The Battle of Jutland 31st May 1916 - Timeline

Brief summary

On 28th May 1916 British intelligence intercepted radio signals between elements of the High Seas Fleet. These signals were de-coded on the 29th. It became apparent that the German Fleet was about to make a sortie into the North Sea. The British , however, failed to recognize that it was the whole of the High Seas Fleet that would participate, thinking that it was just the battle cruisers under Hipper that would be at sea. This would prove to be a serious error, as Jellicoe, the Grand Fleet C in C, would not be expecting a full fleet action and would be inclined to mistrust further intelligence reports. Jellicoe and Beatty were ordered to put to sea and were actually at sea before the German High Seas Fleet.

The Battle cruiser fleets met first with Beatty chasing Hipper south into the path of the oncoming High Seas Fleet. The engagement was disastrous for the British, losing two battle cruisers: Indefatigable and Queen Mary. On sighting the High Seas Fleet Beatty turned north to lead the German ships to the approaching Grand Fleet.

Admiral Hood and the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron enters the engagement. HIs flagship, Invincible is hit and becomes the third British battle cruiser to explode, but only after inflicting severe damage to Hipper's flagship, Lutzow, which later has to be scuttled.

Not expecting the British Grand Fleet to be at sea, the High Seas fleet steamed straight into their path. Sheer executed a 'Battle About Turn', a maneuver only practiced by the High Seas Fleet, and escaped relative unscathed. Jellicoe continued to head south to cut off the High Seas Fleet escape route. Sheer executed another 'Battle About Turn', presumably thinking that the Grand Fleet was in pursuit rather than heading south, and ran straight back into the Grand Fleet. Sheer ordered a third 'Battle About Turn' but this time he had to commit his Battle Cruisers and Destroyers to, what must have appeared to be, a suicidal charge at the Grand Fleet to cover his retreat. By this time night was falling and Sheer managed to get behind the Grand fleet, neither side wishing for, or even prepared for, a night action.

Sheer managed to get his fleet home. The outcome, in terms of tonnage lost, was in favor of the German High Seas Fleet, and the German government and press publically made the most of it. However, privately Sheer knew, and advised the Kaiser so, that the Grand Fleet would not be beaten in an open full scale fleet action. The Royal Navy continued to blockade the German coast and Germany focused on it's U-Boat offensive in attempt to blockade the United Kingdom. The High Seas fleet effectively remained in harbour, with many of it's best officers and men transferring to the U-Boat service.

29th May 1916

British Admiralty decodes intercepted radio messages between German forces. Indications are that the German Fleet will be making for the Skagerrak, a position in the North Sea between Norway and Jutland in Denmark.

30th May 1916

Admiral Jellicoe, C in C Grand Fleet, is advised of the German operation in the North Sea. Jellicoe and Beatty, the Battle Cruiser Fleet Commander, are ordered to put to sea and combine forces 100 miles east of Aberdeen.
22:30 Grand Fleet put to sea

31st May 1916

01:00 German Battlecruisers put to sea
01:30 High Seas Fleet put to sea

The Battle cruisers engage

14:20 Light forces screening the German and British Battle Cruiser fleets clash
  Beatty turns south east to cut off Hipper's retreat. British 5th Battle Squadron (four Queen Elizabeth Class Battleships) fails to turn and ends up several miles behind.
15:48 Five German battle cruisers open fire on the Six British battle cruisers who return fire
16:04 British Battle cruiser Indefatigable is hit by von Der Tann and starts to list. Indefatigable is hit again and blows up
  5th Battle Squadron engages German battle cruisers at long range.
16:26 Battle cruiser Queen Mary engages Derfflinger and Seydlitz, is hit several times and explodes.
  British Destroyers attack German battle cruisers. Two British and two German destroyers sunk.

Beatty Steered South-south-east in a running battle with Hipper's battle cruisers, 5th Battle Squadron trailed 10 miles or so behind

16:38 Beatty sights the German High Seas Fleet, turns and runs north to draw the German Fleet to the Grand Fleet. The German battle cruisers turn north to pursue. Jellicoe is surprised to hear the High Seas Fleet is present, believing them to still be at Wilhelmshaven. 5th Battle Squadron form a line in front of the High Seas Fleet and acts as rearguard to the battle cruisers.
17:00 The Grand Fleet is 40 miles from the battle cruisers approaching from the north-north-west. Beatty's battle cruisers draw Hipper's battle cruisers north-north-east away from the Grand Fleet so that they cannot see it and report it.

The Main Action

17:45 Admiral Hood's 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron, detached from the Grand Fleet, engages German cruisers attacking the light cruiser Chester.
  Hood's flagship, Invincible, hits Wiesbaden, which is unable to maneuver.
  The 1st Cruiser Squadron moves in to finish off the Weisbaden and is caught by the German battleships. Defence is blown out of the water and Warrior is disabled.
17:59 Destroyer Shark is sunk
18:00 The Grand Fleet starts to deploy into line ahead
18:20 Warspite's rudder jams and she circles, drawing fire from the High Seas Fleet. Warrior is able to escape whilst the High Seas Fleet is distracted
  Hood's battle cruisers join Beatty and attack the German battle cruisers.
18:33 Invincible, Hood's flagship, is hit by shells from Derfflinger and explodes.
18:35 Sheer realises he is up against the entire Grand Fleet and is heading straight at the assembled British Battle Fleet. He orders a 'Fleet Battle About Turn' and manages to escape. Jellicoe continues to steer south to cut off Sheer.
18:47 Hipper's flagship, Lutzow, is unable to continue due to damage from Invincible.
18:55 Sheer orders another about turn, presumably to cut across Jellicoe's wake and get home, and heads east-noth-east straight back at the Grand Fleet.
19:00 The Grand Fleet, invisible to Sheer in the dark opens fire on the High Seas Fleet; silhouetted against the setting sun.

The High Seas Fleet were silouetted against the setting sun

19:13 Sheer orders the German battle cruisers and torpedo boats to cover the retreat of the High Seas Fleet by attacking the Grand Fleet head on.
19:16 Sheer orders a third 'About turn' and escapes again.
20:30 The main action ends with the final shots between the battle ships and battle cruisers.
  Jellicoe elects to continue south-south-east to cut off Sheer from his base.
  Sheer actually cuts across Jellicoe's wake and take a route towards Horn's Reef and then home
22:30 Frauenlob sunk. Tipperary sunk by German battleships

1st June 1916


The Night Action

  Ardent and Fortune sunk by German battleships
00:20 Black Prince sunk by German battle ships
01:05 Turbulent is sunk by Westfalen
01:47 Lutzow is scuttled
02:00 Elbing scuttled
  Pommern torpedoed
  V4 explodes and sinks
05:20 Ostfriesland hits a mine laid by Abdiel
15:00 High Seas Fleet is back at anchor in Wilhelmshaven