May 312012
 

Silver coin marks clash of mighty WWI fleets

The Battle of Jutland was history’s biggest ever naval battle. Involving 250 ships, the fighting took place in the North Sea on 31 May 1916 between the British Grand Fleet, commanded by Admiral Jellicoe, and the German High Seas Fleet, under Admiral Scheer.

Battle began when a task force of German ships lured Britain’s battle cruiser fleet out of Rosyth on the Firth of Forth and into the path of Scheer’s main group. Realising that they were victims of a trap, the surviving British ships retreated northwards.

Unfortunately for Scheer, Jellicoe’s battleship squadrons had also put to sea from Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands and were now approaching their damaged battle cruiser fleet, which had the entire German flotilla on its tail.

With full-scale confrontation unavoidable, the two huge navies fought an intense battle in which 14 British and 11 German ships were sunk. Thousands of men perished during the terrible encounter. Although Germany claimed Jutland as a victory, in reality Britain’s command of the North Sea remained in tact.

HMS Iron Duke and (inset) The Perth Mint's 2011 Battle of Jutland 1oz silver proof coin.

A recent Perth Mint issue from the Famous Naval Battles Series commemorated the Battle of Jutland with a portrayal of the legendary HMS Iron Duke, which served as the flagship of the Grand Fleet during World War I. Suffering no damage herself at Jutland, Iron Duke inflicted heavy punishment on the German battleship König.

 

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