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Battle of the Dover Straits, Aug 1914

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  • Battle of the Dover Straits, Aug 1914

    Scenario the HSF sorties in August to block the transit of the BEF.

    Historical changes- 1. Germany learns the BEF is embarking 2. Tirpitz wins his argument with the Kaiser and is allowed to sortie

    Details

    On August 4th, Jellico was given command of the Grand Fleet but his fear of submarines and mines means the fleet has travelled a couple of hundred miles after a periscope sighting inside Scapa Flow and might need refueling soon.


    August 7, 1914, German troops are beginning the right hook envelopment, the BEF is about to arrive in French ports for duty in France, Jellico has the Grand Fleet pulled back at Scapa Flow 550 miles from the BEF for fear of submarines. For the next week, if the Germans learn of the transit of the BEF, the High Seas Fleet could fall on them and enjoy a 10-24 hour period where they would have all the channel to themselves

    Aug 9, portions of the BEF, mostly staff officers and cavalry begin crossing in the dark late at night, the 2nd is beginning to load and 2 more are lined up. All Told 80,000 men, 30,000 horses, 315 guns and a 125 machine guns need to get to France.

    Aug 11, a German spy confirms the arrival of [portions of] the BEF is on its way and is in Tirpitz hands by the evening of Aug 13, he immediately orders the HSF to build up a head of steam and sortie and meet at the Jade and then to Dover.


    Aug 14 early morning out of the mist the German High Seas Fleet (minus the slowest pre-dreadnoughts) falls upon the BEF like wolves. In short order the bulk of a British division is dead and the Germans are bombarding British and French ports. Until the Germans are defeated or turn for home England is corked. A good moon and calm, almost becalmed seas allow visibility for miles as the BEF loads and transports wait their turns. The escorting destroys are berthed, no steam built up. The few that had been on patrol had not been able to give warning, or no one had been there to receive them.

    What follows is a slaughter, 137 transports specifically allocated to transport the BEF are located between Dover and Portsmouth, the men and material are packed in close to the docks. Then there is normal channel traffic and Belgians seeking to make it to England to shelter from the war.

    33 merchant ships are sunk, British cities from Sandwich to Hastings are shelled as well as the French ports of Bologne and Calais are hit as well.


    If your Jellico do you

    A- head for the Dover straight to reduce time to intercept. arrive morning of the 16)
    B- Head for the Jade to make it impossible for the HSF to get home except by going through the GF. (arrive morning of the 17)
    C- other

    WHY and what do you think happens?

    If your Tirpitz do you

    A- run for home as soon as the transports underway are sunk and the likely harbors shelled
    B- Bite the bullet and resolve to remain a cork until the Army has beaten the French in the field or the last German battleship slides beneath the waves.
    C- other

    Why, what do you think happens?

  • #2
    The Channel fleet would still be present in this. While mostly old pre-dreadnoughts and older smaller ships it still could fight and would be present. How does that factor in?

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
      The Channel fleet would still be present in this. While mostly old pre-dreadnoughts and older smaller ships it still could fight and would be present. How does that factor in?
      They have to respond, witness reports from the BEF crossing record a complete lack of escorts. The UK response can do as it will with any asset, but the Channel Fleet won't last long vs a marauding HSF.

      Comment


      • #4
        I reckon those Piggyzeppelins used in 1940 would get their first outing in this 'wotif' scenario to bomb 'der Britisher beef munching, thick headed pig-dogs to destruction before sunset

        Paul
        ‘Tis said his form is tiny, yet
        All human ills he can subdue,
        Or with a bauble or medal
        Can win mans heart for you;
        And many a blessing know to stew
        To make a megloamaniac bright;
        Give honour to the dainty Corse,
        The Pixie is a little shite.

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        • #5
          So, none of the British submarines and destroyers lurking around German ports to warn against such a raid manage to get off a warning message? No merchant or spy noticed and thought to radio a warning? A full battlefleet manages to sail 350 miles through major shipping lanes completely undetected by anybody with the inclination to fire off a warning? Note: not being hostile, just trying to get an idea of what we have to work with.
          Diadochi Rising Wargame:
          King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Anacreon View Post
            So, none of the British submarines and destroyers lurking around German ports to warn against such a raid manage to get off a warning message?
            The patrols either missed the HSF or were sunk and their wireless communications not picked up


            No merchant or spy noticed and thought to radio a warning?
            The reports from the merchies wont be sent until the ship makes port (lck of wireless)


            A full battlefleet manages to sail 350 miles through major shipping lanes completely undetected by anybody with the inclination to fire off a warning? Note: not being hostile, just trying to get an idea of what we have to work with.
            If you want to contest their passage with light vessels go for it, Jellico is still at least 550 miles away so the basic premise of the scenario is what would you do as one of the fleet commanders. Had Tirpitz sortied he would have sat between England and France corking the BEF as the right hook unfolded.

            Comment


            • #7
              No captain can do wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy.

              Engage the HSF. Hard A- labard.
              ------
              'I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.' - Thomas Jefferson

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              • #8
                I seriously hope that bombardment wasn't done by their main guns...

                In Jellicoe's position I would try to put myself between the HSF and the Jade and then swing towards the Channel, hopefully catching a heavily mauled and low on ammunition HSF as it limped home. The destroyer fuel issue can be solved by commandeering ships from the 7th, 8th and 9th Flotillas as appropriate, with the 2nd and 4th rejoining the fleet once refuelled. That leaves the 1st, 3rd and 6th free to get stuck in alongside the French and the Channel and Reserve Fleets.

                As the Germans, well, I have no idea what they've brought to the party. What cruisers, battlecruisers and destroyers do they have with them?

                As I see it, once the GF has established a blocking position, it's game over for the HSF. They can't beat odds that began at 2-1 and are now likely to be 3 or 4-1 in dreadnoughts alone, especially with the GF blocking their only escape.
                Diadochi Rising Wargame:
                King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

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                • #9
                  If you're Tirpitz, you finish the job and run for home and live to fight another day. That's what Kaiser Bill would want. Besides, the HSF doesn't have the ability to stay at sea for very long and after all of the high speed manuevering and fighting of the past few days, the fleet would have burned up alot of the coal in their bunkers, not to mention the ammunition in their magazines. Best to return home as heroes to bask in the joy-filled rays of an adoring public and accolades of the Kaiser than risk losing too many of his irreplaceable battleships.
                  "Profanity is but a linguistic crutch for illiterate motherbleepers"

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                  • #10
                    I think it would be a huge risk for the Germans. There is a very high likelyhood they would be spotted enroute. The Channel Fleet as well as the French Fleet would likely respond.

                    With even a few hours warning the transports could change course south away from the Germans, head back to England, or try and make port before the Germans arrived.

                    On the whole, I think the potential damage to the German fleet outweighs the potential success of such an operation which I would adjudge to be pretty low.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                      The Channel fleet would still be present in this. While mostly old pre-dreadnoughts and older smaller ships it still could fight and would be present. How does that factor in?
                      After the game we played, need you ask?
                      The Channel Squadron would be swept aside, annihilated, but the delay might save part of that Division.

                      The delay would also limit the German options;
                      Bombard and hope to get away, or not bombard and probably get away.

                      As for the withdrawal of the Home Fleet to Scapa, putting it out of the way, I think the OP is engaging in wishful thinking. Putting that whole fleet up in harbor, any harbor, was not a done deal in the first days of the war. The RN was immensely lucky in just wrapping up their reserve exercises when the war warnings cam in. Their readiness was high, but the Boss was not liking the idea of being in port much. In fact, Jellicoe kept his ships at sea so often in all of 1914 that by 1915 his ships were in a bad way, maintenance-wise.

                      ALSO; the Germans are not likely to leave their per-Dreadnoughts at home, they need them to have something approaching parity with even part of the RN. They would have dragged them along with the rest, as was the case at Jutland, perhaps leaving them east of Dover to prevent a plugging of the escape route or used them for the bombardments... going close to shore means facing subs and mines and other horrors.

                      The way I see it; the Germans get their licks in, and they run afoul of Cruisers and Battle-Cruisers on the way back. If they can get past them in good time, they don't meed the Home Fleet.
                      If they do have a general battle, a lot of German cripples are going to sit the war out in neutral Holland, or flounder trying to get there.
                      A lot, as in maybe all of the pre-Dreads that made the trip.

                      End result; massive lose of prestige for the German fleet, not to mention firepower.... but no Mons.
                      Would Kluck still have turned?
                      Would he have needed to?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        After some more thinking:
                        Looking at the distances involved, the British probably need to delay the HSF by at most 12 hours to stop them escaping from the Grand Fleet. This time includes all the sinking of merchant ships and shore bombardments the HSF needs to do.

                        Expect upwards of 100 destroyers and torpedo boats, backed up by ten pre-dreadnoughts swarming the HSF within an hour of this decision point (or even before it, all things depending). Up to thirteen more pre-dreadnoughts will be steaming to intercept, along with over a dozen cruisers and three dozen modern destroyers. The pre-dreadnoughts will almost certainly be slaughtered, but will inflict damage, burn through the HSF's ammo, distract them from the small craft and delay them significantly.

                        Assuming you're interested in even a veneer of plausibility, then the Germans won't have a whole lot of escorts with them, which means their dreadnoughts *are* going to take a lot of torpedo hits. Furthermore, any ship that falls behind will have to be abandoned, since the Germans have no idea when the Grand Fleet will show up and have a horde of small craft snapping at their heels.

                        If the Grand Fleet makes the intercept, then the war at sea is basically over. If they can't, well, a similar result, just with more German dreadnoughts hiding in friendly harbours for the rest of the war (maybe 3-5 BBs lost, possibly a few more, the remainder heavily damaged).

                        On fuel for the Grand Fleet's dreadnoughts, they have enough to last until the end of the 15th at absolute minimum, so likely enough to be irrelevant to this engagement.
                        Diadochi Rising Wargame:
                        King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                          ALSO; the Germans are not likely to leave their per-Dreadnoughts at home, they need them to have something approaching parity with even part of the RN.
                          Iirc, pretty much all the German pre-dreadnoughts by this point struggled to make more than 16 or 17 knots, which will reduce their chances of escaping. Furthermore, trying to manoeuvre a fleet of that size in the Channel would be a nightmare and a dream come true for a destroyer or sub captain seeking glory. In addition, sneaking an even larger force into the Channel stretches the bounds of plausibility even further than the OP.
                          Diadochi Rising Wargame:
                          King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Anacreon View Post
                            Iirc, pretty much all the German pre-dreadnoughts by this point struggled to make more than 16 or 17 knots, which will reduce their chances of escaping. Furthermore, trying to manoeuvre a fleet of that size in the Channel would be a nightmare and a dream come true for a destroyer or sub captain seeking glory. In addition, sneaking an even larger force into the Channel stretches the bounds of plausibility even further than the OP.
                            Not as much as you might think.
                            German Light cruisers weren't much against the newest RN LCs, but they were hell on DDs, just murderous. And they had an awful lot of them.
                            The German use of Submarines was also much more daring, in the early days.

                            Most of all, people need to reckon with the fact that the Germans are not likely to play by the rule book; a night-time approach followed by a daylight attack is the thing I would see them doing... as was the case in the bombardment raids and Operation Cerberus in the next war, the only major German Naval action in the Channel.

                            This would be a fun one to game out.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                              This would be a fun one to game out.
                              But an absolute nightmare to set up.

                              Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                              The German use of Submarines was also much more daring, in the early days.
                              Unfortunately, much of the U-boat fleet was either unsuccessfully looking for the Grand fleet at this point. Furthermore, British subs outnumber them significantly, too (more than 40 based between the Thames and Portsmouth).
                              Last edited by Anacreon; 01 Jun 12, 23:58.
                              Diadochi Rising Wargame:
                              King Pairisades I of the Bosporan Kingdom

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