30/5/1916 Admiral Scheer prepares to sail into a trap

Britain remains the world’s pre-eminent naval power. The Royal Navy enforces a blockade of Germany that is strangling the enemy’s industry and making its people increasingly go hungry.

Germany also has a substantial navy, albeit smaller than the British. It is commanded by Admiral Scheer. He hopes to find a way of defeating the larger British fleet. If Britain were to lose its naval dominance then Germany would surely win the war, as the blockade would be at an end and Britain itself could be invaded.

The German fleet makes ready to set sail tomorrow. Scheer has a plan in mind. His battlecruiser squadron will patrol aggressively, attacking British shipping to the north west of Jutland. The expectation is that British battlecruisers will respond, whereupon the German will sail south, to draw the British towards the waiting guns of the main German fleet.

Unfortunately for the Scheer, the British have cracked the radio code used by the German navy. They intercept a signal revealing that a major operation will take place tomorrow. Though they do not know the details of Scheer’s plan, or even how many of his ships will be setting sail, they decide that their own fleet will head out to the North Sea tomorrow to block whatever the Germans are up to. The stage is thus set for the greatest naval clash in human history.

image source:

Reinhard Scheer (Lexikon Erster Weltkrieg)

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