Great Sea Fights: The Battle of Jutland, 1916 Part 3 – The British Accounts

June 2021

Today we have Part 3 of our special episode on the Battle of Jutland because, on this day in history in 1916, the German and British battlefleets were coming to terms with the results of the largest naval battle of the First World War and one of the largest in history involving 250 ships and 100,000 men, and in which 25 ships of various sizes were sunk. Part 1 outlined the events and included a fantastic interview with Dr Stephan Huck, head of the excellent German Naval Museum in Wilhelmshaven; Part 2 explored in more detail the German perspective with a number of eyewitness German accounts of the battle; this, the final part explores several British eyewitness accounts of the battle.

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    Sam Willis

    From the Society for Nautical Research, in partnership with Lloyd’s Register Foundation, I’m Sam Willis and this is the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast, the world’s number one podcast dedicated to all of maritime history.

    Hello everyone and welcome to the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast and also welcome to another of our ‘Great Sea Fights’ series. Today we have for you Part III of our special episode on the Battle of Jutland because on this day in history in 1916, the German and British battle fleets met in the largest naval battle of the First World War, and one of the largest in history involving 250 ships and 100,000 men. Part I outlined the events and included a fantastic interview with Dr Stephan Huck of the excellent German Naval Museum in Wilhelmshaven. Part II explored the German perspective with some German eyewitness accounts. Today we’re exploring the British perspective with some British eyewitness accounts. We’re going to start with five short accounts, and then hear from one witness in much more depth. First up we have wireless telegraphist Frederick Arnold of the battleship HMS Malaya, who describes how he experienced the battle from inside the vessel.

    Frederick Arnold

    Everybody below decks, wondering what was going on outside. Down below decks we, like the vast majority of ship’s companies of the modern warships, never see any of the actual enemy of the fighting. We, like the stoker’s engine room personnel and many, many, others, we were all wheels within one big machine with our parts to play. We just had to carry on with our vital duties as part of the fighting machine just guessing, wondering, hazarding, what was actually occurring on deck.

    Sam Willis

    Next, we have telegraphist J Croad, of the destroyer HMS Broke, talking about honour and glory in the war.

    Josias James Reginald Croad

    When we could see, and I had time to think, it dawned on me what terrible scene had been enacted. We thought of the honour and glory which so many people in their ignorance say is attached to warfare. You should have seen those decks of HMS Broke at 4 am June the 1st 1916, there you would have seen an exhibition of the honour and glory in reality: 48 of our crew lay dead and most of them shattered beyond recognition. Another 40 were wounded very badly. We were about five hours finding all of our dead chums, dragging them out of the wrecked mess deck and throwing their bodies over the side to be buried in the deep ocean. That was the honour and glory we had. It strikes you as being one gigantic murder. You wonder how men can have the audacity – for if we stopped to think what we were going to do, we should never fight at all.

    Sam Willis

    Next, we have Petty Officer E. Francis, of the battlecruiser HMS Queen Mary, describing the clash of the fleets.

    Earnest Benjamin Francis

    My number three said, “Petty Officer Francis, can you see what we are up against?” Well, I had been anxious to have a look but could not spare the time. But as soon as my gun had fired and while the loading was being completed again. I had a quick look through the periscope, and it seemed to me there were hundreds of masts and funnels. I dropped back into my seat, and I told them there were a few battlecruisers out not wishing to put a damper on them in any way. Not that I think it would have done so as they were all splendid fellows and backed me up magnificently.

    Sam Willis

    Now we have Admiral Jellicoe himself from the battleship HMS Iron Duke, justifying his later heavily criticised decision to retreat with the Grand Fleet during the attack of German torpedo boats.

    Admiral John Jellicoe

    Frequent exercises carried out at Scapa Flow showed conclusively that the percentage of torpedoes that would hit ships in a line when fired from destroyers at ranges up to 8,000 yards was comparatively high, even if the tracks were seen and the ships were manoeuvred to avoid them. One very good reason is that torpedoes are always a considerable but varying distance ahead of the line of bubbles marking their track, making it difficult to judge the position of the torpedo from its track. The alternatives to a turn away were turned towards or holding the course and dodging the torpedoes. A turn towards would have led to a great danger if the first attack had been followed up by a second and third, and no one could say this would not be the case. To hold on and dodge might meet with success if the tracks could be seen, information had reached me that the Germans had succeeded in making the tracks of their torpedoes more or less invisible. Therefore, there was danger in this alternative.

    Sam Willis

    Finally, we have Sub-Lieutenant Percy Wood, on the heavily damaged destroyer HMS Sparrowhawk, describing his encounter with a German destroyer on the night of the 1st of June.

    Percy Frank Pilkington Wood

    About 2 am being on deck again, I saw – together with most of the ship’s company – a German destroyer comes slowly up to us until, when about 100 yards off us, she stopped, and we prepared for one final scrap with her with one gun and one torpedo that were left in action. In the hope of saving the ship orders were given that the gun was not to fire until the enemy opened fire. We loaded and waited for the flashes of gunfire from the German destroyer, but none came. And suddenly, just in the same way she had appeared, she started her engines again gathered way and disappeared into the darkness. A large shape which we knew was a big ship, then moved up out of the mist. We just prayed that it was one of our own. Every man on board was straining his eyes to try and make her out, fellows went about sort of whispering that this must be the end of all things and asked each other what it was like to be dead.

    Sam Willis

    Now we can relax, sit back, and enjoy a lengthier account. This from the very entertaining Humphrey T. Walwyn, first Lieutenant of the battleship HMS Warspite, who was stationed between decks and in charge of fire and repair parties. The account was chosen by Tim Concannon for its detailed and dry humour. And Tim has also read it out. Thanks Tim.

    Humphrey Thomas Walwyn

    Wednesday, May 31st, 1916. At sea and steaming to the eastward about 20 knots in single line ahead – battlecruisers about 10 miles ahead. Usual 6-inch guns sections on watch and two turrets closed up. 2:40 pm message from the captain by his messenger to get the hands up at once. At the same time signal was brought to me – cruiser insight bearing northeast, probably hostile- at once sounded all action and passed the word round to everybody that we were in for the real thing. Went around the mess decks, wetted decks put all tables and stools on the deck and lit all-action candles etc. Saw all doors and everything closed and went up on deck. There was nothing in sight except our own ships, but we were steaming hard. Hoisted back lessens and union jack at after struts and masthead; went to my action station – B-turret found everything all right, an officer of the turret reported all correct. It was now about four o’clock – got orders to load and raid and train red two o. Couldn’t see anything at all, hazy and a lot of smoke about. We were steaming very hard – wondered if our steering jackstaff will be shot away as we just fitted a new one. Everybody in the turret in very good spirits, and I asked G if he got any cotton wool, he said he hadn’t and passed me a lump of cotton waste large enough to stop the ears of a donkey, which I chucked back at him and almost at once we got the order to stand by. I made out five columns of smoke in the mist and that was when I could see – no masts or anything else. Opened fire on light cruisers range about 21,000 yards. Could see the corner shot but couldn’t see at all what we were firing at. Fired a few rounds by director and saw Barham and Valiant firing too. Light cruisers were getting clearer now. Suddenly saw number two column of smoke break out into a bright flame. This dropped to stern, and at first, I thought she was hit but later I thought it was only a smoke box as it looked like an enormous calcium lifebuoy. Bright flame and huge white smoke cloud drifting in the stern. Bam[unclear] was turning fast to starboard. As we came round about eight points, I saw five enemy battlecruisers on the port bow about red four o. They were stealing the same way as we were going and going very hard. There was a mass of black smoke, and I could only see their masts and the tops of their funnels above the horizon. Stern waves were showing up white and very high. Opened fire on number five, I couldn’t have laid on myself spotting frightfully hard, and they were all short. The range of the first few salvos was I think 23,000 yards. Blast from A-turret was awfully bad and blew salt water and dust into my eyes which watered like blazes. I saw several of their salvos splash short of us, they fell in an extraordinary small spread and made the dickens of a noise. I remember thinking how high the riccos must be going over us. Caught sight of Valiant and Barhum through the corner of my eye and saw Barhum straddle once or twice; I realised we were staring south, and it crossed my mind whether we should meet the High Seas Fleet. They straddled us once or twice, but we had not been hit at all so far. I think they were zigzagging very much as their deflection was very hard to pick up.

    Tim Concannon

    These next times are approximate because during the action, the author lost all count of time and didn’t include any times in his original account.

    Humphrey Thomas Walwyn

    But about 5 pm I suddenly saw our battlecruisers coming close by about half a mile in the opposite direction, and I realized that they turned back. I noticed the Queen Mary and Indefatigable were adrift but never for a moment realised they’d sunk. Before this, we had passed through a mass of blackwater with a destroyer picking up people. I heard afterwards that this was Queen Mary. X-turret of Lion was trained towards us with guns at full elevation. Several hits showing on her port side, great black splashes. One salvo came very close, just short, smothering us with spray. [unclear] afraid I ducked and talked to G for a minute. We then turned 16 points in succession and trained the turret round full speed to the other beam. Very soon after the turn I suddenly saw on the starboard quarter the whole of the High Seas Fleet. At least, I saw masts, funnels and an endless ripple of orange flashes all down the line. How many? I didn’t try to count. We’re getting well straffed at this time. I remember counting up to eight. The noise of their shells over and short was deafening, like doing counting ship at battle practice – that frightful crack, crack, crack, going on the whole time. Well, one or two very heavy shakes, but didn’t think very much of them at the time, never occurred to me that we were being hit. We were firing pretty fast on baring about green 1.2.0. I distinctly saw two of salvos hit the leading German battleship sheets of yellow flame went right over her mastheads and she looked red fore and aft, like a burning haystack. I know we hit her hard. Told everybody in the turret that we were doing all right and to keep her going. Machinery working like a clockwork mouse and no hang-up any sort whatsoever.

    Received message from the captain to go aft and see what the matter was as we’d been badly hit. Asked for the message to be repeated and got the same through again. I thought for a few seconds – should I go over or down through the shell room, but I realised I ought to get there quickly and decided to go over the top of the turret. I didn’t waste much time on the roof, as the noise was awful. They were both coming over pretty thick. As I got down the starboard ladder of B, both A and B turrets fired and that made me skip a bit quicker. Ran down the port superstructure ladder and tried to get into the port superstructure. All clips were on the door, so I climbed up over the second cutter. Just as I got up one came through the after funnel with an awful screech and spattered about everywhere. I put up my coat collar and ran like a stag, feeling in the deuce of a funk. Went right down to the mess deck and all along portside: all was quiet, could see nothing wrong at all; went right aft and down starboard bathroom lobby up to the captain’s lobby and aft to the admiral’s lobby; saw number six fire brigade were all right and came back along the lobby to mess deck again. Sent telephone message to Captain to say nothing was wrong aft as far as I could tell. As a matter of fact, we had been hit under the waterline abreast the capstan engine flat, but this I didn’t know.

    I crossed the cook’s lobby and told ammunition supply parties that things were going on all right. Went through the focsle mess deck, was just going forward and a 12-inch shell came through the side armour on the boy’s mess deck. Terrific sheet of golden plain, stink, impenetrable dust and everything seems to fall everywhere with an appalling noise. Called for number two fire brigade and they ran out from the flat below, and we got a hose on and put out a lot of burning refuse. Directly water went onto the glow it vanished. Can’t say what was burning: personally, I think it was water gas or something like it. Several of the fire brigades were ill due to the sweet sickly stench, but there was no sign of poison gas. [unclear] hole was clean, about a foot in diameter. Big flakes of armour had been flung right across the mess deck, wrecking everything. Many armour balls came away, magazine flooding cabinet was completely wrecked, and all voice pipes and electric leads overhead cut to pieces. Smoke was pouring up through holes in the deck, and it occurred to me that the high angle gun magazine was very close. Told P to stand by to flood it from the middle deck position. Water from the cut fire mains was pouring below and smoke soon stopped. Everybody busy souvenir hunting and had to put the hose over them to make them take cover below again.

    About 5:30 pm went right aft portside and aft to the captain’s lobby. Found water pouring in through the [unclear] scuttles – the deck aft all gone. There was about a foot of water in the after cabin – billiard table untouched. Got carpenters and everybody out of it as nothing could be done. It was obvious that the side was blown in below the admiral’s cabin. Stern was very deep due to hard steaming and water was pumping up as the ship pitched. Aft submerged torpedo flat reported that water was coming into the after flat – talked to them down the escape hatch and realised it was not anything really. Subsequently found it was due to submerge flat hatch giving a bit when burst occurred above. No more water came down afterwards. Captain’s lobby was at this time untouched. Was just going up hatch to casemate lobby when I was called back and told that a shell had just burst in the captain’s lobby. Went aft again and found my cabin had been completely removed overboard. Lobby in an awful state, a hole about 12-foot diameter in the centre of the deck. A lot of burning debris in my cabin, which we put out. In the middle of this heat was my wife’s miniature, without its case but otherwise perfect. Sleeping cabin, not quite so bad, and only splattered with splinters. There were about four bursts in the lobby trunk to the steering department, which was wrecked: stanchions cut through; captain’s [unclear] in heaps; and everything in a filthy state of indescribable wreckage. Realised that things were pretty warm aft, and nothing could be done, so going forward again before any more arrived. Holes in the quarter deck and my cabin letting daylight.

    Went along by number five fire brigade and saw that we’ve been heavily hit portside. Helped with the fire brigade in port casemate lobby: plugging caught fire mains and trying to stop water getting down ventilating trunks. Columns of water pouring down through a hole in the deck overhead – must have been from enemy shorts. Centreline armoured door was blown off its hinges and the whole of the after flat was in an awful state: everything blown to pieces and spattered by splinters. The resin out of core seam makes everything a horrid state of black sticky glue-like stuff which [unclear] hits by shell fire. A shell had come further forward and hit X-turret barbet armour, killing several of number five fire brigade and wounding a lot more. Water was pouring through a hole in the side into the sergeant’s mess, flooding the main deck and going down the shallow holes to the centre engine room supply truck. I realised we couldn’t effectively stop a hole in the side [unclear] decided that we must at all costs prevent water getting into the engine room. We plugged the supply trunk by big sheets of rubber shore down with deal flats. This of course stopped ventilation to the engine room, and they got pretty hot down below. Left the marines plugging the hole in the ship side with hammocks – but a lot of water was coming in and washing away all attempts at plugging.

    A blast of shell momentarily put out lights, but candles were instantly relit and did well. Oil lamps, this was expected, went out and weren’t relit. Electric lightbulbs broke in the vicinity of shell burst – lots of broken glass about the deck and made it awkward to get about. Also, sharp jagged plates were regular death traps. Everyone must wear leather sea boots – these are now supplied. All fire brigade and repair parties must have thick leather hedges gloves, as it was very bad to try and handle the jagged plates. The body of this 12-inch shell was found above the engineer’s workshop, unexploded. The fitting was sticking out like a chunk of wood and a couple of stockers were trying to chip the fuse out. I luckily stopped that little effort. It’s extraordinary the amount of damage this one unexploded shell did. I can’t help thinking that there were two shells.

    Went forward along the port side of mess deck and sent W to telephone to the captain saying that things were all right. Had a cigarette on the port side of the cook’s lobby, or rather started one to steady my feelings. Had a yarn there with Payne, who was wandering about in a [unclear] waistcork using appalling language as to when the Grand Fleet was going to turn up, had a laugh together anyway. Whilst there a 12-inch shell came into the galley and blew down through the deck. Stoker alongside me looked up and said “well, there goes my — dinner”. Popped up to the battery deck, port side, and found very little damage had been done and everybody was cheering. Went along the starboard side of the mess deck and made a 6-inch supplied parties spread out more, as they would bunch together so much. While forward was told we had been hit portside aft, so ran aft and found we’d been hit under the engineer’s office. It looked very bad a large triangular piece had been blown out of the top corner of the main belt about a foot above water.

    Fresh water and oil tanks had been blown to pieces and everything in an awful state of dust, oil, fuel, and mess. Engineer’s office completely vanished, and deck all bowed upwards: men trying to plug the hole but tons of water coming in and washing them back all the time. As it was all oil fuel, they look like a lot of goldfish swimming about. A marine remarked, “this will mean a drop of leave”. Tried for a bit to plug and shore up with hammocks but it was hopeless as the force of the sea was tremendous. Decided to fill the whole compartment with hammocks, and started a strong party doing this. Eventually, nearly 600 hammocks were taken to fill up the compartment – which eventually stopped the trouble but not till late that night. Body of the shell was afterwards found in the bathroom. The ventilation trunk to the wing engine room had been badly holed by this shell and volumes of water were pouring down. Got down inside the trunk and with the Chiefs assistance, we plugged, in short, the hole from inside the trunk with rubber sheets and stopped water getting below.

    5:30 till 6 went up the battery deck portside and looked through 6-inch controlled hood – must have got a direct hit further aft with high explosives as there was this terrific flash and shock and I was knocked in ways out of the 6-inch hood, my eyes full of water and dust. G thought I was hit but it was really only shock. Realised that it was pretty hot, and we were getting heavily hit. Went down to the mess deck again to see how the hammock party were getting on and found they’d passed a lot of hammocks in but no sign of [unlcear] yet. Many hammocks were lost washing out through the hole and it didn’t look promising. Crossed the starboard side and a shell burst in the battery above. Sheeter flame came down through the slits of the sliding shutters. Told them to open the shutter with a view to going up the escape to see what had happened, but the battery was all aglow overhead and so shut it again. Heard a lot of groaning in the battery depth so I went forward to get up to the fore-end when I was told I was wanted at once because there was a bad fire on the superstructure. A fragment of shell had come through the roof of the battery deck and hit the aft 6-inch cordite case containing four charges. As bad luck would have it the cartridge number had a charge half out of the case in his arms, having just received the order to load. This box and four others exploded – whole of number six guns grew of frightfully burned and several more in number five gun. Luckily, it didn’t spread right along the battery as it did in Malaya and the centre line door being shut saved the port battery. The fire was quickly put out and never took hold of anything really.

    As I passed the port war signal station, I asked if they knew anything, but they said they didn’t – they knew nothing all their signal [unclear] cut. At the time I thought that our 6-inch were firing but I realised afterwards it was only hits on us. The noise was deafening and rather nerve-shattering. You couldn’t hear yourself speak and you had to shout in anybody’s ear. Went up to the superstructure by the battery deck escape and found the whole place ablaze. All fire mains were out, you couldn’t get any water up there at all. Signalmen, messengers peering out through a slot in the conning tower – looked like thrushes in a nest, gaping and shouting “put the fire out”. Eventually got to steam main connected and got water – which I got in the neck as they turned it on.

    About 6 pm the fire that started in the navigator sea cabin which was completely gutted. All our swimming collars, about 400 of them, which we kept hung on jack stays near here for use in emergency were burning, the stench of rubber being perfectly awful. Smouldering wooden uprights of doors kept on breaking out again, so left marines playing the hose. Decks were all warped and resin under the cour seam was crackling like fire burning holly. Upper deck and superstructures looked perfectly awful, a hold everywhere. Everything in the fore superstructure was wrecked, and it looked like a burned-out factory, all blackened with beams twisted everywhere. I think at this time the fire had slackened, but the noise was deafening. Shells bursting short threw tons of water overhead. 12-inch had come through the after funnel, through the beef screen, hit the armoured grating over B boiler room and being deflected upwards, smashed the second cutter to matchwood. On its way through the beef screen is carried a whole sheet with it, which was wedged into the gratings. First, I thought it was a casualty. Went below again and found a second shell had come into the boy’s mess deck through the embrasure overhead. Looked outboard through a hole in the armour on the ship side – looked red lurid and beastly. Heavy firing all around and splashes everywhere, although I thought we were seeming slow.

    Went aft portside and saw how the plugging was getting on. There was a fair amount of water going down the centre engine room still and the plugs kept on washing away from the hole. Everybody was very cheery and anxious for news which I couldn’t give is I hadn’t the faintest idea what’s happening. Marines on the port 6-inch ammunition supply were playing cards on the deck quite happily. Got a message that men were in the after steering compartment and couldn’t get out and water was gaining. Clean forgotten all about them, and of course, the [unclear] had shaken them. Went aft and found the whole trunk full to the level of the cabin flat. They reported, by telephone, that there were 18 inches of water and gaining slowly. Tried to open the door by deck floating the admiral’s lobby but it was absolutely fixed. Realised it was jammed by wreckage from abaft. Telephoned them to wait, and that everything was at peace.

    Went forward again to the port side of the mess deck. Two stokers came to me when I was very busy and begged me to take watches, letters, etc found on men who’d been knocked out. It struck me as so incongruous, it shouldn’t matter a bit when we might all of us go up any minute. I told them so, but they were insistent about it – W took charge of the things. Men everywhere were simply splendid, and all very cheery. I confess that I found it mighty unpleasant and unnerving, although I had plenty to do. But for those men who merely had to wait – it must have been 1000 times worse. The noise was perfectly appalling, and you couldn’t hear at all between decks, and the worst of it all was one knew nothing.

    6:20 pm the steering gear episode was really rather extraordinary. I found out the details afterwards. We were turning to former astern of the Grand Fleet battle line and the helm was apparently put over too quickly and jammed at port 15. We swung to starboard under valent stern and continued swinging around towards the enemy, getting very close to them. We continued swinging around until we were on a westerly course when the captain managed to steady the ship by working the screws. I remember hearing him give some helm orders or [unclear] about the engine. The whole leading enemy division concentrated on us during this circling, and we got very heavily hit and everybody thought we’d gone. Huns thought so too and ceased firing, luckily for us, but they no doubt couldn’t see us for splashes spray and smoke. There was a heavy pall of smoke everywhere – terrific rumbling of heavy firing and the whole horizon lit by orange flashes everywhere. Everything blurred and beastly. I saw the Agincourt a long way off firing like blazes and remember thinking she was going at it pretty hard but that’s all I ever saw of the Grand Fleet.

    8:30 pm went below and was at the port hits again when I got a message asking could we go 16 knots and I said yes or it may have been what speed can you go and I said 16 – I don’t know what it was anyway. Went aft and tried to square up a hole by the port case mate lobby. Got half a dozen men to get the dead out of the flat below. Got a message that we wished to return to Rosyth. Arranged to get the men a meal as best we could whilst keeping the guns manned. I had no idea what the time was but it was about must have been about 8:30 I believe. I went onto the upper deck and had a look around – Main derrick was shot through and lying across the picket boat, mainmast hold by a 6-inch and bouts all smashed to atoms, compass platform was riddled by splinters, big hole starboard side by 6-inch guns which we covered over with a collision mat and nailed down. Tried to tartan the ship as best we could, but the holes everywhere made this rather hopeless. Plugged them with canvas and deck cloths. A 12-inch shell had hit the communication tube of the after direct tower – sheared all rivets and spun the tube through 180 degrees, only one man was killed and two wounded in the tower above – rather miraculous. X-turret had a direct hit which looked like an 8-inch but no damage whatsoever inside: in fact, they didn’t even know they’d been hit. Though th boats were a comic sight: launch absolutely smashed to blazes, all carny rafts except two small ones broken up, and no sound boat left (first picket boat had just been painted too, and new brass handrails around casings, all cut to pieces). Both ladders to quarter deck had gone and both lifebuoys blown away by blast of X-turret. All mainstays had been shot through except one on the starboard side. Searchlights hadn’t suffered very badly, except those on the aft superstructure they were like scrap iron. There were many holes in the quarter deck, rather death traps. Where shell hit the deck planks, planks and fasting removed cleanly as if they’ve been shovelled away, in several places over an area of 10 to 12 square feet.

    About 9 pm to midnight. Went down to an awkward fire in the sick bay. I couldn’t get along the upper deck before the battery due to dense smoke even with the respirator etc. Even E’s helmet was no good – smoke absolutely thick yellow. Went up on the focsle deck and got through the skylight which we opened to let the smoke out. Eventually got out board and the port forward embrasure with the chief stoker and a hose playing over the burning debris. We’d not had time before the action to strip the sick bay and the 12-inch had come clean through from port to starboard completely wrecking sickbay – which was in an awful state of confusion due to fire and water, chemicals, broken glass etc. Having got this far out went and saw the fleet surgeon who was very busy in the forward distributing station. Large numbers of burnt men were in a dreadful state. Went aft and telephoned to the after steering department asking them how things were and they said there was three feet of water there, gaining slowly. Matter of fact, this was exaggerated never was more than two feet – the position there certainly couldn’t have been pleasant. Got door to them open about a foot and three men with old W came up looking a bit shaken but none the worse. They’d been down there about eight hours and must have been pretty anxious. By this time, one felt one wanted something inside so repaired to the wardroom and found that they got some food of sorts going – sardines and tin tongue. Everybody was very cheery. [unclear] hit here 6-inch shell had gone through the wardroom table making a clean round hole, dented the deck, and gone out through the other side having wrecked the stove, armchair, and piano: we’d hope to sell the piano for a good price as a souvenir although it’s got no inside left, but the outside is all right.

    Thursday, June the 1st. At daylight, we fell hands in and went on getting things squared up as best we could. Started carpenters on repairing first cutter – which was the only possible boat, and got mess tables, stools, etc, up to build rafts on the upper deck. Steaming 80 knots and zigzagging. Our standard compass had about 10 degrees error after the hitting we got – gyro was all right. About 6 am the captain sent for me and said he was certain we should be attacked by submarines and to do all that I could get everything as ready as possible. So, I’ve got the 6-inch gun crews closed up and went on getting rafts etc. built. About eight o’clock, two torpedoes were fired at us – one just crossed the bow, and another followed up astern alongside the starboard side. We increased to 21 knots and zigzagged all the time. There was nothing more to be done. We’d already got double lookouts and had a lot of offices up in addition.

    About 10 am opened fire on a submarine on the port quarter – range about 800 yards. Port 6-inch fired about 8 rounds at the periscope Captain sent me down to look at shoring by the hits port side and see how it was standing. I went and had a good look and told him it was alright. This forenoon was, I think, about the worst part of the whole show, as everybody was very much on edge. From then onwards, nothing of special interest happened and we came safely in. I’m bound to say I heaved a sigh of relief as we passed under the forth bridge and the cheers from the troops made one feel quite gulping. We were drawing 35 and a half feet aft when we docked.

    Sam Willis

    Do please catch up with everything that we’ve been doing @snl.org.uk and if you’ve enjoyed this episode on a Great Sea Fight please check out the previous episodes: we’ve got special episodes on the Battle of the River Plate, the Battle of Cape St Vincent and the Battle of Tsushima. And do please find the Society for Nautical Research and the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast on social media in particular, please find the Mariner’s Mirror Podcast on YouTube, where there are some excellent and innovative animations that bring the maritime past to you like never before. But best of all, please join the Society for Nautical Research. your subscription will go towards publishing the most important maritime history and towards preserving our maritime history.

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