Today in History: 28 August, 1914 - Battle of Heligoland Bight

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Today in History: 28th August, in 1914, the First Battle of Heligoland Bight was the first naval battle of the First World War between ships of the United Kingdom and Germany.


British submarine patrols in the Heligoland Bight region in August 1914 had noticed that German torpedo boats patrolled this area supported by light cruisers in two shifts of a day and night group.

Roger Keyes Commodore, commander of British submarines, formulated a plan to raid these patrols using the Harwich Force of light cruisers and destroyers under Reginald Tyrwhitt Commodore.

The battle took place in the south-eastern North Sea, when the British attacked German patrols off the north-west German coast.

The German High Seas Fleet was in harbour on the north German coast while the British Grand Fleet was out in the northern North Sea.

Both sides engaged in long-distance sorties with cruisers and battlecruisers, with close reconnaissance of the area of sea near the German coast—the Heligoland Bight—by destroyer.

The British devised a plan to ambush German destroyers on their daily patrols.

A British flotilla of 31 destroyers and two cruisers under Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, with submarines commanded by Commodore Roger Keyes, was dispatched.

They were supported at longer range by an additional six light cruisers commanded by William Goodenough and five battlecruisers commanded by Vice Admiral David Beatty.

The battle was regarded as a great victory in Britain, where the returning ships were met by cheering crowds.

Germany lost the light cruisers MainzCöln and Ariadne and the destroyer V-187 sunk. The light cruisers FrauenlobStrassburg and Stettin had been damaged and returned to base with casualties.

German casualties were 1,242 with 712 men killed, including the Flotilla Admiral, Rear Admiral Maass and the destroyer commodore.

The British took 336 prisoners; 224 German sailors were rescued by Commodore Keyes on the destroyer Lurcher and brought to England, the son of Tirpitz being among the prisoners.

The German government and the Kaiser in particular, restricted the freedom of action of the German fleet, instructing it to avoid any contact with superior forces for several months thereafter.

The British had lost no ships during the battle with 35 men killed and about 40 wounded.

Royal Navy Casualties:

 BARNES, Sydney J, Boy 1c, J 24950 (Ch)

 COKE, Frederick, Able Seaman, 239092 (Dev)

 DALE, James W, Able Seaman, J 1782 (Ch)

 DENYER, Charles P, Chief Petty Officer, 186636 (Ch)

 DUNN, Frank, Leading Seaman, 200087 (Ch)

 NUNN, Fred W, Leading Cook's Mate, 347626 (Ch)

 REARDON, George H, Able Seaman, 236287 (Ch)

 WESTMACOTT, Eric W P, Lieutenant

 WHITFIELD, Thomas N, Engine Room Artificer 3c, M 1752 (Ch)

 WINWOOD, George, Able Seaman, J 2550 (Ch)

 BRAZIER, Walter E, Stoker 1c, 311704 (Ch)

 TAYLOR, Ernest E, Stoker Petty Officer, 295559 (Ch)

 ALLCHIN, Albert G, Able Seaman, J 4333 (Ch), DOW

 CARLTON, George E, Able Seaman, 228168 (Ch)

 EYRE, Ernest E (real name, but served as George Weaver), Stoker 1c, 312062 (Ch)

 GREGORY, Bert W, Able Seaman, J 699 (Ch)

 INGRAM, Walter, Stoker 1c, 293088 (Ch)

 MARTIN, Herbert E, Able Seaman, J 11840 (Ch)

 RADCLIFFE, Samuel, Gunner

 THORPE, Cyril K, Able Seaman, J 7169 (Ch)

 WADKINS, William F, Able Seaman, J 3223 (Ch)

 WALLER, James, Able Seaman, J 8360 (Ch)

 WOODHOUSE, George, Able Seaman, J 10624 (Ch)

 BARTTELOT, Nigel K W, Lieutenant Commander, commanding officer

 BUTCHER, William, Signalman, J 6825 (Ch)

 CHAWNER, John H, Able Seaman, J 5865 (Ch)

 DEXTER, George H, Stoker 1c, 309475 (Ch)

 EADE, Harold, Able Seaman, 219145 (Ch)

 FLOWERDAY, Samuel, Able Seaman, 219736 (Ch), DOW

 JENNINGS, Richard L, Able Seaman, 213174 (Ch)

 ROBERTS, William C, Leading Seaman, 222351 (Ch)


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