The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

On this day, 31st May, in 1916, The Battle of Jutland took place between the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea, off the mainland of Denmark. Although it was the only major naval battle of World War I, it became the largest sea battle in naval warfare history in terms of the numbers of battleships and battlecruisers engaged, bringing together the two most powerful naval forces in existence at that time.
 
The only members of Clan Douglas that I have been able to identify as having lost his life were Seaman Duncan C. Douglas on HMS Malaya and Lieutenant Commander David W S Douglas on HMS Black Prince.
 
Is anyone aware of anyone else?

A strong navy was necessary to protect against invasion and Britain was dependent on imports of food and raw materials - all of which needed protection on the high seas. A large navy was also needed to protect the colonies and supplies being sent to the army in France. 

The British Grand Fleet hoped to meet and destroy the German High Seas Fleet in a pitched battle, but both sides were reluctant to commit themselves. The Germans knew that they could not take on the much larger British Grand Fleet, whilst the British knew they had little to gain from a victory and everything to lose by a defeat, which would cause Britain to lose the war. First Sea Lord Winston Churchill said of Admiral Jellicoe that he was the only commander on either side who was capable of losing the war in a single afternoon.

The Germans planned to avoid an all-out battle until they had sunk enough British warships to make the numbers more even. In 1916, the German plan was to lure parts of the British Grand Fleet out into the North Sea by swift surface raids on East coast towns such as Scarborough and Sunderland. Meanwhile, German submarines were stationed several miles outside the main British naval bases of Rosyth and Scapa Flow for the purpose of sinking British battleships with torpedoes as they left port to deal with the surface raids. However this plan proved ineffective as the German U-boats failed to sink a single British warship.

Towards the end of May 1916, Admiral Scheer, Commander of the German High Seas Fleet, decided on a more risky decoy operation to lure British battleships out of port by leading the whole of the German High Seas Fleet out into the North Sea and sending his battlecruisers under Admiral Hipper ahead as a decoy to attack merchant shipping in the sea passage between Denmark and Norway.

Scheer’s intention was not to fight a pitched battle but to lure Admiral Beatty’s battlecruisers out of the Forth to attack Hipper and then fall on Beatty with the whole might of the German High Seas Fleet. Unknown to Scheer however, the British were able to decode German radio messages. Scheer’s messages to Hipper were intercepted and passed to Admiral Jellicoe, who immediately ordered the British Grand Fleet to sea under cover of darkness to avoid the waiting German submarines. By midnight on 30 May 1916, Jellicoe and Beatty were at sea - five hours before Scheer and the German High Seas Fleet had left their port at Wilhelmshaven!

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Comment by William Douglas on May 31, 2016 at 19:16

memorial to DWS Douglas

A plaque commemorating Lieut-Commander David William Shafto Douglas, Royal Navy, son of Admiral Sir Archibald Douglas, is in St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh

Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?


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