Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, December 23, 2018

The Valuable Lesson the German Navy Learned at Dogger Bank

The Battle of Dogger Bank was a naval engagement on 24 January 1915, near the Dogger Bank in the North Sea, during the First World War, between squadrons of the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet.

SMS Seydlitz

Following the battle, the British claimed a victory, having sunk the obsolete armored cruiser Blücher, but their modern battle cruiser Lion had to be towed home, and the Germans had learned a lesson that would serve them well at Jutland—a lesson that, unlearned by the British, would cost the Royal Navy dearly. The destruction of the two after turrets of Seydlitz was caused not by a 13.5-inch British shell but by the explosion of ready ammunition and ammunition in transit. From now on, German ammunition would be protected until it was loaded into a gun. In his memoirs, Scheer wrote “However regrettable was the great loss of life on board the Seydlitz through the fire spreading to the munitions chamber of each turret, a valuable lesson had been learned for the future dealing with reserve ammunition, and it was applied in subsequent actions.” The British learned the same lesson at Jutland—at the cost of three battle cruisers.

Sources:  "1915: Battle Cruisers Clash,"  Mission: History, Naval Order of the United States 


  1. Was it an incoming round in the turret that caused the "ammunition" to explode? "Ready" ammo is the fused projectile along with the propellent cordite bag(s)? An ammunition armour shielding configuration within the turret? Just in time to gun turret delivery?

  2. A British 13.5 inch shell hit led to the loss of the two turrets. See German Battlecruisers of WW1 , pages 162-163 by Gary Staff, published by the US Naval Institute Press in 2014.

  3. Ammunition handling aboard Royal Navy battlecruisers grew out of poor accuracy of the main battery. The RN took risks in order to speed up the rate of firing.