Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Recollections of War: The Battle of Jutland

        On May 31 - June 1, 1916, 151 British and 99 German ships-of-war participated in one of the defining naval battles of the First World War, just east of the British Isles, off the coast of Denmark.  A huge assemblage of modern warships, Dreadnoughts, battle-cruisers, destroyers, and lighter ships gathered in one of the largest battles wherein modern warships have participated.  This was one of largest clashes of modern warships that the world has ever seen.  This is the story of the Battle of Jutland.

The British Grand Fleet
        The battle began with the one of the Admirals of the German Navy, Franz von Hipper, attempting to lure one of the Commanders of the British fleet, Admiral David Beatty, into a trap where Admiral Reinhard Scheer was waiting with his main battleships.  Despite Beatty's maneuvering, before he could react, two of his larger British battle cruisers were sunk by German gunfire.  However, with some quick thinking, Beatty turned the tactic around and drew the pursuing German Navy toward the Royal Navy.  Within a few minutes Hipper found himself in front of a formidable force of British warships.  Soon enough, Admiral Scheer also steamed up without realizing the danger in which he would be placing his ships.

The German High Seas Fleet
        Here the British made one of the most important tactical decisions of the battle.  Instead of heading his fleet of ships in line astern down the side of German fleet, British Admiral John Jellicoe turned his ships to port(left) and lead them across the front of the German column of ships.  This prevented the German fleet from bringing to bear the full power of their guns, and, in return allowed the British to concentrate their full firepower on the German battleships.  German Admiral Scheer realized the predicament he was in, and carried out a brilliant maneuver by turning all his ships away from the British fleet and laid a smokescreen for protection.

The Battle of Jutland
        Yet for some unexplained reason, Scheer turned back to the British fleet and ran into the same problem.  Knowing that a smokescreen could not save him now, he ordered his destroyers to launch a full scale torpedo attack on the British warships.  Admiral Jellicoe, like many naval commanders of the day, was very cautious about torpedoes, and turned his ships away from the German fleet.  This ensured his ships would be less likely to be hit by torpedoes, but it also meant that now he could never win the battle. By turning away, Jellicoe let Scheer escape beyond range of his guns, and let the German fleet speed away to their home port.  Jellicoe gave chase, but both sides never came within range of the other again.

HMS Invincible moments before she sank
        At the end of the battle both sides claimed victory, despite each suffering heavy losses.  The British fleet however, may in hindsight have been the victors.  Even having lost three of their best ships, they had hit the German Navy hard enough that they never put out to sea again for the duration of the war.  But still, there was a terrible cost in lives on both sides.  The British Grand Fleet, having more ships than the German High Seas Fleet, lost proportionally more men.  There were 6500 casualties for the British, while the Germans only suffered 3000 casualties.  An equal number of heavy ships were lost on each side, with the Royal Navy losing a few more destroyers than the German Navy.  Despite all that, the German fleet had more ships seriously damaged then the British fleet, which reported 24 ships ready for action the following day.  Thus, Britain remained in control of the sea for the duration of the war.

        "World War One remains characterised by imagery of the trenches of the Western Front. Yet the sea was Britain’s lifeline and the supremacy of the Royal Navy was crucial to national survival. It is right, a century after Jutland – the largest and last clash between dreadnoughts – that we join together to remember those lost from both sides," wrote First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas during preparations for the 100th Anniversary commemorations.  As this post is being read, a few thousand miles away in Scotland, and elsewhere, services of remembrance are being held for those who died in the Battle of Jutland, and to commemorate the events of 100 years ago. May we never forget the bravery and courage displayed on both sides of the fighting these many scores of years past.

This post was also posted at the Discerning History Blog.  To read more historical posts like this, click HERE.

Written and Posted by William A Moore

Friday, 27 May 2016

Recollections of War: Sink the Bismarck!

"The pursuit and sinking of the Bismarck will remain one of the great sea-stories of all time, worthy to take its place with Salamis, Lepanto, the Armada, Trafalgar, Tsushima, Jutland, Midway, the Coral Sea." 
~ Sir Ludovic Kennedy

        One can read a history book or search the
 internet and learn much about the great and
 tragic story of the hunt and destruction of the
 WWII German battleship, 'Bismarck'.  News
 films such as the one below can show and tell us a lot  about what occurred back then through the eyes of the  participants.  History articles can also help us grasp the  historical significance and   importance of such events.

        But I submit that one thing a purely fact-
 telling and history-relating piece cannot properly and fully  tell us, is the personal and human side of the story.  The  personal decisions  and private struggles of the individuals who  took part in great deeds.  The emotions and feelings which these real people expressed during the event.  And I think that this is nowhere better exemplified than in the story of the Royal Navy's hunt for the German's largest battleship, 'Bismarck'.  A certain ship went here and there and a certain captain gave this and that order, write the history books, but we feel something is missing.  Then into the gap comes one of the best and greatest war films I have ever seen.

        'Sink the Bismarck!' while not as long as some films, nevertheless tells one of the most daring and heroic, victorious and heartbreaking stories from the Second World War.  And what better way to commemorate the 75th Anniversary (May 27, 1941 - May 27, 2016) of the sinking of the Bismarck than to watch this excellent film.

(Yes, I know it begins in German, but the rest of the film is in English.)      

        So why not sit down for an hour and half tonight, and relive, through real peoples eyes, the story of

'Sink the Bismarck!'

        I know what I'm doing tonight!

Written and posted by William A Moore

Thursday, 19 May 2016

'If' - Rudyard Kipling

        A month or so ago I posted a poem by the Victorian author and poet, Rudyard Kipling.  Here is another of his works.  It, like many of Kipling's poems, speaks with biblical wisdom to how we live on this earth.  

'If '

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!

By Rudyard Kipling - 1895

Posted by William A. Moore

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The Collection: April

Good Morning!

        Welcome to the third edition of The Collection: a monthly gathering of some of the best things I have found on the internet from the past month.  From the month of April I have selected four things to share with you: a short but wise piece of encouragement for young men, a stunning video of Poland, and a piece of WWII history.  I hope you enjoy them!

        Young Men - Is This You? - In this short article, the author lists eight wise and godly traits that ought to characterise young men in a day and age when disrespect, foolishness, and laziness, are not called out and repented of.  I myself need to be reminded of them all.

        Holiday in Poland - A beautiful and epic journey through the skies of Poland.  Coupled with some good music, the cinematography in this video showcases the beauty of this eastern European country rather well.

        This Month in Military History: - One of the longest and harshest campaigns fought throughout WWII was the Battle of the Atlantic.  Lasting the entire war, this grueling fight was fought by the hardiest of men, helping to keep intact the vital supply-lines of the British Isles.

        See you next month!
        The Collector