Diary for Wednesday, May 31, 1916:
North Sea – BATTLE OF JUTLAND (until June 1, German Battle of the Skaggerak): Scheer orders northward sweep to raid Allied shipping off Scandinavia and perhaps attack British 10th Cruiser squadron. German Fleet leaves Jade anchorage at 0200 hours (Hipper’s 5 battlecruisers in van). U32 makes only torpedo attack (failed) at 0355 hours of planned mass ambush.
At 1400 hours Beatty (55 ships) and Hipper (42 ships) are on converging courses west of Jutland. At 1420 hours Beatty turns southeast hoping to cut off Hipper’s line of retreat but instead Hipper turns northwest. They sight each other at 1525 hours, fire at 1548 hours. Hipper now reverses course.
British battlecruiser Indefatigable (1,017 killed) and Queen Mary (1,266 killed) blow up; flagship battelcruiser Lion and Seydlitz (torpedo hit and 22 shell hits) both damaged.
Two main fleets engage each other (96 vs 59 ships) from 1800 hours until dark (only 20 mins in all). At 1833 hours Hipper’s flagship battlecruiser Lützow disabled by 24 hits, but she sinks Invincible (only 6 survivors). At 1835 hours Scheer successfully carries out carefully rehearsed emergency retirement. Even so, Jellicoe gets between Scheer and his base but has no star shell and only poor searchlights while Admiralty withholds Harwich Force (5 cruisers, 18 destroyers). During night Scheer breaks through and escapes despite Royal Navy destroyer attacks.
Royal Navy losses: 155,000 t; 3 battlecruisers; 3 cruisers; 8 destroyers (6,097 killed; 510 wounded; 177 PoWs).
German High Sea Fleet losses: 61,000 t; 1 battlecruiser (scuttled night May 31-June 1); 1 old battleship (torpedoed on June 1); 4 cruisers; 5 destroyers (2,551 killed; 507 wounded).
Ionian Sea: Abruzzi visits French Fleet (10 battleships, etc) at Argostoli (Cephalonia), ‘personal’ visit does not solve co-ordination and command problems.
Adriatic: 5 Austrian destroyers and torpedo boats raid Royal Nay Otranto patrol line, sink drifter Beneficient (night 31/1 June).
Verdun: French guns destroy 500,000-shell dump at Spinville. President Poincare tells Haig that Petain, Niveile and another general at Verdun fear ‘Verdun sera prise !’ (‘Verdun will fall’) and that counteroffensive must be launched without delay (ie on the Somme). Foch reprimanded by Prime minister Briand for asserting that Allies should avoid 1916 offensive.
Russia: Alexeiev orders ‘A powerful auxiliary attack (Brusilov) on the Austrians … the main blow being delivered, later, by … the Western Front’.
Trentino: Austrian division from Isonzo joins battle in which, via Astico valley, XX Corps’ 59th Salzburg Regiment gets below Mt Cegnio (4432 ft) in final effort; 30,000 PoWs to date.
Salonika: 112,000 Serb troops (6 divisions) and 8,000 horses now transported from Corfu to 6 camps 10 miles southeast of Salonika. 25,000 sick, wounded, recruits and surplus officers left at Corfu or in North Africa. French occupy Poro.
Italy: Cadorna requests MGs from France which supplies 250 per month from now on.
Western Front: 2 of 5 FE2bs lost on reconnaissance mission over Cambrai to 3 Fokker Es (1 lost).
North Sea, Battle of Jutland: Seaplane from HM carrier Engadine shadows German cruiser and destroyer force, but its radio reports not received.
Britain: School exemptions for farm work 15,753.
£ = c.$4.76 for duration of war ($5 prewar).