24/1/1915 The Battle of Dogger Bank

Control of the sea means that British boats are able to work the rich fishing ground of the North Sea’s Dogger Bank. This irks the Germans, who suspect that these fishing boats are spying on their fleet’s movements. Today they send a small force headed by three battlecruisers to the Dogger Bank to attack the British fishermen and show that Germany has not conceded British control of the North Sea.

Unfortunately for the Germans, the British have cracked their naval radio code and know what they are up to. Britain sends a larger squadron under Admiral Beatty to ambush the enemy. When the two squadrons meet, the Germans realise they are badly outnumbered and turn for home with the British in hot pursuit. The British score a hit on the Blücher‘s boiler room, setting the ship ablaze and causing it to lose steam. The rest of the German ships escape, partly because the British are afraid of U-boats, but the Blücher is pounded by shellfire and eventually sunk by a torpedo. The sudden appearance of a German Zeppelin causes British ships to flee rather than pick up survivors from the Blücher; at least 800 sailors lose their lives.
The British navy is pleased with its victory, ignoring less appealing aspects of the battle (such as the much slower rate of fire by the British ships). On the German side, the event is disconcerting, as it illustrates again the naval dominance of the enemy. The Kaiser orders that the fleet is to make no more risky forays into the North Sea. He starts thinking about replacing Admiral Ingenohl, the German navy’s risk-seeking commander.

The Germans register that it cannot be just coincidence that they keep meeting British ships when they go out into the North Sea. However they do not suspect the enemy of having broken their wireless codes; rather they assume that there must be spies operating in the vicinity of the fleet’s base in Wilhemshaven.

North Sea map (from Royal Navy and Naval History.Net)

Positions in the battle (Wikipedia)

The Blücher rolling over (Wikipedia)

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