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Final21 July 2015
Beattyand Evan Thomas: a signal missed and a signal made.
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Ithas long been known, and held to his discredit, that Beatty, whenFirst Sea Lord, attempted to make changes in the Record of the Battleof Jutland, prepared by Captain J.E.T. Harper and a small team forthe information of the Admiralty Board and for subsequentpublication. Subsequently efforts were also made to modify Corbett’saccount of the battle in the third volume of the Official History andan Admiralty Narrative of the battle was published in June 1924 towhich Jellicoe took strong exception. It has been widely acceptedthat this was the Beatty version of the action. In 1998 J.A. Yatescompleted a doctoral thesis on the controversy, paying particularattention to the genesis of the Naval Staff Appreciation of thebattle from which the Narrative was drawn. Dr Yates suggests that itwas not simply an exercise in vanity on Beatty’s part: “tolegitimise his favourable idea of his own performance and theprinciples he wished to see adopted by the Fleet, Beatty knew thatthere had to be an account that endorsed his views, which was alsoendorsed by the Admiralty and which was generally accepted asaccurate.”1Since Beatty himself kept a remarkably complete file of his owndealings in the matter, Yates’s explanation, while still open tochallenge, makes better sense than the simple charge that Beatty wasout to falsify history absolutely and in the long term.
Theassumption throughout the thesis is that Beatty knew that theperformance of the Battle Cruiser Fleet and his own exercise ofcommand had been poor, but because he believed strongly in theprinciples he espoused, he sought to conceal the damning facts thatat Jutland his “system” had failed. “David Beatty was wellaware that interpretation of the evidence would decide how the Navydeveloped after Jutland. Therefore, he sought to influence theJutland histories to his advantage - to support his reforms andenhance his image - by corrupting the evidence upon whichcontemporary perceptions of the battle were based.”2Brock and Chatfield are portrayed as his reluctant co-adjutors,whereas there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that,particularly where the Battle Cruiser Fleet’s gunnery wasconcerned, Chatfield often took the lead. Beatty’s consciousness ofhis own failings is largely assumed rather than demonstrated.However, this article is concerned less with the generality ofBeatty’s actions and his motives, than with one particular aspectof the case Dr Yates argues.
Heis critical of predecessors writing about the controversy for notrealising that the defects in the evidence are not simply the resultof what he terms “natural historiographical discrepancies”. Hedescribes earlier views as “most erroneous. Naturalhistoriographical discrepancies there are, but what still remains tobe examined are the deliberate alterations to the evidence and theefforts to make it appear to be authentic. Most of these wereinstigated by Beatty. It is these actions and their consequences forthe Navy that need study.”3In fact a good many, if not most, of these activities have beencovered before in accounts that are in general hostile to Beatty, butas Dr Yates surveys the ground he wished to cover, it becomes plainthat he believes Beatty did not content himself with trying to changethe accounts of the battle given in what became known as the HarperRecord and the official history, but that he manipulated the rawmaterial from which those histories were compiled.
“Everyauthor up to [t]his point [the publication of the official life ofJellicoe in 1936], whether or not they knew of Beatty's interference,assumed that the basic material used in the official accounts -mainly from the Despatches – was accurate. No-one tested thevalidity and accuracy of this evidence. The Dewarsdid not, Corbett did not, and the Admiralty Narrative certainly didnot. Neither did Bellairs, Bacon, Altham, Frost or Pastfield. Harperhad provided a sure indication of where authors should have looked ifthey had wanted a better understanding of the issue, but they assumedthat Harper's viewswere corrupted because of his poor opinion of Beatty. This was aserious and erroneous mistake.”4Nor did the situation improve, despite the availability of Germanaccounts which would have thrown new light on the claims made for theBattle Cruiser Fleet. Dr Yates is right to think this is a mostserious charge and it deserves serious examination. His sweepingdismissal of pre-war writers is less than fair: as he notes, Harper’swork on the Record and the charts accompanying it was made availableto and valued by Corbett and the Dewars, while Pollen, who had workedwith Harper, made adjustments to the charts in the light of theGerman evidence. Yates’s assertion that this tainted their workrests on the untested assumption that Harper had made the changesthat Beatty ordered. The evidence suggests that the reverse is true.But the possibility that Beatty or his acolytes tampered with theoriginal documentation is not a charge previously made,5and is not one they consider.
Itwould be interesting to know where precisely Dr Yates found inHarper’s The Truthabout Jutland apointer to these fabrications as opposed to charges that Beatty couldbe seen either as wilfully flying in the face of or deliberatelymisrepresenting the evidence. Dr Yates does not tell us, but itbecomes clear that at this point he has in mind particularly claimsabout the effect of the Battle Cruiser Fleet’s gunnery. It isrelevant to note therefore that one of the most significant pieces ofevidence that he uses in this context was neither altered ordestroyed, simply retained by Chatfield. That may well lend supportto his explanation of the motivation of Beatty and his supporters,but it does not support, quite the reverse, any charge offabrication. It should be noted in passing, however, that the chargeof controlling the supply of evidence is levelled at Beatty, whileChatfield, “who might have provided more information”6in his memoirs, escapes serious criticism, presumably because he isviewed, a trifle oddly, as Beatty’s unwilling collaborator ratherthan as a man with axes of his own to grind.7
Ofthe later accounts, only Campbell and Grove escape a bludgeoning fromDr Yates, while Barnett8is criticised for thinking, although he was not without good reason,that German materielwas superior.9Dr Yates is unduly dismissive of Campbell’s work, which went a longway to provide conclusive proof that German gunnery was superior tothat of the Battle Cruiser Fleet, and is a good deal less than fairto Gordon’s Rules ofthe Game.10The latter had tested the evidence, but is presumably open to DrYates’s criticism, because he had not spotted any deliberatefalsification of the raw material to be found in the JutlandDespatches. It should be added that Gordon’s masterly account isfar less conventional than Dr Yates seems ready to admit, and sharplycritical of any subsequent misrepresentation of events.
DrYates tends to conflate two quite separate questions, first whetherthe Jutland despatches provide an accurate guide to events, andsecond, considerably more serious, whether they have been subject totampering. Self evidently they are not the raw material of history,but the first draft of it, compiled by participant observers andinherently subjective. But Dr Yates looks beyond these inherentdefects to argue that “deliberate alterations” were made to theevidence and that these have corrupted the historical record. He isunable to demonstrate when this is supposed to have occurred, butpoints to a possible opportunity: “Alldespatches and plans from ships attached to the BCF were sentinitially to Beatty. Afew weeks after the battle, the senior survivor from Invincible,the Gunnery Officer, Commander Hubert Dannreuther, took them with himto London, to show to the King and the Admiralty.”11Beatty’s own despatch, however, was sent to Jellicoe on 12 June andby then the original reports, including that from Evan Thomas, hadbeen transmitted to him. He was under pressure to submit his ownreport.12Yates argues that it “is by no meanscertain to what extent the material in the published Despatchesreflects what wasactually written by each Captain; much original material haslong-since been destroyed.. Achieving publication of the Despatcheswas a significant advantage to Beatty, because he chose in 1916 (asBCF C-in-C) and 1920 (as First Sea Lord), what evidence went intothem. Indeed, in at least one case, he even re-wrote a portion tosuit his views. Much of the extant evidence held by the Admiralty hadbeen seen by Harper before publication of the Despatches. However, ashe was to find out, there was a good deal more not disclosed by 1920which proved that Beatty had something to hide regarding his commandin the BCF.”13
Theseare serious charges and to be upheld they would require considerablymore substantiation than Dr Yates offers in his thesis. They can beseen as inherently implausible. There are two possibilities, onerather more readily accomplished than the other. The more plausibleof the two charges that Dr Yates wishes to bring, suppressioveri , would havebeen difficult to achieve. The expectation that every ship would makea report (exemplified in the way that survivors were asked to reporton the loss of their ship) is the first hurdle. Making undetectablealterations in a series of documents produced by others is evenharder to accomplish. Only those with professional knowledge of theproblems of a forger who wishes to escape detection over time, willrealise the immensity of the task which Dr Yates supposes Beatty,with the active complicity of his staff, to have set himself. To doso he would have to assume that no Captain would have kept copies ofwhat he had written and that others with their own take on the battlewould not be able to establish at a later date inconsistenciesbetween what was reported and what actually took place. Publication,far from being to Beatty’s advantage, would be fraught with danger,since a far wider professional audience, with clear recollections ofthe day or access to private records, would be able to spot “errors”in the published despatches in regard to what had taken place. It isalmost inconceivable that those who signed a despatch in the firstplace would not read it again and know whether it was their own ornot. Against this, Dr Yates offers no evidence at all of the processwhich he supposes Beatty and his staff to have undertaken beyond theassertion that Beatty rewrote one passage, as yet unspecified.
Perhapsthe strongest evidence against the suggestion made by Dr Yates is tobe found in the Harper memorandum. Harper writes: “The next day [23July 1920] a new point was raised14,which was that the 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. paragraphs were incorrect and,therefore, the track of the British Battle Cruisers incorrectlyplotted at this time with reference to the enemy. This objection wasraised because the ranges, times of opening fire, etc., given in theRecord, did not agree exactly with one passage in the despatch from[Beatty]. The documentary evidence included the original gunneryrecords, from all the Battle Cruisers, including Lion. These agreedin the main with one another, but the evidence was at variance withthe statement made in the despatch.”15Far from making a sustained effort to alter the evidence, Beatty andhis staff had apparently left intact the very documentation thatHarper used to question the accuracy of Beatty’s despatch.
Further,when Beatty attempted to secure an alteration of the track of thebattle cruisers at 1915 to bring the range of the enemy down to13,400 yards rather than the 17,000 plotted, “it was pointed outthat if the amended track were to agree, even approximately, with theofficial certified ranges it would be necessary to move the enemytrack some 3000 yards to the Westward, and this would, of course,throw out all our Battleship ranges. In fact to make such analteration as that desired by the First Sea Lord would necessitatereplotting the tracks of every squadron.. With such a mass of shipsand squadrons engaged it would be impossible to alter one track on atrack chart without having to alter others.. it would lead tochaos.”16Yet this is the task that Dr Yates supposes Beatty’s staff to haveundertaken in less than a fortnight. It is also telling that Beattysought to amend Lion’strack chart on 7 July to accord with his own recollection. He wouldscarcely have needed to have done so had he sought to havemanipulated the record before sending in his own despatch.17It is evident from his trust in the gunnery records that Harperdetected no such action and was able to deploy them to query theviews conveyed to him by Chatfield in September 1920.18
Thisbrings us to the single charge of fabricating evidence which Harperhimself brought against Beatty. It concerns Plate 8a in the Jutlanddespatches. This did not figure in the Admiralty records as theoriginal had not been forwarded by Jellicoe. There is good reason tosuppose that it was sent by Beatty to Jellicoe on 17 July 1916, butthat the latter was not prepared to accept Beatty’s attempt toalter the track of the battle cruisers. The issue was that of the 32point turn. Beatty had evidently realised that the original did notaccord with his recollection of what had taken place. The newsunprint of Lion’strack enclosed with his letter was unsigned. Beatty’s “crime”was to attempt to add his signature four years later in order to makethe document ‘official’; as Harper noted, to “make it‘official’ it must be signed, so it was signed.”19Contrary to Harper’s opinion, it is almost certain that this was anoriginal sun print20,although not an official one. Harper rightly describes this as a“stupid deception” and so it was, but it scarcely suggests theearly large scale attempt at falsification that Dr Yates suggests orthe skill that would have been required to carry it out successfully.
Infairness to Harper, who is said to have been the inspiration for thethesis put forward by Dr Yates, it should be said that this is the onlyallegation of fabrication made against Beatty in the whole of theHarper papers as opposed to documentation of his attempts to “fudge”the official Record. Beatty is also accused of wishing to make anomission from his despatch before it was printed. On examination thecharge made by Harper is correct, the motive seemingly that theinformation included in good faith in 1916 was known by 1920 to beincorrect. Significantly, however, the passage was included when thereport was printed in the Jutland Despatches. Had Beatty “chosen”what went into the 1920 publication, as Yates alleges he did (noreference given) would he not have modified his own despatch?
DrYates appears to offer only three specific examples to support hischarges. Although it deals with all three, the main purpose of thisarticle is to test the validity of the most substantial charge, thesuggestion that a particular signal was forged and led to a falsehoodbeing told in the House of Commons on 15 March 1927.
Thisnecessitates a return to the much debated question of what actuallyhappened when, at 1432 on 31 January 1916, Beatty turned his battlecruiser squadrons SSE while the 5th Battle Squadron, rather thanconform to Beatty’s move, continued on its original course. Theobvious question, since the 5thBattle Squadron turned some eight minutes later to the same course,is why it turned when it did? I share Dr Yates’s view that thesignificance of the entire episode has been considerably exaggerated.If Beatty is to be criticised for failing to concentrate his force,attention would be better focused on what happened almost an hourlater at 1521, when Evan Thomas chose to steer a course whichdiverged from that of Beatty’s battle cruisers, and in so doingcancelled out much of the ground which he had gained on them byjudicious cutting of corners.
However,it was the earlier decision that became the prime example of Beatty’sfailure to concentrate his force before going into action, one of thecentral charges made in Bacon’s TheJutland Scandal.21It is a charge repeated in Gordon’s Rulesof the Game andaccepted by Stephen Roskill in his biography of Beatty. All threeseem to assume prior knowledge on the part of both Beatty and EvanThomas that they were dealing with something more than German lightforces, although it is far from clear that either man thought that atthe time or even had good reason to think so.
Beforeturning to the documents whose authenticity Dr Yates questions, it isnecessary to establish the context. The log of the British lightcruiser Galatea,which was operating in tandem with Phaetonat the right hand end of Beatty’s screen, noted “2.07 p.m.,sighted enemy T.B.D.s.” In his report, dated 2ndJune, Alexander-Sinclair, who was flying his Commodore’s broadpennant in Galatea,implicitly corrects the timing of the sighting: At2.18 p.m.on 31stMay inlatitude 56° 52'N., longitude5° 21' E., 'Galatea 'and 'Phaeton 'being inthe Port Wingposition ofthe LightCruiser Screen, courseand speedof BattleCruiser Fleet beingS.E., 20knots, attention wasdrawn by asteamer, bearing S. 72E. about 12miles, blowingoff steamand themasts andtwo funnels ofa warvessel weremade outin hervicinity. Thiswas reportedby 'Galatea,' whoin companywith 'Phaeton,' closedat high speed.It wasthen foundthat twoGerman Destroyershad stoppedthe steamerand thata squadronof Cruisersand Torpedo-boatDestroyers werea littleto theNorth-eastward apparentlysteaming invarious directions whichmade it difficult to send an adequate report.” 22
Notonly was there no synchronisation of time between squadrons or withinsquadrons, but clocks on board ships could frequently differ. TheNavigating Officer would have access to his chronometer, butjealously guard it against others. Discrepancies between times notedon the bridge and those in the signal office are therefore to beexpected. One might expect those in reports of proceedings to be morecarefully considered and the product of more than one source ofevidence, but that does not mean they are necessarily correct.Despatches, as noted already, are most certainly not the raw materialof history, but the product of judgment after the event. Whetheracknowledged by the author as such or not, a despatch is no more thana first draft of history, but, significantly, it is likely to beregarded by its author as reliable.
Beattyhad turned his force North by East at 1415; at the same time he toldEvan Thomas to “look out for advanced cruisers of Grand fleet.”23Both signals were recorded as being made by searchlight. Evan Thomassignalled his own squadron by flags to alter course in succession at1417. Galatea, an unidentified officer recalled, “was late in receiving thesignal, and about 2.15 was only just about to turn when a merchantship was sighted ahead, which appeared to be stopped and blowing offsteam, so the Commodore held on his course for a few minutes to havea look at her.”24 As Galateaapproached, a destroyer, which had at first not been spotted, madeoff. She was “unmistakably a Hun. Action stations were at oncesounded off.”25Alexander-Sinclair made the signal “Enemy in Sight” at 1420, andat the same time wirelessed “Urgent. Two Cruisers probably hostilein sight bearing ESE course unknown. My position Lat. 56 48’N,Long. 5 21’E.” At 1421 Evan Thomas signalled his squadron that heintended to proceed at 19 1/2 knots. Beatty was steaming at 19 knotsand the 5thBattle Squadron was slightly inside its station. Galatea’ssignal reached every ship in Beatty’s force but few, if any, seemto have thought that a major action was imminent. No one on thebridge of either Lionor Barhamhad any knowledge that the High Sea Fleet was out. Beatty, who hadknown of the possibility, like Jellicoe had been informed in amessage sent by the Admiralty at 1230: “no definite news enemy.They made preparations for sailing early this morning Wednesday. Itwas thought fleet had sailed but direction signal placed flagshipJade at 11.10 GMT Apparently they have been unable to carry out airreconnaissance which has delayed them.”26
Itwill have taken a minute or two for Galatea’swireless message to be deciphered and passed to Lion’sbridge. Beatty signalled his destroyers at 1425, using flags: “Takeup position as Submarine screen when course is altered to SSE.”27Barham,according to the Admiralty Narrative,received the “course about to be steered” at 1430.28The Dewars, who wrote the Narrative, are referring to the signalstationing the destroyers, and the signal, as the First Lord of theAdmiralty made clear in a parliamentary answer on 15 March 1927, wasrecorded in Barham’ssignal log.29Evan Thomas was later to write “he knew that two enemy lightcruisers had been reported and that the battle-cruisers were turningbut to what course it was impossible to see; and they rushed off intospace without his having received any signal from the Vice Admiral incommand, neither searchlight or wireless having been used by Lion.”30It was an unfortunate lapse of memory. Evan Thomas’s Flag Captainwas in no doubt that this signal was passed to her, and in an accountwritten after Evan Thomas was dead, he recalled suggesting that the5thBattle Squadron turn east at once.31Barham’sexecutive officer, Commander Egerton, apparently confirmed receiptalso. One can infer from the time of receipt that was repeated to herby searchlight. Tigerwas then acting asrepeating ship. It should be noted that all Barham’sconsorts received the signal at 1734 and that Fearlessrecorded it as being received from Barham.
Beatty’snext order was made to his entire force: “Alter course leadingships together the rest in succession to SSE.” The signal was madeby flags and was hauled down at 1432. A minute later he signalled hisintention to proceed at 22 knots and ordered “raise steam for fullspeed and report when ready to proceed.”32As Lionturned, Barhamsignalled the 5th Battle Squadron to turn two points to port,evidently intending to resume the zigzag course that had been pursuedbefore the turn N by E, the course Evan Thomas was steering, N by W,would have been the port leg of a four point zigzag.33
Barhamnot only failed to conform immediately to Beatty’s turn, but wasactually steering almost directly away from her. It is only fair tonote that, as Evan Thomas later put it, the “signal for ‘Steamfor full speed’ had been made, and all the battle cruisers weredrawing their fires forward and making a tremendous smoke, which madeit impossible to distinguish flag signals from Fifth Battle Squadronstationed five miles off, except possibly on rare occasions. Hadsignals been made by searchlight as they had been on other occasionson the same day, they would have been seen immediately.”34 However, it is equally apparent that Evan Thomas made no effort tomaintain his assigned station nor did he in any way conform to whatthe battle cruisers were doing. Instead he or his staff wereaddressing the distance between ships of the squadron and redeployingtheir own destroyer screen to the SSE. We are told that Evan Thomasmaintained to the end of his life that he received no executivesignal, although that is not quite what is said in his letter to TheTimes of 13 February1927 nor indeed what he had told Jellicoe previously.
Itis worth quoting the entire passage, even though it will be evidentthat had Evan Thomas genuinely thought Beatty intended to sandwichthe enemy between the two squadrons, he should at the very least haveturned his own squadron back into line ahead and that he would nothave been redeploying his own destroyer screen on a course SSE.35“The only way I could account for no signal having been received byme,” he wrote in this exculpatory letter, “was that the ViceAdmiral was going to signal another course to the Fifth BattleSquadron – possibly to get the enemy light cruisers between us.Anyway, if he wished us to turn, the searchlight would have done itin a moment. It was not until Tiger asked Lion by wireless whetherthe signal to turn was to be made to Barham, that the Vice Admiralseemed to realise the situation. But these lost minutes turned outafterwards to be a most serious matter.”36We are not told explicitly on what evidence Evan Thomas based hisstatement that Beatty, prompted by the supposed signal from Tiger,“seemed to realise the situation”, a point to which we shall haveto return. But the charge he makes against Beatty is as sweeping asthose made earlier by Bacon in TheJutland Scandal andmay have been prompted by it: “After all isn’t it one of thefundamental principles of naval tactics that an admiral makes surethat his orders are understood by distant parts of his Fleet beforerushing into space covered by a smoke screen? Also, if, as I believe,he knew the German heavy ships were at sea, should he not have seenthat his most important ships were close at hand.”37Quite how Evan Thomas could write this last sentence isincomprehensible. It is possible, but unlikely that he did not knowthat Beatty, like his Commander-in-Chief, assumed from the earliersignal sent by the Admiralty that they had not left harbour, orperhaps, to be more charitable, that they were not expected to havedone so any earlier than 1300 hours. But, in any case, Evan Thomascontradicts himself in the course of writing this paragraph since his‘alibi’ rests on the assumption that Beatty could afford todivide his force since he was dealing only with the German lightforces.
Theauthors of the Admiralty Narrative write: “Six minutes later, theLion’salter course having been received38,the Barhamturned back fifteen points to S.S.E. By the time she had completedthis turn the Barhamwas over nine miles from the Lion,and though in the next hour she was able by steering a convergingcourse to regain some of this distance she was still considerablyastern of her appointed station when the action commenced about 3.50p.m.”39Although the authors say six minutes on the basis of Barham’slog40,they note also that the logs of Valiant,Warspiteand Malayaall give 2.40 p.m. as does Warspite’strack chart.41 The distance between the two flagships steering on almostdiametrically opposite courses will have lengthened by something like1,300 yards a minute so that by the time Barhamordered a turn in succession to SSE, speed 22 knots at 1440, thebattleships lagged the battle cruisers by something like ten seamiles. The Admiralty Narrativeprovided no explanation for the delay and simply notes that “theactual ‘executive signal’ is logged as having been received at2.37 p.m.”42
Jellicoetook this to be an insinuation that Evan Thomas was responsible forthe delay, thought that “unjust”, and insisted on making hisdissent known. Noting that at 2.32 p.m. the 5thBattle Squadron was actually inside the distance at which Beatty hadstationed it, he observed that at “this time a signal was madegeneral by flagsfor the leader to turn to S.S.E., ships following in succession. Itis not surprising (he went on) that this signal was not immediatelydistinguishable on board the Barham,nearly 5 miles away, and apparently it was not until 2.40 p.m. thatit was made out and the course of the 5thBattle Squadron altered accordingly; during the period 2.32 – 2.40the distance between the Lion and Barham had opened to 10 miles.”It scarcely needs saying that a signal hauled down at 1432 could nothave been “made out” at 1440!
Jellicoewent on to detail three further occasions in the next hour whenBeatty made a general signal by flags and makes the point that it wasnot realised apparently until 1535 that Barhamcould not read Lion’sflag signals and that a signal was then made to her by searchlight,which Evan Thomas immediately obeyed.43Whether these later flag signals were intended for the 5thBattle Squadron at all is disputable, and warrants debate in anyaccount of the battle. However, they are mentioned here simplybecause they were used to reinforce the charge that the error was notEvan Thomas’s, but had been made in Beatty’s signal department;and for that of course, Beatty must take ultimate responsibility. Ifthere was an error in the signal department, again something to bediscussed and not simply assumed, it may well not have been thedecision to use flags, but the failure to realise that Tigermight be in some difficulty as the ship tasked to repeat Lion’ssignals by searchlight.
Itshould be noted that in his biography of Jellicoe, Bacon implicitlyamends what he had said in TheJutland Scandal,alleging that “Tiger called Sir David’s attention to the mistakeon signalling and the 5th Battle Squadron were then given a newcourse.”44That would certainly explain the course of events, but Bacon providesno evidence for the existence of this signal; and no documentaryevidence to support his statement has ever come to light, Therealisation that Tigerwas no longerrepeating Lion’sflag signals by searchlight came later when Tigersignalled to the Lionat 1505 that the 2.32 signal and signals made since had not beenpassed to the Barham.45It is highly unlikely that the signal would have been made in thatform if Tigerhad indicated to Lionat about 1434 that she had been unable to communicate the 2.32 signalto Barham.Gordon refers to Evan Thomas’s assertion that Tigerwirelessed Lion,and clearly infers that it is farfetched to think she would have doneso. Semaphore or searchlight would be more likely. No such signal isfound in the list of signals compiled for Harper, nor is there anyreference to the issue in either Pelly’s report or his memoirs.46One is driven to think, in direct contradiction of Dr Yates, thatEvan Thomas knew that he had received a searchlight signal to turn,that it came from Lion,and that he inferred, rather than knew, that it had been prompted byTiger.He had evidently missed the significance of the latter ship’ssignal at 1505.
EvanThomas’s report elides any glitch, but clearly accepts thatBeatty’s intention was to turn his whole force SSE:
“No.024. ' QueenElizabeth,'
IHAVE thehonour toreport that, on31st May1916, whenin Latitude57° N, longitude4° 45' 30'E., at2.23 p.m., the FifthBattle Squadron..in singleline ahead..was fivemiles N.N.W.of theFirst Battle-cruiserSquadron, steeringN. byE., whena W/Tsignal wasintercepted from'Galatea'— 'Enemyin sight,' uponwhich theBattle-cruiser Fleet andFifth BattleSquadron wereturned to S.S.E. bysignal fromthe Vice Admiral
Commandingthe Battle-cruiserFleet and speedincreased to 25knots.”
Anaccompanying set of diagrams first shows the situation at 2.20 p.m.and then the situation at 2.40 p.m. This second diagram shows the 5thBattle Squadron steering SSE while the 2ndBattle Cruiser Squadron has yet to complete its turn. The nextdiagram provided is timed at 4.00 p.m. If anyone is obscuring thetruth here, it is Evan Thomas. He had turned his squadron at 1440 toprecisely the same course and speed that Lionhad signalled.47Beatty, who paid warm tribute to Evan Thomas’s “brilliantsupport” in his despatch, contents himself with the observationthat at or shortly after 1530, the “5thBattle Squadron, who had conformed to our movements, were now bearingN.N.W., 10,000 yards.”48While generous, this was less than the truth.
Thefirst indication that Evan Thomas’s failure to conform withBeatty’s turn to the SSE would become an issue can be found inJellicoe’s letter to Evan Thomas of 3 June 1922 and was the resultof what he took to be an insinuation in the NavalStaffAppreciationthat the latter was to blame “for the opening of the distancebetween the BCF and 5thBS to ten miles between the time of Galateasighting the enemy and the BCF being in action. I pointed out veryclearly that this was due to signals being made by flags at a greatdistance and not by W/T or S.L. and that if there was any blame itlay elsewhere.”49As Gordon makes clear50,Jellicoe’s post-war view disregards what the GFBOs themselvesindicated should happen where a signal was indistinguishable; it alsoignores the duty of a squadron commander to maintain station unlesssignalled to the contrary, a point which we believe was urged on EvanThomas by his Flag Captain and by Commander Egerton.We also have Beatty’sunderstanding from his discussions with Algernon Boyle, who commandedthe Malaya atJutland, that Evan-Thomas 'could certainly have seen Lion turnto stbd and conformed without signal. The real reason for this delaywas RA waited until his TBD screen assumed new position forscreening.. From his despatch he does not consider there was anyundue delay'.51If Jellicoe was pointing the blame at Beatty’s signalsorganisation, it should be said in fairness that Tigerhad been assigned the duty of repeating Lion’ssignals by searchlight to Evan Thomas and that this was the firstoccasion on which she had failed to do so.
Bethat as it may, Jellicoe’s views hardened and when the AdmiraltyNarrativewas published in 1924, they were published in an appendix anddismissed.52Corbett had in the meantime written in the Official History that “thegeneral signal for this movement – that is, to turn in successionto the S.S.E – which he made at the moment his helm was put over,was not passed on to Admiral Evan-Thomas, and being made by flags,could not be seen distinctly from the Barham.It was thus not till a few minutes later began to follow his lead.”53Corbett added in a footnote that Tigerhad signalled at 3.5 that this signal and others made since had notbeen passed to Barham.It is possible that when Beatty commented on the proof “Not True”,he had in mind not Tiger’sadmission, but the fact that Lionhad passed the signal, but no alteration to the text was made, andthe point cannot be proven.
Baconmade Jellicoe’s charge a major part of his attack on Beatty in TheJutland Scandal, andKenneth Dewar made an equally fierce reply in the pages of TheNaval Review. In thecourse of it Dewar noted that the “failure of the 5th battlesquadron to conform to the Lion's alteration of course at 2.32. whichincreased the distance between them by 5 miles, is also laidat Admiral Beatty's door, on the grounds thatthe signal was not made by searchlight as well as flags. But theremay have been good reason for this. Signalling by searchlight isdifficult during alterations of course, or it may have been preventedby smoke interference whilst working up speed. AlthoughAdmiral Beatty is severely criticised for not waiting for the 5thB.S. to close, we are told on page 59 that the 5thbattle squadron had no right to depart from its cruising station(N.N.W. 5 milesfrom Lion) without orders. If this iscorrect, the Barham should have preserved her bearing and distancefrom the Lion and Beatty cannot be held responsible forthe increase of the distance to 10 miles. The book abounds incontradictory statements of this kind.”54
However,it was the serialisation in TheTimes of WinstonChurchill’s account of Jutland in February 1927 that brought theattention of the House of Commons to the issue and gave rise to theParliamentary answer that is central to the allegations made by DrYates. The relevant passage appeared on 9 February and was challengedby Evan Thomas in a letter written on 13 February and printed on the16th.When the matter was first raised in the House of Commons on 9 March1927, the First Lord, William Bridgeman, referred his questioner tothe Admiralty Narrative:“he will find, on page12, that at 2.31 the 'Barham' had received the signalindicating the course which the Vice-Admiral (Admiral Beatty)intended to steer. The actual executive signal is logged as havingbeen received at 2.37 p.m. by the 'Barham.'55 When pressed by Lieutenant Commander Kenworthy on the means ofcommunication, flag or searchlight, he asked for that question to betabled. Commander Bellairs did so, making a careful distinctionbetween the preparatory signal made at 1425 and the executive signalto turn.
Bridgeman replied: “The signalreferred to on pages 12 and 106 of the Official Narrative is recordedin the signal log of H.M.S. 'Barham' as received at 2.30p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, by searchlight, from 'Lion,' thetext being as follows: Take up position now to form submarine screenwhen course is altered to S.S.E. The Executive signal to turn isrecorded in the 'Barham's' signal log as received at 2.37p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, by flags, from 'Lion,' the textbeing as follows: Alter course, Leaders together, remainder insuccession, to S.S.E., speed 22 knots. I may add that between thesetwo times the 'Barham' had signalled to her own Destroyers:Take up station for screening on altering course to S.S.E. Thissignal is timed at 2.34 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time, in the Log ofH.M.S. 'Fearless,' Senior Officer of the Flotilla.”56
Thetime of receipt offers a clear explanation of why Evan Thomas orderedthe 5thBattle Squadron to turn SSE when they did, but immediately poses adifferent problem, why a signal hauled down at 1432 should not havebeen recorded in Barham’s signal log until 1437. To Dr Yates theexplanation is simple. “Therecannot, then, have been such a signal received. If Beatty knew thathe could not get a signal through and Evan-Thomas and Craig werecertain that none was made, then it was impossible that the signalcould have been seen and recorded at the time in Barham. It isimpossible to
loga signal that was never made, so these quotes from Bridgeman andDewar must result from fabrications.. Barham'slog must have been altered after it left the ship.”57
Itis only fair to acknowledge at this point that Dr Yates issubstantiating the charge which he believes Evan Thomas had himselfmade, and that his conclusion is reached through a chain of reasoningwhich needs to be examined in depth if it is to be conclusivelyrefuted.
Beforedoing that, it is convenient to deal with a related charge offabrication made by Dr Yates, not least because it throws some lighton his handling of evidence. Craig’s brief report on the actionincluded some notes which were not as full or accurate as he wouldhave wished, in part because their author was mortally wounded laterin the action, and they were then completed by a Midshipman. Therelevant passages read: “2.15p.m. course N.by E.5th B.C.S. 5miles aheadof “Lion',ordered to lookout for advancedCruisers ofGrand Fleet.
2.38p.m. S.S.E.22 knots inconsequence of1st L.C.S.reporting enemy cruiserS.S.E. at 2.35 p.m.The BattleCruiser Squadronturned ratherbefore the 5th BattleSquadron and wereout ofsight forsome time.”58
DrYates finds this deeply suspicious: “Craigcannot have written this. The visibility to the east wasapproximately 11 1/2 miles. At 2:4 0, Lion was 10 miles away and Tigeraround 8 miles. Craig had his eyes on the BCF from at least 2: 30. Hedid not forget what had happened in the following week or so untilhis report was submitted and suddenly remembered hereafter, nor didhe shut his eyes. The ships involved did not suddenly develop speedsin excess of their designed maximum. The scenario of the BCF beinglost to sight was physically and spatially impossible. As the 5thBS followed the BCF, one might well ask how they knew the course tofollow to try to cut the distance if they could not see to anticipatethe moves, and why Lion made visual signals to the 5thBS. If Craig could not see, this must apply to the rest. This remarkwas inserted after the event, to invite the conclusion that whilstthe BCF pursued the enemy, the 5thBS dithered.”59
Thereis a good deal to question in this argument, the most obvious pointbeing the attribution to Craig on the bridge notes made by otherofficers in the lower conning tower. From the bridge the horizonwould have been just over ten miles and the Battle Cruiser Fleet wereat that distance. From the lower conning tower, while still visible,they would have been hull down. The visibility, as we know from awhole range of participants in the action, was patchy rather thanuniformly good or bad, and smoke from the BCF clearly acted as ascreen. It is therefore far from the case that the “scenario of theBCF being lost to sight was physically and spatially impossible”,the more so since the phrase was qualified by the words “for sometime”. However, Craig was not only very much alive to challenge anychange made in the reports, which would have been evident to him whenthe Jutland Paperswere published, but was active later in support of Evan Thomas whenhe sought to challenge Churchill’s account of the whole episode inThe World Crisis.He would have had no good reason to stay silent if he thought analteration had been made. Even more to the point he offeredindependent testimony in 1927 that “at 2.37 the Battle Cruisersappeared only as a cloud of smoke.”60It is almost impossible therefore to see how Dr Yates can sustainthis charge.
Atfirst sight he makes arather more plausible case for doubting the authenticity of thesignal quoted by Bridgeman in the House of Commons in March 1927,although if there was fabrication it must have been done yearsearlier. Such a signal was evidently available to the Dewars since itis summarised in the Admiralty Narrative.Corbett would seem also to have known about it and the use he made ofit in his initial version is revealing. He indicates that Lion's2:25 signal to the destroyers was repeated by searchlight to Barham,but that the signal might not have reachedEvan-Thomas. Of the signal to alter course, 'repetition bysearchlight would have entailed a loss of some minutes.' Theimplication appears to be that it was repeated to Barhamby searchlight.
Corbettand Jellicoe were in correspondence not only about the StaffAppreciation of thebattle, which had been prepared by the Dewars, but about his ownaccount, and it is very likely that this was modified as a result ofJellicoe’s letters of 6 June and 29 May and his cable on16 June1922. At all events Jellicoe wrote to Evan Thomas on 3 June to saythat he “had to enter a strong protest against the manner in whichthe authors of the Staff Appreciation of Jutland insinuated thatblame was attachable to you for the opening of the distance betweenthe BCF and 5thBS to ten miles between the time of Galatea sightingthe enemy and the BCF being in action. I pointed out very clearlythat this was due to signals being made by flag at a great distanceand not by w/t or S.L. and that if there was blame it lay elsewhere.”In his diary for 19thJune 1922, Corbett noted receipt of a 'Recorded cable fromJellicoe approving all but two paragraphs I had altered withPollen.'61In Naval Operationsas published Corbett studiously left open what caused Evan Thomas tofollow the lead given by the battle cruisers. He may not have wantedto differ openly with Jellicoe, but he must have been aware that theposition taken by the latter was untenable. It was one thing to arguethat “the signal was not immediately distinguishable aboard theBarham5 miles away”, quite another to suggest that “it was not till2.40 p.m. that it was made out and the course of the 5thBattle Squadron altered accordingly.”62To repeat a point made earlier, as an executive signal the flagsignal had been hauled down at 1432 and was no longer there to makeout. We are left with the problem that if this signal was fabricated,as Yates suggests, an explanation is required as to why Evan Thomasturned when he did.63
Itis time to address Dr Yates’s argument. What may have been its fonset origo, and iscertainly his starting point are the holograph notes Beatty madeafter his meeting with the First Sea Lord on 26 June 1916.64The subject of the meeting was Beatty’s desire to keep the 5thBattle Squadron at Rosyth until the Grand Fleet moved there inOctober. Beatty was evidently angered by Jackson’s remark that “thenext time I had them with me he hoped that ‘I would keep them inline with me’. In response Beatty explained his cruising formation“which was in accordance with the C-in-C’s wishes, except that Ihad been at 5 miles away instead of 8 as laid down in G.F.O.
Thatif I had had them with me constantly as I had asked and so enablethem to be trained with me so that the R.A. and myself should havethoroughly understood each other they would have been at 2 miles..
(Furthermoreduring the manoeuvring before contact was made with the enemy, therewas ample opportunity for the 5thBS to have closed the BCsas they were on the inside of the half circle described by the BCs –see plans. That theydid not do so was due to the fact that I could not get a signal tothem, and to theabsence of training together, which if we had had the opportunity theR.A. would have done the right thing instinctively withoutorders..) Inbrackets, not statedat the meeting as I had no wish to impute bad manoeuvring on the partof R.A. 5thB.S. who had supported me so well.But I did point this out to C.O.W.S.65subsequently.” Beatty also pointed out that the stationing of the5th Battle Squadron was suitable for all contingencies, including thepossibility of sighting the whole High Sea Fleet.
DrYates quotes only the passages that I have underlined and thereforemisleads others, and possibly himself, into thinking the words inbrackets apply to the situation between 1420 and 1440, when the fullcontext makes it evident that Beatty is thinking of the whole periodbetween 1432 and, at the earliest, 1545, more probably 1600. It ispossible to infer that interalia, his remark thathe “could not get a signal to [the 5thBattle Squadron]” applies to the 1432 signal as well as to latersignals made as his force attempted to cut Hipper’s 1stScouting Group off from its base, but it is far from certain thatthis was the case. What seems clear is that, whether fairly or not,he thought Evan Thomas could have done more to close the gap. It islikely therefore that he had in mind courses steered after Hipper wassighted rather than the earlier situation. What the full context ofhis remark makes clear is that his inability to get a signal throughrefers not to a particular event, but to a lengthy period of timewhen the Battle Squadron was already a long way astern.
DrYates praises Beatty for taking personal responsibility; but becausehe chooses to think Beatty’s remarks apply only to the 1432 signal,infers that, when as First Sea Lord he chose not to defend EvanThomas, he was protecting his signal staff and, more particularly,Seymour. Much of the subsequent argument pursued by Dr Yates rests onthe incorrect assumption that the time of the difficult signal towhich Beatty referred, “must encompass 2:20 to 2:32. So, onhearing of the enemy, some difficulty was experienced in the BCF'sprocedures and Beatty almost certainly knew he had failed tocommunicate with Evan-Thomas, which he also knew was important. Farfrom rushing into space at the enemy, as some have suggested, Beattywaited for about 8 poorly accounted for minutes, but without muchsuccess due to signalling difficulties, excitement and dither, hencethe poor explanation.”66
Thispassage makes very little sense, almost certainly because Yates hasin mind the accusation that Beatty waited 12 minutes before turninghis ships. That point is not relevant to Yates’s argument since hesuggests that Beatty probably became aware of the failure after theturn. He makes the reasonable assumption that Beatty was told thatEvan Thomas’s ships had not turned. But the usual charge madeagainst Beatty at this point is that he did not wait for Evan Thomas.While it is true that he did not immediately move off at full speed,there is no evidence to suggest that he hung around or indeed thoughthe had need to do so.
Incommon with others, Dr Yates makes heavy weather of Tiger’sfailure as the designated repeating ship either to repeat the signalor warn Lionthat she could not do so. She cannot have thought that her rolechanged with the alteration of course or she would not have made her1505 signal. He also rather unnecessarily wonders whether Evan Thomasmight have thought general flag signals did not apply to the 5thBattle Squadron. That was never part of Evan Thomas’s defence andthe suggestion cannot be taken seriously. General flag signals wereto all ships in sight, hence the need for them to be repeated bysearchlight. Evan-Thomas noted himself that the point was “that inthe visibility as it was, together with the intense smoke made by thebattle cruisers bringing fires forward, it was impossible to see whatLion was doing until most of the Squadron had turned, Barham waszigzagging at the time, which caused delay, but as Lion had beensignalling to Barham with a searchlight previously to the turn, andhad made all alterations of course by that method, there was noreason why a signal should not have been made for Barham to turn withLion, by searchlight, if not by wireless. '67
EvanThomas could have gone further. As Dr Yates makes clear from anexamination of the methods of signalling used around the time inquestion “it is evident that when Beatty made general signals (i.e.to all ships in sight) he used flags.. When a signal specific toa ship was to be made, then either the searchlight or WT was used.Both recorded signals to Evan-Thomas were made by searchlight eitherside of the turn towards the enemy at 2:32, suggesting that nothingwas wrong physically with the searchlight at those times.”68However, the inference that Lionnot only could but should have signalled Barhamdirect instead of relying on Tigeras repeating ship is belied by the fact that the 1432 signal wasgeneral.
Thatmust call into question Evan Thomas’s private attack on Beatty in arather confused letter to Jellicoe of 30 June 1926: 'Nowhere isit mentioned that no signal had been made to me to turn (at this timeonly a destroyer had been sighted) and we all thought that we wereintended to go on & that a signal would be made to us directlyhow to steer to cut something off,was our idea.. I don’t know that I ever had known a case beforein the Navy where a man who was in command and made a bad mistake,nor seeing that his forces were concentrated (more or less) forbattle, is able to use his position to shelter himself and throwblame on others who were mad keen to do anything possible to obey hisslightest wish. TheAdmiral in command must be to blame if a signal is not made. It wasmade when Tiger asked. It was quite out of the question for us to seeflags. The smoke was black and previous signals had been made bysearchlight. A great mistake was made by the Admiral commanding(Admiral, of course including his staff) but he must be responsible.No attempt seems to have been made by him to concentrate hisforce..”69The point that bears repetition here is that if he was genuine inthinking that Beatty might divide his force in order to prevent theirquarry making for the Skagerrak, he cannot have believed it necessaryfor Beatty at that moment to concentrate his force and vice versa. Itis also worth noting that Evan Thomas does not say that no signal wasmade, only that it was made when Tiger asked.
DrYates recognises that the most damning evidence against Evan Thomasis Bridgeman’s answer in the House of Commons since that quotesverbatim both the signal made at 1425 and the executive signalrecorded in Barham’s signal log at 1437. His first reason fordoubting its authenticity is a letter written almost thirty threeyears later by Alfred Dewar to his brother Kenneth70:“Both signals were taken in in HMS Barham.. recorded in her signallog as received at 2.40pm [Barham's signal log Deptford no23346 in1927] The point is this as the executive of a flag signal is thehauling down, the flags.. were hauled down at 2.32pm [not repeatedby any other ship] thesignal must have been received at 2.32 though evidently not recordedand acted upon till 2.40 by the Barham.” Marder had already notedthat the letter contradicted Bridgeman’s Parliamentary answer.However, if we are to endorse so strong a term as “contradicts”,we would need to be sure that Alfred had in front of him as he wrotedocumentary evidence that the time was as he represented it and notthe time Bridgeman gave in March 1927. It could otherwise be faultymemory of what he had written in the Narrativeor even a slip of the pen. His assumption that the signal was read at1432 and not acted upon is unwarranted.
Whilethe suspicion prompted by the contradiction is not unreasonable, itis far from clear why someone seeking to perpetrate a forgery shouldhave produced two copies of a supposed log entry with differentdates, only one of which had been taken with him by Alfred Dewar whenhe retired. It is more likely that in 1959 if he was relying on adocument, it would be some note of his own, possibly an annotatedcopy of the Narrative,and that he misleadingly telescoped the information it provides. Evenso, it has to be said that the discrepancy lends some support to DrYates’s suspicion.
Anotherpersuasive point made by Dr Yates, although far from conclusive, isthe absence of any mention in the Staff Appreciation of Barham’ssignal log. “As Dewar made no mention of it in the StaffAppreciation,71which one must suspect he would have done, it must have been insertedafter Dewar completed his work and before the draft of the officialhistory went to the printers in early 1923. This was almost certainlydone when protestations regarding the movements of Barham and Lionbecame more actively disputed in 1923..”.72Dr Yates treats this as evidence that the signal did not exist, butit looks as if Corbett had seen it by the time he completed the texthe sent to Jellicoe. It is conceivable that Dewar thought itunnecessary to reference more than the log books. It is even possiblethat at that point he had not gone back to the relevant signal books andthat Pollen drew his attention to them when working on the Narrative.It also seems quite possible that nobody thought the matter importantuntil Jellicoe chose to make it so.
DrYates offers a further reason for doubting the authenticity of thesignal. “In Bridgeman's answer to Bellairs, there was a 5 minutegap between the signal being made executive and its being recorded.If this were (sic) genuine and the signal was seen, it is unlikelythat such a gap would exist. It was logged 3 minutes before the turnand Evan-Thomas would not have waited.” His reasoning here isfaulty. Barham’slog is quite explicit; Evan Thomas ordered the turn at 1638. Thetimes on Barhammay have been ahead of those kept in the remainder of the squadron,but the order clearly followed closely upon the receipt of thesupposed signal. Barham’s navigating officer was clearly puzzled byand could “not account for the discrepancy between the Valiant’stime of turning and our own.”73
Tellingan untruth to the House of Commons is a very serious matter and it ishighly unlikely that his officials would have allowed their ministerto make the statement he did without clear documentary evidence. Apencilled record in a signal log is relatively easy to alter, but inthis instance a whole signal would have to be created in such a wayas to pass the scrutiny of experienced naval officers in theHistorical Section. Dr Yates appears to assume without explanation ofhis reasoning that the time was altered74and that action provides a clue as to when the alteration was madei.e. that there was some genuine signal that had been altered. Theargument here is unclear since there would appear to be no relevantsignal that could simply be adjusted as to timing. On the assumptionthat there was a forged signal, and that one or other of the Dewarbrothers was the forger, the signal must have been in existence bythe time Corbett completed his first draft account of the action. The question of motive then arises since at that time there had beenno controversy and scarcely any attention paid to the fact that, asHarper put it, the “Battle Cruiser Squadron turned rather beforethe Fifth Battle Squadron and were out of sight for some time.”75
DrYates finally offers in confirmation that the signal was never madenot merely Evan Thomas’s denial, but that of his Flag Captain andBeatty’s private admission that this was so. “IfBeatty knew that he could not get a signal through and Evan-Thomasand Craig were certain that none was made, then it was impossiblethat the signal could have been seen and recorded at the time inBarham. It is impossible to
loga signal that was never made, so these quotes from Bridgeman andDewar must result from fabrications.”76It is unfortunate for DrYates that Evan Thomas also denied receipt of the 1425 signal, whichCraig acknowledged was received, and which all serious historians areagreed was the case. The suggested explanation for this is thesomewhat lame one, that five minutes after receipt of Galatea’ssignal “Enemy in sight”, Evan Thomas had yet to appear on thebridge. However, as we have seen, his denial that any signal wasreceived is less than absolute, his point being that no searchlightsignal was made at 1432 or immediately thereafter, which no onedenies.
Butthe conclusive blow to Dr Yates’s position, somewhat unexpectedly,is delivered by Craig. The relevant passage from his defence of EvanThomas in the Naval Review reads: “Thefact is that all signals from the Lion intended for the 5th B.S.were passed bysearchlight, the invariable rule in the case of squadrons or unitsstationed at such adistance from the mainbody, without a repeatingship. The signal for “destroyersto take up position to form submarine screen when course is alteredto SSE' was made by searchlight to Barham and the actual altercourse signal should have been made in the same manner if intended toapply to the 5th B.S. This signal was passed to Barham at 2.37and in passing it theoriginal system (flags) and time of origin (executive) 2.32 was alsopassed. The procedure, apart from the delay, was quite correct as itwas intended to convey the information to the R.A.5th B.S. that the signalhad been made by flags and that the turn had been made by the Lion at2.32. Immediately on receipt of the signal at 2.37 the R.A. 5th B.S. madethe alter course signal to his squadrons and the Barham actuallyturned at 2.38. The Flag Signal made by [Beatty] could not bedistinguished on boardBarham under the conditions prevailing at 2.32, and at 2.37 theBattle Cruisers appeared only as a cloud of smoke.”77
Furtherproof of the authenticity of the signal as given to the House ofCommons, if that is needed, is that it conflated two separate signalsfrom Lion,one indicating course and the other speed.78Barhamresponded by signalling her consorts not only to steer SSE but Speed22 knots. While it isdifficult to square Evan Thomas’s explanations with his signal tohis destroyers, it is virtually impossible to explain, unless therewas such a signal, why he turned when he did and turned not only tothe same course but to the same speed as the battlecruisers.
Clearlythe signal received by Barhamwas made at 1437 by searchlight and since it was not made by Tiger,it can only have been made from Lion.There are only two possibilities: either Beatty or one of his staffrealised that the 5thBattle Squadron had yet to turn and asked for the signal to berepeated or the much maligned Seymour recognised that for whateverreason Barhamhad missed the signal, and put the last two flag signals into onesignal which he had made to her by searchlight.
WhetherBeatty should have concentrated his forces then or a little laterwill no doubt remain a matter for dispute, but what can be saidwithout question is that neither he nor his Flag Lieutenant was atfault in the signalling foul-up. The fault lay with Tiger,and the omission was put right almost immediately. That Evan Thomasought to have conformed even without a signal is clear, but this muchcan be said in his defence. Barhamhad become accustomed to receiving confirmation by searchlight fromTigerof general signals which Lionhad made by flags. The absence of such confirmation may well haveplanted some doubt in his mind as to whether some specific order wasto follow. Even so, there were actions that might have been taken tofacilitate an alternative course of action. No such steps areevident.
ThroughoutDr Yates’s interesting and often perceptive account of thecontroversy over the Battle of Jutland, he makes a number of largelyunsubstantiated charges that Beatty, or perhaps others acting in hisinterests, falsified the evidence and thus corrupted the historicalrecord. Three instances are proffered, but with little beyondassertion to buttress any but the third and most major charge. Onclose examination, however, the only evidence which stands up is thatprovided earlier by Harper: it seems clear that Beatty when First SeaLord authenticated a track chart that had been forwarded to Jellicoein July 1916, but which the latter had refused to accept. There is noreason to suppose that the sunprint offered was anything other than agenuine copy of that which had been sent, nor does Harper questionits authenticity. Not only is there no credible evidence to supportany other charge, but on the most substantial, that a fraud wasperpetrated on the First Lord of the Admiralty and a lie told to theHouse of Commons, it can be shown conclusively that Dr Yates ismistaken. Precisely the reverse can be shown to be the case.
1 J.A.Yates: The Jutland controversy: a case study in intra-service politics, with particular
reference to .. The Genesis of the Naval Staff Appreciation of Jutland. University of Hull Ph.D Thesis 1998 (Digital Repository Identifier hull 4633)
3 Yates p.22
4 Yates p. The authors under fire are C. Bellairs: Jutland. The Sowing and the Reaping (1919); R.Bacon: The Jutland Scandal (1925) and Earl Jellicoe (1936); E.Altham: Jellicoe (1931); H.H.Frost: The Battle of Jutland (1936) and Revd. J.L.Pastfield: New Light on Jutland (1933)
5 The one exception to this generalisation, the sunprint of Lion’s track on 31 May 1916, is dealt with below.
7 It is relevant to note that ‘Some remarks on certain paragraphs’, once seen as Beatty’s critique of Corbett’s account, was correctly identified by Arthur Marder as being Chatfield’s work; Beatty’s less detailed criticisms are reproduced in B. Ranft (ed): The Beatty Papers Volume II No.236a. Scolar Press/Navy Records Society 1993.
8 N.J. M. Campbell: Jutland. An analysis of the fighting (1986); E.Grove: Fleet to Fleet Encounters (1991); while Corelli Barnett is cited for his remarks in Engage the Enemy More Closely (1991) rather than The Swordbearers (1963).: .
Portimonense 1920 Kits Empty Spaces The Blog Free
10 A.Gordon: The Rules of the Game. John Murray,1996.
12Beatty Papers II No 165 Jellicoe to Beatty 13 June 1916
13 Yates Pp.31-32 . It is not clear what Dr Yates thinks was disclosed to Harper and by whom. Nothing specific is mentioned in the Harper memorandum other than his attendance at the lectures given by Dewar in 1922. He was left in no doubt of the Dewar’s hostility towards Jellicoe and approbation of Beatty. Harper’s account will be found in A.Temple Patterson (ed): The Jellicoe Papers Vol.II Appendix. Navy Records Society, 1968
15 Jellicoe Papers II P.472
17 Since then and in after years he attached disproportionate attention to Lion’s 32 point turn, it is also significant that no alteration was made to New Zealand’s track chart, which Harper subsequently used as evidence against Beatty.
19 Ibid. Results free tips 2019. p.478
20 Jellicoes’s correspondence with Sir Henry Jackson is relevant here. See Jellicoe Papers II
21 Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon: The Jutland Scandal. 1924
23 Jutland Papers Appendix II p.443
27 Jutland papers Appendix II p.443
28 Narrative of the Battle of Jutland p.106 fn. In an anonymous review of Churchill’s World Crisis, which is clearly written by Kenneth Dewar, he makes clear that this is the signal to which he and his brother referred. The Naval Review Vol. 1927.2 p.397. The 5 minute interval may be significant. It is probable that the flags could not be read and that Tiger repeated the signal by searchlight.
29 Uncharacteristically Marder (p.57) is in error on this point.
30 Letter to The Times, dated 13 February 1927, printed on 16 February 1927.
31 RUSI Journal November 1935. Dr Yates doubts the truth of Craig’s claim on Pp.225-6 of his thesis, but his doubts are undermined by the redeployment of the 5th Battle Squadron’s destroyer screen.
33 Gordon suggests that the Officer of the Watch, unable to read the flags, took the signal to be one ordering the resumption of zigzagging.
35 Gordon (Rules of the Game p.xx) savages Evan Thomas’s explanation even though Marder (p.xx) had found it plausible. The thought may have crossed Evan Thomas’s mind when Tiger failed to repeat the executive signal, but the point made by Gordon is that he took no action in anticipation of such an order while others with him on the bridge were urging him to conform to Beatty’s turn.
38 At 1437, according to her signal log, which the authors cite in Admiralty Narrative p.12 fn.6
40 Barham's log read '2.38 a/c SSE. 2.40 action stations. '
41 Warspite’s track chart is Plate 17 in Jutland papers.
43 Until 1432 Tiger had been repeating Lion’s signals by searchlight precisely because it was realised that Barham might not be able to read Lion’s flag signals. Jellicoe ignores the possibility that Beatty supposed that she was still doing so.
44 Bacon: Earl Jellicoe p.260. It is conceivable that he is recalling Evan Thomas’s statement to that effect.
46 Gordon p.85
47Jutland Papers Appendix II p.444 “Alter course in succession to S.S.E. Speed 22 knots.” Although the Dewars were to claim that the Record of Signals reproduced in the Jutland Papers was complete, omissions have been found, and there would certainly seem to be one here. Evan Thomas must have turned his ships back into column before signalling them to turn in succession.
48 Jutland Despatch Paragraph 7 in The Beatty Papers Vol. I p.326
50Rules of the Game p.89
52 Appendix G to the Admiralty Narrative 1924 p.106
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54 The Naval Review Vol.XIII No. 2 May 1925 Pp.217-18. Beatty had been sent the review in draft, but had refused to comment.
56 Hansard 14 March 1927 HC Deb. Vol. 243 Col. 1642
58Jutland Papers p.
60 Naval Review Vol. XV No. 4 (November 1927) Pp.860-61
62 Admiralty Narrative. General Remarks (by Lord Jellicoe) p.106
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63 Marder faced the same difficulty (1st edition III p.53) and in revising his account (2nd edition III p.58) adopted A.C. Dewar’s improbable suggestion that Barham took in the signal but did not act upon it. Against that is the fact that it was logged at 1437.
64 Printed in The Beatty Papers II No 174. The relevant passage is on p.368 and I have underlined those parts quoted by Dr Yates
66 Yates p.214. He may be confused by another charge made against Beatty, that he waited twelve minutes before turning SSE
67 Evan thomas to Haggard DATE The Beatty Papers II No.241
69 Evan Thomas to Jellicoe 30 June 1926. Beatty Papers II no.245. Gordon is rightly critical of the idea that Evan Thomas was expecting to be launched on a different course, although Marder had previously thought that might well have been the case.
71 The relevant passage on p47 states that the battleships held on until 2:40 and then conformed to the turn. The evidence for this came from the reports of the 5thBS, not the signal or deck logs.
73 Letter to Evan Thomas 23 July ?1923. The Beatty papers II No. xx
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75 Record p. xx; note that Harper evidently had the Notes from Barham, as subsequently printed.
77 Naval Review Vol. XV No. 4 (November 1927) Pp.860-61
78 Beatty had made a separate general signal at 1433 that he intended to proceed at 22 knots. See Jutland Despatches p.444