Mist - the German Navy's salvation


Jutland warships (Wikipedia)

HMS Warspite and Malaya, seen from HMS Valiant (Wikipedia)

Seaman-Gunner F. W. Nicholls, a Luton man on one of the ships in the Grand Fleet, writing on June 5th about the Battle of Jutland, said: "The day we have been waiting for came, but rather late, towards eventide. After waiting nearly two years we got 'the buzz' that our cruisers were in action at 4.10 pm, up against the whole of the German fleet.

"So we went helter-skelter at full speed to their aid and came into them at about six o'clock, and opened fire with our turrets at once. All the Battle Squadron was engaged, on and off, for about three hours, when a mist came over and what would have been a complete wash-out was stopped. "Had the mist cleared for only ten minutes, I can assure you there would not have been a German ship left to tell the lies they are, or were, trying to pump into the papers. I can tell you it was only the providence of God that they got out of gunfire and saw the harbour again, for the mist that came on was their salvation.

"As regards losses, they are awful, but you will see results when all true reports are sent in.

"Well, in the morning at 4.30, we sighted them again, and when they caught sight of the Grand Fleet they nipped like wild cats. Then the curtain fell - more mist.

"We could do not more; our work was done. So we steamed away to see if we could help anybody. Now don't you think we are doing our work? We have got an idea we shall not see them again.

"I can tell you I never saw such a sight in all my experience on the water, and that is a few years. Terrible gun fire, at long range, no back doors."

[The Luton News, June 15th, 1916]