Battle of Dogger Bank (1915)
The Battle of Dogger Bank was a naval battle fought near the Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank is a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about off the east coast of England. It extends over approximately , with its dimensions being about long and up to broad. The water depth ranges from 15 to 36 metres , about shallower than the surrounding sea. It is a...

 in the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 on 24 January 1915, during the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, between squadrons of the British Grand Fleet
British Grand Fleet
The Grand Fleet was the main fleet of the British Royal Navy during the First World War.-History:It was formed in 1914 by the British Atlantic Fleet combined with the Home Fleet and it included 35-40 state-of-the-art capital ships. It was initially commanded by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe...

 and the German High Seas Fleet
Kaiserliche Marine
The Imperial German Navy was the German Navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy and Norddeutsche Bundesmarine, which primarily had the mission of coastal defense. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded...


Decoded radio intercepts had given the British advance knowledge that a German raiding squadron was heading for Dogger Bank, so they dispatched their own naval forces to intercept it. The British found the Germans at the expected time and place; surprised, the smaller and slower German squadron fled for home. During a stern chase lasting several hours, the British slowly caught up with the Germans and engaged them with long-range gunfire. The British disabled , the rear German ship, but the Germans put the British flagship out of action with heavy damage. Due to a signalling mixup, the remaining British ships broke off pursuit of the fleeing enemy force to sink Blücher. By the time this had been done, the German squadron had escaped; all the remaining German vessels returned safely to harbour, though some had heavy damage requiring extended repairs.

Lion made it back to port but was out of action for several months. Since the British lost no ships and suffered few casualties, while the Germans lost a ship and most of its crew, the action was considered a British victory. Both Britain and Germany soon replaced commanders who were thought to have shown poor judgement, and both navies made some changes to equipment and procedures in response to problems identified during the battle.


1st Battlecruiser Squadron: , and .

2nd Battlecruiser Squadron: and .

1st Light Cruiser Squadron: , , , and .

Harwich Force
Harwich Force
The Harwich Force was a squadron of the Royal Navy, formed during the First World War, that went on to play a significant role in the war.-History:...

: three light cruisers and 35 destroyers.


1st Scouting Group: , , and .

2nd Scouting Group: , , , and .

Two flotillas of 18 torpedo boats combined.


With the German battle fleet effectively bottled up by Admiral David Beatty
David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty
Admiral of the Fleet David Richard Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO was an admiral in the Royal Navy...

′s success at Heligoland Bight, Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl
Friedrich von Ingenohl
Gustav Heinrich Ernst Friedrich von Ingenohl was a German admiral from Neuwied best known for his command of the German High Seas Fleet at the beginning of World War I....

—Commander-in-Chief of the German fleet—decided to launch a raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby
Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby
The raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, which took place on 16 December 1914, was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British seaport towns of Scarborough, Hartlepool, West Hartlepool, and Whitby. The attack resulted in 137 fatalities and 592 casualties, many of which were civilians...

 on the British east coast with Admiral Franz Hipper
Franz von Hipper
Franz Ritter von Hipper was an admiral in the German Imperial Navy . Franz von Hipper joined the German Navy in 1881 as an officer cadet. He commanded several torpedo boat units and served as watch officer aboard several warships, as well as Kaiser Wilhelm II's yacht Hohenzollern...

′s battlecruiser
Battlecruisers were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship...

 squadron—comprising three battlecruisers and one large armoured cruiser—supported by light cruiser
Light cruiser
A light cruiser is a type of small- or medium-sized warship. The term is a shortening of the phrase "light armored cruiser", describing a small ship that carried armor in the same way as an armored cruiser: a protective belt and deck...

s and destroyer
In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called torpedo-boat destroyers in 1892, evolved from...

s. Hipper opened fire at 08:00 on 16 December 1914, eventually killing 108 civilians and wounding 525. Public and political opinion was outraged that German warships could sail so close to the British coast, shelling coastal towns with apparent impunity; British naval forces had failed to prevent the attacks, and also failed to intercept Hipper's raiding squadron afterwards. (Though the British fleet was at sea hunting Hipper after the raid, the Germans escaped in stormy weather, aided by low visibility and British communication problems.)

Buoyed by the success of the raid, Admiral Hipper resolved to repeat the exercise by attacking the British fishing fleet on the Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank
Dogger Bank is a large sandbank in a shallow area of the North Sea about off the east coast of England. It extends over approximately , with its dimensions being about long and up to broad. The water depth ranges from 15 to 36 metres , about shallower than the surrounding sea. It is a...

—midway between Germany and Britain—the following month. But through intercepted German radio traffic decoded by Room 40
Room 40
In the history of Cryptanalysis, Room 40 was the section in the Admiralty most identified with the British cryptoanalysis effort during the First World War.Room 40 was formed in October 1914, shortly after the start of the war...

 of British Naval Intelligence, the British learned of Hipper′s planned sortie on 23 January 1915. Acting
Acting (rank)
An Acting rank, is a military designation allowing an commissioned- or non-commissioned officer to assume a rank—usually higher and usually temporary—with the pay and allowances appropriate to that grade. As such, an officer may be ordered back to the previous grade...

 Vice Admiral Beatty set sail from Rosyth
Rosyth is a town located on the Firth of Forth, three miles south of the centre of Dunfermline. According to an estimate taken in 2008, the town has a population of 12,790....

 with five battlecruisers—supported by four light cruisers—to attempt to trap Hipper′s force. Joined by additional cruisers and destroyers from Harwich
Harwich is a town in Essex, England and one of the Haven ports, located on the coast with the North Sea to the east. It is in the Tendring district. Nearby places include Felixstowe to the northeast, Ipswich to the northwest, Colchester to the southwest and Clacton-on-Sea to the south...

, Beatty headed south, encountering Hipper′s screening vessels at the Dogger Bank at 07:05 on 24 January. The day was clear and visibility
In meteorology, visibility is a measure of the distance at which an object or light can be clearly discerned. It is reported within surface weather observations and METAR code either in meters or statute miles, depending upon the country. Visibility affects all forms of traffic: roads, sailing...

 was unusually good.


Sighting the smoke from a large approaching force, Hipper headed southeast by 07:35 to escape, but Beatty′s ships were faster than the German squadron, which was held back by the slower armoured cruiser and by Hipper′s coal-fired torpedo boats. By 08:00, Hipper′s battlecruisers were sighted from Beatty's flagship, . The older battlecruisers of the British 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron lagged somewhat behind the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron. Chasing the Germans from a position astern and to starboard of Hipper′s force, the British ships gradually caught up—some reaching speeds of 27 kn (32.9 mph; 52.9 km/h)—and closed to gun range
Range of a projectile
right|thumb|250 px|The path of this projectile launched from a height y0 has a range d.In physics, assuming a flat Earth with a uniform gravity field, a projectile launched with specific initial conditions will have a predictable range. As in Trajectory of a projectile, we will use:The following...

. Beatty chose to approach from this direction because the prevailing wind then blew the British ships′ smoke clear, allowing them a good view of the enemy, while Hipper′s gunners were partially blinded by funnel and gun smoke blowing in the direction of their targets. Lion opened fire at 08:52 at a range of 20000 yd (18,288 m). Other British ships opened as they came within range, while the Germans were unable to reply until 09:11 because of the shorter range of their guns. No warships had ever before engaged at such long ranges or at such high speeds, and gunnery challenges for both sides were therefore unprecedented. Nevertheless, after a few salvo
A salvo is the simultaneous discharge of artillery or firearms including the firing of guns either to hit a target or to perform a salute.Troops armed with muzzleloaders required time in which to refill their arms with gun powder and shot...

s the British shells had straddled Blücher.

The British fire was concentrated on two of the German ships, Hipper′s flagship battlecruiser at the head of the line and Blücher at the rear. With five British ships to the German four, Beatty intended that his two rear ships, and , should engage Blücher, while his leading three engaged their opposite numbers. But Captain H.B. Pelly of the newly commissioned battlecruiser assumed that two ships should concentrate on the leading German ship and engaged Seydlitz, leaving unmolested to fire at Lion. Worse, Tiger′s fire was ineffective, as she mistook Lion′s shell splashes for her own (when her shots were actually falling 3000 yd (2,743.2 m) beyond Seydlitz).

At 09:43, Seydlitz was hit by a 13.5 in (342.9 mm) shell from Lion, which penetrated her after turret barbette
A barbette is a protective circular armour feature around a cannon or heavy artillery gun. The name comes from the French phrase en barbette referring to the practice of firing a field gun over a parapet rather than through an opening . The former gives better angles of fire but less protection...

 and caused an ammunition fire in the working chamber. This fire spread rapidly through one compartment after another, igniting ready propellant charges all the way to the magazine
Magazine (artillery)
Magazine is the name for an item or place within which ammunition is stored. It is taken from the Arabic word "makahazin" meaning "warehouse".-Ammunition storage areas:...

s, and knocked out both rear turret
Gun turret
A gun turret is a weapon mount that protects the crew or mechanism of a projectile-firing weapon and at the same time lets the weapon be aimed and fired in many directions.The turret is also a rotating weapon platform...

s with the loss of 165 men. Only the prompt action of the executive officer in flooding the magazines saved Seydlitz from a massive magazine explosion that would have destroyed the ship. (Supposedly, the sailor Wilhelm Heidkamp
Wilhelm Heidkamp
Pumpenmeister Wilhelm Heidkamp was a German sailor who fought in World War I.Heidkamp was born in Herkenrath and joined the German Navy as a machinist in 1902. He transferred to SMS Seydlitz in 1912....

 saved the ship, when he desperately opened the glowing valves although he burnt his hands and his lungs. He never recovered from his severe injuries and died a few years later. The Kriegsmarine named a destroyer after him.)

The British ships were relatively unscathed until 10:18, when hit Lion with several 12 in (304.8 mm) shells, damaging her engines and causing flooding so that Lion began to lag behind. At 10:41, Lion narrowly escaped a disaster similar to what had happened on Seydlitz, when a German shell hit the forward turret and ignited a small ammunition fire which, fortunately for the British, was extinguished before it caused catastrophe. A few minutes later, taking on water and listing to port, Lion had to stop her port engine and reduce speed to 15 kn (18.3 mph; 29.4 km/h), and was soon out of action, having been hit 14 times.

Meanwhile, at 10:30, Blücher was hit by a shell from , which caused an ammunition fire and boiler room damage. As a result, Blücher had to reduce speed to 17 kn (20.7 mph; 33.3 km/h), and fell further and further behind the rest of the German force. Beatty ordered Indomitable—his slowest ship—to intercept Blücher.

Now Hipper, running low on ammunition, made the difficult decision to leave the disabled Blücher to her fate and steam for home, in order to save his remaining damaged ships. Nevertheless, the annihilation of the German squadron still appeared likely to the pursuing British until 10:54, when Beatty—believing he saw a submarine′s periscope on Lion′s starboard bow—ordered a sharp, 90° turn to port to avoid a submarine trap. (It is possible that the "periscope" was actually a surfacing, run-out torpedo which had been launched 15 minutes earlier by the German destroyer V5). At 11:02, realizing that so sharp a turn would open the range too much, Beatty ordered "Course NE" to limit the turn to 45°, and then added "Engage the enemy′s rear", in an attempt to clarify his intention that his other ships, which had now left Lion far behind, should pursue Hipper′s main force. With Lion′s electric generators now out of commission, Beatty could only signal using flag hoists, and both these signals were flown at the same time.

But the combination of the signal of "Course NE"—which happened to be the direction of Blücher—and the signal to engage the rear was misunderstood by Beatty’s second-in-command—Rear-Admiral Gordon Moore
Gordon Moore (Royal Navy officer)
Admiral Sir Gordon Moore KCB CVO was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Third Sea Lord.-Naval career:...

 on New Zealand—as an order for all the battlecruisers to finish off the cripple. Therefore, the remaining British battlecruisers broke off the pursuit of the fleeing German squadron and rounded on Blücher. Most of the British light cruisers and destroyers also attacked Blücher. Beatty tried to correct this obvious misunderstanding by using Horatio Nelson
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB was a flag officer famous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of...

′s famous order from Trafalgar
Battle of Trafalgar
The Battle of Trafalgar was a sea battle fought between the British Royal Navy and the combined fleets of the French Navy and Spanish Navy, during the War of the Third Coalition of the Napoleonic Wars ....

 "Engage the enemy more closely", but this order was not in the signal book, so he chose "Keep nearer to the enemy" as the closest equivalent. But by the time this signal was hoisted, Moore′s ships were too far away to read Beatty′s flags, and the correction was not received.

Despite the overwhelming odds, Blücher fought stubbornly to the end. Blücher managed to put the British destroyer Meteor
Thornycroft M class destroyer
The Thornycroft M or Mastiff class were a class of six destroyers completed for the Royal Navy during 1914-16 for World War I service. They were quite different from the Admiralty-designed ships of the Admiralty M class class, although based on a basic sketch layout provided by the Admiralty from...

 out of action and scored two hits on the British battlecruisers with her 8.2 in (208.3 mm) guns, but was pounded into a burning wreck by approximately 50 British shells. Finally, struck by two torpedoes from the light cruiser , Blücher capsized and sank at 12:13 with the loss of 792 men. British efforts to rescue survivors in the water were interrupted by the arrival of the German zeppelin
A Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship pioneered by the German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin in the early 20th century. It was based on designs he had outlined in 1874 and detailed in 1893. His plans were reviewed by committee in 1894 and patented in the United States on 14 March 1899...

 L-5, and by a German seaplane which attacked with small bombs. No damage was done, but the British ships—which were sitting targets while stopped in the water for rescue—put on speed and withdrew to avoid further aerial attack.
Gunnery Records
Ship Shells Fired Target Hits Hits Received Casualties
Lion 243x 13.5in Blucher 1
Derfflinger 1
Seydlitz 2
16x 11 and 12in
1x 8.3in
1 Killed
20 wounded
Tiger 355x 13.5 in Blucher?
Derfflinger 1
Seydlitz 2
6x 11 and 12in
1x 8.3in
10 killed
11 wounded
Princess Royal 271x 13.5in Blucher?
Derfflinger 1
0 0
New Zealand 147x 12 in Blucher? 0 0
Indomitable 134x 12in Blucher? 1x 8.3in 0
Seydlitz 390x 11in Lion and Tiger 8, 3x 13.5in
(1 Tiger, 2 Lion)
159 killed
33 wounded
Moltke 276x 11in Lion and Tiger 8 0 0
Derfflinger 310x 12in Lion, Tiger, and
Princess Royal 5 or 6
3x 13.5 in
(1 each Lion
Tiger and Princess Royal)
Blucher unknown Lion 1
Tiger 1
Princess Royal 1
about 70
7 torpedoes.
792 killed
234 prisoners
45 wounded

By this time, Hipper had escaped; his ships were now too far away for the British to catch them again. Beatty had lost control of the battle, and he perceived that the opportunity of an overwhelming victory had been lost; the Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

—incorrectly believing that Derfflinger had been badly damaged—would soon reach the same conclusion. However, in light of what happened later at Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

, where the British battlecruisers were shown to be highly vulnerable to ammunition fires and magazine explosions following hits on gun turrets, it is possible that if Moore's three fast battlecruisers had pursued Hipper′s remaining three (leaving the slower Indomitable behind as Beatty intended), the British might actually have been at a disadvantage and might have got the worst of it. Blücher demonstrated the ability of the German ships to absorb great punishment; all of Hipper′s remaining ships were larger, faster, more modern, more heavily armed, and far better armoured than Blücher and only Seydlitz had suffered any serious damage. Setting aside the one-sided action in which the already-disabled Blücher was sunk, the Germans out-hit the British by over three to one, registering a total of 22 heavy-caliber hits—16 on Lion and six on Tiger—against the British total of just seven hits.


Lion had to be towed back to port by Indomitable at 10 kn (12.2 mph; 19.6 km/h), a long and dangerous voyage in which both battlecruisers were exposed to potential submarine attacks. Therefore, an enormous screen of over fifty ships was assigned to guard Lion and Indomitable as they crept home. Both reached port safely. The disabled Meteor was also towed home. Lion was out of action for four months, Lord Fisher having decreed that her damage be repaired on the Tyne without going into dry dock, making for an extremely difficult and time-consuming job. All the surviving German ships reached port, though Seydlitz was heavily damaged and had to go into drydock for repairs.

Although the Germans initially believed that Tiger had been sunk because of a large fire that had been seen on her decks, it was soon clear that the battle was a serious reverse. Kaiser Wilhelm issued an order that all further risks to surface vessels were to be avoided. Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl
Friedrich von Ingenohl
Gustav Heinrich Ernst Friedrich von Ingenohl was a German admiral from Neuwied best known for his command of the German High Seas Fleet at the beginning of World War I....

—commander of the High Seas Fleet—was replaced by Admiral Hugo von Pohl
Hugo von Pohl
Hugo von Pohl was a German admiral who during the First World War commanded the German High Seas Fleet from 1915 until shortly before his death from illness in 1916....

. The Germans took the lessons of the battle to heart, particularly the damage to Seydlitz, which revealed flaws in the protection of her magazines and dangerous ammunition-handling procedures. Some of these issues were corrected in Germany′s battleships and battlecruisers in time for the Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

 the following summer. Although the Germans realized that the appearance of the British squadron at dawn was too remarkable to be mere coincidence, they concluded that an enemy agent near their base in the Jade Bay
The Jade Bight, is a bay on the North Sea coast of Germany. It was formerly known simply as Jade or Jahde.About 180 km² in area, the Jade was largely created by storm floods during the 12th and 16th centuries. During this period it was connected in the East to the river Weser...

 was responsible, and did not suspect that their wireless
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

codes had been compromised.

Although the battle was not greatly consequential in itself, it boosted British morale. But while the Germans learned their lessons, the British did not. The unfortunate Rear-Admiral Moore was quietly replaced, but Beatty′s flag lieutenant—responsible for hoisting Beatty′s two commands on one flag hoist, thereby allowing them to be read as one—remained. Signalling on board Lion would again be poor in the first hours of Jutland, with serious consequences for the British. Nor did the battlecruisers learn their lesson about fire distribution, as similar targeting errors were made at Jutland.

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