Aftermath of the Battle of Dogger Bank

Battle of Dogger Bank

World War 1 Naval Combat

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Battle of Dogger Bank - SMS Blucher sinking A famous picture of Blücher sinking.  Although not as powerful as a battlecruiser Blücher's guns could match them for range and her armour was as good or better than the earliest British battlecruisers.  Her biggest weakness when operating with battlecruisers was her speed, she was the slowest major unit at the Battle of Dogger Bank.

After the battle the damaged Lion was towed home by Indomitable and did not return from repair until 9 April 1915, she had received sixteen hits.  The only other British battlecruiser hit by heavy shells at Dogger Bank was Tiger which received six hits, a total of twenty-two hits from 900 heavy shells fired (Moltke 276, Seydlitz 390, Derfflinger 234).  Blücher as well as hitting the destroyer Meteor also hit Lion once and Indomitable once but caused the latter no damage.  The British suffered fifteen killed and thirty-two wounded.

Apart from a large number on Blücher only six hits were obtained on the other German heavy units, three on Seydlitz and three on Derfflinger from 1152 heavy shells fired (Indomitable 134, New Zealand 147, Lion 243, Princess Royal 273, Tiger 355).  Derfflinger was ready for sea again on 17 February and Seydlitz on 1 April.  Total German casualties were 954 killed, 80 wounded and 189 captured.

The British were publicly pleased with their undoubted victory at Dogger Bank although in private both Beatty and the First Sea Lord Fisher were not happy that Moore had let the rest of the German squadron escape.  Although exonerated, he could hardly be reprimanded for following orders, he was moved to the Canary Islands.  Captain Pelly of HMS Tiger was also criticised for the firing at the wrong target, the low quality of his ships gunnery and for not pursing the Germans once Lion had dropped out of the line.  He was not removed as Tiger was a new ship which was not fully worked up and Beatty felt Pelly would not make the same mistakes again.  The action increased Beatty's reputation but in private some considered he made a mistake in placing the inexperience Tiger ahead of Princess Royal in the battle line and for overreacting to the phantom submarine periscope.

Hipper was criticised for taking the slower Blücher as part of their force but even once Blücher had been sunk his force was limited to the same low speed by the limited speed of many of his coal powered torpedo boats, making this criticism against Hipper a little unfair.  There was strong criticism of von Ingenhol for not supporting Hipper by using the battlefleet as a covering force for the operation.  The German Kaiser was furious with the defeat and ordered fewer risks to be taken in the future.  Admiral von Ingenhol was replaced with Admiral Pohl as head of the navy.

The damage to Seydlitz ensured that the Germans reduced the amount of shell propellant stored in the gun turrets to reduce the risk of explosion, a lesson the British were not to learn until the Battle of Jutland.  The British were impressed with the quality of German shooting but not with the quality of their shell, little did they realise that the British shells were even worse, this problem was not realised until the Battle of Jutland in 1916.  Also HMS Lion found it hard to return fire late in the battle because of the volume of fire she was under from Moltke and Seydlitz and and so the British battlecruisers came to place too much emphasis on high rates of fire resulting in problems with accuracy and safety that showed up at the Battle on Jutland in 1916.

The lessons that the British could have learnt, about lack of initiative in subordinate commanders and signalling errors were not learnt.  Beatty stood by his flag lieutenant Seymour despite the fact that a previous error by him had let a German squadron evade Beatty after a raid on the Yorkshire coast, and mistakes at Jutland were to cause problems.  Whilst loyalty to a subordinate is desirable surely Beatty took this too far for such an important position in the flagship of such an important force.

Beatty on the bridge of destroyer HMS Attack after Lion was crippled.  She was an Acheron class destroyer, a fairly typical type of pre-war destroyer, later classes gradually grew in size, speed and firepower. Attack

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