Jutland: Damage to HMS Spitfire

#1
It is wellknown, that Spitfire collided with the Imperial battleship NASSAU in the night fight, with severe damage done to both ships. I am interested in detailed information as well as pics made of the damaged ships.

Cheers
Lt.
 
#3
Thank you, Soleil,
but the information of english wikipedia was of course easy to obtain for me, before I asked here.
In a German forum there is a discussion on, wether the damage done to SMS NASSAU was only caused by the collision (majority´s opinion and in line with the literature), or if there was an explosion above waterline of one of SPITFIRE´s torpedo warheads involved (minority´s opinion, bolstered by some claimed accounts of petty officers of NASSAU).

So you can tell, which sort of information would help me....
 
#4
I'd imagine that short of personal accounts from crew members of said ships, there will be few photographs or official type documents floating around after such a long while. Still, maybe Kew and the National Archives might be of use to you as HMS Spitfires ships log for the day might still exist.

I suspect that apart from those things above there is little in the public domain to be found. Having spent half hour looking in every place I can think of. If anything else springs to mind Il post it

Although I do recall reading an account of the battle that mentioned Nassau firing her main armament while the two vessels were together and that considerable damage from the blast was done to the destroyer despite the guns not being able to lower enough to actually hit HMS Spitfire. Its likely however the destroyers own main armament would easily have been able to engage and likely that they did so, causing structural damage of an explosive nature even if not significant
 
#5
Leutnant_Werner said:
Thank you, Soleil,
but the information of english wikipedia was of course easy to obtain for me, before I asked here.
In a German forum there is a discussion on, wether the damage done to SMS NASSAU was only caused by the collision (majority´s opinion and in line with the literature), or if there was an explosion above waterline of one of SPITFIRE´s torpedo warheads involved (minority´s opinion, bolstered by some claimed accounts of petty officers of NASSAU).

So you can tell, which sort of information would help me....
LW

Yes, sorry about that - I didn't think in depth about it before I wrote my reply.

There may be something on the subject in the National Archives. I put in HMS Spitfire and found this but there may be other material:

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATLN=6&CATID=6003658&j=1

Also suggest the Royal Naval Museum:

http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/research_info.htm

and the Naval Historical Branch:

Naval Historical Branch
Admiralty Library
Naval Historical Branch
No 24 Store (pp 20)
Main Road
HM Naval Base Portsmouth
PO1 3LU

Tel: 023 92 724327 or 725300
Fax: 023 92 724003
 
#7
No Ships logs for SPITFIRE for period May 23 - July 31 1916 at the National Archive under ADM 53.Possibly lost, or more likely squirreled away by an interested party.
 

sweetpea

Lantern Swinger
#8
There doesn't appear to be very much listed online regarding the incident between SMS NASSAU and HMS SPITFIRE.

I would be inclined to post a request for further information on the Great War Forum in the Ships and Navies thread.

Link: http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?act=idx

The book, The Grand Fleet, 1914-1916 by Admiral Viscount Jellicoe is available to read online, however, having had a quick scan through the book I think that HMS Spitfire only receives a brief mention on page 375. :roll:

Link: http://openlibrary.org/books/OL13575114M/The_grand_fleet_1914-1916

I will contact a colleague who works at the Imperial War Museum - he might be able to help. :)

SP.
 
#9
Leutnant_Werner said:
Thank you, Soleil,
but the information of english wikipedia was of course easy to obtain for me, before I asked here.
In a German forum there is a discussion on, wether the damage done to SMS NASSAU was only caused by the collision (majority´s opinion and in line with the literature), or if there was an explosion above waterline of one of SPITFIRE´s torpedo warheads involved (minority´s opinion, bolstered by some claimed accounts of petty officers of NASSAU).

So you can tell, which sort of information would help me....
I would imagine that this is the German forum in question:

http://forum-marinearchiv.de/smf/index.php?topic=13571.0
 
#10
I love these kind of threads, even if the OP never reaches their aim. Just love rooting out hidden or lost details and finding out the facts.

Always a fascinating read
 

sweetpea

Lantern Swinger
#11
Accounts of the incident can be found in the following Fawcett & Hooper book, The Fighting At Jutland (1921) pp.340/ Andrew Gordon, Rules Of The Game, pp. 481-3.
Info courtesy of Dr. Sam Willis, Naval and maritime historian, author and friend :)

Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of either book. :roll:

Edited to add: The Fighting At Jutland is available to read online.

Link: http://www.archive.org/stream/fightingatjutlan00fawcuoft#page/n7/mode/2up

SP.
 
#12
This wouldnt happen to be the same S. Willis of Admiral Benbow and Fighting Temaraire fame would it? If so then wow. His books are fantastic and I am eagerly awaiting release of the 3rd in the trilogy, The Glorious 1st of June. Well researched and presented books indeedy. Added a new perspective to less known but vital (in my opinion) elements of our national maritime heritage
 
#14
Just as a sorta aside, my Grandfather was at Jutland. He was a purser. His diary is still in the family. On that date there is but one entry. "Visibility bad. Are we firing on our own ships?"

Tone
 
#16
Since the German forum referenced in posting #9 contains a suggestion (in its posting #1) that it was not HMS Spitfire, but some other destroyer, that collided with SMS Nassau, I'd like to mention the following:

* SPITFIRE's Torpedo Gunner at Jutland (Warrant Officer Philip White) confirmed to me around New Year of 1971 that much of SPITFIRE's bridge had been torn off in a collision with a German ship, which was described as a "battlecruiser" in the WW1 history book I had at the time.

* As I'm sure is well known, damage to SPITFIRE is shown in two photographs in "The Fighting at Jutland", ed. Fawcett & Hooper, and one is online at File:HMSSpitfireJutlanddamage.jpg - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

* With regard to posting #7 that "No Ships logs for SPITFIRE for period May 23 - July 31 1916 at the National Archive under ADM 53",
the Dispatch "SPITFIRE'S REPORT OF 4th JUNE" (1916) from the Captain, Lt-Cdr Trelawny, to the Admiralty states "The charts, notebooks, &c., in use at the time were unfortunately lost or destroyed... " and that after the collision "... I considered it advisable to throw overboard the steel chest and despatch box of confidential and secret books."
It seems likely the logs didn't return from Jutland.

* The same Dispatch from Lt-Cdr Trelawny describes the 20 feet of side plating from the German ship left on SPITFIRE's forecastle: "The plating was an upper strake, the top part having part of the gutter way and deck plating adhering to it, and the lower part had some side scuttle holes. By the thickness of the coat's paint (3/32-in.) she would not appear to have been a very new ship."
Is it known if NASSAU was missing this?

* SPITFIRE may have had one torpedo on board at the time of the collision. Two of the three torpedos were fired at the start of the engagement, and Lt-Cdr Trelawny reported that while reloading "Unfortunately the torpedo davit was struck in three places and the gunner, T.G.M. and L.T.O. all wounded, which prevented the last torpedo being got into its tube."

* The above quoted Dispatch may be found at Battle of Jutland, 30th May to 1st June, 1916. Official dispatches with appendixes : Great Britain. Admiralty : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive on pages 328-330 of "Battle of Jutland, 30th May to 1st June, 1916. Official dispatches with appendixes (1920)"
 
#17
The online archives of the Naval Review contain several accounts of the Battle of Jutland including the German Staff History Parts I, II, III and IV. This is from Part III (NR Vol 14 (1926) No 4 starting at page 719) but it may be profitable to search for articles about Jutland in other issues (all pdf files):

Naval Review said:
...The Garland attempted to go alongside the burning ship but was driven off by a very heavy fire. The Ambuscade fired two torpedoes, the destroyers behind her also attacked and while the Unity lost touch, gaps could be seen by the Germans in the hitherto closed up line. The British flotilla had run, not into the screen, but right into the German battle fleet, and was presented with such an opportunity for attack as never on any night of battle has been granted to a German boat. But with all their courage the British destroyers showed themselves tactically not to the situation, and their repulse presented no difficulty to those prepared for it by long schooling in times of peace.

The very first salvo of the Westfalen fired at 11.30 p.m. swept away the bow gun and bridge of the Tipperary. The Westfalen immediately turned eight points to starboard away from the torpedoes and in five minutes overwhelmed the destroyer at 1,900 yards with a shattering fire of 92 5.9 in. shell and 45 3.4 inch. The Nassau, Rheinland, Rostock, Elbing and Hamburg joined in, while the Stuttgart contented herself with training her searchlight and spotting the salvoes. The Tipperary defended herself with commendable spirit. Wrapt in flames, soaring up from the easily inflammable light oil of British ships, with cartridges exploding and hit after hit crashing into her, her stern gun fought to the last man. The Spitfire dashed up and to help her opened fire on the German searchlights sending, from 11.30 to 11.36, into the forefunnels and foresearchlights groups of the Westfalen, Rheinland and Nassau, a rain of shells, which put the searchlights partly or entirely out of action, and whose splinters caused a relatively large loss of men. On the signal bridge of the Westfalen there fell two men, one badly wounded and seven, including the captain, lightly wounded. In the Nassau, Captain Klapperbach, one officer and ten men were killed; in the Rheinland Captain Rohardt and ten men fell and twenty were wounded. In the Nassau, a second shell damaged two searchlights of the-after group and in the Rheinland one burst on the citadel armour without damage.

The German ships had turned back to their course by this time and the Spitfire found herself on the port side of the Nassau some 400 yards off. The latter turned hard round on to her. The Spitfire tried to turn but the bow of the battleship caught her and shaved down her port bow. The ships crashed past one another at a speed of 20 knots. The Nassau heeled over to starboard so that the shot from the foremost turret in spite of utmost depression only reached the bridge cover and fore funnel of the destroyer and passed through them without bursting.

'The blast however tore out of the Spitfire's deck her searchlight, forebridge and fore funnel. She lost 32 men and 3 badly wounded, while her bow was crumpled up for a length of 60 feet and set on fire. But she remained afloat and was able with three boilers to shape course for home. She left part of her bridge on the Nassau's netshelf and vanished into the darkness with two heavy explosions which led to the belief that she was destroyed.

The battleship had suffered little. Except for a 6 inch gun which had been torn out of its mounting the damage was limited to a nine foot hole in the bows and till this was covered she could not make more than 15 knots and tried in vain to resume her station...
If you look at the linked article, you can also see a diagram showing the ships' movements.
 
#19
I read the accounts in the Naval Review last year, but had forgotten about the claim of "two heavy explosions" on SPITFIRE.
I had formed the opinion that some statements in the posted extract from the Naval Review should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt. For example, the article says SPITFIRE lost 32 men and 3 badly wounded --- aren't the correct numbers were 6 killed and 20 wounded (officers and men)?
With respect to Captains Klappenbach (NASSAU) and Rohardt (RHEINLAND) being killed at Jutland, I've seen German web-sites listing Klappenbach as NASSAU's Captain from March 1916 to January 1917, and Rohardt as RHEINLAND's Captain from August 1915 to December 1916. So far I've been unable to obtain an actual copy of the German Staff History to check whether these Naval Review articles are really consistent with it. Maybe someone has a copy, or knows more about Captains Klappenbach and Rohardt?
 
#20
Thanks to all of you guys and -by the way- a happy new year.

So this not a r e a l issue of interest for me, there are no records known to me, that the captains of the imperial German battleships NASSAU and RHEINLAND had been killed at Jutland, most certainly not by a pea shooter from a destroyer. There had been heavy losses on the searchlight platforms, that is for sure.

According to Hildebrand/Roehr/Steinmetz: "Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe", vol. 6 and 7, Rohardt was captain of the RHEINLAND from August 1915 to December 1916, and Hans Klappenbach was captain of the NASSAU from March 1916 to January 1917.
 

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