Jutland Gunnery Log of HMS Lion

The Dreadnought Project website provides gunnery log data for HMS Lion at the Battle Of Jutland.

Link

The source is the Beatty Papers archive at the Royal Museums Greenwich, Reports on gunnery range and rate of fire, 4 Jun-23 Oct 1916.

A copy of the log as transcribed on the Dreadnought Project web page is included here:

Range vs Salvo Time Plot

Using the gunnery log a plot of range vs salvo time was generated. Where available, the spotting corrections were applied to the ranges for the subsequent salvos. Bearing data was used to distinguish salvos fired to port (red) or starboard (green). Alterations of course (A/C in the Remarks column of the table) are shown using red (port) or green (starboard) symbols. Salvo data points are marked as “Salvo near target” for spotting entries which state ‘hit’, ‘straddle’, or give a portion of the salvo short and no large range correction. All times are p.m., GMT.

Additional lines on the plot indicate the times of the 180 degree turn at the end of the ‘Run to the South’, the 360 degree circle of the British battlecruisers around 7 p.m., and the destruction of the four ships that blew up during the daylight action. The four destruction times are from Campbell (Reference 1) and may not agree with the clock used for the gunnery data.

Comparison with Official Despatches

The following is a comparison of the gunnery log with the “Captain’s Report, H.M.S. Lion” in the Official Despatches (Reference 2). [note the then-current English spelling of dispatch]

Salvos between 3.47.5 (3 hours, 47 ½ minutes) and 4.33 were all fired to port. This is the engagement with the German battlecruisers in the ‘Run to the South’. The Official Despatches are consistent:
Enemy opened fire at 3.47 p.m., Lion replying half a minute later…”
(Reference 2, pages 143-144, paragraphs 2-5).

At 4.36 the log remarks state:
“Alteration of course of 16 Points. Enemy Battle Fleet ahead.”
The Official Despatches give a slightly different time:
“At 4.38 p.m. the enemy Battle Fleet was sighted ahead, and course was altered 16 points to North …”
(Reference 2, page 144, paragraph 6).

The log shows a firing gap of 15 minutes between the last salvo of the ‘Run to the South’ at 4.33 and the first salvo on the northerly course at 4.48. This contradicts the statement in the Official Despatches that the Lion reopened fire at 4.38 (Reference 2, page 144, paragraph 7).

Salvos between 4.48 and 5.04 were all fired to starboard. This is the engagement with the German battlecruisers in the ‘Run to the North’.

The log shows a firing gap of 35.5 minutes between 5.04 and 5.39.5 where the log states:
“Enemy went away in the mist and smoke.” (listed after 5.08)
“Left Hand Battle Cruiser. It is too indistinct to lay on at present.” (5.12)
“Caught a glimpse of the enemy.” (5.33)
This is roughly consistent with the Official Despatches, which state:
“At 5.12 p.m. Lion ceased fire owing to the enemy being obscured, and did not reopen until 5.41 p.m. …”
(Reference 2, page 144, paragraph 9).

Salvos between 5.39.5 and 6.01.5 were fired in misty conditions at the head of the German fleet. The salvo at 6.03 was fired at a cruiser. The Official Despatches continue:
“ … and did not reopen until 5.41 p.m. The visibility at this time was decreasing, and when fire was reopened on a ship that appeared to be of the Konig class… ”
(Reference 2, page 144, paragraph 9).

The log shows a firing gap of 13.5 minutes between 6.03 and 6.16.5. The Official Despatches state:
“Defence and Warrior now crossed Lion’s bow …. This caused Lion to cease fire and to lose touch with the enemy.”
(Reference 2, page 144, paragraph 12).

Salvos between 6.16.5 and 6.31.5 were the shortest ranges to enemy capital ships in the battle, down to about 8300 yards. The Official Despatches state:
“At 6.21 p.m. the Third Battle Cruiser Squadron was sighted … and Lion reopened at distant ships on the starboard beam (Konig class?).”
(Reference 2, page 145, paragraph 13).
No mention is made in the despatches of the target of the eight salvos between 6.16.5 and 6.21, but the gunnery log remarks at 6.14 say:
Battle Cruiser on Star: beam. Green 93 Left Hand ship.”

The log shows a firing gap of 42 minutes between 6.31.5 and 7.13.5. This interval includes the 360 degree circle to starboard which became a contentious issue in the preparation of the Harper track charts (Reference 3, pages 431-439). The Official Despatches indicate the circle, but differ about firing:
“Course was continued to be altered to starboard to close the enemy and at 6.37 p.m. was altered to E.S.E.; at 6.44 to S.E., and 6.48 p.m. to S.S.E.
At 6.53 p.m. speed was reduced to 18 knots to keep station on the Battlefleet, who were leading away to port owing to a Destroyer attack. Lion continued to engage the leading ship of enemy. occasionally ceasing fire when he became invisible. …”
(Reference 2, page 145, paragraph 14).
“The ship continued to circle to starboard.”
(Reference 2, page 145, paragraph 15).

Salvos between 7.13.5 and 7.16 have no obvious target, but the gunnery log remarks for 7.23 state:
“Left of three Battle Cruisers, Green 90.”
The Official Despatches state:
Fire was reopened on the leading ship of the enemy at 15,000 yards at 7.15 p.m….”
(Reference 2, page 145, paragraph 16).

The log shows a firing gap of 63 minutes between 7.16 and 8.19, followed by 15 closely spaced salvos at ranges around 10,000 yards between 8.19 and 8.28. The log remarks for the first salvo at 8.19 state:
“At ship 2 masts 3 funnels.”
Campbell says that the target was the light cruiser Pillau (Reference 1, page 253). The log remarks for 8.21 state:
“Left hand Battle Cruiser.”,
possibly indicating a change of target prior to the salvo at 8.22.
The Official Despatches state:
“… The enemy was still not sufficiently visible to open fire, and this continued until 8.21 p.m., when the flashes of his guns were again seen on our starboard beam.” At 8.23 p.m. Lion opened fire with rapid salvoes on his leading ship, either Lutzow or Konig class. … Lion ceased fire at 8.30 p.m.”
(Reference 2, page 145, paragraphs 16 and 17).

References

  1. Campbell, John, “Jutland, An Analysis of the Fighting,” 1986.
  2. “Battle of Jutland 30th May to 1st June 1916 Official Despatches with Appendixes,” 1920.
  3. “The Beatty Papers,” Volume II, 1993.

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