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The Battle of Jutland - 574 Royal Marines Lost

Updated: May 23, 2023

The Battle of Jutland (31 May - 1 June 1916) was the largest naval battle of the First World War. It was the only time that the British and German fleets of 'dreadnought' battleships actually came to blows.

Battlecruiser HMS Lion

The German High Seas Fleet hoped to weaken the Royal Navy by launching an ambush on the British Grand Fleet in the North Sea. German Admiral Reinhard Scheer planned to lure out both Admiral Sir David Beatty’s Battlecruiser Force and Admiral Sir John Jellicoe's Grand Fleet. Scheer hoped to destroy Beatty’s force before Jellicoe’s arrived, but the British were warned by their codebreakers and put both forces to sea early.

The bow and stern of HMS Invincible stick out of the water during the Battle of Jutland. HMS Invincible's ammunition magazine exploded after the battlecruiser was hit by German shells. HMS Badger can be seen in the distance as it moves in to rescue survivors, but only six men survived. © IWM (SP 2470)

Jutland was a confused and bloody action involving 250 ships and around 100,000 men. Initial encounters between Beatty’s force and the German High Seas Fleet resulted in the loss of several ships. The Germans damaged Beatty’s flagship, HMS Lion, and sank HMS Indefatigable and HMS Queen Mary, both of which blew up when German shells hit their ammunition magazines.

HMS Lion received a hit by the German cruiser SMS Lützow at the beginning of the battle. The middle turret was hit directly, resulting in the deaths of 98 crew members. Only by the rapid flooding of the ammunition chamber could a large explosion be prevented, which would probably have destroyed the ship. In the further course of the battle, the ship received another 13 hits, with another crew member died and a total of 51 were wounded.

Beatty withdrew until Jellicoe arrived with the main fleet. The Germans, now outgunned, turned for home. The British lost 14 ships and over 6,000 men, but were ready for action again the next day. The Germans, who had lost 11 ships and over 2,500 men, avoided complete destruction but never again seriously challenged British control of the North Sea.

Although it failed to achieve the decisive victory each side hoped for, the Battle of Jutland confirmed British naval dominance and secured its control of shipping lanes, allowing Britain to implement the blockade that would contribute to Germany’s eventual defeat in 1918.[1]

At least 574 Royal Marines from the RMLI, RMA and RM Band were killed at Jutland;

HMS Lion, battle cruiser, Fleet Flagship - 46 Royal Marines killed

HMS Queen Mary - 113 Royal Marines killed

HMS Tiger - 1 Royal Marine killed

HMS Princess Royal, damaged - 7 Royal Marines killed

HMS Indefatigable - 92 Royal Marines killed

HMS Invincible - 106 Royal Marines killed

HMS Chester - 8 Royal Marines killed

HMS Black Prince - 78 Royal Marines killed

HMS Defence - 83 Royal Marines killed

HMS Warrior - 2 Royal Marines killed

HMS Calliope - 3 Royal Marines killed

HMS Malaya - 10 Royal Marines killed

HMS Southampton, light cruiser - 2 Royal Marines killed

HMS Tipperary - 8 Royal Marines killed

HMS Castor, light cruiser - 1 Royal Marine killed

[2] RM History Resources and References - Soldier an Sailor Too

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