« AnteriorContinuar »
Hood and Arbuthnot, the former commanding three of the earlier battle cruisers, Invincible, Inflexible, and Indomitable, the latter commanding four armored cruisers, of which we shall hear more hereafter.
A majority of the battleships were capable of a speed of 21 to 22 knots, but it is improbable that the force, as a whole, could do better than 20 knots. Hood, with his "Invincibles," was capable of from 27 to 28 knots, and Jellicoe appears to have sent him on ahead to reenforce Beatty at the earliest possible moment, while following himself at a speed which, he says, strained the older ships of his force to the utmost. The formation of the fleet was probably somewhat like that shown at A, Plate V, which doubtless passed into B before fighting range was reached.
Of the southward sweep of this great armada, the most tremendous fighting force the world has ever seen on sea or land, we have no record. They started. They arrived. Of the hours that intervened no word has been said. Yet it is not difficult to picture something of the dramatic tenseness of the race. The admirals, their staffs, the captains of the individual ships, all were on the bridges, and, there remained not only through the race to reach the battle area, but through all the fighting after they had closed with the enemy. The carefully worked-out plans for directing everything from the shelter of the conning tower were thrown aside without a thought. So there we see them, grouped in the most exposed positions on their ships, straining their eyes through the haze for the first glimpse of friend or foe, and urging those below, at the fires and the throttle, to squeeze out every fraction of a knot that boilers and turbines could be made to yield.
Word must have been received by wireless of the loss of the Indefatigable and the Queen Mary, while the battleships were still fifty or sixty miles away, for Beatty at this time was running south faster than Jellicoe could follow. It was perhaps at this time that Hood was dispatched at full speed to add his three battle cruisers to the four that remained to Beatty. They arrived upon the scene about 6.15 p. m., shortly after Beatty had turned eastward, and swung in ahead of Beatty's column, which,
British Grand Fleet
Hood with 3 Battle cruisers swings into column ahead
6:30 P.M. (Head of Column)
7:00 P.M. ..(Head of Column)
(Head of Column)
(disabled) German Battleship Fleet
6:00 P.M. PLATE IV.
(Head of von Hipper's column)
British Grand Fleet Approaching.from Northwest. Beatty turns eastward at 6 P.M. to meet Jellicoe and cap Von Hipper.
Von Hipper turns east to avoid cap.
as thus reenforced, consisted of seven battle cruisers and four dreadnoughts (Plate IV). Admiral Beatty writes in terms of enthusiastic admiration of the way in which Hood brought his ships into action, and it is easy to understand the thrill with which he must have welcomed this addition to his force.
But his satisfaction was not of long duration. Hardly had the Invincible, Hood's flagship, settled down on her new course and opened fire than she disappeared in a great burst of smoke and flame. Here, as in the case of the Indefatigable and the Queen Mary, the appalling suddenness and completeness of the disaster makes it impossible of explanation. The survivors from all three of the ships totaled only about one hundred, and none of these are able to throw any light upon the matter.
By this time Beatty's whole column had completed the turn from north to east, and Jellicoe was in sight to the northward with his twenty-five dreadnoughts, coming on at twenty knots or more straight for the point where Beatty's column blocked his approach. Jellicoe writes of this situation :
"Meanwhile, at 5.45 p. m., the report of guns had become audible to me, and at 5.55 p. m. flashes were visible from ahead around to the starboard beam, although in the mist no ships could be distinguished, and the position of the enemy's fleet could not be determined.
".. . At this period, when the battle fleet was meeting the battle cruisers and the Fifth Battle Squadron, great care was necessary to ensure that our own ships were not mistaken for enemy vessels."
Here is a bald description of a situation which must have been charged with almost overwhelming anxiety for the commander in chief. He knew that just ahead of him a tremendous battle was in progress, but of the disposition of the forces engaged he had only such knowledge as he could gather from the few fragmentary wireless messages that Beatty had found time to flash to him. He could see but a short distance, and he knew that through the cloud of mingled fog and smoke into which he was rushing at top speed, all ships would look much alike. That he was able to bring his great force into action and into effective
The Approach (A)
Rear Admiral Grant
Rear Admiral Leveson
Nice Admiral Jerram
Forming the Battle Line. (B)
British Grand Fleet Coming into Action.
6:30 P.M. (Probable Formation.)