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Jutland, battle of

Jutland, battle of, only major engagement between the British and German fleets in World War I. They met c.60 mi (100 km) west of the coast of Jutland. On May 31, 1916, a British squadron under Admiral Beatty was scouting in advance of the British main fleet, in search of the German main fleet under Admiral Scheer. Instead, Beatty encountered a German scouting force under Admiral Hipper. They exchanged fire and Beatty lost two ships. Hipper turned to join Scheer's force, and Beatty pursued, but when Beatty saw the main German fleet, he retired to join the British fleet under Admiral Jellicoe. Scheer followed and the two main fleets engaged in battle. Although outnumbered in the ensuing engagement, the Germans displayed brilliant naval tactics, and the encounter ended only when fog and darkness permitted escape to their home base. The heavy losses of the British navy caused one of the great controversies of the war. The British won strategically, but lost tactically. It was Britain's one chance to engage the enemy directly. The German high seas fleet never sailed again; the following year the Germans resorted to unrestricted submarine warfare. In Germany it is called the Battle of the Skagerrak.

See studies by H. H. Frost (1934, repr. 1970), D. Macintyre (1958), and J. J. C. Irving (1966).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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