|German Torpedo Boats at Jutland - by Claus Bergan|
|The game area set up with my new naval gaming mats|
The game would start in the second half of November 1914. Historically, things appeared to be going well for the Germans; von Spee’s squadron had won the Battle of Cornell and they had recently completed a bombardment and minelaying operation near Yarmouth.
The German’s primary goal was to draw the British capital ships into advantages battles and sink or damage them to reduce the odds against their fleet, with a secondary mission of attacking Britain’s east coast with bombardment attacks and minelaying operations. The British were trying to maintain the long-distance blockade and defend against the German raids, but they also would have opportunities for offensive action.
|The North Sea operational map for the campaign|
The British were only required to conduct a defensive patrol. But decided to follow the best traditions of the Royal Navy and go on the attack. They planned their own minelaying mission off the German coast (zone C4 on the operational map). The mission would be supported by the seven battleships of the 1st Battle Squadron and the armored cruisers of the 3rd Cruiser Squadron. The battlecruiser squadron was let behind to try to intercept any German raids.
With the missions planned, it was time for the referee (me) to check for submarines, radio intercepts, and spotting by airships.
Royal Navy Intelligence in Room 40 intercepted and decoded many radio transmissions that indicated the Germans had a major fleet operation underway with many ships moving toward Yarmouth. The Royal Navy decided to continue with their planned operations, believing they could lay their mines and then the battleships would be able to cut-off the German raiders as they tried to return to port. They were feeling confident about their chances of inflicting some serious losses on the Germans.
Meanwhile, one of the Zeppelins scouting around Scapa Flow spotted the British battleships leaving port and reported that the ships were heading southeast. The Germans also decided to continue with their planned missions, but they also sent a few more ships to join the battleships in zone C3.
With the stage set, the action kicked off when Harwich Force (4 light cruisers and 2 destroyer squadrons) sighted the German battlecruisers near Yarmouth. The Royal Navy staff discussed their options and ordered Harwich Force to fall back while Beatty’s battlecruisers were dispatched to catch the German raiders. The Germans were happy to let the British light cruisers and destroyers go away while they laid their mines and shot up the town.
Next the British lights cruisers scouting ahead of the minelaying/battleship force sighted smoke and then German battleships. The British minelaying cruisers dumped then mines as the whole force cleared for action.
|Each side setting up for the battle|
|German battleships near the top, cruisers near the bottom, and torpedo boats outside the photo|
|British battleships near the bottom and cruisers near the top|
|British battleships form up in line ahead formation|
|Devonshire hit and sinking|
|Antrim on fire|
|German torpedo boats bracket the battleships|
|HMS Ajax hit by torpedoes|
|HMS King George V and HMS Ajax sinking after torpedo hits|
The British did strike back, starting a fire aboard the armored cruiser Prinz Heinrich and then sinking it with a torpedo shot.
|Prinz Heinrich hit and on fire|
|Prinz Heinrich takes a torpedo hit (which will help put out the fire)|
The British also recalled their battlecruisers, since it was felt that they would probably be facing both the German battlecruiser and battleship formations.
With the situation looking grim, the British checked the current Victory Point totals. Seeing how far behind they were, they decided to concede the game. This ended the campaign a little earlier than expected, but gave us time to convene the Board of Inquiry to talk through the good and bad things each side had done (the general verdict for the Royal Navy was "mistakes were made."). It also gave me a chance to reveal some of the other interesting missions that were required for later months, such as supporting the Cuxhaven Raid and a mission that could have set up a repeat of the Battle of Dogger Bank.
|DANG 2019 participants|