British and German Battle Cruisers Maneuver at Close Range on the Eve of Hostilities
In the forenoon of August 4, 1914, two British battle cruisers, Indomitable and Indefatigable, at a speed of twenty-two knots on a westerly course, were searching the waters of the Mediterranean for the German battle cruiser Goeben and her consort, the light cruiser Breslau. France and Germany were at war but England was still hesitating. Early that morning the German cruisers had fired the opening shots of the naval war by bombarding French shipping and shore establishments at Bona and Philippeville on the North African coast. The Goeben and Breslau were now withdrawing on easterly courses toward Messina, and by coincidence were heading almost directly for the approaching British battle cruisers. Visibility was excellent across a tranquil sea under a pleasant sky. The stage was set for a dramatic encounter. The attending circumstances were such as to cause naval officers to ponder.