Account of Eric James Patrick Brind at the Battle of Jutland

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Taken from Lorimer papers, pp. 123-131.

Brind was serving in H.M.S. Malaya (1915) during the Jutland battle.


On 31st May I had the afternoon watch, which promised to to be very dull and uneventful. Contrary to usual practice during these sweeps of the North Sea, there were no rumours of our movements or of those of the enemy. We were steaming E. by S. approx., and as usual zigzagging to avoid a possible Fritz. The 5th Battle Squadron,(in the order of Barham, Valiant, Warspite, Malaya) were about 50 N. of Sir David Beattie [sic] and his 6 Battle Cruisers.

The 1st, 2nd and 3rd light cruiser squadrons were spread ahead with the 13th T.B.D. Flotilla.

2.30 p.m. Saw an intercepted signal, from Galatea to Lion stating that a large amount of smoke had been seen, apparently a Fleet under way. Shortly afterwards we heard that Light Cruisers were in touch with enemy L.C's and t.b.d's. As this was our first intimation that any Germans were on the ocean at all, our excitement and surprise may be imagined. Faces at once brightened and glasses scanned the horizon for a sight of the enemy. The pessimists still held out that in all probability, it was some wretched enemy Light Cruisers that would easily escape us.

3.30 p.m. Sounded off 'Action'.

3.15. Passed the Engadine with a seaplane in the water alongside. Officers and men doubled to their stations most of them never even guessing that a German had been sighted, thinking that it was the same old game, i.e., 'Be ready'.

When I arrived in my Turret (B), I knew that the Light Cruisers had been in action and that there was no time to spare. I had a hurried look round to see that all was well, and told the men what I could, viz:— That we might expect to meet anything from an enemy Light Cruiser to the High Sea Fleet and that B Turret had to get off the maximum number of rounds allowed by the control. We had, up to that date, been favoured by luck, but we must be ready for anything, and not miss a salvo. The men were greatly cheered by the news, assured me that not a chance would be missed to ease off a round at the Huns, and at once began to make little extra preparations, taking off superfluous clothing etc. They made all sorts of weird and wonderful jokes as to what would happen to any German ship that should be so unfortunate as to come within range of us.


3.50 pm. Our Battle Cruisers were heard firing, so I thought it was time to get to my silent cabinet. I saw nothing till about 4 p.m., when I sighted a German Light Cruiser at which our Light Cruisers were firing. Now things were beginning to look busy ; surely we would sight something bigger soon.

About 4.10. We turned to approx. S.S.E. I then sighted the German Battle Cruisers steaming on a parallel course. There were 5 of them, and I thought their order was as follows:— Three Derfflinger class, followed by the Moltke, and last the Seydlitz. There were Light Cruisers and T.B.D's ahead and astern. I was sure the last ship was the Seydlitz, and not the Moltke, for I carefully compared the two and saw that the rear ship had a raised forecastle which is about the only way of distinguishing the Seydlitz from the Moltke.

4.15 p.m. We opened fire on the Seydlitz. We were the last ship to commence firing, as we were the last ship in the line. The range was 19,000 yards and the Enemy bearing about 2 pts. before the beam. The visibility was then good for ranging, but I thought bad for spotting, as the background was misty and exactly the colour of a splash, thus making them difficult to distinguish. Remembering my experience on the Belgian Coast, I started with the intention of making as full notes as possible throughout the action. This I managed to do with the exception of the times I had to go into the turret to try and remedy a defect. By a misfortune, which I shall never cease to regret, these notes became detached from the signal pad, and were thrown away by an enthusiastic boy as waste paper. I made notes of every salvo I saw, the target and anything of interest. Practically the only thing that I remember about the fall of shot is the fact that we hit with our 4th salvo. All the rest is jumbled in my head, and I cannot pick up the time at which various incidents happened.

When the Seydlitz was hit she turned about 5 points away, but shortly afterwards resumed her course. Very soon after, I remember thinking, I remember thinking they must be zigzagging as we were several times wrong for deflection. During this time the enemy were firing quickly but wildly. We fired quickly for the first few salvos, but as the light grew worse, our firing became more deliberate and the range closed. I did not have much time to note how the firing of the other ships fared. All I remember is that the enemy ships all seemed to be having a bad time, and that they appeared obliterated by splashes of our shell. I distinctly remember noting that the Seydlitz appeared badly on fire shortly after being hit by our shells, and that the third ship also appeared to be on fire. The battle continued in this manner till 4.50 p.m. The visibility [125] was rapidly becoming worse, and at times we could only see the flashes of the enemy guns. Notwithstanding this, however, the enemy must have been able to distinguish us plainly, for the horizon on our starboard side was very definite. The German Battle Cruisers were zigzagging rapidly, which together with the light, probably explains why they were not hit more, and for the erraticness of their own shooting.

4.50 p.m. I saw the enemy Battle Cruisers turning 16 points together. I then looked to the southwards to see if I could see the reason of this manoeuvre. I saw, just distinguishable in the mist, a warship of sorts coming from the S.E. I pointed this out to the Commander who is in my turret for the purpose of conning the ships should anything happen to the main position, and because it is a good central position for keeping in touch with the other departments. We were not kept long in suspense as to the nature of the new ship, for, very shortly after sighting her I saw a long line of others which we soon recognised as German Dreadnought battleships of the Konig and Kaiser classes. I can not say in what formation they were, but they seemed to be in three divisions, in line ahead and disposed quarterly. Up to this time the shooting for us had been like a 'peace' battle practice. I felt that according to all the rules of the game, the German Battle Cruisers ought not to remain much longer afloat if only the light held.

I had not up to date thought much of the dangers of being hit by a proj. except perhaps just before the action, when my mind did certainly wander on the gruesome prospects of a Naval action. Now, however, matters took a different complexion. We were closing the High Seas Fleet at a rate of 40 knots and there was every prospect of being engaged with them in a very short space of time. My feelings at that time are rather hard to analyse, for as things were then happening quite quickly, I had not much time for thinking whether I was frightened or not, but I dare say if I had stopped to think, I should have been. It merely flashed across my mind that we were in for a busy time, if not an extremely lively one.

4.55 p.m. Out Battle Cruisers passed between us and the Enemy, steering approximately North. it was then that I realised that we had lost two, and that the wreckage we had passed through was our own. We had seen the Laurel, a Destroyer, stopped among the wreckage picking some survivors from the water. So small an amount of wreckage was in the water that I thought it was a German Light Cruiser or at the worst one of ours. The Laurel was about 2½ cables from our line, and was under considerable fire. It was a fine sight to see their boat's crews carrying out their work as it if was a peacetime evolution. As we were going on opposite courses, the B.C's passed us very rapidly, and we did not get much time to see how things were going with them. We could see Lion, Princess Royal, Tiger and New Zealand; they were all firing very rapidly at the enemy B.C's., and the only damage seen was 'Q' turret [126] in the Lion which was trained away from the enemy and appeared to be badly hit. We continued our course for what seemed an eternity, but which in reality was only about 5 minutes.

4.59 p.m. The 5th B.S. turned 16 points to starboard in succession. I must confess to a feeling of relief when I realised we were to turn around, though not at it being done in succession. When it was the turn of the Malaya to turn, the turning point was a very hot corner, as of course the enemy had concentrated on that point. The shell were pouring at a very rapid rate, and it is doubtful if we, the last ship in the line, could get through without at least a very severe hammering. However, the Captain decided that point, by turning the ship early. When we had turned or rather as I was turning my turret to the starboard side I saw our Battle Cruisers who were proceeding Northerly at full speed, were already quite 8000 yards ahead of us, engaging the German Battle Cruisers. I then realised that the four of us alone (5th B.S. Barham, Warspite, Valiant and Malaya) would have to entertain the High Sea Fleet.

5.15. The enemy continued to fire at us rapidly during and after the turn, but did not really get near till 5.15, when their salvos began to arrive thick and fast. From my position in the turret I could see them fall just short, could hear them going over and several times saw a great column of black water fall on top of the turret roof. I don't know that I thought very much at the time for I was trying very hard to make out a target, but I expected that at any moment we should get a nasty knock, and I realised that if any one of those many shells falling around us should hit in the right place, our speed would be sadly reduced, and that we should not then, stand a very good chance. The salvos at this time were coming at a rate of 6 to 9 per minute. Soon after the turn I counted the number of enemy ships firing at us, and the 9th ship was the rearmost that I saw open fire. I believe that this was increased by the German B.C's though I cannot say that I saw them.

5.20 p.m. I saw a large column of water rise up between my guns and felt the turret shake heavily. We had been hit abreast the turret, below the water line and so heavy was the shock that I feared that our fighting efficiency must have been gravely impaired, not so much that the shell had pierced any part of the turret, but that the shock of the impact had seriously impaired our loading arrangements. I went into the gun House to enquire whether all was well below & received the report that they had been somewhat shaken by the blow, but that everything seemed all right. This proved too optimistic an estimate, for when the main cage arrived in the working chamber it was found that the shell could not be withdrawn, & there was a proper jam up. I dashed down, and we had to work like niggers to clear it. After what seemed an age, but could not be really have been long we succeeded and by extemporary means managed to get the cage into working order again. During this [127] this time the secondary method of loading was in use for the right gun, and although 5 rounds had to be loaded in this manner the turret never missed a chance to fire. This was very pleasing as the secondary method of loading is considered very slow. The men had to work at tremendous pressure to keep the guns going, everybody available assisting at the right gun, including the midshipmen, armourer, torpedoman, etc. I thought their success a great credit to them.

On going into the turret I found everybody very cheery and full of go. They had no thought that we should come off worse than the enemy, but only wanted to know how many of the enemy ships were still afloat waiting to be finished off. They were full of confidence that every shell was doing its bit, and many and varied were the benedictions that were sent with them. When things were at their hottest I heard one man in the gunhouse call out to the other, 'Don't get rattled, you're putting your ------ feet all over the ------ paint work'. This was the turret sweeper whose special interest was the paint work. Those in the shellroom had a fairly severe shock when the salvo pitched abreast them, several being knocked down. They treated it as a joke and their one idea being to send up as many proj's as possible. I think the lot of those on the magazine were the hardest, for it is no easy matter to handle cordite for a 15" gun, & the atmosphere becomes extremely oppressive.

Until about 5.40, the enemy's firing continued to be very brisk and to fall all around us. The visibility for us had been getting steadily worse; in fact since 5.15., we had rarely seen anything but the flashes of the German guns. During this time we were hit several times to what extent, I could not tell.

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