North Sea Battle

Defeat Of The Enemy

Latest Admiralty Report

THE story of the great naval battle of Jutland is being gradually revealed and the Admiralty statement, published this morning, supplemented by the reports of eye-witnesses, clearly indicates that our supremacy of the sea is more firmly established than ever before.

We have the measure of the German High Sea Fleet, as to the strength of which there had been considerable mystery, especially as to the calibre of its armaments and there is no doubt that it will be many a day before the German Navy will again try conclusions with “Jellicoe’s Boys.”

We have suffered heavy losses in men and in ships, but after this, the most terrible action ever fought, our command of the sea is unimpaired. We know now that the British Admiral swept the scene of action backwards and forwards all Thursday morning and found no force to encounter him.

He then steamed leisurely homeward. Our main Fleet is again ready for action; our blockade is intact; our transports and our merchant vessels pass and repass as before. Broad facts like these speak for themselves and from all Allied and neutral countries comes proof that they are understood!

So far as can be judged, the meeting with the Germans was due to chance.

The enemy, greatly daring, happened on Wednesday afternoon to have ventured from the protection of his minefields, with cruisers and destroyers thrown out in advance to give warning of danger, and with Zeppelins cruising overhead. Early in the afternoon Sir David Beatty’s squadron was sighted.

Vice-Admiral von Sheer concluded that chance had played it within its power to engage a detail of the British naval forces. He had under his orders, as had been admitted in the Reichstag, “the whole” of the High Seas Fleet.

He found opposed to him one British squadron of battle-cruisers, with four fast battleships some armoured cruisers, light cruisers and destroyers. In these conditions the action opened. The enemy were in vastly superior strength; the British vessels with the longer range guns were, moreover, at some disadvantage owing to the light of fog-patches which obscured vision.

Sir David Beatty appears to have acted with well-balanced judgement, characteristic courage and tactical skill. For some time he had to bear the brunt of an attack by an overwhelmingly superior force. He was undismayed. He threw his squadron against the foe with a purpose.

It is now evident that throughout the period of the action, unknown to the Germans, he was drawing them towards the main fleet under the command of Sir John Jellicoe. It might have been imagined that the enemy had been at last trapped into a decisive action.

That desired end was nearly achieved but not quite. Sir John Jellicoe, in his report to the Admiralty, has told us that, soon after the main British forces appeared on the scene, the High Seas Fleet abandoned the offensive and returned to port; in the words of the British Commander-in-Chief, it “avoided prolonged action.”

The engagement, which had hitherto been practically a battle-cruiser action, the swift German ships powerfully supported by all the heavy vessels under the German ensign, resolved itself into a chase. The whole of the German fleet raced at the highest attainable speed back to its defences and it cannot be doubted that the enemy, though he had apparently the advantage in point of visibility, suffered great injury.