He “was the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon.”2
“God himself cannot forgive the hanger-back.”3
“Get your bravery over young, before you command the British Fleet.”4
The Battle of Jutland, fought 100 years ago on 31 May, can mess with one’s head. For whom was it a victory and for whom a defeat, and by what criteria? What were its consequences and what its lessons? Before Jutland, Germany’s High Seas Fleet was blockaded within the North Sea by the domineering presence, over the horizon, of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet. After Jutland, the same state of affairs prevailed. But 6,000 Britons had died, as opposed to 2,500 Germans, and a British battle-fleet of 28 dreadnought battleships had failed to destroy a German one of 16. The aura and reputation of Nelson’s navy was diminished. The British public was confused; the Royal Navy officer corps was angry and feeling vaguely betrayed.