H.M.S. Temeraire at the Battle of Jutland
Report of Proceedings
2nd June 1916.
I HAVE the honour to make the following report on the Action of 31st May and 1st June 1916, in accordance with General Signal No. 1835 of 1st June 1916.
The actual time of the commencement of the action was not noted, but the first thing seen from Temeraire was the flash from the guns of our Battle Cruisers on the starboard bow. About the same time the Armoured Cruisers, Light Cruisers, and Destroyers were seen steaming in from their positions ahead of the Battle Fleet, to take up their Battle Stations.
There was considerable mist, which reduced the visibility to about 12,000, and nothing could be seen of the enemy, except the flash of his guns.
As the Armoured Cruisers approached the Battle Fleet, they were seen to be under a heavy fire, evidently from guns in the nature of 12-in., they were replying rapidly. They were probably about 1½ mile nearer the enemy than the Battle Fleet, and so able to see him. Only one armoured cruiser was observed to be badly hit, and she received a heavy shell about abreast of the after turret, which sent up a huge flash and much smoke. What became of her was not seen, as the smoke took some time to clear, by which time no one was looking her way. It was reported that between the first hit and the second she fired a salvo.
The Battle Fleet deployed S.E. by E. at 6.20 p.m., the enemy still being invisible, except for flashes.
The Battle-Cruiser Fleet came up from the quarter, and passed between the Battle Fleet and the enemy. They were about 2 miles nearer the enemy and heavily engaged. It could be seen that the Lion had been hit, as smoke was coming from a hole in her side a little before "A" turret, but no hits were seen to take place as they passed, though the fall of shot seemed very close.
After the Battle-Cruisers had passed, an enemy cruiser, probably the Roon, was observed in a disabled condition. The Iron Duke opened fire at her, followed by other ships and Temeraire opened fire at 6.34 p.m. Director was used, and firing was slow on account of the number of ships firing. The first salvo was over, the second short, and the third was seen to hit with at least two rounds, and probably three, this salvo being fired at 8,000 yards. The enemy as now obscured by smoke and splashes from the other ships firing, and, as it was considered certain that she was out of action, fire was checked in order to save waste of ammunition. She appeared again a minute or two later in a less damaged condition than had been expected, and two more salvos were fired at her.
About 7.15 p.m. the enemy's Battle-Cruisers were sighted, the leading ship being only just clear of the bows of the Colossus. Temeraire opened fire shortly after sighting them with a range of about 12,500, and seven salvos were fired. It is thought that they were all spotted and distinguished from those of other ships, but whether any hits were obtained cannot be said. The enemy was handled in a way which made fire-control difficult. She was showing the whole of her port side when fire was opened, then turned away until stern on, continuing to come round to starboard, and disappeared in the mist. She was observed to be heavily hit on several occasions.
Shortly after ceasing fire on the Battle-Cruiser, a flotilla of enemy's destroyers was sighted, a little before the starboard beam. They were making a large amount of smoke, probably to screen their Battle-Cruisers. The 4-in. guns were manned and opened fire, and, as the position of the enemy seemed so favourable for an attack, the main armament was also put on to them. Three boats were seen, just to the left of the smoke screen, steering in different directions, and a salvo was fired just as they all came in a bunch. It was spotted as going very close to them, and perhaps among them, but it is not known whether any hits were made. Two more salvoes were fired at places where the boats seemed thickest, and then fire with the main armament was checked, as the enemy appeared to sheer off and it was desired to avoid waste of ammunition. The range used was about 9,000.
The 4-in. fired 40 rounds. The control and gunlaying were hindered by the smoke from the 12-in. and the difficulty in getting the gunlayers on to a definite target. It appears, however, that the gunlayers were rather over-careful about their exact target, and sometimes held their fire when it would have been permissible to fire into the brown.
During the night there was very heavy firing for a short time, from what appeared to be our Light Cruisers and Destroyers driving off an attack on the rear of the Fleet. One enemy craft appeared to have got fairly close up, but she was a receiving a very heavy fire and being constantly hit, until she disappeared or sank. Nothing could be made out as to what she was, and all that could be seen were the bursts of the shells hitting her and that she was heavily on fire.
Heavy firing was heard again at early dawn, sounding like big guns.
Soon after daylight, a Zeppelin was sighted on the port quarter, abaft the bearing of "A" turret. The Director Layer was able to get his sight to come on with a range of 10,000 set. One director salvo was fired the port side, and then the Fleet turned and brought the starboard side to bear, roughly on the beam. Two more salvos were fired on this side. It was unfortunate that as the guns were loaded with lyddite they had to be fired before loading with shrapnel.
The Temeraire was not hit, but a few shots fell close, notably one passed close to the main mast and one hit the water about 500 yards short on starboard bow, passing over the forecastle.
All arrangements for action in Temeraire worked satisfactorily; the behaviour of the ship's company was all that could be desired, they were cheerful and eager for the fight.
I have the honour to be,
Your obedient Servant,
Wrote Midshipman W. E. May:
- The TEMERAIRE had five 12-inch turrets, three on the centre line and two abreast. My action was the port wing turret under Lieutenant Smailes. At Jutland, when we were approaching the enemy, the order came down "turrets to port" and the gun's crew cheered, then "turrets to starboard" and they groaned. This happened several times until finally after a "guns to starboard" we felt the broadside fire and knew that we were out of it. The captain of the right gun turned to me and said "Well Sir. We shall not have to sponge out when we get home."
- May. With the Grand Fleet. p. 4.
- Admiralty (1920). Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916: Official Despatches with Appendices. Cmd. 1068. London: His Majesty's Stationary Office.
- May, Commander William Edward (1979). With the Grand Fleet. Papers in RNMN/MAY WE in the possession of the Liddle Collection, University of Leeds.