Battle of Dogger Bank

The Battle of Dogger Bank took place on 24 January 1915, during the World War 1.

With the German home fleet effectively bottled up by Admiral Beatty’s success at Heligoland Bight, German Admiral Franz von Hipper decided to launch a raid upon three British North Sea coastal towns using the German Battlecruiser Squadron, comprising five battle cruisers supported by light cruisers and destroyers. The raid took place on 16 December 1914 at 9am, and resulted in the death of 18 civilians at Scarborough, causing further damage at Whitby and Hartlepool.

British public and political reaction was outraged that the German Fleet could sail so close to the British coast and proceed to shell coastal towns.

Buoyed by the success of the raid, Admiral Hipper resolved to repeat the exercise the following month. He was however intercepted by the British on 24 January 1915 at Dogger Bank, midway between Germany and Britain.

Through intercepted German radio traffic the British had learnt of Hipper’s proposed sortie on 23 January. Consequently Admiral Beatty set sail with five battle cruisers to meet Hipper’s three, aided by a further six light cruisers. Joined by additional cruisers and destroyers at Harwich, Beatty proceeded south before encountering Hipper’s outlying vessels at 7.20am on the morning of 24 January.

Realising he was overpowered, Hipper attempted to escape, believing the British battle cruisers to be slower than his. Beatty’s cruisers, however, were notably faster than their German counterparts, and succeeded in reaching their extreme firing range by 9am. Battle started half an hour later.

The British managed to first halt and then sink armoured cruiser SMS Blucher, killing 782 men, and damage Hipper’s flagship, battlecruiser SMS Seydlitz (killing 192), although the Germans in turn succeeding in effectively hammering Beatty’s own flagship, HMS Lion, to a standstill. The Lion took no further part in the battle after 11am.

Nevertheless, a major British success appeared likely until Beatty, overcome by fears of mines and a believed submarine sighting (there were none), decided to abandon the attack, allowing Hipper’s squadron to escape. 15 British sailors had been killed in the encounter.

Although the battle was not greatly consequential of itself, it boosted British morale and concerned the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, enough to issue an order stating that all further risks to surface vessels were to be avoided.