Tonight we were finally able to continue the campaign battle off the coast of Denmark.
The battle commenced with the High Seas Fleet running South (to the left on map above) after securing the 4th Economic Victory Point they needed to achieve Minor Victory in the campaign by bombarding shipping in the Skagerrak. The British had as usual detected the Germans leaving port & had steamed southeast from Scarpa Flow & Cromarty to intercept the HSF on its way home.
Admiral Sheer had expected the Grand Fleet to come out & try cut his fleet off from base & he wanted battle, but on his terms. His plan was to run south to turn & fight close to home base where he had set a trap of submarines & minefields. However, Sheer miscalculated & stayed in the Skagerrak a little too long & the Grand Fleet were able to pincer him between themselves & the Danish coast.
On the plus side for the Germans, they had their entire fleet in the area - mostly coming south, but 5 pre-dreadnoughts & some DDs were coming north to join the HSF, whereas the British did not have Beatty's 4 battlecruisers & 4 Queen Elizabeth surper dreadnoughts (who were late getting to sea apparently for some reason). The other ace the Germans had up their sleeve was a minefield laid early in the campaign off the coast of Denmark that they believed the Brits did no know about.
In the first phase of the battle described in an earlier post, the HSF steamed south as the Grand Fleet approached steaming SE slightly in front of them. The German battle cruisers took a pounding in the van, but in their haste to get ahead of the HSF the right wing of Jellico's fleet ran into the German minefield. A battleship was sunk & 3 battlecruisers severely damaged on the minefield.
In running the Brits onto the minefield the HSF was running into a pocket between the GF & the Danish coast & was about to have their T crossed. Sheer ordered his battered battlecruisers to do a battle turn away behind smoke while the battleships turned to starboard onto a course that would both provide him sea room & the chance of cross the British rear.
The improved tactical position the turn gave the Germans was backed up with some hot dice. The rear British squadron copped a pounding & the Kaiser
sunk the KGV
with a devastating salvo.
The Brits turned east to improve their firepower & in a heavy exchange of fire between 2 squadrons of each side, ships of both sides suffered heavy damage.
Several damaged ships of both sides have pulled out of the front line. The Germans have replaced their damaged squadrons with 2 fresh ones. The Brits have also brought fresh squadrons up, but the Germans have a neat line to face the ragged British formations. The last German squadron is their 4 undamaged Konig
class (their best ships) & the Brits fall back behind smokescreens as damage mounts & Ajax
is sunk by Thuringen
While the main fleets have been going at it in the centre, there have been secondary actions north & south. Behind the HSF there was a force of British CLs & DDs, but the Germans matched them with their own CLs & DLs. The Brits made one tentative attack, but were driven back without getting into torpedo range of the battleships. To the south the old German BBs & some DDs were a distraction that kept some the the British occupied, though they old BBs withdrew avoiding combat.
At this stage the British are heading NE towards the Skagerrak while the HSF is heading past them going SW. Neither side is keen on risking further heavy action.
The Brits have lost 3 ships sunk (1 to mines & 2 to gun fire) & 9 ships badly damaged.
They have 14 ships with no or minor damage.
The Germans have lost no ships sunk & 9 badly damaged.
They have 11 ships with no or minor damage.
The Brits still have more battleships in fighting trim, but they are content to call the action off because:
- The 4 best German ships are totally undamaged whereas the 6 undamaged British ships are older Dreadnoughts.
- The Germans are in a tight efficient fighting formation whereas the Brits are scattered.
- Night is approaching & the Germans fight better than the Brits at night.
The Germans are also content to break off because while Beatty isn't present, they know he is at sea & don't want to have to face him & his Queen Elizabeths with their damaged fleet. They have a minor victory through the Economic VPs they have amassed, so are content to go home after an indecisive battle with a small balance of sunk ships in their favour of 3:0.
This has been a epic campaign. Peter Williams has done a great job setting it up & umpiring. All the players have enjoyed it immensely. The tension & danger of catastrophe engendered by the hidden movement & limited intel made it a nerve wracking but very exciting experience for the players.