The Battle of Dogger Bank in 1915 during WWI took place in the middle of the North Sea. One month prior, the Germans had found success in conducting naval raids on the eastern British coastline. One such attack resulted in 108 dead and 525 civilians wounded. They were able to exfiltrate from the area without resistance from the British Navy, which caused an uproar among British citizens at the time.
On January 24, 1915, German Admiral Franz von Hipper planned to conduct a similar type raid on the British coast. However, the British had intercepted and decoded the transmissions outlining the German plan, and they sent their Naval forces to intercept. Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty led the British cruisers through the North Sea to meet them in the open.
Hipper knew that he was outgunned, so he attempted to retreat with his German boats — however, they could only go so fast with their slower, coal-powered torpedo boats. The British continued their pursuit, closing in minute by minute.
When the British were in range, they opened fire. The HMS Lion pummeled the battlecruiser and flagship, Seydlitz. As they closed in further, Beatty’s own slower ships began to engage the other German boats. Soon the German flagship was on fire, and though it would not sink, 192 of its crew were killed. Only one boat actually sunk — the Blücher, which was the German’s strongest and heaviest ship.
One German boat managed to significantly damage the Lion, shelling it and causing it to flood and lose speed, though it was not sunk. The ship had to slow down so it would not wind up at the bottom of the North Sea.
The two sides continued to exchange fire until the German fleet decided to leave their most wounded ship behind, cutting their losses and blasting for home. Due to the fear of German submarines in the area, Beatty thought it best to let them at this point.
By the end of the fight, 15 British sailors were killed, as opposed to the estimated 951 killed from the German side. From the sinking Blücher, the British took over 200 prisoners.
This battle would prove to be a great boost to the British morale, despite the fact that it was not the devastating hit to the Germans that Beatty might have hoped. Coming after the attacks to the mainland, many British needed their faith in the British Navy restored.
A year later in February of 1916, the Germans and British would once again fight in the same area — the Germans would come across a British minesweeping flotilla, sinking one of their ships as they carried a significant advantage.
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.