SMS Moltke

SMS Moltke

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SMS Moltke

SMS Moltke was the nameship of the Moltke class of battlecruisers, the second general of battlecruisers built for the German navy. She was a distinctive improvement on the already impressive von der Tann, carrying ten guns and reasonably heavy armour but still able to reach high speeds. She was commissioned for trials on 30 September 1911, and achieved a top speed of 28.4kts on the measured mile, where her engines produced 85,780shp.

The Molkte served as Admiral Hipper’s flagship until June 1914, when he transferred his flag to the Seydlitz. Plans to sent her to the Far East or to the Mediterranean came to nothing, and she was with the Grand Fleet at the start of the First World War. She took part in the Gorleston raid of November 1914 and the attack on Hartlepool on 16 December. There she was hit by one 6in shell from the coastal guns. She took part in the battle of Dogger Bank (24 January 1915), where she briefly came under fire from HMS Lion and HMS Princess Royal but without being hit by either ship.

In August 1915 she was part of the German squadron sent to the Baltic to support an attack on the Gulf of Riga. On 19 August she was torpedoed by E 1, one of two British submarines then operating in the Baltic. The torpedo hit her by the bow torpedo room, killing eight and letting 435 tons of water into the ship, but she was still able to make 15kt under her own power.

At the battle of Jutland she was part of I AG (the 1st Reconnaissance Group). In the first phase of the battle she hit HMS Tiger thirteen times, while taking four hits herself (from the Tiger and the New Zealand). The first hit knocked out one of the 15cm guns and caused most of the 16 dead and 20 wounded she suffered during the battle. Just after 9.00pm Admiral Hipper transferred his flag to the Moltke after spending some hours in a destroyer. An earlier attempt to transfer to the Moltke had failed because she was under too heavy a fire to risk stopping.

During 1917 the Moltke took part in the successful attack on the Baltic islands (October), acting as the flagship of Vice-admiral Ehrhard Schmidt. She was also present at the second battle of Heligoland Bight (17 November 1917), but didn’t come into action.

The most serious damage suffered by Moltke was accidental. On 23-24 April 1918 the High Seas Fleet made its last large scale sortie of the war, an attempt to attack the British Scandinavian convoys. Early on the morning of 24 April the starboard inner propeller flew off. Relieved of the weight of the propeller and the water resistance it provided, the turbine speed up disastrously. The wheel of the engine turning gear disintegrated and fragments from it caused more damage. Most seriously the outlet pipe of the auxiliary condenser was wrecked, allowing 2000 tons of sea water into the ship, flooding the middle engine room and switchboard. The boilers were polluted with salt water, and the engines had to be stopped. Divers had to be sent down to close the outer valves. The Moltke was then taken under tow, while her engines were repaired.

At 5.10pm the next day her engines were running again, and she was able to make way on her own power. At 7.37 she was torpedoed by the British submarine E 42. 1,761 tons of water flooded in and her speed was reduced to 4kts. She was towed to safety by tugs, but was out of action until 9 September. The Moltke was one of the ships scuttled at Scapa Flow on 19 June 1919.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



4,120 nautical miles at 14kts

Armour – deck


- belt


- bulkheads


- battery


- barbettes


- turrets


- conning tower



611ft 11in


Ten 280mm (11.1in) SKL/50 guns
Twelve 150mm (5.9in) SKL/45 guns
Twelve 88mm (3.45in) SKL/45 guns
Four 500mm (19.7in) submerged torpedo tubes

Crew complement

1053 normal
1355 at Jutland


July April 1910


31 March 1912


21 June 1919



Kapitän zur See Ritter von Mann Edler von Tiechler


Kapitän zur See Magnus von Levetzow


Kapitän zur See von Karpf


Kapitän zue See Gygas


Korvettankapitän Hans Humann
& Korvettankapitän Schirmacher


Kapitänleutnant Crelinger

Books on the First World War |Subject Index: First World War

History of SMS Karlsruhe

SMS Karlsruhe and her three sister ships &ndash SMS Emden, Königsberg and Nürnberg &ndash were vast improvements on their predecessors. Coal was carried in longitudinal side-bunkers, which added extra protection against attack to the internal areas of ship. Oil was stored in tanks within the double-bottom of the ships.

Karlsruhe was commissioned into the High Seas Fleet in November 1916. She served in the II Scouting Group alongside SMS Königsberg and Nürnberg. The ships patrolled the Heligoland Bight in the North Sea, protecting minesweepers against British light forces.

Between September and October 1917 SMS Karlsruhe was involved in Operation Albion, planned to eliminate the Russian naval forces holding the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea.

During the operation SMS Karlsruhe was one of five cruisers of the II Scouting Group commanded by Kontreadmiral (Rear Admiral) von Reuter, who would later give the order to scuttle the German Fleet in Scapa Flow.

She led the transport of German troops during the operation, including a bicycle brigade. For the remainder of Operation Albion the cruiser acted as a scout and protector for the IV Battle Squadron as its battleships destroyed the Russian shore batteries.

SMS Karlsruhe undertook a sortie to protect the light cruisers SMS Bremse and Arcona in April 1918 when they laid offensive mines off the Norwegian coast in advance of an operation to intercept Allied convoys. This
operation was called off when the battlecruiser Moltke lost a propeller.

She guarded the coast of Flanders in October 1918 as the Germans evacuated the U-boat and destroyer bases at Zeebrugge and Bruges.

The ship was the only one of the class the Germans managed to scuttle in Scapa Flow as SMS Nürnberg and Emden were both beached by the British.

The wreck was sold in 1962 and partially broken up underwater between 1963 and 1965.

  • Nationality: German
  • Launched: 31 January 1916
  • Commissioned: 15 November 1916
  • Builder: Kaiserliche Werft, Kiel (Imperial Dockyard, Kiel)
  • Construction No: 41
  • Type: Light Cruiser
  • Subtype/class: Königsberg Class
  • Displacement (Standard): 5,440 tonnes
  • Displacement (Full Load): 7,125 tonnes
  • Length Overall: 112m *
  • Beam: 12m
  • Draught: 6.32-5.96m
  • Complement: 475
  • Material: Steel
  • Cause Lost: Scuttled
  • Date lost: 21st June 1919. 1550 hrs
  • Casualties: 0
  • Propulsion: Ten coal-fired and two oil-fired double-ended marine-type boilers. Two sets marine-type turbines (high-pressure turbines worked by geared transmission). Two propellers
  • Fuel: 1,340 tonnes coal, 500 tonnes oil
  • Power: 55,700 shp** maximum
  • Speed: 27.7 knots maximum
  • Armour: ranges from 20-60mm (position dependent), control tower 100mm (on the sides)
  • Armament: 8 x 15cm guns, 2 x 8.8cm guns, 2 x 50cm deck-mounted torpedo tubes, 2 x 50cm lateral submerged torpedo tubes, 200 deck-mounted mines

* Measurements taken from ship's plans
**shp - shaft horsepower

NB: Horsepower is generally given in maximum and design. The former indicates the maximum output of the individual ship under trial conditions and the latter the design output (generally common to all ships of the class).


Design and construction

Compared to the previous Von der Tann , there were some modern new design features. Armament, armor and speed were increased, which also increased the displacement. The main artillery was installed in 5 twin towers - one tower on the front deck, two towers aft, and two towers staggered on the side. In the case of the two four-high towers, a raised tower was used for the first time in German warship construction. H. the front, raised tower could overshoot the rear tower. The number of boilers has been increased by 6 to 24. The maximum vapor pressure was 16 to 18 atmospheres. Constructive improvements in this area did not appear again until the 1920s, so that increases in performance could only be achieved by increasing the number.

The two ships were built by Blohm & Voss in Hamburg from 1909 to 1911 .

SMS Moltke

The Moltke was put into service on September 30, 1911 and then belonged to the I. Reconnaissance Group.

First World War

On January 24, 1915, she took part in the battle on the Dogger Bank. On August 19, 1915, the Moltke was torpedoed by the British submarine E 1 in the Baltic Sea .

After restoration, the Moltke took part in the naval battle of the Skagerrak on May 31, 1916 as the fourth ship of the 1st reconnaissance group under Vice Admiral Franz von Hipper .

On April 23, 1918, the Moltke was badly damaged while attempting to attack a British convoy in the North Sea near Norway. She had to be dragged back from the Oldenburg to Wilhelmshaven . On the way back, the Moltke was torpedoed by the British submarine E 42 , but reached the port with 2,100 t of water in the ship. The Moltke was in the shipyard until August .


After the war she was interned in Scapa Flow and sunk with the rest of the ocean fleet on June 21, 1919 , when it turned out that the victorious powers would not surrender the confiscated ships. The wreck was lifted in 1927 and scrapped in Rosyth in 1929 .

SMS Goeben

The Goeben was launched on March 28, 1911 and was assigned to the Mediterranean Division under Wilhelm Souchon in 1912 .

First World War

On October 28, 1914 Souchon led his squadron into the Black Sea and the next day shelled the port of Sevastopol and then the port of Odessa , with the Russian mine sweeper Prut being sunk. Thereupon Russia declared war on Turkey on November 2, 1914. In the following four years the Goeben operated mainly in the Black Sea against the Russian fleet and its ports. From August 1914 the cruiser drove under the Ottoman flag and was named Yavuz Sultan Selim (later Yavuz for short ).

On January 20, 1918, Goeben undertook a sortie with the Ottoman fleet from the Dardanelles and encountered British units near the island of Imbros . The M28 and Raglan monitors were sunk, but the Ottoman flotilla got caught in a minefield. The Goeben was able to return to the Dardanelles in spite of three mine hits and be set aground there. There she survived several English attempts to bomb her and was brought to Constantinople on January 26, 1918 .


Due to the war damage, the ship remained inoperable and useless in the port until 1926, but was taken over by the Turkish Navy . Then it was completely overhauled by the Penhoet shipyard from St. Nazaire until 1930 in Istanbul. After that it was put back into service as Yawuz Selim . In 1936 the name was shortened to Yavuz and from 1948 the former Goeben was only used as a stationary ship as a traditional ship.

The ship was advertised for sale in 1963, sold in 1971, finally decommissioned on June 7, 1973 and scrapped by February 1976.

Design [ edit | edit source ]

General characteristics [ edit | edit source ]

The Moltke-class ships were 186.6 meters (612 feet) long, 29.4 m (96 ft) wide, and had a draft of 9.19 m (30.2 ft) fully loaded. The ships displaced 22,616 tons normally, and 25,300 tons fully loaded. ΐ] The Moltke-class ships had 15 watertight compartments and a double bottom that ran for 78% of the keel of the ships. They were considered to handle well, with gentle movement even in heavy seas. However, they were slow to answer the helm and were not particularly maneuverable. The ships lost up to 60% speed and heeled 9 degrees at full rudder. [lower-alpha 4] The ships had a standard crew of 43 officers and 1010 men. While Moltke served as the I Scouting Squadron flagship, she was manned by an additional 13 officers and 62 men. While serving as the second command flagship, the ship carried an additional 3 officers and 25 men to the standard complement. Ζ]

Propulsion [ edit | edit source ]

Moltke and Goeben were powered by four-shaft Parsons turbines in two sets and 24 coal-fired Schulz-Thornycroft boilers, divided into four boiler rooms. Ώ] The boilers were composed of one steam drum and three water drums apiece, ΐ] and produced steam at 16 standard atmospheres (240 psi). After 1916, the boilers were supplemented with tar-oil. [lower-alpha 5] The Parsons turbines were divided into high- and low-pressure pairs. ΐ] The low-pressure turbines were the inner pair, and were placed in the aft engine room. The high-pressure turbines were on either side of the low-pressure pair, and were located in the forward wing rooms. The turbines powered four propellers, 3.74 m (12.3 ft) in diameter. Η]

The ships' powerplants delivered a rated 52,000 shp (39 MW) and a top speed of 25.5 knots (47.2 km/h). However, in trials Moltke attained 85,782 shp (63.968 MW) and a top speed of 28.4 kts Goeben ' s powerplant produced only a slightly lower horsepower and top speed. Δ] At 14 knots (26 km/h), the ships had a range of 4,120 nautical miles (7,630 km). ΐ] The Moltke-class ships were equipped with 6 turbo generators that delivered 1,200 kW (1,600 hp) of power at 225 volts. ΐ] The ships were designed to carry 1,000 tons of coal, although in practice they could store up to 3,100 tons. Fuel consumption on the six-hour forced trial was 0.667 kilogram per horsepower/hour at 76,795 shp (57.266 MW), and .712 kg per hp/hr at 71,275 shp (53.150 MW) for both ships. Η]

Armament [ edit | edit source ]

Moltke ' s forward gun turret

The main armament was ten 28 cm (11 in) SK L/50 [lower-alpha 6] guns in five twin turrets. The guns were placed in Drh.L C/1908 turret mounts these mountings allowed a maximum elevation of 13.5 degrees. Ώ] This elevation was 7.5 degrees less than in the preceding Von der Tann, and, as a consequence, the range was slightly shorter, at 18,100 m (19,800 yd), than the 18,900 m (20,700 yd) of Von der Tann ' s guns. In 1916, during a refit, the elevation was increased to 16 degrees, for an increased range of 19,100 m (20,900 yd). Δ] One turret, Anton, was located fore, two aft (Dora turret superfiring over Emil), and two, Bruno and Cäsar, were wing turrets mounted en echelon. The guns fired armor-piercing and semi-armor-piercing shells, which both weighed 302 kg (670 lb). The guns could fire at a rate of 3 rounds per minute, and had a muzzle velocity of 895 m/s (2,940 ft/s). A total of 810 of these shells were stored aboard the ship. Ώ]

The ships' secondary armament consisted of twelve 15 cm (5.9 in) SK L/45 cannon, mounted in the MPL C/06 mounts as in Von der Tann. The guns had a total of 1800 shells, at 150 per gun. The 15 cm guns had a range of 13,500 m (14,800 yd) at construction, although this was later extended to 18,800 m (18,373 yd). Ώ] Initially, twelve 8.8 cm (3.5 in) SK L/45 guns were also fitted to defend the ships against torpedo boats and destroyers, but these were later removed, with the guns in the aft superstructure replaced with four 8.8 cm Flak L/45 guns. Δ]

Moltke and Goeben were also armed with four 50 cm (20 in) torpedo tubes one fore, one aft, and two on the broadside, with 11 torpedoes stored. The torpedoes were of the G/7 model, which weighed 1,365 kg (3,010 lb) and carried a warhead weighing 195 kg (430 lb). The torpedoes had a maximum range of 9,300 m (10,200 yd) at 27 knots (50 km/h), and 4,000 m (4,400 yd) when set at 37 knots (69 km/h). ⎖]

Armor [ edit | edit source ]

The ships were equipped with Krupp cemented armor. The level of armor protection for the Moltke class was increased from the Von der Tann design, to 10 cm (3.9 in) in the forward main belt, 27 cm (10.6 in) in the citadel, and 10 cm (3.9 in) aft. The casemates were protected by 15 cm (5.9 in) vertically and 3.5 cm (1.4 in) on the roofs. The forward conning tower was protected by 35 cm (14 in), and the aft tower had 20 cm (7.9 in) of armor. The turrets had 23 cm (9.1 in) on the face, 18 cm (7.1 in) on the sides, and 9 cm (3.5 in) on the roofs. The deck armor and sloping armor were both 5 cm (2.0 in), as was the torpedo bulkhead around the barbettes. The torpedo bulkhead was 3 cm (1.2 in) in other, less critical areas. Α] As with Von der Tann, the armor was Krupp cemented and nickel steel. Η]


Egy 1907 májusában tartott konferencián a Birodalmi Tengerészeti Hivatal (Reichsmarineamt) úgy döntött, hogy a testvérhajó nélkül megépült Von der Tann után nagyobb méretű csatacirkálók építésébe kezd. Az 1908-as évben rendelkezésre álló 44 millió Márka lehetővé tette volna a 30,5 cm-es űrméretű lövegek alkalmazását a 28 cm-esek helyett. Azonban Alfred von Tirpitz a fejlesztői részleggel közösen azzal érvelt, hogy az ágyúk számának 8-ról 10-re való növelése előnyösebb lenne, mint a lövegek kaliberének növelése. [1] A haditengerészeti minisztérium az új tervezésű hajóknál fontosnak tartotta a 30,5 cm-es ágyúkat, mert ezeket szükségesnek vélte a csatavonalban vívott harcoknál. A kialakult vitát végül Tirpitz és a fejlesztői részleg nyerte meg és a Moltkét 10 darab 28 cm-es ágyúval szerelték fel. [1] Az ágyúkat öt lövegtoronyban helyezték el kettesével, melyekből három a középvonal mentén (“A” jelű a hajó elején, “C” és “D” jelűek a hajó hátsó részén lépcsőzött elhelyezéssel), kettő pedig átlósan elhelyezve a hajó jobb (“B”) illetve bal oldalán (“E”). [2] A fejlesztői részleg előírása szerint legalább olyan erős páncélzattal kellett rendelkezzen, mint a Von der Tann és el kellett érnie a 24,5 csomós sebességet is.

Tervezés közben a hajó súlya tovább nőtt, mivel növelték citadella méretét és a páncélzat vastagságát valamint kiegészítették a lőszerraktárakat és módosították a kazánok elrendezését is. [1] A Németország és Nagy-Britannia közt kibontakozó fegyverkezési verseny miatt úgy döntöttek, hogy az új tervek alapján két egységet is elkészítenek. Ezeket “Kreuzer G” és “Kreuzer H” névvel jelölték. A Blohm & Voss 1908-ban kapta meg a mindkét hajóra a megrendelést. A “Kreuzer G”-t az 1908-09-es, a “Kreuzer H”-t az 1909-10-es építési évben tervezték megépíteni. [3] A “Kreuzer G”-re a megrendelést 1908. szeptember 17-én adták le, építési száma a 200 volt. A gerincét 1908. december 7-én fektették le és a hajótestet 1910. április 7-én bocsátották vízre. A “Kreuzer G”-t 1911. szeptember 30-án adták át SMS Moltke néven. [2]

Békeidő Szerkesztés

A hajó 1910. április 7-ei vízrebocsátásakor Helmuth Johannes Ludwig von Moltke végezte a hajó keresztelését, melynek során nagybátyja, Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke után nevezték el. [4] 1911. szeptember 11-én hajógyári munkások Hamburgból Kielbe vitték a hajót a Skagerrakon át. [5] Szeptember 30-án a hajót átadták a haditengerészetnek és von Mann sorhajókapitány lett az első parancsnoka. [6] A Moltke a Roont váltotta a felderítőcsoportnál. A menetpróbák 1912. április 1-ig tartottak. [5]

A Moltke volt az egyetlen nagyobb német haditengerészeti egység, mely látogatást tett az Egyesült Államokba. Kielt 1912. május 11-én a Stettin könnyűcirkáló kíséretében elhagyva a Ponta Delgada (Azori-szigetek) érintésével érkezett Cape Henry-hez, ahol csatlakozott hozzájuk a Bremen könnyűcirkáló. A cirkálók együtt érkeztek a Hampton Roads-hoz, ahol június 3-án az Egyesült Államok Atlanti Flottája és az elnök, William Howard Taft fogadta őket. Június 8-9-én a Hubert von Rebeur-Paschwitz parancsnoksága alatt álló raj New York felé haladt tovább, ahonnan a Moltke és a Stettin június 13-án indult vissza Vigo érintésével Németországba, ahova június 29-én érkeztek meg. [5]

A Moltke kísérte 1912-ben II. Vilmos yachtját, a Hohenzollernt Oroszországba. A hazaérkezte után a hajó parancsnokságát Magnus von Levetzow [6] vette át és a felderítőcsoport zászlóshajója lett egészen 1914. június 23-ig, mikor az új Seydlitz csatacirkáló lett a kötelék zászlóshajója. [5] Fontolóra vették, hogy a Moltkét áthelyezzék a Távol-Keletre a Scharnhorst páncélos cirkáló leváltására, de a tervet elvetették mikor kiderült, hogy a Földközi-tengeren állomásozó Goebent is fel kell váltani más egységgel. A Moltkét így a testvérhajója felvátására tervezték elküldeni, de a háború kitörése miatt erre végül nem került sor. [5]

Első világháború Szerkesztés

A többi nagy német hadihajóhoz hasonlóan a Moltke is viszonylag kevés harci bevetésben vett részt az első világháborúban. A háború elején a hajót a Nyílt-tengeri Flotta (Hochseeflotte) Franz von Hipper vezette I. felderítőcsoportjához (Aufklärungsgruppe I) osztották be. [5]

Helgolandi csata Szerkesztés

Röviddel a háború kitörése után, augusztus 28-án a Moltke részt vett a helgolandi csatában. A reggel folyamán a Harwichból kifutó brit rombolókötelékek megtámadták a Helgolandi-öbölben járőröző német rombolókat. Hat német könnyűcirkáló - Cöln, Straßburg, Stettin, Frauenlob, Stralsund és Ariadne – a segítségükre sietett és súlyos károkat okoztak a támadó brit egységeknek. Azonban 13:27 körül megérkeztek a David Beatty 1. csatacirkálórajának (1st Battlecruiser Squadron) nagy tűzerejű egységei is és így a britek kerültek fölénybe.

A felderítőcsoport többi csatacirkálójával együtt a Moltke is Wilhelmshavenben állomásozott a csata reggelén. 08:50-kor Hipper engedélyt kért Friedrich von Ingenohl tengernagytól, a Hochseeflotte parancsnokától a Moltke és a Von der Tann kiküldésére, hogy kisegítsék a bajba került cirkálókat. [7] A Moltke 12:10-kor készen állt az indulásra, de az apály miatt nem tudott áthaladni a Jade torkolatának bejáratánál lévő homokpad felett. 14:10-kor a Moltke és a Von der Tann már ki tudtak hajózni a kikötőből. Hipper a cirkálókat visszarendelte a közeledő két csatacirkáló irányába, melyek indulása után egy órával ő is kifutott a többi csatacirkálóval. 14:25-kor a megmaradt Straßburg, Stettin, Frauenlob, Stralsund és Ariadne könnyűcirkálók egyesültek a csatacirkálókkal. [8] Hipper a Seydlitz-cel 15:10-kor csatlakozott hozzájuk, eközben az Ariadne az elszenvedett sérülései következtében elsüllyedt. Hipper óvatosan előrehaladva kereste a két eltűnt könnyűcirkálót, de ekkorra a Mainz és a Cöln már elsüllyedt. 16:00-ra a német flotta visszafordult és 20:23-kor a Jade torkolatához ért. [9]

Yarmouthi rajtaütés Szerkesztés

1914. november 2-án a Moltke, Hipper zászlóshajója a Seydlitz, a Von der Tann, és a Blücher páncélos cirkáló négy könnyűcirkáló kíséretében az angol partok felé indult. [10] A flottilla napkeltekor ért Great Yarmouth elé és tűz alá vették a kikötőt, míg a Stralsund aknát telepített. A D5 jelű brit tengeralattjáró kifutott a kikötőből, de a Stralsund által az imént lerakott egyik aknának ütközött és elsüllyedt. Röviddel ezután Hipper visszafordult hajóival Németország felé. A Helgolandi-öbölben nagy köd fogadta őket, ezért annak felszálltáig várakoztak, mielőtt az aknamezők között biztonsággal befuthattak volna a kikötőbe. A Jadét engedély nélkül elhagyó Yorck páncélos cirkáló Wilhelmshaven felé tartva navigációs hiba miatt az egyik védelmi céllal telepített aknamezőre tévedt és miután két aknára is ráfutott elsüllyedt.

Scarborough, Hartlepool és Whitby elleni rajtaütés Szerkesztés

A németek abban a reményben, hogy a britek kisebb hajórajait elő tudják csalogatni és megsemmisíthetik őket egy újabb rajtaütést terveztek kelet-angliai célpontok ellen. [10] December 15-én hajnali 03:20-kor a Moltke, a Seydlitz, a Von der Tann a Derfflinger és a Blücher főerőkből álló kötelék a Kolberg, a Straßburg, a Stralsund és a Graudenz könnyűcirkálók valamint rombolók kíséretében elhagyták a Jade-öblöt. A hajók északnak tartottak a Horns Rev világítótoronyig, ahol nyugatnak fordultak Scarborough irányába. Hipper hajói után 12 órával Ingenohl is útra kelt a Hochseeflottéval melynek főerőit 14 modern csatahajó (dreadnought), 8 régi csatahajó (pre-dreadnought) alkotta és két páncélos cirkáló, 7 könnyűcirkáló és 54 romboló kísérte. [11]

A britek azonban az oroszok által az Magdeburgról megszerzett német haditengerészeti kódkönyvek alapján meg tudták fejteni a német rádióüzeneteket, így tudomást szereztek a készülő újabb német rajtaütésről is, de annak pontos idejét nem ismerték és feltételezték, hogy a Hochseeflotte főerői ezúttal sem futnak ki. A britek csapdát akartak állítani Hippernek és erre az 1. csatacirkálórajt, a 2. csatahajórajt (2nd Battle Squadron), a 3. cirkálórajt (3rd Cruiser Squadron) és az 1. könnyűcirkálórajt (1st Light Cruiser Squadron) jelölték ki. A britek fő erejét a négy csatacirkáló és a hat modern csatahajó képezte. [12]

December 15-én éjjel a Hochseeflotte rombolói brit rombolókkal futottak össze. Ingenohl úgy vélte, a Grand Fleet közelben lévő rombolóival találkoztak össze. Ezért a császár utasításaira hivatkozva - miszerint kerülni kell a túlerőben lévő ellenséggel való összecsapást és mert tartott egy éjszakai torpedótámadástól is - elrendelte a visszavonulást. Hippert erről a döntéséről nem tájékoztatta, ezért ő folytatta a küldetését. Az angol partokat elérve két csoportra vált szét a köteléke. A Seydlitz, a Moltke és a Blücher északnak fordult, hogy Hartlepoolnál lévő célpontokat támadjon, míg a Von der Tann és a Derfflinger délnek vette az irányt Scarborough és Whitby felé. A rajtaütés során számos katonai jelentőségű célpontot semmisítettek illetve rongáltak meg (dokkokat, gyárakat, gáz- és vízműveket, partvédelmi ütegeket, rádió- és jelzőállomásokat, vasútvonalakat), de a célt tévesztett lövedékek számos egyéb épületet is eltaláltak sok civil halálát okozva. Hartlepoolnál a Seydlitzet háromszor, a Blüchert hatszor találták el a parti ütegek. A Seydlitz csak minimális károkat szenvedett és legénységéből nem veszítette senki életét. December 16-án 09:45-kor a két csoport ismét egyesült és távozott keleti irányban. [13]

Ekkor Beatty csatacirkálói Hipper tervezett hazavezető útján álltak, miközben a többi kötelék igyekezett teljessé tenni a bekerítésüket. 12:25-kor a II. könnyűcirkálóraj Hippert keresve átsiklott a brit erők között. Az egyik brit cirkáló észrevette a Stralsundot és jelentette Beattynek. 12:30-kor Beatty a csatacirkálóival a megadott irányba fordult. Azt hitte, az észlelt német cirkálók Hipper csatacirkálóinak kíséretéhez tartoznak, de azok valójában 50 km-re voltak tőlük. [14] A Beatty kötelékéhez tartozó 2. könnyűcirkálóraj a német cirkálók után eredt, de egy félreértelmezett jelzés miatt minden hajója visszatért a csatacirkálók biztosítására. Ez a félreértés lehetővé tette a német könnyűcirkálók számára az elszakadást és jelenthették Hippernek a brit csatacirkálók helyzetét, így azok északkeletre kikerülve a brit erőket szintén épségben hazatérhettek. [14]

Mind a két félnek volt lehetősége arra, hogy jelentős győzelmet arasson a másik felett, így utólag mind a németek, mind az angolok csalódottan értékelték az eseményeket. Ingenohl hírnevének sokat ártott a bátortalansága. A Moltke parancsnoka dühös volt, amiért megfogalmazása szerint Ingenohl megijedt tizenegy [valójában hét] elintézhető brit rombolótól és hozzátette, hogy a jelenlegi vezetéssel nem fogunk elérni semmit. [15] A hivatalos német történelemírás felrója Ingenohlnak, hogy a rendelkezésére álló könnyű erőket nem küldte az ellenséges erők felderítésére: Olyan döntést hozott, mely nem csak komolyan veszélyeztette az angol partokhoz küldött erőit, de megfosztotta a Német Flottát egy jelzés értékű biztos győzelemtől. [15]

Doggerbanki csata Szerkesztés

1915 januárjában a németek tudomást szereztek arról, hogy a britek felderítő hadműveletet hajtanak végre a Dogger-pad (Doggerbank) térségében. Ingenohl eleinte vonakodott ezen erők megtámadására kihajózni, mivel az I. felderítőcsoportnak nélkülöznie kellett az esedékes karbantartások miatt szárazdokkba került Von der Tannt. Richard Eckermann altengernagy, a Hochseeflotte vezérkari főnöke azonban ragaszkodott a hadművelet végrehajtásához, így Ingenohl kiküldte Hipper csatacirkálóit a Doggerbankhoz. [16] Január 23-án Hipper kihajózott a csatacirkálóival. A Seydlitz haladt az élen, mögötte a Moltke, a Derfflinger végül a Blücher követte. A csatacirkálókat a Graudenz, a Rostock, a Stralsund és a Kolberg könnyűcirkálók valamint a II. és V. rombolóflottilla és XVIII. romboló-félflottilla 19 rombolója kísérte. A Graudenz és a Stralsund a kötelék előtt, míg a Rostock és a Kolberg jobb illetve baloldalon haladt. Minden könnyűcirkáló mellé egy romboló-félflottilla volt rendelve. [16]

A német rádiójeleket azonban a briteknek ismét sikerült elfogniuk és ez ismét jelentős szerepet játszott. Bár a németek pontos terve nem volt számukra ismert, azt meg tudták fejteni, hogy Hipper a Dogger-pad környékén tervez végrehajtani hadműveletet. [16] Ellenük Beatty 1. csatacirkálóraját, Archibald Moore 2. csatacirkálóraját, William Goodeneough sorhajókapitány 2. könnyűcirkálóraját illetve a hozzájuk 08:00-kor a Dogger-padtól 30 km-re északra csatlakozó Reginald Tyrwhitt sorhajókapitány Harwichből érkező rombolóit küldték ki.

A Kolberg 08:14-kor észlelte a brit Aurora könnyűcirkálótt és a harwichiak több rombolóját. Az Aurora a fényszóróit a Kolbergre irányította, mire az tüzet nyitott a brit hajóra két találatot elérve. Az Aurora viszonozta a tüzet és szintén két találatot ért el. Hipper azonnal az torkolattüzek irányába fordult a kötelékével, ám ekkor a Stralsund észlelt nagy füstöt északnyugati irányban. A nagy füstöt Hipper irányába tartó nagy brit hadihajóknak tulajdonították. [16]

Hipper ezért déli irányban igyekezett elmenekülni előlük, de a sebessége 23 csomóra volt korlátozva, mivel a régebbi Blüchernek ekkora volt csak a csúcssebessége. Az üldöző brit csatacirkálók 27 csomós sebességgel közeledtek, így hamar beérték a német hajókat. 09:52-kor a Lion 18.000 méter távolságból lövéseket adott le a Blücherre, röviddel rá a Queen Mary és a Tiger is tüzet nyitott. A Blüchert 10:09-kor érte az első találat, majd két perccel később főleg a Lionra koncentrálva a német hajók viszonozták a tüzet. 10:28-kor a Liont találat érte a vízvonalon, mely a hajó oldalán rést ütve elárasztotta az egyik szénraktárát vízzel. 10:30-kor a britek csatavonalában negyedik New Zealand is lőtávolon belülre ért a Blücherhez és tüzet nyitott rá. 10:35-re a távolság 16.000 méterre csökkent, így az összes német csatacirkáló a britek lőtávolságán belülre került. Beatty a csatacirkálóit a sorban megegyező ellenfelükkel való harc felvételére utasította. A Tiger kapitánya a fedélzeten kialakult kommunikációs zavar miatt úgy gondolta, hogy a Seydlitzet kell célba vennie és így a Moltkéra nem jutott ellenfél, így az zavartalanul tüzelhetett. [17]

10:40-kor a Lion egyik 343 mm-es lövedéke eltalálta a Seydlitzet tönkre téve annak két hátsó lövegtornyát. A találat következtében 159 ember veszítette életét és kis híján a hajó pusztulását okozta. [18] A katasztrófát a másodtiszt fellépése előzte meg, aki azonnal elrendelte a két lőszerraktár elárasztását, így a lángra kapott kivetőtöltetek tüze nem hatolhatott már le oda. Ekkorra a német csatacirkálók már belőtték maguknak a Liont és egymás után értek el rajta találatokat. 11:01-kor a Seydlitz egyik 280 mm-es lövedéke találta el a Liont, üzemen kívül helyezve annak két generátorát. 11:18-kor a Derfflinger két 30,5 cm-es lövedéke találta el, melyek közül az egyik a vízvonalon érte átszakítva az oldalát. A keletkezett résen keresztül víz hatolt be a baloldali adagolótartályba (feed tank). Ez a találat gyakorlatilag megbénította a Liont, mely kénytelen volt leállítani a hajtóműveit a sós víz okozta szennyeződés miatt. [18]

Ekkorra a Blücher már súlyos sérüléseket szenvedett az ellenséges nehéztüzérségtől. Az üldözésnek több tengeralattjárók észleléséről szóló jelentés vetett váget. Beatty rögtön kitérő manővert rendelt el, ami lehetővé tette a németeknek, hogy növeljék a távolságot az üldözőikkel szemben. [19] Ekkor a Lion hátulsó generátora tönkrement, ami miatt a sebessége 15 csomóra esett vissza. Beatty a többi csatacirkálónak parancsba adta, hogy a támadják az ellenség hátvédjét (Engage the enemy’s rear!), de a zavaros jeltovábbítás miatt azok a lassabb Blüchert vették mind tűz alá, így a Moltke, a Seydlitz és a Derfflinger el tudtak menekülni. [20] Mire Beatty a Princess Royalra átszállva ismét visszavette az irányítást a hajói felett a németek már túl messze jártak ahhoz, hogy beérhessék őket. 13:50-kor a britek beszüntették az üldözést. [21]

Előretörés a Rigai-öbölben Szerkesztés

1915. augusztus 3-án a Seydlitzet, a Moltkét, és a Von der Tannt áthelyezték a Balti-tengerre az I. felderítőcsoport többi részével együtt, hogy részt vegyenek a Rigai-öbölbe tervezett előretörésben. A hadművelet célja az itt állomásozó ellenséges haditengerészeti erők, köztük a Szlava régi csatahajó (pre-dreadnought) megsemmisítése és a Moon-szoros (Moonsund) elaknásítása volt a Deutschland aknarakó segítségével. A Hipper parancsnoksága alatt álló német erők között volt négy Nassau és négy Helgoland-osztályú csatahajó valamint számos kisebb egység is. [22] A hadművelet egész ideje alatt a három csatacirkáló a Balti-tengeren maradt és innen fedezte a Rigai-öbölben előrenyomuló többi egységet. [23]

Augusztus 8-án tették az első próbálkozást az öböl megtisztítására. Ennek során a Braunschweig és az Elsaß csatahajók (pre-dreadnoughtok) a Szlavát a sakkban tartották, míg az aknaszedők megtisztítottak egy sávot az aknamezőn. Ez idő alatt a német flotta többi része a Balti-tengeren maradt és az orosz flotta többi részét tartotta távol. Az éj közeledte miatt azonban a Deutschland nem tudta időben elaknásítani a Moon-szorost és így a hadműveletet meg kellett szakítani. [24]

Augusztus 16-án tettek egy második kísérletet az öbölbe való behatolásra. A Nassau és a Posen csatahajók négy könnyűcirkáló és 31 romboló kíséretében rést ütöttek az öböl védelmén. [25] A Nassau és a Posen harcba keveredett a Szlavával. Három elszenvedett találat után a Szlava visszavonult. Három nap alatt a németek felszedték az orosz aknamezőket és a flottilla augusztus 19-én behatolt az öbölbe, de az antant térségben észlelt tengeralattjárói miatt másnap vissza is vonultak. [26]

A hadművelet során a Moltke a Balti-tengeren tartózkodva távolról fedezte az előretörést a Rigai-öbölben. 19-én reggel a Moltkét megtorpedózta a E1 jelű brit tengeralattjáró. A közeledő torpedót csak akkor észlelték, mikor az már csak 200 yardra (180 m) volt, ezért már nem maradt idő kitérni előle és az az orrban lévő torpedókamra közelében felrobbant. A detonáció következtében több torpedó is megsérült, de egyik sem robbant fel. Nyolc ember életét veszítette és 435 tonna víz tört be a hajótestbe. A hajót augusztus 23. és szeptember 20. között javították Hamburgban a Blohm & Voss-nál. [5]

Yarmouth és Lowestoft elleni rajtaütés Szerkesztés

A Moltke részt vett a Yarmouth és Lowestoft városok elleni támadásban április 24-25-én. Hipper betegség miatti távollétében Friedrich Boedicker ellentengernagy vezette a felderítőcsoportot. A Derfflinger , a Lützow , a Moltke, a Seydlitz és az Von der Tann csatacirkálók április 24-én 10:55-kor hagyták el a Jade torkolatát hat könnyűcirkáló és két rombolóflottilla kíséretében. [27] A Hochseeflotte nehéz egységei 13:40-kor keltek útra, hogy Boedicker erőit a távolból fedezzék. A brit admiralitás a német rádióforgalomból tudomást szerzett a német rajtaütésről és 15:50-kor útnak indította a Grand Fleetet. [27]

14:00-kor Boedicker hajói Norderney-hez érve északnak fordultak, hogy a Terschellingen lévő holland megfigyelőhelyeket elkerüljék. 15:38-kor a Seydlitz aknára futott és egy 15 méteres lyuk keletkezett a jobb oldalán közvetlenül a torpedókamra mögött, melyen keresztül 1400 tonna víz tört be a hajótestbe. [27] A Seydlitz könnyűcirkálók kíséretében 15 csomós sebességet tartva visszafordult. A másik négy csatacirkáló rögtön délnek fordult Norderney irányába, hogy az újabb aknák okozta sérüléseket elkerüljék. 16:00-kor a Seydlitz kikerült a közvetlen veszélyből, így a hajó megállt és Boedicker a V28 jelű romboló segítségével a Lützow-ra szállt át. [28]

Április 25-én 04:50-kor a német csatacirkálók Lowestoft felé közeledtek, mikor a formáció déli szárnyát biztosító Rostock és a Elbing könnyűcirkálók észlelték Tyrwhitt sorhajókapitány (commodore) harwichi különítményének könnyűcirkálóit és rombolóit. [28] Boedicker nem zavartatta magát a brit hajók miatt és Lowestoftot vette célba az ágyúival. A német csatacirkálók elpusztítottak két partvédelmi üteget és a városban is okoztak károkat. Eközben a Moltkét a parti ütegek egyik 152 mm-es lövedéke eltalálta, de jelentős károkat nem okozott. [5]

05:20-kor a német portyázók északnak fordultak Yarmouth felé és 05:42-kor értek oda. A látási viszonyok annyira kedvezőtlenek voltak, hogy a német hajók csak egy sortüzet adott le, leszámítva a Derfflingert, mely egység 14 sortüzet (lövést) adott le a fő tüzérségével. A német hajók délnek fordultak és 05:47-kor másodszor is találkoztak a harwichiakkal, melyek ekkor már harcban álltak a kísérő erők hat könnyűcirkálójával. Boedicker hajói 12.000 méter távolságból nyitottak tüzet. Tyrwhitt azonnal délnek fordulva menekült, de a Conquest cirkálót így is súlyos sérülések érték. A brit tengeralattjárókról és torpedótámadásokról érkező jelentések miatt Boedicker megszakította az üldözést és keletnek fordult a Hochseeflotte zöme irányába. Ekkor Scheer, akit értesítettek a Grand Fleet Scapa Flow-ból való kihajózásáról, visszavonult Németország irányába. [29]

Skagerraki csata Szerkesztés

A Moltke és az I. felderítőcsoport (Aufklärungsgruppe I) többi csatacirkálója a Jadén horgonyzott 1916. május 30-án éjjel. A következő nap hajnali 02:00-kor (KEI) a hajók lassan kihajóztak a Skagerrak irányába 16 csomos sebességgel. [30] A Moltke az öt hajó közül a negyedik volt a sorban a Von der Tann előtt és a Seydlitz mögött haladva. [30] A Frankfurt (Friedrich Boedicker zászlóshajója), a Wiesbaden, a Pillau és az Elbing könnyűcirkálókból álló II. felderítőcsoport (Aufklärungsgruppe II) és a II., VI. és IX. rombolóflottillák összesen 30 rombolója kísérte a csatacirkálókat. [30]

Másfél órával később a Reinhard Scheer vezette Hochseeflotte is elhagyta a Jadét. A flottája 16 csatahajót (dreadnoughtot) számlált. A dokkban javítás alatt álló König Albert és a még próbajáratait végző Bayern csatahajókat leszámítva az összes modern egység kihajózott a küldetésre. A Hochseeflottét a Stettin, a München, a Hamburg, a Frauenlob és a Stuttgart könnyűcirkálókból álló IV. felderítőcsoport, valamint a Rostock könnyűcirkáló vezette I., III., V. és VII. rombolóflottillák összesen 31 rombolója kísérte. A II. csatahajóraj (Schlachtgeschwader II) hat régi csatahajója (pre-dreadnoughtja) a 02:45-kor az Elba torkolatából indult útnak és 05:00-kor csatlakozott Scheer flottájához. [30]

Miután a kísérő brit cirkálók sikertelen támadást intéztek a német rombolók ellen, röviddel 16:00 óra előtt Hipper és Beatty főerői is összecsaptak. A csatacirkálók összecsapásakor már a németek adták le az első lövéseket kb. 14.000 méter távolságból. Az első brit sortüzek jórészt egy mérfölddel a német hajókon túl csapódtak a vízbe. A brit hajók célpontelosztásában fellépő zavar következtében a New Zealand és a Tiger is a Moltkét vette célba. 16:52-kor a Moltke két találatot ért el a Tigeren, de ezek nem okoztak jelentős károkat. A Moltke ezt követően újabb négy lövedéket lőtt ki, melyek közül kettő egyszerre csapódott be a hajó közepén és a hátsó tornyoknál, utóbbi a csata jelentős részére kiiktatta a két lövegtornyot. [31]

Körülbelül 15 perccel később a Indefatigable csatacirkáló felrobbant a Von der Tann találatainak következtében. Röviddel ezt követően a Moltke négy torpedót lőtt ki a Queen Mary-re 10.500-9.500 méter távolságból. [31] Ennek következtében a brit formáció felbomlott, mivel azt hitték, tengeralattjárók lőtték ki a torpedókat. Hipper csatacirkálói nagyjából ekkor kerültek a britek 381 mm-es lövegekkel felszerelt Queen Elisabeth-osztályú egységekből álló V. csatahajórajának lőtávolságán belülre. 17:06-kor a Barham tüzet nyitott a Von der Tannra. Pár perccel később a Valiant, a Malaya és a Warspite is bekapcsolódott a küzdelembe tüzüket a Tannra és a Moltkére irányítva. [32] 17:16-kor az egyik 381 mm-es lövedék eltalálta a Moltkét és az egyik szénraktáron áthatolva a kazamatafedélzetbe hatolt és begyújtotta az ott lévő muníciót (kivetőtölteteket), majd a tűz a felvonóaknán lefelé a lőszerraktárak irányába terjedt tovább, de ide már nem hatolt be. [33]

A Von der Tann és a Moltke irányt és sebességet változtatva kikerült a csatahajók tüzéből, miközben a Seydlitz és a Derfflinger a tüzüket a brit csatacirkálókra koncentrálták. 17:25 és 17:30 között a Seydlitz és a Derfflinger legalább öt lövedéke csapódott be a Queen Mary-be hatalmas robbanást idézve elő. [34] A Moltke parancsnoka, von Karpf sorhajókapitány feljegyzése szerint: “Az ellenség sortüzei jól ültek és a közelben csapódtak be gyors egymásutánban követve egymást, a tűzfegyelmük kiváló!” [35]

19:30-ig a brit csatacirkálókat üldöző Hochseeflotte nem találkozott össze a Grand Fleettel. Scheer már a visszafordulást fontolgatta még mielőtt a sötétség beálltával az ellenség rombolói torpedótámadásokat kísérelhetnének meg. [36] Addig azonban még nem hozta meg a döntését, mikor az élen haladó csatahajói összetalálkoztak a Grand Fleettel. Ez a fejlemény lehetetlenné tette Scheer számára a visszavonulást, mivel ez a II. csatahajóraj (Schlachgeschwader II) régi csatahajóinakak feláldozását jelentette volna, míg ha azok visszavonulását a modern csatahajóinak és csatacirkálóinak fedezete mellett oldotta volna meg, akkor a legerősebb egységeit tette volna ki a kedvezőbb pozícióban lévő britek tüzének. [37] Ehelyett Scheer a hajóinak egy 16 pontos (180 fokos) jobboldali fordulót rendelt el, ami által a pre-dreadnoughtok a német csatavonal viszonylag biztonságos oldalára kerültek. [38]

A Moltke és a többi csatacirkáló – a Lützow-t leszámítva – követte a manővert, így a König csatahajó mögé soroltak be. [39] Hipper csatacirkálói így egy lélegzetvételnyi szünethez jutottak és a Grand Fleet parancsnoka John Jellicoe, mivel nem tudta a német flotta merre tart, annak feltételezett irányát keresztezni akarván keleti irányba fordult – valójában a németek ekkor nyugatra tartottak. Scheer hamarosan egy újabb 16 pontos fordulót hajtott végre, mivel úgy vélte a brit formáció végén hajózó egységekkel fog így összetalálkozni, azonban a brit csatavonal közepe felé tartott. [40] A német flotta ismét heves ellenséges tűzbe került és Scheer a Seydlitzet, a Derfflingert, a Von der Tannt és a Moltkét küldte neki teljes gőzzel a brit flottának, hogy így bontsa meg a formációjukat és nyerjen időt a főerők visszavonulásához. [41] 20:17-kor a német csatacirkálók 7.000 méterre megközelítették a Colossus csatahajót. Három perccel később a német csatacirkálók visszavonultak egy rombolók által megkísérelt torpedótámadás fedezete mellett. [42]

A sötétség beállta lehetővé tette a Seydlitz és a többi német csatacirkáló számára, hogy eltakarítsák a fő tüzérséget akadályozó roncsokat, kioltsák a keletkezett tüzeket és helyrehozzák a tűzvezetési és jelzőrendszereket valamint felkészítsék a fényszórókat az éjszakai harcra. [43] Mire a német könnyűcirkálók röviddel 21:00 után ismét összetalálkoztak a britekkel, a Hochseeflotte már ismét jól szervezett formációban haladt. Beatty a csatacirkálóival nyugatra, a harc irányába fordult. 21:09-kor megpillantotta a német csatacirkálókat és 7.800 méterre megközelítette őket mielőtt 21:20-kor tüzet nyitott rájuk. [44] A brit csatacirkálók támadása teljesen váratlanul érte Hippert, aki épp a Moltke fedélzetére szállt át a G39 jelű rombolóról. A német hajók minden bevethető ágyúval viszonozták a tüzet és 21:32-kor a Lionon és a Princess Royalon is értek el találatokat. [45] A német csatacirkálók manőverei a britek 1. csatahajóraját nyugati irányba való fordulásra kényszerítették, hogy elkerüljék az ütközést. A németek II. csatahajórajának pre-dreadnoughtjai a csatacirkálók mögé kerültek és a britek nem tudták üldözőbe venni őket mikor azok délnek fordultak. Amint a brit csatacirkálók tüzet nyitottak a régi csatahajókra, a német hajók délnyugatnak fordultak, hogy teljes oldalazó tüzet lőhessenek rájuk. [45]

22:15-kor Hippernek sikerült átjutnia a Moltkéra és a hajóinak utasítást adott, hogy álljanak ismét a Hochseeflotte élére. Az ehhez megadott 20 csomós sebességet csak a Moltke és a Seydlitz tudta tartani, a Derfflinger és a Von der Tann csak 18 csomós sebességgel tudott haladni, ezért némileg lemaradtak. A Seydlitz és a Moltke a csatavonal eleje felé hajózva közel került a Stettinhez és az ütközés elkerüléséhez drasztikusan csökkenteniük kellett a sebességüket. Ez a Frauenlob, Stuttgart és München cirkálókat bal oldali kanyarodásra kényszerítette, aminek eredményeképpen észlelték a britek 2. könnyűcirkálórajának egységeit és 800 yard (730 m) távolságról tüzet nyitottak egymásra. Ludwig von Reuter ellentengernagy kísérletet tett az ellenséges cirkálók Seydlitz és Moltke irányába való csalogatására, de ekkor azok megszakították a támadást. [46] Elszakadás közben a Southampton által kilőtt egyik torpedó eltalálta a Frauenlobot, mely a találat következtében felrobbant. A német formáció felbomlott és a zavarodásban a Seydlitz szem elől veszítette a Moltkét. A Seydlitz nem bírta tartani a Moltke 22 csomós sebességét és ezért önállóan igyekezett eljutni a Horns Revhez. [47]

23:30-kor a magányosan haladó Moltke a britek 2. csatahajóraja hátulsó osztályának négy csatahajójával találkozott össze. A Moltke kapitánya, von Karpf kitérésre adott utasítást remélve azt, hogy a britek nem vették észre. A britek valójában észlelték a Moltkét, de úgy döntöttek nem nyitnak rá tüzet, nehogy felfedjék a pozíciójukat a német flotta előtt. [48]

03:55-kor, a csata végének közeledtével Hipper üzenetben értesítette Scheert a hajóit ért nagy károkról. Ekkorra már a Derfflinger és a Von der Tann is csak egy két-két harcképes ágyúval rendelkezett, a Moltkéba 1000 tonna víz tört be és a Seydlitz súlyosan megsérült. Hipper jelentése szerint: “Az I. felderítőcsoport komoly összecsapásban nem képviselt már harci értéket, ezért a főparancsnok elrendelte visszatérését a kikötőbe, miközben a csatahajókkal a Horns Revnél várta a további fejleményeket.” [49]

A csata során a Moltke 13 találatot ért el a Tigeren és 4 találatot szenvedett el, mindet 381 mm-es ágyúktól. Az egyik a jobb oldalán lévő 5-ös számú 15 cm-es löveget érte, harcképtelenné téve a csata hátralévő részére. A hajó legénységéből 16 fő esett el és 20 sebesült meg, többségük a 15 cm-es ágyút ért találatkor. A vízbetörések és az ezek ellensúlyozására végrehajtott elárasztások következtében 1000 tonna víz került a hajótestbe. [50]

1916. augusztus 19-ei előretörés Szerkesztés

Az 1916. augusztus 18-19-én végrehajtott előretörés során az I. felderítőcsoportnak rajtaütést kellett volna végrehajtania a kelet-angliai Sunderland városán, hogy ezáltal csalogassák elő és semmisítsék meg Beatty csatacirkálóit. Mivel a csatacirkálók közül a Von der Tann mellett még csak a Moltke volt bevethető állapotban, a Markgraf, a Großer Kurfürst és az újonnan szolgálatba állított Bayern csatahajókkal egészítették ki a csoportot. Scheer tengernagy a Hochseeflotte többi részével, köztük 15 csatahajóval lemaradva követte őket. [51] A britek ismét tudomást szereztek a német tervekről és a teljes Grand Fleetet kiküldték ellenük. 14:35-kor Scheert értesítették a brit főerők közeledtéről és mivel nem akart szembeszállni a teljes brit flottával mindössze 11 héttel a skagerraki csata után, flottájával visszafordult a német kikötők felé. [52]

Albion hadművelet Szerkesztés

1917 szeptemberében von Karpf sorhajókapitányt Hans Gygas sorhajókapitány váltotta a hajó parancsnokságában. 1917 szeptember-októberében a Moltke részt vett az észt partoknál lévő Ösel, Dagö és Moon szigetek megszerzését célzó Albion hadműveletben, melynek során az Erhard Schmidt vezetése alatt álló nagy köteléknek volt a zászlóshajója. Október 12-én a Moltke a III. csatahajóraj egységeivel együtt (négy König-osztályú csatahajó és a Bayern) 05:45-kor tüzet nyitott az Ösel sziget északi részén lévő Tagga-öböltől keletre eső Ninnast-fokon (Ninase) elhelyezett 46-os számú orosz ütegállás négy 152 mm-es lövegére, hogy a szárazföldi erők 06:00-ra tervezett fő partraszállását fedezze. A hadművelet sikeres végrehajtását követően a Moltkét a II. felderítőcsoport (Aufklärungsgruppe II) támogatására irányították át, de a második helgolandi csatában nem vett részt tevékenyen. [50]

Későbbi hadműveletek Szerkesztés

1917 végén a Hochseeflotte támadásokat hajtott végre a Norvégia és Nagy-Britannia között haladó konvojok ellen. 1917 októberében és decemberében két konvojt állítottak meg és semmisítettek meg német rombolók és cirkálók. A Grand Fleet élére kinevezett David Beatty ezért csatahajókat és csatacirkálókat rendelt a konvojok védelmére. [53] Scheer kinevezése óta erre várt, mert így lehetősége adódott a brit flotta egy kisebb részére lecsapni és megsemmisíteni azt. 1918 április 23-án 05:00-kor flottájával útnak indult az egyik erős kísérettel ellátott konvoj elfogására. A rádióforgalmat a minimális szintre csökkentették, hogy a britek előtt rejtve maradjon a hadművelet. [54]

05:10-kor a Moltke jobb oldali hajócsavarja levált a tengelyről és még mielőtt a turbinát leállíthatták volna az egyik fogaskerék tönkrement és acéldarabokat hajított az egyik kisegítő kondenzátorba. A kiömlő víz elöntötte a géptermet és ennek következtében a középső és jobboldali hajtóművek leálltak. A kazánokba sós víz került és így a hajó csak négy csomós sebességgel volt képes haladni. 08:45-kor a hajó kapitánya jelentette Scheernek, hogy a hajója irányíthatatlanná vált [54] és vontatásra lenne szüksége. 09:38-kor a Straßburg könnyűcirkáló megpróbálta vontába venni, de nem járt sikerrel. 10:13-kor az Oldenburg csatahajót rendelték vissza a Moltke hazavontatására. [55] 14:10-kor a konvojt még mindig nem fedezték fel, ezért Scheer a Hochseeflottéval visszafordult. 17:10-re a Moltke gépeit megjavították és a hajó képes volt 17 csomós sebességgel való haladásra. [55] 19:37-kor a brit E42 jelű tengeralattjáró észlelte a német csatacirkálót és kilőtt rá egy torpedót. A találat következtében 1800 tonna víz tört be a hajótestbe, de még saját erejéből képes volt hazatérni. [56] A javításokat Wilhelmshavenben végezték el 1918. április 30. és szeptember 9. között. [55]

A javítások elvégzése után a Moltke szeptember 19. és október 3. között próbajáratokon vett részt a Balti-tengeren. November 1-től kezdődően a Moltke Ludwig von Reuter altengernagy I. felderítőcsoportjának zászlóshajójaként szolgált, mivel az eddigi zászlóshajó, a Hindenburg szárazdokkba került javítások elvégzése miatt. [57]

Háború után Szerkesztés

A Moltke részt vett volna az október 24-re tervezett hadműveletben, melynek során a Grand Fleettel kellett volna megütköznie a Hochseeflotténak. Scheer ekkor már mint főtengernagy (Großadmiral) a német vezetéssel azt tervezte, hogy a lehető legnagyobb veszteséget okozza a briteknek és így jobb tárgyalási pozíciót ér el Németország számára. Mikor a flotta Wilhelmshavenben készülődött a hadműveletre, a tengerészek tömegesen dezertáltak a hajókról. Amint a Von der Tann és a Derfflinger áthaladt a Wilhelmshaven belső kikötőjéből kivezető zsilipeken, körülbelül 300 tengerész mászott le a hajó oldalán és tűnt el a parton. [58]

1918. október 24-én kiadták a parancsot a Wilhelmshavenből való elindulásra. A háborútól megfáradt tengerészek közül sokan úgy érezték, hogy a hadművelet hátráltatná a folyamatban lévő béketárgyalásokat, ezért október 29-én számos csatahajó legénysége fellázadt. A III. csatahajóraj három hajója megtagadta az indulást és szabotázsakciókat hajtottak végre a Thüringen és a Helgoland fedélzetén. A nyugtalanság Scheert és Hippert végül a hadművelet lefújására kényszerítette. A wilhelmshaveni zendülés átterjedt Kielre is és az ottani események az 1918-19-es németországi forradalmakhoz vezettek.

A Moltke Wollante sorhajóhadnagy (Kapitänleutnant) parancsnoksága alatt 1918. november 24-én a fegyverszünet értelmében a Hochseeflotte nagy részével útba indult internálási helyére, Scapa Flow-ba. [59] 1919. június 21-én a flotta parancsnoka, Ludwig von Reuter ellentengernagy, hogy a hajói ne kerülhessenek a britek kezére, elrendelte a hajók elsüllyesztését. A Moltke 2 óra és 15 perc alatt süllyedt el. [60] A hajót 1927-ben kiemelték és Rosythban lebontották 1929-ben. [61]

Re: SMS Moltke (1910)

Post by RF » Fri Dec 04, 2009 8:25 am

Re: SMS Moltke (1910)

Post by 19kilo » Tue Aug 31, 2010 2:05 am

Re: SMS Moltke (1910)

Post by Gary » Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:42 pm

Re: SMS Moltke (1910)

Post by delcyros » Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:24 pm

I am certain that this is not really the case. There are plenty of RMA primary sources published by Axel Grießmer in his outstanding book about the design background history of the ww1 german battlecruisers to proof that Tirpitz really thought of the Große Kreuzer beeing not only scouting forces but that
"in case of a battleline engagement, our Große Kreuzer need to be sufficiently armoured in order to augment our battleline against a numerically superior enemy like the Grand Fleet" (translation by myselve)

And You will be easily able to trace this philosophy, starting in VON DER TANN when studying their respective armour scheme. It mirrors the contemporary expectation of the RMA with regards to battlerange and projectile´s ability to penetrate armour. That´s also the prime reason why early german Dreadnoughts & Große Kreuzer (up to KÖNIG & SEYDLITZ) had such an enforced armoured slope behind the belt -to stop close range, penetrating belt hits. Later on, when longer range gunnery became feasable, the slope was reduced in strength to mere splinter protection niveau (BAYERN & DERFFLINGER class) because long range penetrating hits were not expected to have enough residual excess velocity to penetrate coal bunkers, 50mm slope, coal bunker and 50mm torpedo bulkhead.

There are differences too, the GK´s use more spread out armour to cover more area, while the Dreadnoughts tend to concentrate armour in belt, barbette and turret with only limited armour provided to the upper belt. But generally, the GK´s represent a fast battleship in design philosophy and intended mission parameter.

Re: SMS Moltke (1910)

Post by Djoser » Fri Apr 22, 2011 1:03 pm

delcyros wrote: I am certain that this is not really the case. There are plenty of RMA primary sources published by Axel Grießmer in his outstanding book about the design background history of the ww1 german battlecruisers to proof that Tirpitz really thought of the Große Kreuzer beeing not only scouting forces but that
"in case of a battleline engagement, our Große Kreuzer need to be sufficiently armoured in order to augment our battleline against a numerically superior enemy like the Grand Fleet" (translation by myselve)

. generally, the GK´s represent a fast battleship in design philosophy and intended mission parameter.

Thanks, you saved me the trouble of posting pretty much the same reply.

Even if you magically increased the speed of the British BBs to that of a battlecruiser, they would still have fallen short of the German concept of the fast battleship, which they named Große Kruezer for whatever reason--that doesn't really matter so much. In deed if not in name. I daresay the Derfflinger was at least as well protected as the Iron Duke (same thickness in belt and turret armor), with a lot better internal subdivision. Certainly a tougher ship to hurt than the Agincourt with a 9 inch belt. Even if the latter carried a lot heavier punch it was nothing more than a heavily armed, slow battlecruiser.

The you have the Mackensens and the Ersatz Yorks. Had the war been delayed a bit these would have seen completion. Possibly closer to true 'fast battleships' than the magnificent Queen Elizabeths, and had construction not ceased due to the war they would have been available not long after the QEs.

Re: SMS Moltke (1910)

Post by Djoser » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:44 pm

Wow some nasty typos and grammatical glitches in that last post, sorry. Couldn't sleep again after a busy night at work (I work in a nightclub), but I was starting to get tired by the time I posted that lol!

I did realize that a "heavily armed, slow battlecruiser" was a contradiction in terms, of course. But I was trying to point out the flaw in this nonetheless remarkable ship, by comparison with the supposedly inferior battlecruiser Derfflinger, which supposedly couldn't be considered a 'fast battleship' prototype. Obviously I think it was a great prototype.

Can you really call the Agincourt a battleship, with a 4-9 inch belt?? What do you guys think?

Re: SMS Moltke (1910)

Post by Gary » Sun May 01, 2011 8:24 am

Agincourt was a battleship. just not one of Jellicoe's better ones.
She packed 14 main guns in 7 turrets (a dreadnought record) but the British 12 inch wasnt the equal of the German 12 inch
She would have been more susceptible to turret hits and we know what chaos that caused with the British sloppy ammo handling procedures at Jutland
It should of course be remembered that Agincourt was designed for a foriegn navy and was NOT built to RN speciifications.
The RN would never have accepted her into service had it not been wartime.

And yes, Derfflinger wasnt nicknamed "Iron Dog" for nothing - she was a tough old girl

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German Countess Freya von Moltke, wife of German Count Helmuth James von Moltke, is seen during an exhibition opening ceremony on the resistance during Nazi rule in Berlin, on July 19, 2004. AP

Mary Fulbrook, a professor of German history at University College London, concurs. Without diminishing other resistors&rsquo personal courage and moral integrity, she says, it bears remembering that there were tens of thousands of other courageous individuals, mainly left-wingers, who had been attempting to protest against and even sabotage the regime much earlier.

She argues in her book &ldquoA History of Germany 1918-2014: The Divided Nation&rdquo that there was very little that ordinary opponents of the regime in Germany could do, as they were simply too far removed from the center of power and influence, and had no chance of getting close to Hitler &ndash let alone toppling him. But those in elite positions in the army and government, as well as those from influential families like Helmuth von Moltke, might have been a different story. For the most part, though, she says it was all &ldquotoo little, too late.&rdquo

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It was 1940 by this point, and Helmuth von Moltke and von Wartenburg gathered around them a group of like-minded men and women to debate and outline political and economic plans for a postwar democratic Germany. They dubbed themselves the Kreisau Circle because they met several times at Helmuth von Moltke&rsquos family estate of Kreisau in the province of Silesia, some 560 kilometers, or about 350 miles, from Berlin (and today part of Poland).

Adolf Hitler and Hermann Goering in Poland, in 1939. Roger-Viollet

&ldquoWhat shall I say when I am asked &lsquoAnd what did you do during that time?&rsquo&rdquo Helmuth asks his wife, Freya, in a letter dated October 1941. &ldquoSince Saturday the Berlin Jews are being rounded up. Then they are sent off with what they can carry. . How can anyone know these things and walk around free?&rdquo

Ancestral war hero

After four years of clandestine Circle meetings, in January 1944 Helmuth von Moltke was arrested after alerting an acquaintance, Otto Kiep &ndash the chief of the Reich Press Office and part of another anti-Nazi group &ndash that the Gestapo was onto him. Von Moltke was sent to a prison in the grounds of the Ravensbrück concentration camp for women. His connection to the Kreisau Circle initially went undiscovered, and he was treated relatively well. He even believed he would be released, he confided in letters to his wife &ndash with whom he had corresponded regularly since the start of 1939.

The couple had met in 1929 at a get-together organized by Eugenie Schwarzwald, a Jewish educator famous for her literary salons in Vienna.

It had been love at first sight, says Caspar von Moltke. The two worldly law students married in Cologne and started a family: Caspar, born in 1937, and his brother Konrad, born three years later.

Although she was also involved with the Kreisau Circle, Freya evaded suspicion and spent the year of her husband&rsquos imprisonment taking the long train journey between Kreisau, where she was based with her sons throughout the war, and Berlin, where she used every political and social connection to try to secure her husband&rsquos release. The general commander of the Gestapo in Berlin saw her twice, Caspar von Moltke reveals. He was polite &ndash but refused to help.

&ldquoHitler&rsquos government, out of deference to our ancestor the field marshal [Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, who helped Chancellor Otto von Bismarck defeat the Austrians] &hellip whom many Nazis considered a hero, didn&rsquot want to harm a von Moltke,&rdquo Caspar von Moltke says. &ldquoAt the end they couldn&rsquot avoid it, because my father had done things they could not accept. But still, they treated him and my mother with respect.&rdquo

An excerpt from a letter from Helmuth James to Freya on October 1, 1945. Courtesy of Helmuth Caspar von Moltke.

Hope that Helmuth von Moltke would be released dissipated after Stauffenberg&rsquos failed attempt on Hitler&rsquos life on July 20, 1944. In its wake, some 5,000 dissidents, including Circle co-founder von Wartenburg &ndash who was a cousin of Stauffenberg &ndash were rounded up by the Gestapo and executed.

Helmuth von Moltke was moved from Ravensbrück to Tegel Prison in Berlin, where his conditions worsened. He was charged with treason, defeatism and attempting to overthrow the regime &ndash not because of Stauffenberg&rsquos plot, which the authorities were unable to tie him to directly, but merely for having discussed a post-Hitler future within the Kreisau Circle.

While his son says it is hard to know what Helmuth von Moltke might have done about the assassination plot if he hadn&rsquot already been in jail when it was hatched and attempted, all the indications suggest he would have been against the idea &ndash for fear of turning Hitler into a martyr and sweeping subsequent retribution against the resistance (which did take place). As proof, Caspar von Moltke recites one of his father&rsquos last letters to his wife: &ldquoI never wanted or encouraged acts of violence like July 20. Quite the contrary. I fought preparations being made for them because I disapproved of such measures &hellip for many reasons, and above all because I believed this was not the way to eliminate the fundamental spiritual evil.&rdquo

In the final analysis, Caspar von Moltke says, &ldquoI think Stauffenberg was right to attempt [the assassination]. But I also think my father was right in thinking [Nazism] had to be burnt out of the German soul. Both were right, in a way.&rdquo

Love and soul-searching

The fact that Helmuth von Moltke was able to continue writing freely to Freya from Tegel &ndash albeit often handcuffed while putting pen to the thin sheaves of paper &ndash is highly unusual. It was made possible because, by a stroke of luck, the prison&rsquos longtime chaplain &ndash a priest named Harald Poelchau &ndash was a friend of his and also an undetected member of the Kreisau Circle. Poelchau would stuff von Moltke&rsquos letters in his pockets and smuggle them out of prison. Freya would then come to Poelchau&rsquos home, read the letters, compose her replies and send them back with the priest.

All told, the couple exchanged 176 letters during this period, never knowing whether one might be their last correspondence. Their letters, which were translated into English last year and published as &ldquoLast Letters: The Prison Correspondence between Helmuth James and Freya von Moltke, 1944-45,&rdquo are filled with love and soul-searching, honest attempts to sift through their fears and understand their fates, and, increasingly, to find solace in their strong Christian faith.

&ldquoI was too young to grasp the implications of what had happened,&rdquo Caspar von Moltke reflects. &ldquoYes, I saw my mother&rsquos grief. But I also knew she was supported and sustained by the faith in those letters. My parents felt, I believe, that they were under God&rsquos guidance.&rdquo

SMS Seydlitz – Operational History II

After the near-catastrophic hit on Seydlitz there was a searching inquiry into what had happened and why. As Kapitän zur See Egidy put it:

Afterwards, a thorough examination showed that everything had been done in accordance with regulations. I told the gunnery officer: ‘If we lose 190 men and almost the whole ship in accordance with regulations, then they are somehow wrong.’ So we made technical improvements and changed our methods of training as well as the regulations.

After the investigation a series of conclusions were detailed in a report signed by Flottenchef Admiral von Ingenohl. The report opened:

The detonation effect of the shell was mainly against the rooms outside the barbette and on the Zwischendeck. Only stray pieces of armour and flash flame seem to have penetrated into the barbette. Shell-parts were not found in the working chamber … In the working chamber the fore charges and main charges present were ignited by the shot, either through the flash of the shell detonation or by the hot fragments of the barbette armour. The flames struck upwards into the turret and below into the munition room, and ignited the powder in both.

Obviously, with the first burst of flames, the men in the munitions room fled forward to the cartridge loading room of turret C, and of the double doors that led there the first opened to aft, and the second opened forwards. The second was carried away as though from gas pressure. In this manner the flash flames penetrated into the cartridge loading room of turret C, and the powder munition found there was ignited and in this manner flashed into the surrounding rooms and up towards the guns.

Of the fore charges, all those out of their packing tins had burnt, as had those in their tins that were open. Of the main charges, only those outside their tins burnt, although the heat in the chamber was so intense that in some cases the zinc of the tins had melted in places. No armour-piercing shells detonated. The following conclusions were reached:

The munition in the working chamber represented a danger to the turret, and this should be changed, as intended with the 38cm guns.

The shell and cartridge hoists (elevators) must be equipped with doors which automatically close themselves with the passing of the hoist.

The fore charges must be protected again flash until they are up to the gun.

The main charges must be protected by a cover. The cover will only be removed prior to loading.

New ships must be equipped with separate munition rooms for each turret. The doors between the ammunition rooms for adjacent turrets of the ship, when in service, must be locked with padlocks, to prevent premature opening. The key to the locks must be with the turret Offizier during battle. The order to open may only be given when all the munition from the turret is fired.

The cartridge tin covers may only be removed when the cartridge is required. The present type of fastener (screw clasps) were presumably loosened before the beginning of the battle. For the future an improved type of fastener is required, the bayonet clasp.

The ready cartridges in the heavy turrets must be prevented from piling up. Armour-piercing shells have proved to be neutral in the existing cases of fire. High-explosive shells are in question after the experience of SMS Goeben. Therefore, high explosive cannot be recommended for the ready munition of the heavy artillery.

No more fore charges than main charge cartridges.

The report went on to say that after flooding, the water in the munition chambers penetrated neighbouring compartments through ventilation shafts, and therefore each watertight compartment should have its own ventilation shafts. The aft part of the ship lay 1.05m deeper in the water, and as the stern was also sucked lower at high speed there was a danger that further hits could cause flooding above the waterline. This problem could have been alleviated if there were means to drain the munitions chambers after they were flooded.

It was also recommended that the elevation of the gun mountings be increased, therefore increasing the range of the guns, including new ships as well.

Most of these recommendations were acted upon before the next major action.

Seydlitz remained under repair until 1 April 1915, when at 13.35 she cast off and went to anchor in Wilhelmshaven Roads, where she remained until 4 April, when at 23.30 she weighed anchor and steered to Brunsbüttel for the canal trip to the east. After passing through the southern lock, Seydlitz began the canal trip at 05.30 on 5 April and made fast to buoy A10 in Kiel at 17.50 that afternoon. A period of training was undertaken in Kiel Bay until 10 April, which included torpedo firing, calibre shooting to test the new RW equipment and night shooting. On 11 April at 07.30 Seydlitz began the journey back to the west, but fog on the Elbe River caused a delay so that she did not arrive in Schillig Roads until 06.20 on 13 April.

As Seydlitz’s war diary records, she weighed anchor at 21.10 on 17 April to conduct War Task 26, the support of a minelaying operation in the North Sea. The night was clear with a half-moon as the I AG advanced to the west, before at 05.30 the II AG was sighted ahead and shortly afterwards a turn was made to the ENE. From 09.30 to noon evolutions were undertaken with the fleet and at 19.10 Seydlitz anchored once more in Wilhelmshaven Roads.

At 23.50 on 21 April 1915 Seydlitz weighed anchor and steered down the Jade in accordance with Operational Order 27. After advancing towards the Dogger Bank at 10.30 a turn was made back to the SE and from 14.30 to 17.00 evolutions were carried out in the German Bight. At 21.44 she anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads. Periods on picket duty and short intervals of dockyard time followed until mid-May.

At 19.00 on 17 May she weighed anchor and steered in accordance with Operational Order 23, the laying of a mine barrier on the Dogger Bank by cruisers Graudenz and Stralsund. At 03.30 on the following morning the II AG came in sight directly ahead, and that afternoon evolutions were carried out before she returned to Wilhelmshaven Roads at 19.30.

On 29 May at 22.00 Seydlitz weighed anchor and put to sea in accordance with Operational Order 28, escorting the auxiliary cruiser Meteor to sea. After this task was carried out the I AG continued to the west before making a turn onto course E by S at 09.17. At 14.57 in square 099 epsilon Moltke reported a submerged submarine and Seydlitz turned away at 20kts. After that the I AG ran in and at 20.00 anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads. Dockyard periods, picket duty and shooting practices followed, and on 8 June the heavy-calibre artillery carried out a shoot with full charges to test the RW equipment. Further shooting trials were carried out on 15 and 18 June.

On 25 June at 18.47 Seydlitz weighed anchor and steered from Schillig Roads towards the Elbe with the 12 TBHF as anti-submarine screen. Early the following morning, at 01.40, she ran into the southern lock at Brunsbüttel and began the journey through the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal to the east. At 02.30 as Seydlitz passed König, her undertow caused the battleship to pull her mooring lines so taut so that two bollards were torn loose. At 14.52 on 26 June the Panzerkreuzer made fast to buoy A10 in Kiel. A period of training followed, which included evolutions, torpedo firing, co-operation with torpedo-boat flotillas, searchlight training and shooting with heavy, medium and light artillery. At 04.30 on 2 July Seydlitz cast off from buoy A10 for the return trip to the North Sea, and she arrived in Wilhelmshaven Roads at 23.13 that evening. After that she went into the dockyard for two days and then carried out artillery training. On 15 July she went into the floating dock at Wilhelmshaven for a couple of days before returning to picket duty. At around this time noises were heard coming from a low-pressure turbine so on 18 July she entered the dockyard and had both low-pressure turbines opened for inspection. Work on the turbines continued until 31 July.

On 1 August Seydlitz cast off from the imperial dockyard and went to Wilhelmshaven Roads. That afternoon at 14.10 she weighed anchor and steered out for engine trials, returning at 16.45. On 2 August at 16.40 she weighed anchor and steered to the Elbe with von der Tann, anchoring in Altenbruch Roads at 22.14. Early the following morning, at 04.00, Seydlitz weighed anchor and ran into the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal and made fast at buoy A8 in Kiel at 18.45, where she remained until 6 August.

At 18.05 on 6 August 1915 she cast off from buoy A8 and ran out into a light mist with the I AG, in accordance with Operational Order 5 of the Oberbefehlshaber der Ostseestreitkräfte (OdO, or Commander in Chief of the Baltic Forces) Prinz Heinrich von Preußen. The aim of the operation was to break in to the Riga Gulf, and the I AG would screen the operation from possible interference by Russian heavy forces. In a freshening northerly breeze the unit made a course SE and ESE across the Baltic and by 22.30 were travelling through strong rain squalls at 15kts. The following day the advance continued, screened by the IX TBF and III TBF. That afternoon there was rain with visibility down to 5nm. On 8 August, the day of the intended break-in to the Riga Gulf, the I AG held to seawards steering up and down on a zigzag course. Even though the attack was called off later on 8 August the I AG remained in position and on the morning of 10 August Kolberg and von der Tann bombarded the Russian advance base on the island of Üto. At 05.50 Seydlitz sighted a Russian armoured cruiser with four funnels. At 05.56 von der Tann was observed to open fire on the cruiser, Bayan, and then on the shore batteries. Then suddenly at 06.05 a torpedo boat standing abeam Moltke gave five short blasts with her siren, the signal for a submerged submarine in sight, and fired a white starshell. After the conclusion of the bombardment the I AG steered away to the south and from 08.00, when the I Squadron came in sight, the I AG steered on a zigzag course to Danzig Bay, general course SSW.

On 11 August Seydlitz and the I AG arrived in Putziger Wiek and anchored, and after coaling awaited the recommencement of the operation. Kapitän zur See Egidy was concerned that Putziger Wiek, in Danzig Bay, did not provide adequate protection against submarines. The operation got underway again on 15 August in accordance with Operational Order 7. As the I AG advanced the I TBF and V TBF provided an anti-submarine screen. On 16 August the Panzerkreuzers stood off the Riga Gulf cruising on a zigzag course, and at 10.15 it was thought a submarine had been observed through a rangefinder. Then again on 17 August at 08.55 it was believed a surfaced submarine was sighted at a range of 80hm and the starboard medium-calibre artillery fired a salvo at it. The submarine quickly dived.

The I AG continued to cruise off the Riga Gulf during 18–19 August, but at 07.20 on 19 August Seydlitz sighted a torpedo track to starboard and immediately gave the siren and flag signal for a submerged submarine in sight. The torpedo missed Seydlitz but continued on and struck Moltke in the bows. As Kontreadmiral Hipper had intended to begin the return trip to Putziger Wiek about noon anyway, he determined to commence the retirement early to ascertain the damage to Moltke before continuing his operation. At about 04.20 on 20 August the three Panzerkreuzers of the I AG anchored in Putziger Wiek and immediately began coaling. After investigation of her hull by divers Moltke was dispatched to Hamburg for repairs, but for Seydlitz and von der Tann the operation would continue. At 20.00 on that same day, 20 August, they weighed anchor and steered NE, escorted by torpedo boats. During 21 August Seydlitz again patrolled off the Riga Gulf, and at 19.00 the return passage to Kiel was begun at a speed of 18kts, later reduced to 15kts, and after dark to 12kts. The voyage to Kiel continued during 22 August and at 05.22 on 23 August Seydlitz made fast to buoy A8 in Kiel harbour. Seydlitz lay in Kiel harbour from 23–27 August and then at 03.55 on 28 August began the return trip to the North Sea, anchoring in Schillig Roads at 21.35 that evening. A period in harbour followed.

On 9 September Seydlitz ran out to Wilhelmshaven Roads and the following day conducted a sub-calibre shoot in Schillig Roads, followed by BAK shooting.

Just two days later, on 11 September at 2013, she and the I AG weighed anchor and put to sea in accordance with secret Operational Order 30, the support of the II AG minelaying operation on the Swarte Bank. On a starless night Seydlitz proceeded to the west behind a screen consisting of Rostock with torpedo boats G37 and G38, whilst to starboard were V28, V29 and S34, and to port V27, S32 and S33. At 05.35 the leader of the II AG reported task complete, so at 05.40 a turn was made back to the German Bight. During the return trip a lot of drifting mines were reported and torpedo boat G196 struck one, but was towed back to Wilhelmshaven. At 20.59 Seydlitz anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads. A period of picket duty and dockyard time followed and evolutions took place on 9 October.

In clear moonlight at 19.30 on 23 October Seydlitz weighed anchor and put to sea in the unit in accordance with Operational Order 31 18 TBHF formed an antisubmarine screen. The Panzerkreuzers continued to the north and then NW before at 06.00 on 24 October a turn was made to put them on a reciprocal course. At 08.53 it was reported that a British submarine had fired a torpedo at Hamburg, which had missed. A short time later, at 09.29, there was a torpedo attack on Rostock, and then twenty minutes later von der Tann reported a torpedo track to starboard. The torpedo attacks on Hamburg and Rostock were carried out by the submarine E6. The first torpedo, at 08.35, was fired from point-blank range from a beam tube, but passed under the cruiser. The next, at Rostock, was fired from 300yds range from the bow tube at 09.20. In his report the British commander said that he observed that the German cruisers had their aft funnels painted red, which, he said, made them appear like merchant ships. At 17.36 Seydlitz anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads.

The remainder of October and November 1915 were occupied with the usual picket duty, gunnery practice, BAK shooting at airborne targets and periods in the dockyard. At 04.15 on 24 November Seydlitz began a journey to the Baltic and arrived at buoy A11 in Kiel at 16.53 that afternoon. A period of training followed, employing the various arms and including night shooting and trials with starshells. At 08.00 on 4 December she cast off from buoy A11 and ran into the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal for the return journey to the North Sea and made fast in the north lock of Brunsbüttel at 19.35. As Seydlitz ran out of this lock at 20.26 she ran onto a torpedo protection net which had not been opened for her to pass. The Panzerkreuzer immediately anchored with her stern anchor, but was stuck fast on Dalben Bank. Four tugs came to her assistance. After that divers found that a starboard propeller was entangled in the net which had to be cut clear. Seydlitz did not arrive in Wilhelmshaven Roads until 05.14 on 6 December 1915. On 9 December she went into the floating dock at Wilhelmshaven for inspection of the propeller, but no damage was found. The remainder of December was taken up with picket duty and some dockyard time a short advance was, however, made to Amrum Bank with the I AG on 30 December.

The year of 1916 began in much the same way as 1915 finished, with more picket duty and dockyard time, accompanied by a period of poor weather. On 17 January evolutions were undertaken in the German Bight. On 11 February at 01.20 Seydlitz and the I AG put to sea to support the II TBF, which was embroiled with British forces, returning at 13.35. A short trip into the Helgoland Bight followed on 28 February.

At 23.30 on 3 March Seydlitz led the I AG, IV AG and I Squadron out to Amrum Bank to welcome home the auxiliary cruiser Möve and at 06.00 on 4 March she was met off Horns Reef. At 15.25 Seydlitz again anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads. At 20.30 on 5 March she weighed anchor and steered to the west for an operation into the Hoofden. Half an hour later there was a short snowstorm, and then conditions cleared. At dawn the IX TBF went ahead as anti-submarine cover, with the II AG and IV TBF ahead of them. By 09.55 on 6 March the German cruisers had reached a position between Norfolk and Holland where they made a turn and towards 13.30 sighted the main body of the High Sea Fleet. There was no enemy contact, just numerous neutral, probably Dutch, trawlers. On 7 March at 09.10 an enemy submarine was sighted to port at a range of 500m and Seydlitz turned away at 18kts. That afternoon Seydlitz ran into Wilhelmshaven imperial dockyard.

On 17 March at 14.06 Seydlitz weighed anchor and began the trip to the Elbe, but was delayed en route because of fog. Only on the following day at 11.17 did she make fast in Brunsbüttel locks. Likewise the canal journey was delayed by fog and only at 11.45 on 19 March did she make fast to buoy A15 in Kiel harbour. A period of training followed and it is of particular interest that the emphasis seemed to be on calibre shooting and night calibre shooting. During this visit to Kiel the new Panzerkreuzer Lützow joined the I AG for the first time. Training continued until 24 March when the return to the North Sea began, arriving at Wilhelmshaven Roads at 08.40, 25 March. That same day Seydlitz interrupted her coaling and ran out into the North Sea as British destroyer forces and fliers had been reported from List. Seydlitz steered to the Amrum Bank passage, but owing to the strong swell, utilisation of the weapons was problematic. At 09.15 on 26 March a diving submarine was sighted 800m to port and the ship turned away to starboard. At 21.00 that night Seydlitz anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads before later entering the dockyard early the following morning. On 29 March the ship entered the floating dock for planned overhaul work. This work continued until 14 April.

On 16 April 1916 Seydlitz made a brief advance in the unit before returning to Schillig Roads at 09.10. On 20 April information arrived that a British force had put to sea and was heading towards Horns Reef, and Vizeadmiral Scheer, believing it to be an expected attack on Tondern airship base, dispatched forces including Seydlitz, to sea to intercept the British. As Seydlitz, Lützow and von der Tann advanced early on the morning of 22 April the small cruiser Graudenz ran onto a mine at 00.30. At 05.20 V44 reported a submarine to port abeam and Seydlitz turned away to starboard. At 14.00 Seydlitz anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads and began coaling.

The next large-scale operation was the bombardment of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft beginning on 24 April 1916. At 07.30 that day Seydlitz weighed anchor and moved from Wilhelmshaven to Schillig Roads. A conference of cruiser commanders followed at 08.45. As Vizeadmiral Hipper was on sick leave from 29 March until 15 May, Kontreadmiral Boedicker, normally commander of the II AG, was in command of the I AG. At 10.50 Seydlitz weighed anchor and the I AG ran out and steered to the west, screened by the IX TBF, and with the II AG ahead. Even though the I AG circumvented the known British minefields, at 15.48 Seydlitz struck a mine in grid square 104 epsilon, right upper. The detonation occurred on the starboard side between frames 130 and 140. The forecastle compartments XIV–XVI below the armoured deck filled with water. A mine-indicator buoy was cast overboard and the remainder of the I AG made a turn and ran east of the mine barrier located to the south. Seydlitz steered to the west of the barrier and, because an enemy submarine was believed to have been sighted, turned away to port. Later, there was another submarine alarm, though uncertain. The torpedo boats V69 and V45 were dispatched to Seydlitz from the II AG, so that by 17.15 her screen consisted of these two boats together with V28. At 18.50 a drifting mine was sighted to starboard. Only at 19.25 did Kontreadmiral Boedicker transfer to V28 to go to Lützow to continue the operation, and after passing the Britishmined area to the west, Seydlitz made for the east towards the river Ems. At 22.30 she encountered the westward-going main body and exchanged recognition signals with the leading ship, König. At 06.05 on 25 April the damaged Panzerkreuzer ran into the northern lock of the III Entrance and at 07.10 made fast at berth A4. The following day, 26 April, she moved to the floating dock for repairs.

SMS Seydlitz – Operational History I

In April 1913 Seydlitz was delivered to Kiel by a dockyard crew. On 22 May the cruiser was put into service and began trials. The crew of Seydlitz came for the most part from the armoured cruiser Yorck, and was augmented from elsewhere. It is recorded that at first there were some disruptive and unco-operative men, but these were weeded out by the Yorck crewmen, and soon Seydlitz was considered a ‘happy ship’.

The trials were interrupted when in June the Kaiser ordered Seydlitz to Kiel to participate in Kiel Week. On 29 June he visited the ship, and on 3 July King Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy, also visited. After the regatta was over Seydlitz resumed trials, but on 26 July briefly grounded near Friedrichsort lighthouse in fog. Trials concluded on 17 August and on 31 August the Panzerkreuzer joined the assembled High Sea Fleet near Helgoland and immediately went on manoeuvres, which concluded on 9 September. Seydlitz participated in further training with the Unit of Reconnaissance Ships for the remainder of 1913.

Training continued in 1914 and at the end of March the spring manoeuvres took place in the North Sea, followed by fleet manoeuvres in the Baltic and North Sea in April and May. Kiel Week 1914 followed in June and on 23 June the BdA, Kontreadmiral Franz Hipper, transferred his flag from Moltke to Seydlitz. With a few brief interruptions, Seydlitz served as flagship until 26 October 1917. A letter dated 1 July 1914 names Seydlitz as one of the ships being considered to visit America for the opening of the Panama Canal, along with Derfflinger and Karlsruhe, and perhaps also Graudenz. After the opening ceremonies the squadron would visit San Francisco.

On 13 July 1914 the last peacetime exercises of the High Sea Fleet began and after the combined North Sea and Baltic forces rendezvoused in the area of Skagen the exercises took place. On 25 July Seydlitz ran into Sognefjord, Norway, where she coaled. However, the very next day, 26 July, Seydlitz departed the fjord and on 27 July rendezvoused with the fleet off Cape Skadenes before returning to her home port of Wilhelmshaven. The reason for the premature return home was the imminent danger of war.

On the evening of 1 August 1914, as Seydlitz lay in Wilhelmshaven Roads, the order came for mobilisation the following day, and the anti-torpedo nets were set and a war watch was posted. With the outbreak of war the reconnaissance forces were divided into groups, the Große Kreuzer being formed into the I AG, or I Reconnaissance Group, with Seydlitz as flagship. On 17 August the I AG put to sea for evolutions during the morning and calibre shooting in the afternoon however, at 14.15 a submarine alarm was raised and the practice was broken off. The alarm proved false and the calibre shoot was resumed before Seydlitz and the I AG returned to the Jade.

On 18 August steam was raised in all the boilers in readiness to put to sea, should support for Straßburg and Stralsund be necessary during their sortie into the English Channel. That evening Seydlitz went into the dockyard before returning to Schillig Roads on 21 August. On the morning of 28 August 1914, as Seydlitz lay in Wilhelmshaven Roads, a wireless report arrived at 08.50 about the penetration of enemy forces into the Helgoland Bight. At 09.00 a message was sent to the BdA by the Flottenchef for the Große Kreuzer to immediately raise steam however, because the port main condenser was being retubed, only the starboard engine was clear. At 13.15 a wireless message arrived from the small cruiser Mainz, which said: ‘Am chased by enemy battlecruisers.’ With that Seydlitz weighed anchor and steered down the Jade at a speed of 20kts. At 15.30 the port engine was again working. At 16.10 Seydlitz joined the other cruisers – Moltke, von der Tann, Stralsund, Straßburg and Danzig – and ordered an advance to the NW. Nothing was seen of athe enemy, so at 16.55 a turn was made and the cruisers ran back into the Jade. The following day Seydlitz entered the harbour.

After leaving the harbour on 1 September, Seydlitz resumed picket duty in Schillig Roads before fleet manoeuvres were conducted on 12 September. An interesting phenomenon was discovered when, on 17 September, with the torpedo nets deployed, the added resistance to the tide caused the ship to drag its anchor, so that the nets had to be recovered. On 24 September it was reported that British forces had entered ‘the Belt’ and would break into the Baltic, and so at 00.30 on 25 September the I AG was ordered into harbour to prepare for the canal trip to the Baltic. These preparations consisted of lightening ship by removing coal and water to reduce the draught. At this stage of the war the ships were required to have a draught of just 8.5m for the canal trip, and this was increased to 8.8m in November as the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal was continually being dredged. However, at 02.30 preparations for the canal trip were broken off on the orders of the Flottenchef of the High Sea Fleet and the coal stocks were reloaded.

At 08.00 on 16 October 1914 Seydlitz ran out of harbour to Wilhelmshaven Roads to resume picket duty, when some noises became apparent in the starboard low-pressure turbine, which suggested turbine blade damage. So at 11.30 anchor was weighed and Seydlitz undertook a trial trip to Schillig Roads and back during which a considerable noise was heard coming from the starboard low-pressure turbine, necessitating opening it for an inspection. At 01.00 on 18 October the cruiser made fast in the construction harbour of the imperial dockyard and opening the turbine began. By 23.00 the turbine was open and it could be seen that in one series of turbine blades seventeen were bent, but otherwise there was little damage. Repairs were carried out and on 21 October work began on closing the turbine, however it was not until 27 October that the engines were again operational.

On 30 October exercises were undertaken in Schillig Roads, followed on 2 November by execution of War Task 19, the bombardment of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft. At 16.40 Seydlitz weighed anchor and steered down the Jade before taking a course north into the North Sea at 21kts on a night with poor visibility of just 1–3nm and a full moon that was partly hidden by clouds. During the night a number of trawlers were passed and at 06.12 on the morning of 3 November speed was reduced to 15kts before at 07.30 Smith’s Knoll buoy was sighted and passed. Steering between sandbanks, the German cruisers approached the coast and at 08.00 the torpedo-gunboat Halcyon came in sight to the SSW. At 08.17 Seydlitz opened fire on this ship with her medium-calibre artillery at 98–120hm range. Then three minutes later the heavy artillery opened fire on Great Yarmouth at a range of 130–150hm, before at 08.25 both heavy and medium artillery concentrated fire on Halcyon and several straddling salvos were observed. However, soon afterwards fire was ceased and Seydlitz set off away to the east at 21kts. At 09.00 the course was changed to ENE, and at 09.50 a smoke cloud was sighted, which came from a light cruiser with three funnels that made off to the east at high speed. At 10.30 Seydlitz increased speed to 23kts but at 11.30 reduced to 22kts and then at 12.40 to 20kts.

There were no further significant events, and just after midnight on 4 November the German cruisers anchored in the outer Jade, as there was fog and visibility was very poor. Only at 16.30 did the weather clear and the units could weigh anchor and steer up the Jade, Seydlitz anchoring in Schillig Roads at 17.30. Kapitän zur See Egidy commented that travelling without making smoke was impossible at more than 21kts, and for extended periods was only possible at speeds of 15kts or less.

On 6 November Seydlitz ran into Wilhelmshaven harbour and made fast to berth B7 in the construction harbour to change the left barrel of turret C, which had been damaged by a barrel explosion during the bombardment of 3 November. The barrel change was only completed on 10 November, and that afternoon Seydlitz ran out into Wilhelmshaven Roads.

On 15 November the Panzerkreuzer Derfflinger was deployed to the I AG, and so on 20 November the unit put out into the North Sea for a short advance to the NW for the reception of Derfflinger into the unit, followed by evolutions and torpedo-firing exercises, then further evolutions. At 16.15 two wireless messages arrived, one after the other, about the sighting of two enemy submarines nearby in grid squares 157 epsilon and 144 epsilon. The submarine concerned was the British E11. At 17.00 Seydlitz sighted a dark object on the horizon, which approached slowly – seemingly the conning tower of a submarine. The small cruiser Straßburg and the V TBF were ordered to push ahead and clear a path for the I AG back to the Jade River. That evening at 22.30 Seydlitz anchored in Schillig Roads without further alarm.

A period of picket duty followed, apart from an abortive advance into the German Bight on 9 December. The next major operation was the conduct of War Task 20, the bombardment of Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool. At 03.00 on 15 December the I AG weighed anchor and ran down the Jade into the North Sea. The wind was from the south at force 2, there was a slight swell and visibility was just 2–3nm. The unit made a course north at 15kts and later turned to NW by N. During the day there was some mist and rain, and in the evening course was taken WSW and then W by S. By 06.00 on the morning of 16 December the wind had freshened to NW force 4–5 and the swell had increased to Swell Strength 4. At 07.00 Straßburg reported that there was a heavy swell inshore and the small cruisers could no longer maintain their course, so Straßburg, Stralsund and Graudenz, with two Flottillen, were detached back to the main body. At 07.40 the I AG divided into two groups, Seydlitz, Moltke and Blücher going north to bombard Hartlepool, and von der Tann, Derfflinger and Kolberg going south to bombard Scarborough and Whitby, with the small cruiser to lay mines. As Seydlitz steered north at 20kts the Salt Scar buoy came in sight. Along the coast was steamer traffic while to seawards some trawlers could be seen. At Hartlepool the watch station and the harbour entrance lighthouse both made a recognition signal, and then at 0905 four destroyers came into view in the N by W. Six minutes later fire was opened on them. A short time later, at 09.26, fire was opened on the Cemetery Battery. In the harbour a light cruiser could be seen but could not be taken under fire because of poor visibility. At approximately 09.45 Seydlitz was hit by three shells, one in the forecastle, one on the forward funnel and one on the forward edge of the aft ventilator and at 09.46 she ceased fire and, after the other two cruisers assembled by her, course was taken ESE at 23kts to rendezvous with von der Tann and Derfflinger. At 10.30 the rendezvous was made and the German unit shaped course back to the German Bight however, at 12.00 Stralsund reported an enemy main body in sight and that they were being pursued. Seydlitz and the I AG steered towards the reported enemy and the order was given: ‘Clear ship for battle!’ The British forces were reported as the II and IV Battle Squadrons. At 13.30 speed had to be reduced to 21kts because Kolberg could not maintain any higher speed in the heavy swell. Then at 13.45 Stralsund reported that the enemy was out of sight and so the Panzerkreuzer took a course north, so as to avoid the enemy battle squadron.

During the night Seydlitz and the I AG steamed back across the North Sea and passed to the east of Helgoland enroute to the Jade. At 09.30 on 17 December 1914 Seydlitz anchored in Wilhelmshaven Roads. The following day she went into the dockyard.

The Battle of the Dogger Bank

Towards 18.00 on 23 January Seydlitz weighed anchor and steered down the Jade and out past War Light Vessel A on the Jade. During the night the Panzerkreuzers of the I AG steered towards the Dogger Bank and their next meeting with the enemy. There was good visibility during the night though the heavens were covered as the I AG, under the command of Kontreadmiral Franz Hipper, ran on at 13kts, their most economical speed.

As it was becoming light, on the morning of 24 January 1915, Seydlitz received a signal from Kolberg that several enemy ships were in sight, and the thunder of gunfire was heard to the west. At 08.19 the I AG turned west and increased speed, before at 08.29 resuming their previous course of WNW. Just three minutes later, at 08.29, Seydlitz swung onto course SE and went to ‘utmost power’ at a speed of 23kts, but then reduced to 15kts to allow the small cruisers to position themselves ahead of the main body. By 08.40 Seydlitz was running at 20kts, but reduced to 18kts at 08.43, then increased again to 23kts at 09.00. At 09.25 Blücher reported seven light cruisers and twenty-six destroyers in his sight aft, with further smoke clouds behind them. At 09.55 the order was given aboard Seydlitz to ‘clear ship for battle’, as astern to starboard, in the WNW, five large ships with tripod masts could be made out, although their type was not identified. The forwardmost had opened fire with slow deliberate shots. At 09.58 Blücher reported five enemy battlecruisers and at 10.08 Derfflinger was able to open fire. At 10.10 the order to open fire was given, but nevertheless only Derfflinger could comply. The British cruisers were also veiled in smoke as the Germans lay to windward and most of the time only the leading British ship was visible. Finally, at 10.19 Seydlitz was also able to join in the firing. At 10.25 she received her first hit, on the forecastle. Seydlitz continued to steer SE by E with 255 revolutions. Then suddenly, at 10.43, she received a hit with fateful consequences: a shell apparently fired from Lion struck the barbette of D turret. The 13.5in shell passed through the Batterie deck and struck the 230mm-thick D turret barbette, where it detonated. A red-hot piece of barbette armour was broken off and was thrown into the working chamber, where it set fire to main and fore charges there. No enemy shell parts were found in the working chamber. Flash flames shot upwards into the turret and downwards through the elevator shafts, setting fire to cartridges in the turret and on the handling room turntable and in the elevator room. Only the cartridge containers with their lids still on did not burn.

With the first penetration of flash flames and poisonous gases from burning cartridge cases, the crew of the handling room of D turret sought to save themselves by exiting their room and escaping into the corresponding room of C turret. To do this they had to pass through double doors, the first of which opened to aft, the second forwards. Investigation later showed that the second door was carried away, as though by the pressure of the gases. With the opening of these doors flash flames passed into the cartridge hoist room (handling room) of C turret, and the deadly events were repeated. In just a few seconds 6,000kg of powder burnt, totally burning out turrets C and D and sending flames mast-high. Sixty-two powder charges, including those in munitions chamber 29, had completely burnt.

In the two turrets a total of 165 men eventually lost their lives. The medical report read:

One part of the turrets’ crews were burned by the flash flame for the greater part the corpses were in the position in which death had surprised them. Individual corpses were completely burned. Another part of the turret crew had succumbed to gas inhalation.

Five were wounded with burns – three from turret C and two from turret D – and could be saved. One of them, a sailor, had first- and second-degree burns to his entire body and succumbed to his injuries on the same afternoon onboard. Of the remaining four, two, a stoker and a sailor, had first- and second-degree burns to their whole bodies the other two were a Maschinistenmaat [machinist mate], with first- and second-degree burns to both hands, and a sailor, with light burns to the face and body.

The sailor, Matrose Ernst König, was a loading number of the left barrel of turret Cäsar (turret C). He wrote:

Now we loading numbers went at it, beginning with the shell. Push – jerk! It went into the barrel under our exertions. The cartridge followed. The same! Four gasps – a jerk! Breechblock closed tight.

Suddenly there was a crash, almost like a concussion. What was that? We looked at each other. For a fraction of a second we listened. That was no concussion there was a hissing near us.

In the next moment a great flash flame climbed high in the middle of the turret. The turret leader and order transmitter were enveloped by the glowing flames at the same moment … Then a second, still larger flash struck up under me directly from the entry hole to the reloading chamber (working chamber) and hit me in the face. I fell backwards. The entire turret was engulfed in bright flames at the same moment. An invisible force pushed me. Luckily I was propelled to where the entry hole was … I allowed myself to fall out.

The I Artillerie Offizier, Korvettenkapitän Richard Foerster, later wrote:

On this occasion turrets C and D did not respond. It became clear that we were dealing with a powder fire in these turrets and their munition chambers, or magazines. Therefore I first gave the command to flood compartment III, which was the compartment that both these turrets and their magazines were located in, thus flooding the lower part of the ship … I looked aft towards turrets C and D. It was an electrifying sight, the aft part of the ship was enveloped in a blue-red flash flame, that reached to the height of the mast tops. The munition chambers of both turrets were therefore enveloped in flame, and it could only be seconds before the entire ship would be engulfed and explode. … It only remained for us to shoot as quickly as possible to perhaps achieve something in the last moments. So, I gave the command for rapid fire, and so either a heavy or medium salvo was discharged from the guns every ten seconds.

In the ‘leak central’, or damage-control centre, news of the catastrophic hit reached the I Offizier, Korvetten-kapitän Hagedorn. Together with Pumpenmeister Wilhelm Heidkamp and Feuerwerker Müller he went aft to compartment III where the flooding valves for the aft turret group magazines were located. Pumpenmeister Heidkamp was first to enter compartment III. The heat was intense, and the smoke and poison gases were choking, so that his uniform, hair and eyebrows were singed. The blinding gases made finding the valves almost impossible because flashlights could not penetrate the thick smoke, but Pumpenmeister Heidkamp knew their location from memory as he had been assigned to the Blohm & Voss shipyard during construction of the Panzerkreuzer. When he finally reached the valves he found that they were glowing red-hot, but selflessly he grasped the first valve’s steel operating wheel and turned it, then went to work on the second wheel before he had to be replaced by Feuerwerker Müller, who completed the task. Pumpenmeister Heidkamp suffered bad burns to his hands, right to the bone, and his lungs were injured by the hot, poisonous gases. Nevertheless, the aft magazine chambers were flooded and the ship was saved from probable destruction.

Likewise the rudder rooms filled with toxic smoke and had to be evacuated despite the use of breathing equipment.

At 11.17 Seydlitz received one further heavy-calibre hit, which struck amidships but did not penetrate the armoured belt. At 11.32 the upper rudder room was again occupied, followed at 11.50 by the lower rudder room. In the mean-time, at 11.44 the leading British ship, Lion, was observed to have turned away. At 11.51 Kontreadmiral Hipper ordered his torpedo boats to attack, but almost at the same time the British battlecruisers turned to port to the north in the direction of Blücher, and any chance of a successful torpedo attack was lost. At 12.00 the German line turned to starboard, so that there was the chance of a circular battle, but by 12.09 fire was ceased by both sides and the I AG took off to the ESE at 23kts. With that the battle was concluded and at 19.28 that evening Seydlitz entered the northern lock of the III Entrance at Wilhelmshaven. At 01.25 on 25 January 1915 Seydlitz cast off and later made fast at berth G1 of the imperial dockyard for repairs to the battle damage, remaining there until 1 April 1915.

Hit three was actually the first in chronological sequence and struck at 10.25 on the forecastle. Details of this hit are not available, but it was reported that the damage was slight.

The Enduring Mystique of Cannae

In February 1914, as his son prepared for the War Acade­my entrance examination, General Helmuth von Moltke (the younger) sent him a book and a word of advice: Study Cannae. The book was not an eyewitness account of the battle (though Hannibal’s own narrative was thought to exist) rather, it was the high­ly regarded masterwork of General Alfred von Schlieffen, the former chief of the Ger­man general staff.

Schlieffen’s studies of en­circlement battles had led to his “Cannae concept,” the idea that envelopment and annihilation are the highest aims in battle, and subse­quently to the Schlieffen Plan, the basis for German strategic doctrine on the eve of World War I.

But why Cannae? Why had a battle fought in antiquity fired Schlieffen’s imagination? The answer lies in the romance of Cannae, in the history of the German army, and in the experiences of Alfred von Schlieffen.

Hannibal’s victory over Rome is the stuff of legend. There is the leader: a young man marked by brilliance. There is the foe: a superior army motivated by crisis. There is the tactic: a double envelopment choreographed to perfection. Finally, there is the result: total annihilation. This is the sequence that ap­pealed to Schlieffen (as it has to military leaders through the ages) and it was particu­larly appealing because it of­fered, in a single afternoon, a model for German military experience.

Frederick the Great of Prussia (1712-86), the em­bodiment of that experience, was a man of Hannibalic dar­ing. More to the point, his tactics resembled the Cartha­ginian’s–tactics that, more than anything, gave structure to the Cannae concept.

Frederick often coupled as­tonishing speed with the oblique order, a staggered ad­vance that placed the extrem­ities of his wings at the most forward positions. The ma­neuver is best illustrated by the Battle of Leuthen, in December 1757. It resembled Cannae in that Frederick, outnumbered, drew the Aus­trians forward and then launched a flank assault, ulti­mately inflicting eight times as many casualties as he suffered. He won with envelop­ment, not Cannae-like double envelopment, but Leuthen and other victories still sup­ported the Cannae concept.

The next pillar for Schlief­fen’s ideas was erected by the elder Helmuth von Moltke. With Frederick’s spirit, Napo­leon’s example, and industrial Prussia’s resources, Moltke conceived of war on an unprecedented scale. His doc­trine, strategic envelopment, combined rapid mobilization, concentrated force, and re­lentless mobility to encircle and annihilate the enemy.

Strategic envelopment bore fruit at Koniggratz in July 1866, when a ponderous Aus­trian unified command was beset by three smaller, more mobile Prussian armies. Ma­neuver was impossible for the quarter-million Austrians–as it was for the Roman mani­ples at Cannae–and the war ended before (experience said) it should have begun.

Four years later, against the French at Sedan, Moltke repeated his success. But whereas the double envelop­ment at Koniggratz was reminiscent of Cannae, Sedan was a greater achievement–a Cannae-like encirclement, a victory that the official Ger­man history called “unprece­dented.” Of course, its precedent was Cannae. And in du­plicating Hannibal’s victory so thoroughly, Moltke’s doctrine became the irrefutable truth of the German general staff Schlieffen couldn’t help but be impressed. As a cadet he had studied Frederick. As an officer he had witnessed Ko­niggratz. And in 1900, nine years after becoming chief of the general staff, he read his­torian Hans Delbrück’s ac­count of the Battle of Cannae. It was Delbrück who thought he had discovered Hannibal’s personal account of the battle–embedded in the narrative of the Greek his­torian Polybius. “I have no doubt,” he wrote, “that….we are holding in our hand, in the account of his greatest victory, a direct expression of the mind of this hero….” Delbrück argued that Cannae was the watershed battle of ancient history, not because of Hannibal ‘s victory but because of Rome’s defeat: It was so catastrophic that Rome changed her military struc­ture–and conquered the world. Delbrück claimed that Hannibal’s success was due entirely to the cavalry attack from behind that the infan­try’s double envelopment served as a sort of caldron, containing the Romans while the cavalry exerted pressure.

When Schlieffen read this, he ordered the general staffs history section to prove that Cannae was the prototypical Western battle–and then he set about duplicating it. He had already developed a plan for an offensive against France in a vast wheeling ma­neuver through Belgium. But Cannae gave him new confi­dence in his plan, and he set down its specifics as though they were the “direct expres­sion” of Hannibal’s mind.

In 1910, at the War Acade­my ‘s centennial, an aged Schlieffen announced: “In front of every…commander lies a book [on] military his­tory…. [In it] one finds the heartwarming reality, the knowledge of how everything has happened, how it must happen, and how it will hap­pen again.”

The Schlieffen Plan called for the German army to focus everything on a northern sweep so broad that it took in Paris. The French would be rolled up from behind, like the Romans at Cannae.

But important features of Cannae were absent. Missing was the shock of the double envelopment. Although Del­brück had regarded the infantry as a simple barrier, he had not denied that the enormity of Hannibal’s victory was due to multiple shocks. Yet Schlieffen understood him to mean that any obstacle, be it a river or a neutral country, could replace the infantry en­velopment. Also missing, of course, was Hannibal, Del­brück’s heroic figure, re­placed by a timetable. Can­nae’s single afternoon had stretched to a grueling month its contained field to exhausting distances its bold risks to foolhardy gambles. Hannibal had not had to con­sider lunch, or railroads, or the Belgian border. MHQ

This article originally appeared in the Summer 1990 issue (Vol. 2, No. 4) of MHQ—The Quarterly Journal of Military History with the headline: The Enduring Mystique of Cannae

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