The Orange Navy – Part 8
The Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916
Orange Lodges in the Royal Navy
Whilst Orange Lodges had long been popular in the Army, their presence in the Royal Navy has been much less remarked upon. Possibly the first lodge in the Royal Navy was Loyal Orange Lodge 610 which, in the Grand Lodge Directory of 1885, was shown as meeting on HMS Raleigh at the Cape of Good Hope. The Worshipful Master was shown as Thomas Hicks. HMS Raleigh was an unarmoured, iron, masted frigate which had been launched in 1873. In 1885 and 1886 Raleigh was flagship of the Cape of Good Hope and Africa Station, based at Simon’s Town. Raleigh was based at Simon’s Town for much of her service, but in 1886 Lodge number 610 is shown as having gone ashore, and was meeting at the Wesleyan Mission Schoolroom at Simon’s Town. The Worshipful Master was T H Liddy, whose address was the Royal Artillery Barracks there.
In 1886 another Naval lodge appears, namely Loyal Orange Lodge number 624. This was shown as meeting on HMS Colossus with the Worshipful Master being J Whittaker. Colossus was a major step up in warship design being without sail, of steel construction, and with a main armament of four Breech-Loading 12-inch guns. Commissioned in 1886, she was sent to the Mediterranean Fleet and served there until 1893. The Mediterranean Fleet’s main base was the island of Malta. In 1886 Brother Whittaker is shown as being still the Worshipful Master while the Secretary was Brother H Plowman, also shown as being on HMS Colossus.
In 1889 the Lodge is shown as having moved ashore and holding its meetings at the Windsor Castle Hotel in Valetta. The Worshipful Master was Brother W E Cooke, whose address is given as the Windsor Castle, but the Secretary, Brother A Sharing, was still shown as being on the Colossus. In 1890 and 1891 the Lodge met at 43 Strada Zaccarria, Valetta, a building which was also used by Masonic lodges and also the Good Templars, but then returned to the Windsor Castle Hotel until 1899 when it was shown as meeting at the Wesleyan Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home, Florina. In 1902 they were meeting at the St Francis Barracks on Malta, and in 1903 at the Star Club, 1 Strada Reala, Hamrum Road. By 1906 the Lodge is no longer mentioned.
In 1890 the Worshipful Master is Brother F Milner, Corporal Medical Staff, and in 1891 it was Brother W Studart of HMS Phaeton, which was a protected cruiser. In both these years the Secretary was Brother Wm Ed Cook, whose address is given as Flores College, 43 Strada, Zaccarria, Valetta. After that, Brother Cook is shown as Worshipful Master. In 1899 the Worshipful Master is once more a Naval man, Brother Beale, a Ship’s Corporal, RN, of HMS Hibernia, Malta. Hibernia had been launched as long ago as 1804, but was flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet and was based in the Grand Harbour. Over the years the Secretaries tended to be drawn from the military garrison on Malta.
Another lodge which met on the island for a time was Loyal Orange Lodge number 453. This met for many years at the Admiralty Tavern, Spring Street, Landport, Portsmouth. In 1892, however, we find it meeting at the Windsor Castle Hotel in Malta, with the Worshipful Master the indefatigable Brother W E Cook. The Secretary was Brother W Davies of HMS Collingwood. Collingwood was a battleship of 1880’s vintage that served in the Mediterranean from 1889 to 1897. By 1907 the Lodge was no longer being returned.
Royal Naval lodges began to reappear in 1914. In the Grand Lodge Directory for 1914, compiled before the outbreak of War, “Carnarvon” Loyal Orange Lodge 827 is shown as meeting at the Marghritti Soldiers and Sailors Rest on Malta, on the first and second Wednesdays of the month. The Worshipful Master was Charles Monson on HMS Defence, in the 1st Cruiser Squadron, and the Secretary was T G Keowin, also on HMS Defence.
In the same year, “Ulster Purple Heroes” Loyal Orange Lodge 842 has its meetings described merely as “moveable”. The Worshipful Master is shown as F J Willmer, of HMS Lurcher, and the Secretary is A H Cosway, also on HMS Lurcher.
At the same time there were lodges shown as meeting ashore, but in ports with a long naval history. Plymouth had five male lodges, while Devonport had four male lodges. Most of them would have had members who were Naval personnel. “Sons of William” Loyal Orange Lodge 652 met at the Foresters’ Hall in Gillingham. In the Grand Lodge Directory there is no obvious Naval connection, but the 1915 Roll of Honour listed 112 names from this Lodge alone, of whom 107 were serving in the Royal Navy.
In January 1914 the Grand Orange Lodge of England began to publish a monthly magazine called “The Orange Standard”, which ran until 1928 and therefore covers the period of the First World War. The edition for May 1914 carried the following account of the opening of the Carnarvon Lodge, -
New Lodge at Malta. On February 25th, at the Sailors’ and Soldiers' Institute, Marghritta Hill, Malta, Carnarvon L.O.L. 827 was opened for the first lime by Bro. C. Monson. After the brethren were installed in the positions, it was decided to meet on the first and second Wednesdays in the month, providing the Fleet was in Malta. The Grand Secretary and Devonport District Sec. and officers were heartily thanked for their help and encouragement. The members of the lodge are determined to make the lodge a large and important one. Stoker Petty-officer Keown is the W.S.
It is worth noting that the Lodge anticipated difficulties in meeting when the Fleet may not be in Malta. Nonetheless, the next edition of the Orange Standard, in June 1914, reported further progress, -
CARNARVON, L.O.L. 827, MALTA At a special meeting held at the Soldiers’ and Sailors' Rest, Marghrettia Hill, Vittorosia, three candidates were admitted to the Orange Degree. Brethren passing through or visiting Malta will receive a hearty welcome. Lodge composed of Naval Men at present but soldiers and civilians can join. Address: T. G. Keown, St. P.O. H.M.S. Defence, Mediterranean Fleet.
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Rest at Margherita Hill had its beginnings in the 1850’s in work by Methodist clergy on the island of Malta, originally to serve the members of the British garrison who were members of that church.
The Orange Standard of March 1914 contained an account of another lodge with strong Naval connections, -
L.O.L. Ulster Scot, 287. The Monthly Meeting was held at the Moravian School Room, James Street, Devonport, on Monday 19th, January, 1914. There were 56 Members present, and the W. M. Bro. Barberry opened the Lodge at 7.45 p m., supported by District Master Bro. Chas. Alexander, as D.M., Bro. Rev. W. Hawkins, Chaplain, H.D.G.M., Bro. A. Thornton, Treasurer and Bro. Matthews, Secretary. Bro Ed. Howard of No. 16, Sydney, was admitted on Certificate and warmly welcomed. The minutes and cash a/c of the last meeting were read and confirmed, the Lodge having a very substantial balance to its credit. Bro. Evans, who had lately returned from Canada (H.M.S. Niobe) received a very fine reception and the best thanks of the Lodge was extended to him for his indefatigable effort in connection with our Order whilst serving in H.M.S. Niobe, Canada, in that the Lodge started there was brought up to three figures in membership. Four Candidates were proposed for membership Messrs Brockbank, Scantlebury, Brown and Bolton and duly initiated and Lectured. This brought the Lodge membership up to 130. Bro. Ince rejoined after a long absence and Messrs. Rutherford, Cain and Tugallis were proposed for next meeting. Bro. G. H. Foster, Architect and Surveyor, who comes from a grand north Irish stock, whose Motto is the "Red Hand of Ulster," was also proposed for Membership and accepted. The "Orange Standard" was highly spoken of and the Secretary was directed to send out a copy to each Member with the Summons. Arrangements were made for stewarding the Kensit Meeting at Plymouth Guildhall, and two or three Members addressed the lodge on "Our Duty to Ulster." A splendid Meeting was brought to a close at 10.30 p.m. in prayer and singing the King.
This gives a picture of a lively and dynamic lodge, with a brother having returned from Canada and an Australian brother also present. It truly was a case of “join the Navy and see the world”, so that the movement of Naval brethren around the world, according to where they were posted, enabled them to see the Orange Order in its international aspect.
HMS Niobe was a protected cruiser which had been launched in 1897. In 1910 she was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy to assist the Dominion build its own naval forces. Brother Evans would have been helping with this project and, apparently, had assisted with the growth of an Orange Lodge there to the extent that it had a three-figure membership.
In a Lodge Report in the following month’s Orange Standard, for April 1914, the positive note is maintained, -
Ulster Scot, L O.L. 287. Over 70 members were present at the last lodge, which was presided over by Bro. Barberry, W. M., and supported by the officers, Bros Macavoy, Rev. Hawkins, Thornton, Matthews, and Feltham. Bro. Foster, an Ulsterman, was received into membership with loud acclamation; he praised the lodge on its wonderful condition. Five Naval men were initiated. Bro. McConkey, from China, was received on certificate, and Mr. Blaney was admitted to the Orange Degree. £2 each was granted to Bros in distress. It decided to ask other lodges to form a Committee for an Orange Hall.
In the same issue another Orange Lodge gave an encouraging report, -
Ulster Purple Heroes, L.O.L. 842 met at St. John's Church Mission Room, Weymouth, on January 29th. Thanks were accorded to brethren who were leaving for Devonport. All brethren and friends in Weymouth are heartily invited to this lodge. Bro. F. J. Wilmers and Bro. A. Cosway, of H.M.S. Lurcher, Portland, will be glad to communicate with friends.
The coming of the War, however, caused so much disruption to the working of the Naval Lodges that, for a time, it seemed they would not be able to continue. Loyal Orange Lodge 827 seemed to be the bellwether lodge and, in this respect, sent in the following Lodge Report which appeared in the Orange Standard of December 1914, -
From a Bro. holding an important position on H.M.S. in the Mediterranean. DEAR SIR KT. AND BRO., "It is with pleasure and with a certain amount of reserve that I am sending these lines to you. First I wish to state that L.O.L. 827 has had to close its doors when everything was becoming so bright. Merry and strong right in the midst of our enemies at Malta. Secondly, that owing to the movements of H.M.S. __________ the Warrant has been placed in my hands for safe keeping. Every arrangement has been made regarding its disposal should this ship be liable to capture or sunk. But I trust to our Creator that we shall all be spared after doing our duty to King and Country, to return once more with the honours of this war thick upon us … Well, dear Bro., I t rust this war will end by showing to the German people that war is not always won by wearing uniforms and brass helmets. I cannot tell you what we are doing or where we are, as it is not allowed, but all the Bros are well and happy. I trust you will be long spared to take the great leadership in the most noble Order in the world and that we shall multiply six-fold before the time again arrives for us to save Ulster for a one and undivided Nation. If anything happens to me you will know where the Warrant has gone."
In the Orange Standard of February 1915 there was a letter from Brother J A Britten. Although this letter was written with the intention of thanking the Grand Secretary for sending a large amount of Christian literature for distribution among the ship’s crew, there was also the encouraging news that the members of LOL 827 had resolved to carry on the Lodge. The Warrant shall go with us. H.M.S. "Indefatigable," Mediterranean. 17/12/14. DEAR BRO. EWART, I must say how very pleased I was to receive your very welcome letter and its cheering contents, for which I must thank you so very much, and I am sure that it will be a great help to everyone who are fortunate to possess them (Testaments and Gospels). You must really excuse me for not answering yours before, but you must know that our time is not our own these dark days. I saw our Chaplain regarding the Gospels and Testaments, and he was very pleased with them. I had a real good chat with him, and he said that he does not see any objection at all, and that you should send them to the captain. The more I talk of or think of our Institution the more I seem to want to talk and I trust that our Father will lead me so that I shall have the honour to gather in recruits, not only to our great Order, L.O.L., but to see
that light that never fades. Dear Bro., the Brothers very much regret to hear of the death of our I.G.M. the Earl of Erne, and trust that he will meet with the reward he deserves, for the work he has done on this earth. Dear Bro., I held a meeting of the Brothers of this ship last Tuesday, the 15th, re the disposal of our Warrant 827, Carnarvon, and it was decided to retain it, for if the ship goes down it goes with us. But as we all trust that she will not, and that every one of the ship's company will, by the help of our Father, return to their homes again in times of peace, the Brothers will be able to look up to the Warrant and say from their hearts, "That by the help of our Father it has travelled and kept safe through one of the most horrible of wars which has ever struck this unhappy world.” Also it was decided that new officers be appointed, and I am glad to say I have had the honour of being elected Master of 827. D.M., Bro. Lanyon; Secretary and Treasurer, Bro. Moorcroft; Chaplain Bro. Close; Tyler, Bro. Robertson. Dear Bro., this was done so as to keep the Lodge going, because you see the ships have all separated. We started with Defence, Inflexible, Indomitable, Dublin, Chatham, Gloucester, Duke of Edinburgh, Black Prince, Blenheim, and 16 destroyers. We are now all in different places, doing our different duties for our King and Country, and perhaps it will be months before we shall be able to shake each other by the hand again. The Brothers all join me in wishing both your wife and yourself the compliments of the season. Trusting that God will spare you many, many years to carry on the grand work you are doing, I will now close with my sincere regards and good wishes, Yours faithfully and fraternally, JNO. A. BRITTEN, C.P.O. Telegraphist.
In the Grand Lodge Directory of 1915, Ulster Purple Heroes LOL 842 was shown as being “With the Fleet”, Ulster Scot LOL 287 was shown as being “On War Service with the Fleet”, and Carnarvon LOL 827 is also shown as being “On War Service with the Fleet”. Brother F J Willmer is still Worshipful Master of 842 with Brother A H Cosway as Secretary; 827 has Brother J A Britten as Worshipful Master with Brother Moorhouse as Secretary; and 287 has Brothers Charles Alexander and John C Matthews as Worshipful Master and Secretary respectively.
The 1915 Grand Lodge Report has a “Roll of Honour” showing the names of 1,411 Orangemen, (and one Sister) who were already enrolled in the services by the time the Report was compiled. It is by no means exhaustive, as many lodges did not supply any information about their members in Service. Of the 1,411, 424 are shown as being in the Royal Navy and a further 17 in the Royal Marine Light Infantry. LOL 287 is shown as having 91 members in the Royal Navy, but Sons of William LOL 652, meeting in Gillingham, has 107 members in the Navy. 88 named ships are shown as having Orangemen in the crew. Under these circumstances Orange Lodges in the Royal Navy, far from being on the point of closing, were on the point of dramatic expansion
In the Orange Standard of January 1916 there is news of a new lodge being founded, -
ROYAL NAVY NEW NAVAL LODGE HAS A GOOD SEND-OFF KING WILLIAM'S OWN, L.O.L. 872 The first meeting was held at the County Hotel, Hebburn-on-Tyne, on the 16th inst. Lodges of Hebburn and Jarrow District were well represented. Bro. Thomas Rowan, P.G.M., presided, assisted by Bro. Taylor as D.M., and Bro. Cumminns, D.O. The first business after the opening preliminaries was to install the Officers of the new Lodge, and the following brethren were installed: Bro. Sharman, W.M.; Bro. Brookes. W.D.M.; Bro. O. Fiddler. W.S.; and Bro. Harvey, Chaplain. The proceedings were carried out in an impressive manner. At the close of the Lodge, a splendid social and concert was held, suitable to the occasion, and a capital programme was rendered, Bro, Rowan presiding. Fraternal greetings were exchanged between the Brethren of 872 and Hebburn and Jarrow District. The Naval Brethren took with them the best of wishes for success, good luck, and the memory of a very pleasant evening. A most enjoyable evening was brought to a close by the singing of the National Anthem. A GOOD START The first meeting held on board was most successful. Two candidates were initiated and three others were proposed. Special business was transacted.
Wartime restrictions made the Orange Standard reluctant to identify the ship on which the Lodge was based, but it was in fact HMS Warspite. Subsequent issues of the Orange Standard continued to carry encouraging news about this Lodge’s progress.
Orange Standard, March 1916 NAVY L.O.L. 872, This lodge on board H.M.S. --- although only recently formed, is going on splendidly. Twelve new candidates have been initiated into the Orange Degree, four to the Purple and three to the sublime R.A.P. Several candidates were proposed for the next meeting. The Officers and brethren are determined to make the Lodge a success and a credit to the Order.
Orange Standard, June 1916 At Sea KING WILLIAM'S OWN L.O.L. 782 Success continues to attend the efforts of the officers and members of this lodge on H.M.S. ….. . At the last meeting the statement that the Casement family were connected with the Orange Society was bitterly resented and the following resolution was passed: ‘As units of our country's fighting forces and as loyal subjects of our King, and Brethren of our glorious Institution, we desire to express our contempt of Sir Roger Casement and repudiate any association with this man.'
In the last report the designation “782” is a misprint, and should read 872. The Grand Secretary was working flat out under great pressure, and these mistakes sometimes occurred. The June 1916 issue of the Orange Standard carried news of further expansion, -
LODGES ON BATTLESHIPS Brethren will be pleased to know that we have formed Lodges on two more of His Majesty's Battleships. Over fifty brothers from all parts of the world joined one Lodge and there were twenty candidates for initiation. There are Orangemen on every British Battleship, and we hope shortly to arrange Lodges for them.
We cannot know which lodges or ships are being referred to here, but in the Grand Lodge Report of 1916 the Grand Secretary, Rev Louis A Ewart, said, “Several excellent Lodges have recently been opened on His Majesty’s battleships, cruisers and destroyers in the Navy. Great progress has already been made in numbers on the “Warspite”, “Australia”, “Virginia” and “King Alfred”.
In the accompanying Lodge Directory, Ulster Scot LOL 287 is no longer shown as being “With the Fleet”, but meeting at the Oddfellows’ Hall, Ker Street, Devonport. The Secretary is still Brother John C Matthews, of 9 Avondale Terrace, Devonport, but the Worshipful Master is Brother G H Foster of 26 Chaddlewood Avenue, Plymouth. This would be the G H Foster, Architect and Surveyor, shown as joining the Lodge in early 1914. The Lodge’s continued Naval tradition is demonstrated by the fact that the Chaplain of Devonport District was a member of this Lodge and he is named as Brother E T Hazeldene of HMS Vivid, Devonport.
The new Naval lodges are shown as being part of a “Naval District” of which Brother Thomas Spanner, HDGM, of 13 Milford Road, Fratton, Portsmouth, is shown as the “Representative”, “To whom all communications must be addressed.” The lodges listed here are as follows, -
King William’s Own, LOL 872. “Movable”.
WM: Geo H Sharman, SPO, HMS Warspite, c/o GPO London.
Sec: J Wilks, Leading Telegraphist, HMS Warspite, c/o GPO London.
Australia, LOL 875, “Movable”.
WM: Clarence C Crane, Yeoman of Signals, HMAS Australia, c/o GPO London.
Sec: E Muldowney, PO Telegraphist, HMAS Australia, c/o GPO London.
Gideon’s Chosen Few, LOL 876, “Movable”.
WM: John Dunn, Stoker, HMS Virginian, c/o GPO London.
Sec: H Saunders, HMS Virginian, c/o GPO London.
LOL 878, “Movable”.
WM: Henry Miller, Mess 3, HMS King Alfred, c/o GPO London.
Carnarvon LOL 827, in some ways the parent lodge of all Naval lodges, was still shown as being part of Devonport District, but there were no details given. In the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Jutland there was probably a very good reason for this. Brother Britten’s declaration that “if the ship goes down it (the warrant) will go with us” was to prove prophetic.
The various issues of the magazine “The Orange Standard” provide very useful insights into the workings of these lodges from the lodge reports that were submitted to, and appeared in, that magazine. The edition of July 1916 carried an account of the opening of Loyal Orange Lodge number 875, -
New Naval Lodge A splendid Orange Lodge has been opened on H.M.A.S. Australia. On 10th June all officers were installed, a large number of brethren being present. On 12th inst a 1st Degree meeting was held. Lodge opened in due form by the W.M., assisted by the D.M. and officers. Thirteen candidates were initiated into the Orange Degree. Eight candidates were proposed for the next meeting. The W.M. instructed the newly initiated and then addressed the whole of the members, impressing upon them the necessity for unity and good brotherly feeling, which was essential for the good of the lodge and the Institution. Great care should be taken in selecting new candidates. A letter was read from the unfortunate Bro. Kyle, who had lost his leg and was in the Glasgow Infirmary. The congratulations of the Grand Secretary were very much appreciated. The G.S. was heartily thanked and the lodge assured him of their determination to make L.O.L 875, 'Australia' a great success.
The following month there was another encouraging report from this lodge, -
Naval District "AUSTRALIA”, L.O.L. 875 We have received a glowing report from our lodge on board the "Australia" of their wonderful progress. Originally the members met in the form of a Club, which was opened on July 12th, 1914; but now, under a Warrant from the Grand Lodge of England, they meet as an Orange Lodge which has a good membership and is in a healthy financial condition. Special attention has been paid to members who had the misfortune to be placed in Hospital, and gifts of all descriptions were sent to them. We regret to learn that Bro Kyle has had to have his leg amputated. Several new members have joined during the past year. The Brethren state that the Grand Lodge will never have cause to be ashamed of them. We compliment the Lodge on its excellent work.
Australia was His Majesty’s Australian Ship, having been ordered by the Australian government and commissioned as flagship of the fledgling Australian Navy in 1913. When War broke out she escorted Australian and New Zealand troops who seized the German islands in the Pacific, and her presence in the Pacific effectively closed large parts of that ocean to any offensive action by Admiral von Spee’s German East Asia Squadron.
After the destruction of von Spee’s Squadron, HMAS Australia was redeployed to the United Kingdom where she was made flagship of the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron. On 22nd April 1916 Australia was involved in a collision with HMS New Zealand and suffered severe damage. She went to Devonport for repair and did not rejoin 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron until 9th June, thus missing the Battle of Jutland.
The Germans change tactics
After the German Navy’s defeat at the Battle of the Dogger Bank in January 1915 the German commander, Admiral Friedrich von Ingenohl, was sacked and replaced by Admiral Hugo von Pohl. Pohl quickly made a complete transformation of German naval strategy. He abandoned attempts to whittle away Britain’s naval superiority by surface engagements and instead turned to unrestricted U-Boat warfare. Pohl took command on 2nd February 1915 and issued his orders only two days afterwards, so he had obviously taken up his post with his mind already made up.
German submarines began to sink merchant ships without warning, causing widespread disgust around the world. On 7th May 1915 the passenger liner RMS Lusitania was sunk by U-20. From a total of 1,959 people on board, 1,198 were killed, 128 of whom were American citizens. This had a profound effect on American opinion to such an extent that the Germans began to fear that the United States might join the Allies. The Germans accordingly moderated their policy.
On 23rd February 1916 von Pohl died of liver cancer and command of the German navy passed to Reinhard Scheer, who eschewed unrestricted U-Boat warfare and returned to Ingenohl’s policy of seeking to engage and deplete Britain’s surface fleet.
The German Battle Plan
The Germans planned a raid on Sunderland in late May 1916 to draw British warships out to engage them. German submarines were sent out to positions in the North Sea where, it was felt, they would be most likely to encounter the emerging British ships and ambush them. Zeppelins were to be used for aerial reconnaissance.
The German plan had to be modified when weather conditions were unsuitable for the deployment of Zeppelins and the submarines began to return to base having reached the end of their operational endurance. It was decided to sortie into the Skagerrak instead of attacking Sunderland, as this would mean that any engagement took place nearer to German home bases. Hipper’s battle cruiser force left harbour at 01.00 on 31 May 1916, to be followed at 02.30 by Scheer with the main force.
British Naval Intelligence was extremely effective in the First World War, and the British were very soon aware that the Germans were planning a major naval operation. The British main force was in the Grand Fleet, commanded by the shrewd and cool-headed Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe, who took his force out into the North Sea at 22.30 on 30th May. Jellicoe did not have precise information of the Germans’ intentions but he placed his ships where they could have the maximum number of responses when a clearer picture developed.
A secondary British force was led by Vice-Admiral David Richard Beatty. This was formed by the 1st and 2nd Battlecruiser Squadrons, with a total of six fast, modern Battlecruisers, and the 5th Battle Squadron with four dreadnought battleships. In addition to these major units, Beatty also had 14 Light Cruisers, 27 Destroyers and a seaplane tender. Beatty was based further south than the rest of the British force and so was likely to be the first into action. This certainly suited Beatty, who seemed to personify aggression.
As the British ships deployed into the North Sea they encountered the German U-Boat screen but swept it aside. The U-Boats scored no hits on the passing British ships and sent back radio messages of sightings which confused the German higher command.
The Battlecruiser action
Beatty’s force was heading east while Hipper’s battlecruisers were heading north. Each force had light units scouting ahead. At 14.20 the Light Cruisers HMS Galatea and HMS Phaeton encountered the German Destroyers B109 and B110. At 14.28 the British ships opened fire and the German Destroyers withdrew with the British in pursuit. A recurring feature of the Battle of Jutland was that an apparent withdrawal by one side was really an attempt to lure
their opponents towards a much larger force and secure its destruction. This tactic was first used at this stage of the battle, as the German 2nd Scouting Group appeared from the south and SMS Elbing opened fire at extreme range and hit the Galatea.
Beatty was aware that his scouting units had engaged the enemy and he led his main force to cut the Germans off from their bases. He launched a seaplane from the seaplane tender, HMS Engadine, and this was the first time that a carrier-based plane was used for reconnaissance in battle. The plane did sight some of the German units, but was unable to report back to the flagship.
Beatty’s flagship was the battlecruiser HMS Lion, which had been launched in 1910 and had a main armament of eight breech-loading 13.5-inch guns mounted in four turrets and a speed of 28 knots. Within her crew of 1,092 were three men who had been listed in the Grand Lodge of England’s 1915 Roll of Honour. These were Brothers Peter Catterall, of Old Brunswick Loyal Orange Lodge 88, which met in Liverpool, and James Brown and G Flaherty, both of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge 287 of Devonport.
With Beatty was the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron, composed of HMS Princess Royal, HMS Queen Mary, and HMS Tiger, each with a speed of 28 knots and carrying eight 13.5-inch guns. The flagship for this Squadron was the Princess Royal which, in the 1915 Roll of Honour, was shown as the posting for Brother H Ferritt of Sons of Temperance LOL 698, which was based in Gosport.
There was also the 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron, composed of HMS New Zealand and HMS Indefatigable, both battlecruisers capable of 25 knots and with a main armament of eight 12-inch guns. HMS New Zealand was flagship for the Squadron. Its building had been financed by the New Zealand government to show support for the mother country. The 1915 Roll of Honour shows Brothers T H Green, of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge 287, and W Roberts, of Devon Pioneer Loyal Orange Lodge 824, as being crew members. Both these lodges were based in Devonport. Indefatigable had Brother J Moorcroft. On the Roll of Honour Brother Moorcroft is shown as a member of both Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge 827 and also of King William Loyal Orange Lodge 688, the latter being based at Plymouth. Brother Moorcroft was indeed mentioned in the Lodge Report of the Orange Standard of February 1915 as being both Secretary and Treasurer of 827, which suggests he was the work-horse of the Lodge.
The 5th Battle Squadron accompanied Beatty as part of his force. It comprised four battleships of the new Queen Elizabeth class, the Barham, Valiant, Warspite and Malaya, each with a main armament of eight 15-inch guns and capable of 24 knots. HMS Warspite, of course, was the ship that now had an entire lodge on board, King William’s Own Loyal Orange Lodge Number 872. The 5th Battle Squadron was accompanied by the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, composed of the Light Cruiser HMS Fearless and nine destroyers.
Also part of Beatty’s force was the Light Cruiser HMS Dublin which was part of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, which was part of the escort of light cruisers and destroyers that were accompanying Beatty’s battlecruisers. On board HMS Dublin was Brother G Minford of Ulster Scot LOL 287.
Beatty’s force, with its strong Orange contingent, was now heading south with all speed to cut off the German force and destroy it. The battlecruisers were faster than the battleships of the 5th Battle Squadron and that, combined with signalling problems, caused Beatty’s force to lose cohesion and the course of the battleships diverged from that of the battlecruisers. Hipper’s force comprised 5 battlecruisers, 5 light cruisers, and 30 torpedo boats, which were the equivalent of the British destroyers. Beatty thus had a considerable numerical advantage.
At 15.20 Hipper’s ships sighted Beatty’s force, while the British did not sight their enemy until 15.30. Hipper changed course and turned to the south at 15.45. Beatty turned to pursue him but, in fact, Hipper’s manoeuvre was designed to lure Beatty’s force towards the much superior High Seas Fleet, led by Scheer, so that it could be destroyed and the German tactical objective be achieved. This phase of the battle is known as “the Run to the South”.
The “Run to the South”
The Germans fired first, at 15.48. Beatty ordered his own ships to open fire, and each ship was to engage its opposite number in the German line. Thus, Princess Royal was to target the Lutzow, the Queen Mary would target the Derfflinger, the Tiger would target the Seydlitz, New Zealand would target Moltke, and Indefatigable would target Von der Tann. In addition Beatty’s flagship, HMS Lion, would also target the Lutzow so that Hipper’s own flagship would come under fire from two battlecruisers.
This, at least, was the plan. In fact, the eastern sky was dull and overcast, obscuring the German ships, and Beatty was to the windward so that gun smoke and funnel smoke also caused problems for the British gunners. In addition, only Lion and Princess Royal had finished taking up position so that the other British ships were still manoeuvring. The first British salvos overshot the German ships. Further problems with British signalling caused the Queen Mary to fire on Moltke, leaving Derfflinger to fire on the British ships without having to take return fire.
German gunnery was murderously efficient. Lion was hit by Lutzow twice within the first three minutes, and at the same time Derfflinger hit Princess Royal twice. Lion did not score a hit on Lutzow until 15.59. Although under fire from two British battlecruisers, Moltke scored nine hits on Tiger in the first twelve minutes.
Around 16.00 Lutzow landed a 12-inch shell on Lion’s Q Turret. Everyone in the turret was killed or wounded, and there was imminent danger of a flash fire travelling down to the main magazine. This would have caused the main magazine to explode and destroy the whole ship, and Admiral Beatty along with it. This disaster was averted when Major Francis Harvey of the Royal Marines, although mortally wounded himself, ordered the magazine doors shut and the magazine flooded. He then gave orders that a report be taken to the Captain and he then fell dead. At 16.28 the feared flash fire happened and ignited cordite charges, and most of the magazine and shell room crews were killed. That this did not cause the destruction of HMS Lion was due to Harvey’s prompt action, and he was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
Also around 16.00, HMS Indefatigable was hit by two or three 11-inch shells from Von der Tann around the rear turret. The damage was so severe that Indefatigable fell out of the line and started sinking by the stern. At 16.03 two further shells fell on the stricken ship, around the forecastle and forward turret. Indefatigable exploded with a force so great that large
pieces of the ship were thrown 200 feet into the air. Of the crew of 1,019 only two survived, both of them being picked up by the German S16.
Brother James Moorcroft, of Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge number 827, who had played such a large part in helping to keep the Lodge working when it became disrupted by the coming of the War, was among the dead and is commemorated as Leading Seaman James Moorcroft, service number J/1192, on Panel 11 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
So sudden a loss of the Indefatigable must have been unsettling for Beatty and his men, and the British numerical advantage had been eliminated at a stroke. By this time, however, the British 5th Battle Squadron was catching up with the battle, and at 16.08 HMS Barham opened fire at extreme range and, in the first minute, landed a 15-inch shell on the Von der Tann. By 16.15 all four battleships of the 5th Battle Squadron were firing at Hipper’s ships.
Both sides were making, and taking, hits. An officer aboard the Derfflinger commented later that British gunnery was starting to cause serious damage to the German ships. HMS Queen Mary was shooting well but also being hit from Derfflinger and Seydlitz. At 16.26 two shells hit Queen Mary and caused explosions in the magazines, literally breaking the ship in two. Once again casualties were terrible, with only 20 men surviving against 1,266 lost.
The German ships were launching torpedo attacks. Moltke fired torpedoes at HMS Lion, which managed to evade them but thought that they were from submarines. Moltke also launched torpedoes at HMS Princess Royal, but scored no hits.
Shortly after the Queen Mary blew up, German salvos straddled HMS Princess Royal, which temporarily obscured her. This caused some of the British to think that Princess Royal had also blown up, and a signalman reported to Beatty, “Princess Royal’s blown up, Sir”. This was when Beatty, famously, turned to his Flag-Captain, Ernle Chatfield, and said, “Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today”. Fortunately for the British, when the spray cleared Princess Royal was seen to be still afloat and still in the battle.
All the time the capital ships were slugging it out, the destroyers were fighting their own battle in the space between the battle cruiser lines. A torpedo from HMS Petard struck the
Seydlitz, but without causing much damage. The German V27 was disabled and later abandoned and sank. Petard then torpedoed and sank the V29, but two British destroyers, HMS Nestor and HMS Nomad, were immobilised by German gunfire.
The “Run to the South” had lasted from 15.48 to 16.54, and during that time the Germans had scored nine hits on Lion, six hits on Princess Royal, seven on Queen Mary, fourteen on Tiger, one on New Zealand, five on Indefatigable, and two on Barham, in all a total of forty-four hits of variously 12-inch and 11-inch shells.
In return, the British had scored only four 13.5-inch hits on the Lutzow, four on Seydlitz, two on Moltke, and one on Von der Tann, a total of 11 hits scored by the battlecruisers. In addition, the four battleships of the 5th Battle Squadron had landed one 15-inch shell on the Seydlitz, four on the Moltke, and one on Von Der Tann.
At 16.30 Scheer’s High Seas Fleet sighted the battlecruiser action. In turn, Commodore Goodenough took the Light Cruiser HMS Southampton towards the newly-arrived enemy to get an accurate assessment of their strength. This was very dangerous because the Southampton came under very heavy fire, but its mission was successful, The Germans had sixteen dreadnought battleships and six pre-dreadnoughts. Goodenough informed Beatty that the German High Seas Fleet had arrived.
The “Run to the North”
Jellicoe received Goodenough’s message and Jellicoe put the Grand Fleet ready for battle at 16.47. At 16.51, he informed the Admiralty. Beatty, meanwhile, sighted the High Seas Fleet at 16.40 and ordered his battlecruisers to make a 180-degree turn to the north. This manoeuvre was carried out successfully but, because of yet another British signalling failure, the message was not passed on to the 5th Battle Squadron, which steamed past Beatty’s battlecruisers going in the opposite direction. The four British battleships were left heading south, directly into the whole German fleet. Their commander, Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, acted on his own initiative and turned his ships to the north.
The Germans thought that the British were fleeing from a greatly-superior enemy, but Beatty was actually luring the Germans north and straight towards Jellicoe and the Grand Fleet. In addition to fire from Hipper’s battlecruisers, Scheer’s leading ships opened fire at 16.48. HMS Lion took four more hits and HMS Tiger one, but Beatty’s greater speed took him out of range by 17.10.
The battleships of the 5th Battle Squadron was left at the rear of Beatty’s line, effectively acting as rearguard. They were under fire from Hipper’s battlecruisers to the east and Scheer’s High Seas Fleet to the south. Barham took four hits, Warspite two, and Malaya seven. The dreadnoughts, however, were far tougher than the battlecruisers. Not only did they withstand the German fire, but they fought back magnificently, landing their 15-inch shells on the German ships. Hipper’s battlecruisers in particular suffered their heaviest damage yet. Lutzow was hit four times, Derfflinger three, and Seydlitz six. Even Scheer’s battleships were hit five times and the Markgraf was damaged.
Earlier in the day, Jellicoe had decided to reinforce Beatty and, at 16.05, had ordered the 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron south for that purpose. This Squadron was commanded by Rear-Admiral the Hon. Horace Lambert Alexander Hood, KCB, DSO, MVO. He flew his flag in HMS Invincible, accompanied by HMS Inflexible and HMS Indomitable, all of the same class, each with eight 12-inch guns. In addition, he had the cruisers HMS Canterbury and HMS Chester scouting ahead, supported by four destroyers.
At 17.38 the Chester ran into the four cruisers of the German 2nd Scouting Group and immediately started taking hits. The Chester did not have fully-armoured turrets, only armoured screens. This meant that many casualties were suffered by the gun crews, particularly to the lower limbs. British ships that sailed past later reported seeing many of the crew lying on the decks with their legs shredded or blown off, but they raised a cheer for every British ship that passed them. Many of these men died in a short time through loss of blood or shock. The most famous member of Chester’s crew was Boy Seaman First Class Jack Cornwell, who stayed at his gun even though mortally wounded. He died on 2nd June from his wounds and was awarded the Victoria Cross. Jack Cornwell was sixteen years old.
Hood’s three battlecruisers were close behind and, arriving on the scene, immediately opened fire on the 2nd Scouting Group and scattered it, saving the Chester. At 17.56 the SMS Wiesbaden was disabled, though it stayed afloat. Hood joined his Squadron to Beatty’s force, and returned to the battle with the German fleet. At this point neither Scheer nor Hipper had any inkling that the British Grand Fleet was about to arrive.
Moving forward ahead of Jellicoe was 1st Cruiser Squadron, composed of the four armoured cruisers HMS Defence, HMS Warrior, HMS Duke of Edinburgh and HMS Black Prince. The Squadron was commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Robert Keith Arbuthnot flying his flag in the Defence. At 17.33 Black Prince sighted HMS Falmouth of Beatty’s force, so that the two British forces were now able to combine.
The 1st Cruiser Squadron had a very strong Orange contingent. By referring to the 1915 Roll of Honour we can identify Brother Leonard Beasley of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge 287 as being on board HMS Warrior, while HMS Duke of Edinburgh had Brothers W A Fowler, A Harris, T McClelland, S Venus, all of Ulster Scot Loyal Orange Lodge 287, and Brother J Neill of Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge 827. There is, in addition, Brother R B Greenfield, shown as being a member of both those lodges. In addition there were a further eight brethren on HMS Defence, all shown as being members of Carnarvon LOL 827.
The 1st Cruiser Squadron had been in the Mediterranean at the start of the War, and we can imagine that it was the Orange brethren from these ships’ crews that would have formed the Lodge described in the Orange Standard’s lodge reports in 1914. When the Squadron was transferred to the Grand Fleet in January 1915 it was composed of the same ships. When Brother J A Britten wrote to the Orange Standard about the possibility of the Lodge folding it may have been when news came that the Squadron was being moved, but his subsequent more optimistic note was struck when he realised that the Squadron was not being broken up but was being transferred as a unit.
“We shall take the Warrant with us”
The situation where the two enemy fleets were now confronting each other was chaotic. Hipper had joined Scheer and their combined force was heading north, hoping to attack the British ships in front of them and still unaware that Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet lay just out of sight.
Beatty, Hood and Evan-Thomas were still manoeuvring to present a cohesive force with which to mount a counter-attack on the Germans. This was a very difficult and dangerous task, with huge ships moving at high speeds and criss-crossing each other’s paths. Even in calmer situations collisions were by no means unknown. This phase of the battle became known as “Windy Corner”.
At this point, 17.47, Arbuthnot’s 1st Cruiser Squadron began firing on the German 2nd Scouting Group. When their shells fell short, Arbuthnot turned to port to close the range but this took the British cruisers straight across the bows of HMS Lion, which was forced to turn sharply away to avoid a collision. This threw Beatty’s battlecruiser deployment into confusion and, by obscuring Beatty’s view of the enemy, delayed his ships opening fire on the enemy.
Only Defence and Warrior had sailed across Beatty’s front. The Duke of Edinburgh and Black Prince had been unable to follow as there would inevitably have been a collision. This meant that Arbuthnot’s force was now split into two. Nothing daunted, Arbuthnot sighted the disabled German light cruiser SMS Wiesbaden and closed in to finish her off. Suddenly the two British cruisers found themselves confronting Hipper’s battlecruisers, who unleashed a devastating fire on them. It was most likely the Lutzow that dealt the fatal blow but, within minutes, the Defence exploded and sank with all hands, 903 men including Arbuthnot.
Orange brethren known to have died on the Defence include –
Gunner Alfred Cherry, commemorated on Panel 10 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Stoker 1st Class Christopher John Jenkins, K/4084, commemorated on Panel 16 of the Plymouth War Memorial. He died aged 31, the son of William Jenkins, husband of Jane Alice Jenkins of 18 Pyramid Street, Everton, Liverpool.
Brother Jenkins’s World War I Royal Navy Service Record is at the Public Record Office, Kew, Surrey, ADM 188/875.
Petty Officer Stoker William Kellow, 278184 Dev. He was born on 5th May 1876, the son of William and Ellen Kellow of St Austell, Cornwall. He was the husband of Florence E Kellow, (nee Rowe), of 23 Royal Navy Avenue, Swilly, Plymouth. He was 40 years old when he died and is commemorated on Panel 14 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Engine Room Artificer 3rd Class Robert Kerr, 272303 Dev. He was the only son of Robert and Martha Ker of Dublin Street, Newtownstewart, County Tyrone. He was 24 years old when he died and is commemorated on Panel 15 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
Petty Officer Charles Monson, 23601 Dev. He was the son of Francis and Elizabeth Monson of “Ralina”, Lesserlough, Boyle, County Roscommon. He was aged 26 when he died, and is commemorated on Panel 1 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial. This was the Brother who was Worshipful Master of Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge 827 when it began in Malta in 1914.
Leading Stoker James Woodward, K/9273 Dev. He was the son of Ellen Woodward of 66 Fraser Street, Belfast, and the late John Woodward. He was aged 24 when he died, and is commemorated on Panel 15 of the Plymouth Naval Memorial. In the local newspaper his family placed the following tribute –
WOODWARD -- In loving memory of my dear son, JAMES WOODWARD (Leading Stoker, H.M.S. Defence), who lost his life at the Battle of Jutland, on 31st May, 1916.
Not gone from memory, nor from love,
But to our Father's home above.
Ever remembered by his loving Mother, Brothers, Sisters, and Friends.
ELLEN WOODWARD, 66 Fraser Street.
Our Orange brother, J A Britten, had written to the Orange Standard in February 1915
Dear Bro., I held a meeting of the Brothers of this ship last Tuesday, the 15th, re the disposal of our Warrant 827, Carnarvon, and it was decided to retain it, for if the ship goes down it goes with us.
In this he was being prophetic indeed. Most of the members of LOL 827 died on the Defence.
Two brethren identified as being on the Defence in the Roll of Honour do not appear as casualties of the Jutland battle which suggests, as there were no survivors, that they were not on the ship on 31st May 1916. One of them is Brother T G Keown, Secretary of the Lodge when reports of their meetings were sent to the Orange Standard. In the Grand Lodge directory for 1915 the Secretary is shown as Brother Moorhouse. This suggests that Brother Keown had been transferred, and there was a Thomas G Keown, 305825, Stoker Petty Officer (the same rank) serving on HMS Vivid, which was the Navy barracks at Devonport.
The other Brother was J A Britton or Britten, who had taken the Master’s Chair when Lodge number 827 had reorganised. John Augustus Britten, Service Number 171168, had been born on 6th December 1877 at Plumstead in Kent. His record in the National Archives is under the reference ADM 188/280/171168. He was a Chief Petty Officer Telegraphist. As his record seems to run until 1918, it would seem he had been transferred off HMS Defence before it sank.
The sinking of Defence left HMS Warrior alone to face the fire of some of the biggest guns in the German fleet. She was quickly hit by at least fifteen 11-inch shells and six 5.9-inch shells. Her destruction appeared certain, but she was saved by the unexpected intervention of HMS Warspite. The 5th Battle Squadron turned to the north at 18.19 and Warspite conformed to this move. She was hit by a shell, causing her steering to jam, and forcing her to circle. She now presented an irresistible target to the Germans who switched their attention from Warrior, enabling that ship to move slowly away to the west. There was an attempt made to tow Warrior back to port but the ship was too badly damaged. The crew were taken off and the ship foundered in the early hours of 1st June.
The two surviving ships of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, HMS Duke of Edinburgh and HMS Black Prince, were now isolated. The Duke of Edinburgh attached herself to the starboard of HMS King George V, the leading ship of 2nd Battle Squadron, and operated as a guard against submarine attack during the night. Black Prince seemed to get lost. A wireless signal was received from her at 20.45, but she was never seen again. German reports suggest that the Black Prince stumbled upon a force of German battleships about 23.35 and came under point blank fire from about six German ships for fifteen minutes. She eventually went down with all hands.
Of the four cruisers comprising the 1st Cruiser Squadron at the start of the Battle, three were sunk with heavy casualties.
Warspite, meanwhile, circling, took 13 hits. Even when she managed to break out of the circle she was heading directly towards the German heavy units. Only Warspite’s “A” turret was still able to fire. The commander of the turret was Sub-Lieutenant Herbert Annesley Packer, and he managed to fire off 12 salvoes at the Germans, but they all fell short as the rangefinders were out of action.
Warspite gained some protection from the offensive movements made against the German fleet by the ships under Beatty, Hood and Evan-Thomas. Hood’s 3rd Battle Cruiser Squadron
was at the head of the attack, led by Invincible with Inflexible and Indomitable following. Derfflinger was hit three times, Seydlitz once, and Lutzow ten times.
All seemed to be going well for the British until, at 18.30, Lutzow and Derfflinger each fired three salvoes at Invincible. Once again, a hit on Q Turret led to the midships magazines igniting, and caused a huge explosion which broke the ship in two. The ship sank in 90 seconds and, for a while, both ends of the ship were sticking up out of the water. Only six survivors were picked up out of a total of 1,026 crew members. Rear-Admiral Hood was among those lost.
The surviving battlecruisers from the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron, Inflexible and Indomitable, stayed with Beatty’s ships. The 1915 Roll of Honour identified six Orangemen as being in the crew of HMS Inflexible, all of them members of Carnarvon Loyal Orange Lodge number 827. They were Brothers T Atkins; C Edwards; S J Harper; W Johnson; W G Sage; J Williams.
The Clash of the Main Fleets
The Germans must have been elated at sinking a third British battlecruiser. They must have thought that they were, at last, on the point of realising their objective of bringing overwhelming numbers to the destruction of a large part of the British fleet, thus achieving numerical parity.
They were speedily disabused. Hipper’s flagship, the Lutzow, had sustained such damage that Hipper had to transfer to the destroyer G39. At 18.15, Jellicoe had turned his whole force to the east and was about to catch the German ships in a huge trap. Jellicoe had successfully “crossed the T” of the German fleet, so that he could deploy his main capital ships on a huge arc so that they could concentrate their fire on the Germans. One of the first ships to open fire, at 18.30, was the battleship HMS Benbow, who fired six salvoes with her two forward turrets. Within months of the battle, HMS Benbow was to have its own Orange Lodge.
British dreadnoughts now began to open fire on the German ships. In the 5th Division of the 1st Battle Squadron there were four such ships – Colossus, Collingwood, St Vincent and Neptune – which had an Orange contingent. The 1915 Roll of Honour shows Brother E J Spargo, of King William III Lodge number 688, Plymouth, on board HMS Colossus, and Brother R McMullen, of Ulster Scot Lodge number 287, Devonport, on HMS Marlborough of the 6th Division. HMS Collingwood had Brothers A Duncan; Rd Hanning; J Jenkins; F Jones; T Morton and Robert Simpson, all of Ulster Scot Lodge number 287. The ships began firing on the Germans at 18.30.
Scheer realised that he could be about to lose the German Navy. As British shells started to fall around his leading ships he gave an order at 18.33, “battle about turn to starboard”. This involved the entire German fleet turning through 180-degrees behind a smokescreen laid down by German destroyers. Amazingly, Scheer pulled it off and his ships sailed away to the west.
Jellicoe was unperturbed. As Scheer sailed away to the west, Jellicoe continued on his course to the south. If both fleets had continued on these lines, Scheer would have been cut off from his base ports. At 18.55 Scheer once more turned his fleet through 180-degree turn, this time leading them east. Ahead of him he threw every light unit he could at the Grand Fleet.
Jellicoe’s ships came under torpedo attack from German destroyers, and even the crippled Wiesbaden could launch torpedoes. It may have been one of these that struck HMS Marlborough at 18.54, causing that ship to lose speed to about 16 knots. By that time, Marlborough had fired 162 shells at the enemy.
Scheer was still in the position where Jellicoe had “crossed his T”. The 4th Division of the 4th Battle Squadron, which had Orangemen in its ranks, opened fire on the German ships. HMS Benbow turned to starboard at 19.00 heading back towards the enemy. This took them past the wreck of the Invincible, both ends of which were still sticking up out of the water. Collingwood claimed hits on a German battleship, and Colossus fired on a German light cruiser, believed to be the Wiesbaden.
Scheer’s ships were starting to suffer serious damage, particularly the 3rd Battle Squadron, while Jellicoe’s ships were relatively unscathed. In desperation Scheer resorted, once more, to the “battle about turn to starboard” manoeuvre and turned away to the west at 19.17. This time the turn was accomplished with much more difficulty due to the concentrated British fire beginning to take effect. Again, Scheer ordered his destroyers to charge the British Grand Fleet and launch torpedoes. This time, however, he supplemented this with an attack by the battered battle cruisers of Hipper’s 1st Scouting Group. This was to become known as “the death ride of the German battlecruisers”.
The Death Ride of the German Battlecruisers
Scheer’s use of the battlecruisers betrays the desperation he must have felt. These ships had been in action almost since the beginning of the battle and they had taken a fearful pounding. They had lost their flagship, the Lutzow, which had been forced to fall out of line. Their Admiral, Hipper, had been forced to abandon the Lutzow and take to a destroyer. The four remaining ships, Derfflinger, Seydlitz, Moltke and Von der Tann, dutifully obeyed orders and turned towards the line of British dreadnoughts, eighteen of which were firing directly at them.
The ships with an Orange contingent played a full part in this phase of the battle. HMS Benbow and HMS Temeraire of the 4th Division, 4th Battle Squadron, opened fire and hit the Derfflinger several times. On board the Temeraire were Brothers F Wilmott of Ulster Scot Lodge number 287 and S Vennard of Devon Pioneer Lodge number 824, which were both based at Devonport.
HMS Colossus and HMS Collingwood of the 5th Division, 1st Battle Squadron, also scored hits, several of them on the Derfflinger. On Collingwood, the Sub-Lieutenant in charge of “A” Turret was the future King George VI, then Prince Albert, who sat in the open on the roof of the turret so that he could see the enemy better. Derfflinger took 14 hits and had two main turrets put out of action. Seydlitz and Von der Tann took 23 hits between them. The German battlecruisers pressed home their attack and opened fire on Colossus but at about 19.30, having accomplished their objective of covering Scheer’s withdrawal to the west, they turned about and themselves began to withdraw. That these German battlecruisers were able to absorb such punishment and stay afloat was a tribute to German ship construction. Lutzow, however, could take no more and the ship was scuttled in the early hours of the morning.
At the same time the battlecruisers were attacking the British Grand Fleet, waves of lighter craft were also attacking, with the aim of launching torpedo attacks. The British dreadnoughts were furiously having to fight off the smaller German ships. The dreadnought HMS Conqueror, of the 2nd Division of the 2nd Battle Squadron engaged German destroyers of the 3rd, 6th and 9th Flotillas. In her crew she had Brother E H J Parnell of Excelsior Loyal Orange Lodge number 56, based at Plymouth. Thirty-one torpedoes were launched against the British fleet, which was successful in evading them all, and two of the German destroyers were sunk. These attacks, however, had been enough to worry Jellicoe, who turned the British Fleet to the east as a precaution. With darkness beginning to fall, the chances of Scheer successfully escaping were improving.
The Night actions
With the loss of daylight the two fleets were like two blind giants swinging badly-aimed punches at each other. The next phase of the battle brought the old adversaries, the battle cruiser fleets, into conflict once again. At 20.05 the light cruiser, HMS Castor, leading the 11th Destroyer Flotilla, spotted smoke and went to investigate. This turned out to be a force of German destroyers and the two sides exchanged fire. The sound of gunfire brought Beatty and his battle cruisers, who were seeking out the German fleet, and in the course of this manoeuvre they encountered the German battle cruisers again.
At 20.19 HMS Inflexible opened fire, followed by the rest of Beatty’s ships. HMS New Zealand and HMS Indomitable scored five hits on Seydlitz. At this point the six old pre-dreadnought battleships of Rear-Admiral Franz Mauve’s 2nd Battle Squadron appeared, and the British battle cruisers turned their fire on the newcomers, once more scoring hits. Ten minutes later the German ships disappeared back into the darkness. One of Mauve’s ships, the SMS Pommern, was struck by a torpedo from the destroyer HMS Onslaught at 3.10 in the morning. This time it was a German ship that had its magazines explode, and the Pommern blew up and sank with the loss of all its crew.
Jellicoe decided to proceed south, but with extreme caution. He was still trying to cut off the Germans from their bases so that he could destroy them when daylight returned. Meanwhile, Scheer was trying to evade Jellicoe by sailing to the rear of the Grand Fleet. Jellicoe had placed cruisers and destroyers here as a rearguard, and during the night these forces clashed repeatedly with the German ships. The 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, commanded by Commodore Goodenough in HMS Southampton, was heavily engaged. Part of his force was the light Cruiser HMS Dublin that had several Orangemen on board. Dublin fired 17 6-inch shells and in turn took five hits from 5.9-inch shells of the Elbing and eight 4.1-inch shells from the Stuttgart. In turn, they sank the German light cruiser Frauenlob. The Elbing was accidentally rammed by one of its own battleships and sank in the early hours of the morning.
British destroyers attacked the Germans ships throughout the night and five of them were sunk, - the Ardent, Fortune, Sparrowhawk, Tipperary and Turbulent. By their efforts they sank the German light cruiser Rostock. Despite all the encounters during the night, Jellicoe was given insufficient information to enable him to form a clear picture. By about 04.15 Jellicoe realised that Scheer had escaped him and reached his bases. Jellicoe returned to his home bases and, within 48 hours, had his ships ready to return to sea. The German High Seas Fleet, although it had lost fewer ships, was in no shape to venture out to sea again, as even the ships which had survived had been so badly damaged.
Although the German propagandists made much of their success in sinking the greater number of enemy ships, it soon became clear that the destruction of the German fleet had been only narrowly avoided, and that the British had won a significant strategic victory.
The doughty HMS Warspite had been holed 150 times during the course of the battle, and suffered 14 killed and 16 wounded. She had withdrawn from the battle in the darkness and made her way back to Rosyth. During the journey she had come under attack from a U-Boat that had fired three torpedoes, all of which missed. Still ready for a fight, Warspite had attempted to ram a surfaced U-Boat.
The Battle of Jutland was the greatest naval battle of the First World War. 1916 saw the most intense fighting of the War to date on all fronts. On the Western Front there were the battles of Verdun and the Somme; on the Eastern Front there was the Brusilov Offensive and the German conquest of Rumania; in the Caucasus the Russians enjoyed great success against the Turks; in Italy the Austrians staged the Asiago Offensive while the Italians staged four major attacks in the Isonzo Valley; the Allied force at Salonika made an unsuccessful attack in Macedonia; and while the British successfully defended Egypt there was a catastrophe in Mesopotamia when the garrison of Kut surrendered.
Despite all this, the Battle of Jutland still made a strong impression on the combatant nations. The Orangemen mourned their dead, particularly those of Loyal Orange Lodge number 827. In the August 1916 edition of the Orange Standard there was the following report, - PROTESTANT REFORMERS MEMORIAL, L.O.L. 758 Adjourned meeting of the above lodge was held in the schoolroom, Crete Street, Liverpool, on 21st June. Bro. Brocklebank, W.M., presiding, assisted by Bro. Slater. Scripture and minutes of the previous meeting were read. A scheme was next dealt with to raise money for the reception fund. A vote of condolence was sent to Bro. Jenkins, who has lost his son in the recent naval battle, also Bro. Kelly, W.M., R.B.P. 48, whose son has died of wounds in a French hospital. The brethren expressed their sympathy by standing in silence. Two new members were proposed.
Several seamen named Jenkins were killed at the Battle of Jutland, but the one most likely to be referred to here is Stoker 1st Class Christopher John Jenkins, K/4084, who was the son of William and Jane Alice Jenkins of 18 Pyramid Street, Everton, Liverpool. He was serving on HMS Defence and was 31 years old when he died. He is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.
In the issue of July 1916, the first one after the Battle, this item suggests that the scale of the losses was still not known at that time -
IN MEMORIAM We would like to express our deepest sympathy with the relatives and friends of our brethren who were lost in the recent naval battle. There must be some hundreds of our members who gave up their lives in defending our country. We are certain that some of the lodges in Portsmouth must be practically depleted of their members. At the same time, we know that both their relatives and fellow members are proud that
those who have gone, died gloriously fighting for the freedom of this land. "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for another."
In the same issue the following item tried to strike a more positive note, -
“It was a grand fight." Stoker Petty Officer Bro R. B. Greenfield, of H M.S. “Duke of Edinburgh," writes; "I regret to inform you that a good many brethren are amongst the list of casualties during the recent action. The W.M. of Carnarvon, L.O.L. 827, being on the “Defence," as undoubtedly you are aware. We cannot account for our lucky escape. It was a grand fight, and I don't think the Germans will try conclusions for some time to come. Many thanks for forwarding magazines. We mourn the loss of our great soldier after such a brilliant career. We are glad to see the Ulster delegates are holding out – they will win in the end. I forward the ORANGE STANDARD to my brother in the trenches with the Ulster Division every month. There are a good number of Orangemen on board, many of us from fifteen to twenty years in the Order."
On the Roll of Honour, Brother R B Greenfield is shown twice, both times as serving on HMS Duke of Edinburgh, but once as a member of Carnarvon LOL 827 and the other as a member of Ulster Scot LOL 287.
In the August 1916 issue the following item suggests that Brother Greenfield was trying to rally any surviving members of Lodge 827, -
Naval Lodge CARNARVON, L.O.L. 827 We have been informed that most of the members of the above lodge went down with H.M.S. Defence during the Jutland Naval Battle. It is quite possible that some members were transferred to other ships. If this note should catch the eyes of surviving members we should be glad if they will communicate with Bro. R. B. Greenfield, S.P.O., H M.S. Duke of Edinburgh, c/o G.P.O., London.
The evidence of subsequent Grand Lodge Directories suggests that Brother Greenfield was unsuccessful. Although other lodges were to open in the Royal Navy, Loyal Orange Lodge 827 was not revived.
The losses suffered at Jutland were felt as far away as Hong Kong, as demonstrated by this item from the Orange Standard of February 1917, - EASTERN STAR, R.B.P. 8O1, HONG KONG Monthly meeting of this Preceptory held at the Seamen's Institute, on 11th October. Sir Kt Linfield, W.M., occupied the chair, and Sir Kt. Lockhart assisted in the vice-chair. There was a good attendance of Sir Knights. Sir Kt. Rose opened the proceedings with prayer and scripture. Secretary's minutes of previous meetings read and passed. A vote of condolence was passed in silence, the members standing for the relatives of the late Sir Kt. Monson, of this Preceptory, who lost his life in the last North Sea battle.
The 1915 Roll of Honour has two Brethren named Monson. Brother Charles Monson, of Carnarvon LOL 827, was serving on HMS Defence. Brother C Monson, of Ulster Scot LOL 287, was serving on HMS Defiance. This may be two different brethren, or it may be a duplication. As HMS Defence was sunk at the Battle of Jutland, it would seem that this would be the Brother whose loss was mourned.
In contrast to the sorrow felt at the loss of the brethren from 1st Cruiser Squadron there was a real pride felt in the way HMS Warspite and its Orangemen had acquitted themselves. The Grand Lodge Report of 1916 contained the following, - We have cause to be proud of our men on the “Warspite”, sister ship to the "Queen Elizabeth", for their splendid gallantry in the recent naval battle. The “Warspite” bore the brunt of a terrific attack by no less than six German Battleships. She put up a glorious fight and sank three of her assailants, disabled two, while the sixth fled. We are delighted to hear that all our brethren are safe and unharmed and that the whole crew are to be recommended. A good amount of the Lodge property was lost and the Warrant is somewhat damaged. We can proudly boast that there are Orangemen on board every ship in His Majesty's Navy.
The claims made of German losses are clearly exaggerated, probably influenced by Government propaganda, but the Warspite had performed well and the Orangemen were justifiably proud of their brethren on board.
The Orange Standard of January 1917 had an item which said as much, -
The Warrant of King William's Own L.O.L. 872, H.M.S. Warspite – which was damaged in the Jutland naval battle - and secured, at great risk from a burning cabin by the W.M., Bro G. H. Sharman, S.P.O., has been presented to the Grand Lodge as a relic. We are proud of the men on the “Warspite," and we shall take great care of such a treasure.
However, in the same issue there was the following item from a regular correspondent, Brother A J Kelsey, which may be a more accurate statement of how those who had taken part in the Battle really felt about it, -
Risks at Sea The following letter has been received by Bro. A. J. Kelsey, from Sto. C. Crowhurst, on board H.M.S. "Mignonette," – “Every man who came out of the Jutland Battle thinks himself very fortunate indeed; it was horrible, while it lasted. When the truth comes to be told (as it should at first) our casualties will be greater than reported. What rough weather we have been having of late ! The recent gale loosened a great number of mines and these had to be destroyed – rather a risky job. It had to be done for our own sakes and neutrals. Merchant shipping had to be stopped at once. We shall all be glad to return to our wives and families. Thanks very much for the football. I was very pleased with the "O.S.", as I have several dear friends in the Order. Glad to see that one lodge is held in Gillingham, Kent – which happens to be my home. I know Mr. H. Griffiths."
In the very next issue, February 1917, the following corrective appeared, -
"Half the Hun Fleet Down" CORRECTION We regret the deplorable error which we made in Stoker C. Crowhurst's letter under "Risks at Sea,” in our January issue. In condensing the letter we mistook the words "Hun Fleet” for "Home Fleet," and stated our casualties were greater than reported. We now give Stoker Crowhurst's exact words: "Everyman who came out of that (Jutland) battle thinks himself very fortunate; indeed it was horrible while it lasted. When the truth comes to be told (as it should at first) it will be seen that half the Hun Fleet went down the cellar."
So that’s all right then. Meanwhile, encouraging news of the Warspite Lodge continued to be included in the Orange Standard. The issue of August 1916 contained the following, -
"WARSPITE" ORANGEMEN Appreciate the "Orange Standard" Bro. G. H. Sharman of H.M.S. Warspite sends the following note:- Our Lodge has decided to send one shilling each month with the order for 'Orange Standards,' to assist in keeping our Monthly Magazine going, and if this is not sufficient and the O.S. is in danger of being stopped, please let us know at once and our Lodge will do all that lays in its power to assist you in keeping our glorious little magazine going; for we think the world of it and believe that the Institution at large would suffer if the O.S. should cease to be published.
In September 1916 there was the following, - Naval District KING WILLIAM’S OWN, L O.L. 872 The members of this lodge had a memorable time on 7th July and their special meeting was continued up to the 11th. Nineteen brethren were raised to the Royal Arch Purple Degree in the historic City of Edinburgh. The Bros Kyle, of Glasgow, acted as Masters of Ceremony. Brethren from near and far attended and there was a splendid muster. The W.M., Bro. G. H. Sharman, writes, "The whole proceedings were very impressive and our lodge was more than satisfied. I cannot speak too highly of the welcome and assistance which was accorded to our lodge by the Edinburgh brethren, and our very best thanks are due to the Sisters, for the manner in which they entertained us to tea and gave us a social ending to a never-to-be-forgotten evening. We are very grateful to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for sending three brethren from Glasgow to welcome our naval members and to the Scottish brethren and sisters for all their kindness and generosity.
In November 1916 there was the following, -
KING WILLIAM'S OWN, L.O.L. No. 872 This lodge, which is entirely composed of sailors in the Royal Navy, met recently in the Masonic Hall, Cowdenbeath – the W.M., Bro George H. Sharman in the chair, and Bro Crawford, District Master of No. 45 District, Scotland, in the vice-chair. The following were also present from Scotch lodges – Bros Morrison, W.M. No. 207; Norrie, W.M. No. 260; Evans, W.M. No. 262; and Patrick, P.W.D.M. District No. 6. The lodge was duly opened, after which the R.A.P. degree was conferred on a number of brethren – Bro Sharman assisted by the office-bearers, officiating. The lodge was then closed, and the members were entertained to tea by Bro Patrick, who presided at this function, after which an excellent programme of songs and recitations and musical selections was gone through. Addresses were delivered by Bros Sharman, Crawford, Morrison, Norrie and Evans. All the arrangements were in the hands of
Bro Patrick and he received warm congratulations on the success that had attended his efforts.
While King William’s Own Loyal Orange Lodge number 872, on HMS Warspite, was proceeding so well, Orange Lodges were spreading to other ships. Loyal Orange Lodge number 878 was established on HMS King Alfred, and the Naval Lodges were formed into their own District Lodge. The November 1916 Orange Standard carried the following report,
Nava1 District L.O.L. 878 Several of the lodges in the Navy have been formed into a special Naval District by the Grand Secretary and Bro Thomas Spanner, H.D.G.M., P.G.S. for the Metropolitan Province, has been appointed District Secretary. A good report is just to hand from L.O.L. 878, on one of H.M. ships. The lodge is making excellent progress, and at each meeting candidates are initiated. L.O.L. 878 is composed of men from Canada, Hong Kong, Birkenhead, Liverpool, Belfast, Newfoundland, London, Bath, Worthing and Plymouth. The Secretary states that the lodge meets under awkward circumstances, but all the members are determined to make it a great success.
The issue of December 1916 carried two reports from this Lodge, -
Naval District L.O.L. 878 KING ALFRED The monthly meeting of this lodge was held on the 27th Sept., 1916, which was the earliest date in the month suitable. Our W.M. having left us for servioe elsewhere, and the D.M. being absent on duty, the chair was taken by Bro. A. Protheroe, pro-tem, and Bro. Worsley, D.M., pro-tem. The lodge was opened in accordance with the rules, and Bro. Wagner appointed Sec. for that meeting. The minutes of last meeting were read and approved. Mr H. Fisher and W. E. Cockran were given the first degree of Orangeism. Instructions were given by the W.M., and they received a hearty welcome from the brethren present. The lecture was given by Bros. Protheroe and Moseley. Bro. Baillie, D. M., was then proposed by Bro Moseley and seconded by Bro. Saunders to be W.M., he being the senior Bro., and the proposition was agreed to. Bro. Worsley was elected D.M. succession to Bro. Baillie. Several new candidates were proposed for next meeting. This concluded the business of this meeting. KING ALFRED L.O.L. 878 The next meeting was held on the 19th Oct. and was presided over by Bro Baillie, W.M. There was a good attendance of brethren. Four new brethren were initiated to the first degree and received a fine welcome from those present. After the lecture, several candidates were proposed for the following meeting.
HMS King Alfred was an armoured cruiser, launched in 1901, with a speed of 23 knots and a main armament of two single Breech-Loading 9.2-inch Mark X guns. In 1916 she was in the 9th Cruiser Squadron.
There was a sad epilogue to the Battle of Jutland. A few days after the Battle, on 5th June 1916, the British cruiser HMS Hampshire struck a mine and sank off the Orkney Islands. The mine was one that had been laid by the German submarine U-75 in the opening phases of the Battle in the hope of sinking or damaging British ships.
Hampshire was on a special mission to take Lord Kitchener to Russia. There were two escorting destroyers, HMS Unity and HMS Victor, but because of severe weather conditions these escorts fell behind Hampshire. The cruiser struck the mine at 19.40 and sank within 15 minutes. Attempts to evacuate the ship were rendered almost impossible by the weather conditions, and lifeboats that were lowered were smashed against the sides of the ship. Only 12 members of the crew were rescued, and Kitchener was one of those lost.
In the Grand Lodge Report of 1916 this event received the following mention, - HMS Hampshire A good number of our dear brothers went down with Lord Kitchener on the "Hampshire". We had letters from some of them with contributions for the Orange Fund just before the eventful journey.
In the Orange Standard of July 1916 the following tribute was paid to Kitchener, -
OUR NATIONAL HERO THE day upon which Lord Kitchener was reported drowned was a day of tragedy indeed, for no single person in the land could be regarded more fully as the embodiment of the national spirit, no single name inspired such complete national confidence in the triumph of our cause. His death, which the Admiralty message appears to establish practically beyond doubt, is a poignant blow to the nation, and every head will be bowed in sorrow, though not in foreboding. The circumstances do but add to the sadness of the tragedy, for the popular imagination would rather have pictured this greatest soldier of the Empire falling at the head of a glorious army marching on to victory than think of him as the victim of the subtle attack of mine or submarine, finding his last resting place in an element which was never his own. Yet tragic as the end is, as it must have been wheresoever and howsoever it had come, it would have been a far heavier blow had it happened before the greatest work of his life had been well-nigh cornpleted. For Kitchener will go down to history, not as the victor of Khartoum, not as the general who brought the Boer War to a successful conclusion, not so much for any of his other brilliant military exploits, but as the man who, by the magic of his name, by the potency of his influence, by virtue of his wonderful organising powers, brought into being a trained and equipped army of five million free men to fight for Britain and for justice. That is his transcendent achievement, that the work to which he was called nearly two years ago, and which he grappled with all the tremendous energy and determination characteristic of the man. And that is the work for which the nation, and our Allies in this great struggle, will ever pay homage to his memory. His has been a life devoted wholly to the Army which he loved and to the nation of which he was so distinguished a son. And he has died, as he lived, in the service of his country. He will have faced death bravely, as he faced all the dangers which life brought him, confident, one feels sure, that the nation which so honoured him would carry through the great work to which he had put his hand to the end which he had in sight – victory and a lasting peace.
The following tribute was paid to the Orange brethren who were lost, -
Orangemen go down with the Hampshire and in the Naval Battle Brethren throughout the world will be grieved to know that a large number of Orangemen went down into a watery grave during the recent naval battle. One English lodge, which met on H M.S. – has gone down with all officers and members. A large number of brethren were also on H.M.S. Hampshire, with Lord Kitchener, when she went down. We had a letter from them recently, and a contribution for the Bible Fund. The death of these brave men is a sad loss to us, and we mourn with those who are near and dear to them. We are proud of them all, for they died in defence of their king and country. We have had letters from brethren on other ships, and they are most encouraging.
The Way Ahead
There was much soul-searching after the Battle. Broadly, the British public was disappointed that it had not yielded a spectacular victory like Trafalgar, with lots of enemy ships sunk. For a time, there was a feeling of disquiet, made worse by the death of Kitchener. Gradually, however, the realisation spread that the British had retained their strategic supremacy, while the High Seas Fleet had come close to destruction. The New York Times said, “The German Navy has assaulted its jailer, but is still in jail”. Jellicoe was deemed to have been too cautious and was moved upstairs, his job going to Beatty who was felt to be more aggressive. When Beatty took over, however, he too became more cautious, and rightly so. The British naval supremacy allowed a blockade of Germany which led, in the last winter of the war, to German civilians starving and the morale of the army and navy eventually cracking.
The Orange Order’s Naval lodges seemed to draw encouragement from the results of the Battle. New lodges were to be opened on other ships. The bravery of the crew of HMS Warspite, including the members of King William’s Own Lodge number 872, raised morale, while the brethren who died from Lodge4 number 827 were accorded the respect due to those who had given their lives for their country.
Michael E Phelan
Grand Orange Lodge of England
27th April 2015