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Honour - Heligoland 1914


Date - 28-August
Type - Fleet or Squadron Actions
Conflict - World War 1; 1914-18

 
Description The battle was fought between British and German light forces off the Heligoland Bight in the South-east of the North Sea within a month of the start of the war.

Following the outbreak off war the German Navy expected Britain to maintain a close blockade of the German coast. Which would enable them to make short sorties to engage British ships at times and with numbers of their choosing.

But the British intended to maintain a distant blockade, by closing the English Channel and North West passage about Scotland to the Germans. So forcing the Germans into the middle of the North Sea where they would be engaged and destroyed by the superior Grand Fleet.

The Admiralty carried out a decoy raid close to the German coast intending to engage German ships, and then entice them within range of Vice-Admiral Beatty's battlecruiser covering force of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron and 1st Light Cruiser Squadron.

The decoy force comprised the Harwich Force of the light cruisers Arethusa (2 x 6", 6 x 4" guns) and Fearless (10 x 4" guns) with 21 destroyers in 2 Flotilla's under command of Commodore R T Trywhitt. They entered the Heligoland Bight at dawn, sighted and engaged two German destroyers, sinking one.

Six German light cruisers joined the action; Ariadne (10 x 4.1"guns), Frauenlob (10 x 4.1" guns), Koln (12 x 4.1" guns), Mainz (12 x 4.1" guns), Stralsund (12 x 4.1" guns), and Stettin (10 x 4.1" guns).

Beatty's covering force comprising the battlecruisers Lion, Princess Royal and Queen Mary (each 8 x 13.5" guns), Invincible and New Zealand (each 8 x 12" guns), plus a covering force of eight cruisers and additional destroyers, came up and engaged the German ships.

Three German cruisers, Ariadne, Koln and Mainz were sunk, the rest scattered and escaped.

British casualties were 35 killed and 40 wounded. German losses were over 1,200 killed and taken prisoner.

 

 
 
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This page last edited - 05 December, 2012.

Copyright Ian M King, except where otherwise indicated.