The Battle of Jutland was an event of bewildering complexity. Archivist, Martin Salmon, tries to make sense of the day through personal accounts found within our archive.
…Our squadron flagship Defence had altered course to starboard followed by Warrior, had steamed through our battle cruisers line and was now going in opposite direction to us. The D of E should have followed on after her, but for the light cruiser Chester who steamed by us just as we were going to alter course she cut across our bows to get on our lea side and prevented us from altering our course….
…as she got ahead of us we saw her receive hits…we should have received those shells had we not eased up to let her pass
… [the Defence] was blown clear out of the water after the smoke cleared nothing of her was to be seen … the Warrior was badly mauled and almost out of action. I afterwards heard that Warrior was taken in tow by another ship a hopeless wreck (she sank overnight). Here ended the career of Rear Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot and his first cruiser squadron.
31 May A big naval battle of the coast of Denmark, heavy losses on both sides and alas Robert went down in the Defence with all hands1 June I wrote a long letter to Robert…feeling rather tired…went for a stroll with Mother3 June Captain Hall soon confirmed this awful news and gave me no hope that Robert might be saved
4 June Papers full of the grand naval battle which alas has had no decisive result… So far as is known not a single officer or man was saved from the Defence…5 June all were speaking of Robert’s magnificent action.