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The Opening Moves of Jutland, 1916


The Great War at Sea, Fleet Action Imminent, 1/2400 scale

This was a non-game for a couple of reasons. First of all, our nice sea mat was still with Martin from Warbases, who very kindly transported it to Antwerp and back for us.  So, we played the game out on a standard blue-painted club table, and very shabby it looked. besides, the blue was an unbelievable shade, unless you were fighting a game set in the shallows of a Caribbean or South Pacific island. Second, my opponent Michael Schneider had a really bad cold – read “man flu” – and was really under the weather.  Then, after less than an hour of play, Michael’s wife called him. She’d managed to lock herself out, so the poor fellow had to go home and let her in. I suggested making her wait until he’d finished is game, but he decided to chart the safer course! That’s why I didn’t take many pictures, and this report is so incredibly brief…The game itself was pretty interesting. It all centred around the moment at the start of the Battle of Jutland when the two battlecruiser fleets first made contact. the neutral Norwegian freighter N.J. Fjord . was sighted by the German cruiser Pillau, and two accompanying destroyers were sent to investigate, and to check over her papers.  While they were doing that two British light cruisers appeared from the west – the Galatea and the Phaeton. Both sides radioed the news of the sighting to their superiors – Vice-Admirals Beatty and Hipper – and requested support. Soon the rest of the German 2nd Scouting Group and the British 1st Light Cruiser Squadron were heading towards the fray, supported by small groups of destroyers. Our game recreated this clash of light forces – the opening moves of the Battle of Jutland.Michael and I swapped nations – the German player played the part of Commodore Alexander-Sinclair (c/o 1st Light Cruiser Squadron) while I took on the role of Rear-Admiral Bödicker (c/o 2nd Scouting Group). The British reinforcements came on faster than the German ones – they started just off the eastern table edge, while my light cruisers were deployed in a line facing northwards – each cruiser with a cluster of destroyers around it. Elbing was on the western end of the line when she sighted the freighter – and when she came into contact with the British. I had real problems extricating my destroyers, as three of the four British light cruisers on the table (Phaeton, Inconstant and Cordelia) concentrated their fire on them. Both were stopped when the British appeared, and it took time to get under way. Both made it though, but were badly mauled in the process.Still, Elbing was putting up a fine show against Michael’s flagship Galatea, and reinforcements were arriving – one every couple of turns – Pillau, the flagship Frankfurt, and the Wiesbaden. Accompanying them were my own destroyers – the rest of the flotilla whose two destroyers were in such peril. they raced towards the south-west, while my cruisers concentrated their fire on the Galatea, which was now taking a few hits. Michael’s own destroyers of the 9th & 10th Flotillas has also entered the table. things were hotting up, beginning with a flurry of British torpedoes, aimed at finishing off the Elbing and the two destroyers before the rest of the German force arrived. the torpedoes all missed,  but it was clear the game was just reaching its climax. that, of course, was when Michael’s wife called. We might play the game again some time soon – or else move on to the next phase of the battle… the initial clash of the battlecruisers, followed by “The Run to the South”.

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