed plainly how absurd it was for the Germans to talk of the battle as having been decisive for them in any sense. Some newspapers emphasized the loss of trained seamen as a most serious blow to the British navy. The highest estimate of casualties, however, did not go above 7,000 men, and there were at least 150,000 men left in the British service. The loss was therefore only a trifle over 4 per cent.
Compared with the force commanded by Admiral Jellicoe, the forces commanded by Alexander, or Cæsar, or Napoleon, or Nelson were puny, and even those of Togo and Rojesvensky were unimportant. Compared with this force indeed the aggregate land forces of both the Allies and the Teutons were inconsiderable because the total offensive power of one salvo from one of Jellicoe's battleships was greater than that of half a million muskets. The aggregate artillery-power of the twenty-four modern battleships that Admiral Jellicoe had in his main column at the battle of Jutland was greater than that of 10,000,000 infantry soldiers—and he moved these battleships at a speed of nearly twenty miles an hour. No other person ever commanded a force comparable in power with the force commanded at Jutland by Admiral Jellicoe.
The force was the concentration of at least 90 per cent. of the naval defensive power of the British Empire. It was opposed to the German High Seas Fleet, possessing an offensive power which, while inferior, was not greatly so. It was not so much inferior as to render impossible the defeat of the British fleet, by reason of superior strategy or tactics on the German side, or of accident, or of all combined, especially since the defensive armor of the Germans was the better. If the battle of Jutland had been a decisive victory for either side victory in the World War would have gone to the side that was the victor in this battle.
More appropriate than ever before now seemed the name Jammerbugt (Bay of Woe) which the Danes had given to waters that wash the sand dunes of the northwestern coast of Jutland. With the black ribs of many ancient wrecks on this dangerous coast were now mingled ships and sailors from what were once two of the proudest battle-fleets that ever sailed the seas. Jutland, the continental portion of Denmark, comprises nearly two-thirds the area of that kingdom, but it has considerably less than half the total population. It compares with Vermont in size, but has a density of population three times as great. Its most striking physical characteristics are the fjords which cut into the sandy seaboard, particularly on the west coast. The highest point of land in Jutland, which is also the highest in the kingdom, is a 564-foot “eminence" on a line of low hills near the center of the peninsula. Jutland was the ancient home of the warlike Cimbri, a tribe which for twelve years kept Rome in a state of anxiety.
Two British destroyers on patrol-duty in the English Channel off Dover on the night of April 20, 1917, came upon a flotilla of six German destroyers and an encounter which promised to live in the history of naval engagements followed. Every gun aboard the combatants was kept sweeping the decks and tearing gaps in the sides of the opposing craft. One incident of the fight was that a British and a German destroyer became locked together and men fought furiously hand to hand. The British destroyers were the Swift and the Broke. Altho badly damaged they returned to port. The story of the engagement was an exciting and graphic tale of a boarding encounter with cutlasses and bayonets, recalling the days when wooden warships came together and men fought on the decks. The Swift and the Broke on night-patrol had been steaming on a westerly course when it was intensely dark but calm. The Swift sighted the enemy at 600 yards and the Germans instantly opened fire. The Swift replied and tried to ram the leading German destroyer. She missed ramming, but shot through the German line unscathed, and in turning torpedoed another boat.
In the meantime the Broke had launched a torpedo at the second boat in the line, which hit the mark, and then opened fire, while the remaining German boats were stoking furiously for full speed. The Broke's commander swung round to port and rammed the third boat fair and square abreast the afterfunnel. Locked together thus, the crews of the two boats fought a desperate hand-to-hand conflict.
Two other German destroyers attacked and poured a devastating fire on the Broke, whose foremost gun-crews were reduced from eighteen to six men. Midshipman Donald Gyles, altho wounded in the eye, kept all the foremost guns in action, he himself assisting the depleted crews to load. While he was thus employed a number of frenzied Germans swarmed up over the Broke's forecastle out of the rammed destroyer and, finding themselves amid the blinding flashes of the forecastle guns, swept aft in a shouting mob. The midshipman, amid the dead and wounded of his own gun-crews and half blinded by blood, met the onset single-handed with an automatic revolver. He was grappled by a German who tried to wrest the revolver away. Cutlasses and bayonets being among the British equipment in anticipation of such an event, the German was bayonetted. The remainder of the invaders, except two who feigned death, were driven over the side, two being made prisoners.
Two minutes after the ramming the Broke wrenched herself free from her sinking adversary and turned to ram the last of the three remaining German boats. She failed in this object, but in swinging around succeeded in hitting the boat's consort on the stem with a torpedo. Hotly engaged with these two fleeing destroyers, the Broke attempted to follow the Swift in the direction where she was last seen, but a shell struck the Broke's boiler-room, disabling her main engine.
The enemy then disappeared in the darkness. The Broke, altering her course, headed in the direction of a destroyer, which a few minutes later was seen to be heavily afire and whose crew, on sighting the British destroyer, sent up shouts for mercy.
The Broke steered slowly toward the German regardless of the danger from a possible explosion of the magazines, and the German seamen redoubled their shouts of "Save! save!” and then unexpectedly opened fire. The
Broke being out of control, was unable to maneuver or extricate herself, but silenced the treachery with four rounds; and then, to insure her own safety, torpedoed the German amidships. Aside from the war on submarines, this was the last naval action of notable consequence, that occurred in the
Germany's naval losses as published in June, 1919, in the Vossiche Zeitung of Berlin, were declared to be complete and authoritative, and were so accepted in Washington. At the close of the year 1918 the number of destroyers supposed to have been lost by Germany was less than twenty, but the official report, as now printed in the Berlin newspaper, made the total forty-nine. Few of their big ships had been lost by the Germans. Only one battleship, the Pommern of 13,200 tons, had been sunk during the war, but one battle-cruiser of 26,000 tons, the Lützow, was lost-both went down in the sea fight off Jutland. The British had added to this list, but apparently only from observations of crippled ships which reached port afterward, having had a whole night, during which they were not molested, in which to stagger back to their base. In ships not of the first line of battle the Germans sustained considerable losses—six older armored cruisers, eight modern small cruisers of the latest design, and ten smaller cruisers of the old type, besides twenty large and forty-one small torpedo boats, nine auxiliary cruisers, of which the largest were the Cap Trafalgar of 20,000 tons, and the Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse of 21,000 tons, twenty-eight mine-sweepers, and one hundred and twenty-two trawlers and patrol vessels. The number of warships of all kinds lost was 490. As Germany's naval warfare was for the most part defensive, aggressive only by stealth or when a raid was attempted, the conclusion had to be that the British, the most active of the Allies had been very much on the alert to attack the enemy when he showed himself. Germany's losses of men killed in the naval service were reported to have been 29,685, but 10,625 of these were marines, some of whom had served on land on the Western Front. When Great Britain announced in an Admiralty report of November 26, 1918, that her naval casualties had been 39,766—officers killed or died of wounds 2,466, and men 30,895;