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For a full half hour

For a full half hour

these two boats had been either fighting an almost hand-to-hand action with the enemy’s boats, or had been under the close-range fire of Von Hipper’s battle-cruisers. They now found themselves faced by the German Battle Fleet. But they were at last in the right position for an attack. Both closed, in spite of the fire, to 3,000 yards and fired their torpedoes. It is believed that one hit was made. Nicator escaped and rejoined the Thirteenth Flotilla, but Nestor, though not sunk, was stopped, and had to be numbered amongst the losses when the action was over.

While this had been going forward, the artillery action between the two squadrons of battle-cruisers continued fierce and resolute. Sir Evan-Thomas’s battleships did their best with the rear of the enemy’s line, but were unable to reduce the range below 20,000 yards, if, indeed, they were unable to prevent the enemy increasing it. At 4:18304 a second palpable evidence that the British fire was taking effect was afforded by the third of Von Hipper’s ships bursting into flames. The first evidence was, of course, the falling off in the rate of the enemy’s fire, and the still more marked deterioration in its accuracy.

It will be remembered that the Second Light Cruiser Squadron, under Commodore Goodenough, had got to its action station ahead of Sir David Beatty’s line a little while before the engagement opened with Von Hipper at half-past three. This squadron maintained its position well ahead, and at 4:38 reported the advent of Scheer with a German battle squadron from the south. They would then be from 20,000 to 24,000 yards off. Until Southampton sent in her message at 4:38, the British Admiral had no reason for knowing that the enemy Battle Fleet was out The affair was in every respect well conceived carried out..  

Not that the knowledge would have affected the plan he actually carried out, for the immediate attack on Von Hipper was right in either event. But it was obvious that, with only four battle-cruisers, it was out of the question continuing the action as if the forces were equal. The Fifth Battle Squadron was out of range, and the Vice-Admiral’s first business was to concentrate his force, and then to judge how to impose his will upon the enemy in the matter of forcing him up to action with the Grand Fleet. The junction with Admiral Evan-Thomas could obviously not be delayed; as obviously the man?uvre was a dangerous one, for as each ship turned it would be exposed to the enemy’s fire without being able to reply. Had only speed of junction to be considered, the battle-cruisers could have been turned together when the rear ship on the old course would have become the leading ship on the new. The turn could probably be accomplished in less than three minutes. But305 seriously as the German fire had depreciated, it was not a thing with which liberties could be taken. Sir David Beatty, therefore, turned his ships one by one, thus keeping three in action while the first was turning; two while the second was turning—the first and second coming into action on a reverse course as the third and fourth turned from the old. At no time, then, was the fire of the British squadron reduced below that of two ships.

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