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Jutland (Paperback)

The Unfinished Battle

Maritime WWI Seaforth Jutland Royal Navy Naval Great War at Sea

By Nicholas Jellicoe
Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 440
ISBN: 9781526737281
Published: 8th August 2018

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In the News

**Completely revised and updated.**

As featured in The Times - Six of the best First World War reads.

Nominated for the Maritime Foundation’s Mountbatten Maritime Award for Best Literary Contribution.

Watch Nicholas Jellicoe and Graham Hobbs talk about their grandfathers' roles in the Battle of Jutland on the BBC - just scroll down. 

 

'Even Nelson could not have done better at Jutland than my grandfather'; an article by Nicholas Jellicoe for the Daily Telegraph

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More than one hundred years after the battle of Jutland, the first and largest engagement of Dreadnoughts in the twentieth century, historians are still fighting this controversial and misunderstood battle. What was in fact a strategic victory stands out starkly against the background of bitter public disappointment in the Royal Navy and decades of divisive acrimony and very public infighting between the camps supporting the two most senior commanders, Jellicoe and Beatty.

This book not only re-tells the story of the battle from both a British and German perspective based on the latest research, but it also helps clarify the context of Germany’s inevitable naval clash. It then traces the bitter dispute that ensued in the years after the smoke of war had cleared; right up to his death in 1935, Admiral Jellicoe was embroiled in what became known as the Jutland Controversy.

Nick Jellicoe is uniquely placed to tell the story of Jutland. His naval connections are strong: his father, the second Earl served as First Lord of the Admiralty while his grandfather, Sir John Jellicoe commanded the Grand Fleet for the first two years on the war, from 1914 to 1916, and was famously described by Churchill as being the only man who could have lost the war in an afternoon.

This new paperback edition has been completely revised and offers the best and most balanced account of the battle available and can be read alongside the author's interactive website.

‘This is a marvellously enthralling account . . that combines academic thoroughness with a unique element of personal observation. I found it totally absorbing and cannot recommend it highly enough.’ Warship World

''.. closely reasoned, fair-minded and thoroughly readable.' The Times

This whole package, book and companion website, is a must for serious naval historians. But, Jellicoe’s writing is entertaining enough to engage anyone simply looking for a delightful read.

Naval Historical Foundation

At first glance, one might be sceptical that a book written by Admiral Sir John Jellicoe’s grandson would be anything but a heavily biased defense of his esteemed grandfather. Fortunately,
that is most definitely not the case as this book is very balanced in its treatment of both Jellicoe and Beatty...

... If one is new to the battle of Jutland, this book is easily the best place to begin your investigation. The rich data sources and balanced discussion gives a complete overview of all the
people, places, and things.

Naval SITREP, issue 52, April 2017 - reviewed by Chris Carlson

The tactical and operational focus of Nicholas Jellicoe's outstanding book is the right one. Jutland was a tactical and operational battle; neither side appears to have gone into battle with a clear understanding of how the outcome would fit into the war's overall strategic aims. This is a book not to be missed by serious scholars and students of the Great War at sea - his evidence and argument 'finish the battle'.

International Journal of Maritime History, February 2017

As featured in

VGZN/APFN, October/December 2016

Closely reasoned, fair-minded and thoroughly readable.

The Times 16/7/16

As featured in

Warship World - July August 2016

This book gives an excellent account of the battle, overall, and is recommended.

Navy Today, June 2016, issue 200 – CDR Richard Jackson RNZN

The author Nicholas Jellicoe is very well placed to investigate and to tell this story. His family is steeped in naval tradition. Admiral Sir John Jellicoe was his grandfather, whilst his father was the last to bear the old, traditional title of First Lord of the Admiralty before that time-honoured appellation, with all is historical resonance, disappeared into the modern MOD. Nicholas Jellicoe's book tells the story of the battle fairly from both sides, based on the latest research. It views the events and the conflict as seen from both the upper and lower deck and also introduces quite a new perspective from the German viewpoint. The chapters covering the battle itself are masterly. His writing style is compelling, and he brings a sense of immediacy to the events that in fact took place in the very different world of a hundred years ago.

The volume is well illustrated with plans, maps and a range of photographs in both mono-chrome and colour.

A very worthwhile volume for any maritime historian or those with an interest in this period of naval warfare or in the great battle itself. Apart from anything else, it is a thoroughly good read.

Ships in Scale, July/August 2016 - Roger Marsh

The best narrative account of the battle currently available.

Navy News May 2016

Featured on [link+http://www.spiegel.de/einestages/skagerrak-schlacht-groesste-seeschlacht-der-geschichte-a-1094260.html]Spiegel[/link]

Spiegel.de

... This is an exceptionally well written and researched account which provides an insight into the relationship between high ranking officers of that era. All-in-all this is a good read and is very highly recommended.

Marine News, June 2016 - Richard Osborne

As featured in.

The Sunday Telegraph 29/5/16

As reviewed on Destructive Music

Destructive Music

As a baby, Nick Jellicoe's first word could well have been "Jutland!" and his passion for the battle, and his determination to set the record straight regarding his grandfather's role in the battle continue to drive him. He is arguably the leading authority on Jutland and certainly one of the most passionate. As a non-naval historian I found the call-outs in the book very helpful: asides such as signalling at Jutland, battleship design, daylight scouting, the torpedo... These interesting sub-chapters are well-placed throughout the text and break up the narrative in a non-intrusive way.

Overall, the book is well-written and does not get bogged down in jargon; maps also help to explain the various manoeuvres on the day. This is a timely release and a poignant reminder that while men were being slaughtered in the trenches of northern France, they were also dying in their thousands at sea.
As a baby, Nick Jellicoe's first word could well have been "Jutland!" and his passion for the battle, and his determination to set the record straight regarding his grandfather's role in the battle continue to drive him. He is arguably the leading authority on Jutland and certainly one of the most passionate. As a non-naval historian I found the call-outs in the book very helpful: asides such as signalling at Jutland, battleship design, daylight scouting, the torpedo... These interesting sub-chapters are well-placed throughout the text and break up the narrative in a non-intrusive way.

Overall, the book is well-written and does not get bogged down in jargon; maps also help to explain the various manoeuvres on the day. This is a timely release and a poignant reminder that while men were being slaughtered in the trenches of northern France, they were also dying in their thousands at sea.

Paul Nixon, Amazon

...this is a very good production and I take my hat off to the way the author has penetrated both the minutiae of the action, the chief personalities involved and the way Jutland is situated strategically and politically.

ARRSE - Seaweed

As featured in

Forces War Records

Nicholas Jellicoe is well placed to write a deeply felt, and highly personal, analysis of the great events that unfolded in the North Sea and their consequences both in the UK and also the wider world. The grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, the commander of the Grand Fleet - Britain's massively powerful primary naval striking forces - he has in Jutland: The Unfinished Battle produced a thoroughly researched and absorbing work. It represented a journey of discovery, finally getting to know his grandfather whom he never knew in person. Nicolas Jellicoe writes of his granddad that he turned out to be 'a complex, sometimes flawed figure, but one who I have come to greatly admire'. Yet, while he does have a personal investment, this does not insert an oppressive bias - he reveals the admiral's weaknesses as well as strengths...

... Jellicoe has coped brilliantly with knocking into shape the vast mass of technical and tactical detail - which a battle as massive as Jutland serves up in a mind boggling scale. Notable features are the excellent, easy to understand maps and also explanations of certain aspects in boxed out form...

... Jutland: The Unfinished Battle is an excellent addition to the vast array of literature about the epic clash. May this 'neophyte writer', as he calls himself, carry on writing naval history.

Warships IFR/June 2016 - Francis Beaufort

The author Nicholas Jellicoe is uniquely placed to tell the story of Jutland. His naval connections are impeccable as his father served as First Lord of the Admiralty while his grandfather, Sir John Jellicoe, commanded the Grand Fleet for the first two years of the war from 1914-1916, famously described by Churchill as being, 'The only man who could have lost the war in an afternoon'.

For anyone with an interest in what is one of the greatest sea battles in naval history, I thoroughly recommend this book.

Model Boats magazine, May 2016 - John Deamer

There have been a number of books written about this great naval battle of World War I, and since we are approaching the 100 year anniversary of the battle, there will be many more. Of all the books that I've read on the battle, this is the best. The author, who is the grandson of the British admiral, John Jellicoe, who commanded their navy at the battle, provides an easy to read book that clearly lays out what happened on May 31/June 1, 1916, but always clearly deals with the controversies regarding the battle.

The Battle of Jutland is arguably the largest naval battle ever fought, with over 150 ships and 100,000 sailors involved. More than 10% of those sailors were killed in that battle, and unlike the battles on Western Front of World War I, leading admirals died. Ships blew up taking almost every aboard. Arguably, it is the only major battle of the steel navy battleships that was ever fought. And, thankfully, we will never see this type of conflict again.

However, given its importance - the British could have lost World War I by losing this battle - and the impact on people's lives and the world, reading about the battle is a worthwhile effort, and if you are going to read about it, this is the book to read. It is articulate, easy to read, clearly laid out and unbiased.

Amazon reviewer

...This book, despite its author’s relationship to Jellicoe, does not eulogise the admiral but objectively lays out the whole Jutland story and offers a comprehensive and very readable narrative which the reader, newly coming to the Jutland battle and controversy, will find satisfaction that the author has addressed all aspects of the battle itself, its preludes, consequences and aftermath.

The book is intended as a centennial publication and it is supported by the author’s website Jutland1916.com which he recommends visiting while reading the book. The website provides a ‘rapid-fire’ 20 minute coverage of the battle graphically illustrating the tactics and complex manoeuvring (so rapid-fire that repeated visits are recommended!). As such the reader is relieved of the need to scrutinise complicated diagrams of the battle cruiser, battle fleet and destroyer actions which the website competently handles. Instead Jellicoe provides four very clear diagrams in the book: a prologue to the battle, the battle cruiser action, the battle fleet action and the night action. An additional useful feature are vignettes inserted in the battle narrative explaining various tactical aspects such as signalling, range finding, course plotting and gunnery performance...

... In summary Jutland: The Unfinished Battle is a worthy addition to the enormous Jutland literary compendium. The author’s familial links to Admiral Jellicoe, his graphic website supporting the book and his balanced, objective treatment of the subject make this book well worth reading. However, Jutland tyros should be warned that they may find themselves joining the ‘unfinished battle’ should they chance their arms by investigating the works described in the final chapter.

Australian Naval Institute – Tim Coyle

This is a marvellously enthralling account of the battle that combines academic thoroughness with a unique element of personal observation. I found it totally absorbing and cannot recommend it highly enough.

Warship World, May/June 2016 - PW-M

Nicholas Jellicoe has not set out as an apologist for his grandfather. He has tackled head on the issues that the conduct of the battle raise - gunnery, ammunition, ship design, tactics, communication, intelligence. He writes that the outcome was tactically a "bad blow" but Jellicoe did not become, in Churchill's words, "the only man who could lose a war in an afternoon". As the author reflects, this did not mean that Jellicoe could win the war, but his actions could have led to a British collapse. This is marvelously enthralling account of the battle that combines academic thoroughness with a unique element of personal observation. I found it totally absorbing and cannot recommend it highly enough.

Scuttlebutt edition 52

With the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland approaching I was keen to read another account of the battle. I was drawn to this book as it was written by Nicholas Jellicoe, the grandson of the British Commander in Chief of The Grand Fleet at the time of the battle, and had a good review from Robert Massie (of Castles of Steel fame)...

... I suspect the title refers to the battle that is still raging over who was to blame for Jutland not being another Trafalgar and which side actually won the battle? It is clear that the author is trying to set the record straight with regard to the poor press that Jellicoe has received, both at the time and in the years subsequently, but I have to say he does this in a measured, even-handed way and is not slow to criticise his grandfather where he thinks it necessary and appropriate. The German performance is also put into perspective and both failings and successes, good decisions and bad, are acknowledged.

The book contains brief but interesting bios of the four leading Admirals during the battle: Jellicoe, Scheer, Beatty and Hipper, allowing the reader access to the background of each and the route they took to be where they were on 31st May 1916.

I do not want to put in any spoilers for those who do not know much about the battle, what took place and how it ends, but the book brings out the many, many failings of the British – from the Admiralty, through all levels down – that contributed to the failure of The Grand Fleet, with such a material advantage, to annihilate their German contemporaries. Of course every story has two sides and there is more than one way of looking at most things in life. What is interesting is that despite these many failings, it is clear that Admiral Scheer was, even then, incredibly lucky to get his fleet home – and Hipper even luckier.

Conclusion

I have my own views on the extent to which Admiral Jellicoe was "at fault" for what happened on 31st May-1st June 1916. What is clear is that he was incredibly let down by certain subordinates and others. One intriguing question though is, to what extent he, as Commander in Chief, was responsible for, or at least contributed to, his subordinates failings? There is much here to ponder over.

Was this book worth the cost? Absolutely.

Amazon Review - Warspite

The author is the grandson of the victor of Jutland. He is the projector of the Jutland Centenary website [...] and has put a huge amount of work into the Centenary including this book, although he is neither a professional historian nor author, which means he deserves particular praise for the depth of his research. He lives in Switzerland; from the extensive inventory and use of German sources in the book he is clearly fluent in German, which would give him a considerable advantage over most other British writers on this subject who must have such references filtered to them by a translator.

The first quarter of the book sets the political and strategic scene going back to the Accession of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the last deals in the aftermath of the battle and the controversies that ensued. The central half is devoted to the battle itself, related in considerable detail, the author having as always with Jutland to reconcile conflicting evidence as to events and times. Short biographies and pen-portraits are included of the principals - Fisher, Tirpitz, Jellicoe, Beatty, Scheer, Hipper - and these monographs are useful in their own right. Here and later in the book the author skilfully analyses and presents their characters and character deficiencies and we see how for the less bright action is a substitute for thought.

In spite of his ancestry the author comes to naval matters as an outsider which has caused some infelicities of terminology and phrasing (including the odd Americanism). When the work descends to fine grain detail of matters of seamanship and naval warfare there are some slips, such as confusion between the titles ‘First Lord’ and ‘First Sea Lord’ in two places, who can be described as a Flag Officer (p.72), between flag signalling and semaphore on p.113 and regarding AP and Common shell on p.139; these are just some examples. At this level the text is sometimes so confused it obscures the argument; if only the author had recognised the need for a more informed proofreader. This is such a pity as at so many other points the author has it absolutely right. As it is there are some straight proofreading misses such as ‘Nomad’ on p.156.

Early in the book the author comes down against Fisher’s Dreadnought - a development already in mind in the US and France, and therefore an inevitable step - and blames the battle-cruiser losses on their reduced armour, although later in the book he pins it exactly on Beatty’s ordering the removal of safety devices and Gunnery Officers ignoring the rules on ammunition safety. It is ironic that the ghastly losses that gave such a handle to German propaganda were so avoidable.

At the higher level the narrative and commentary are excellent and the analysis of Beatty’s many shortcomings would be hard to better. At sea the horrors of warfare are well brought out, using personal accounts - although there can be none such for those maimed, trapped, entombed, who still lie at their posts. Post-Jutland the narrative takes us to Whitehall where the devious Lloyd George immediately started scheming to torpedo Jellicoe, newly-appointed as 1SL, preferring a catspaw who would not challenge Lloyd George’s ignorant and dangerous ideas. There is a brief and very good summary of the (eventual) adoption of convoy against the U-boats. We then move to a detailed, balanced and illuminating historiography of Jutland including the unedifying behaviour of Beatty’s Dewar jackals.

The various track charts are very clear and useful but an additional one showing the features referred to in the narrative (Horns Reef etc) would have been helpful. The general illustrations are excellently selected. There is a very helpful select bibliography. I would only add ‘A Naval History of World War 1’ by Paul Halpern.

Oh Pen and Sword! WHEN can your editors be weaned off allowing lengthy asides in the notes at the end of the book so that the reader has to have two bookmarks in play? Those for chapter 7 and 9 are almost alternative chapters in themselves. In the main text as a whole, there is sometimes repetition that could have been edited out.

Detailed criticisms apart, this is a very good production and I take my hat off to the way the author has penetrated both the minutiae of the action, the chief personalities involved and the way Jutland is situated strategically and politically.

As to the final judgment - who besides Jellicoe ever had three hundred admirals come to his funeral?

Amazon Review - Seaweed

Exceptionally well written and researched account by Nick Jellicoe, grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, Commander of the Grand Fleet in 1916 - not only of the Battle of Jutland itself but of the preceding years and build up to war. Absorbing insight into the relationship between high ranking officers of that era, not least of all between Jellicoe and Beatty. There have been many books written on this subject but none that I have read comes close to this account. Very highly recommended

Amazon Review - David Smith

As mentioned in

Let's Talk

As featured on Julian Stockwin's blog

Julian Stockwin

Jutland: The Unfinished Battle is a lively and engaging analysis of the controversial fleet action that combines new material with the sympathetic but not uncritical perspective of the British Commander-in-Chief's grandson. It takes a fresh look at many questions as to the conduct of the engagement that continue to this day to stir controversy and debate.

Rear Admiral James Goldrick, AO, CSC, RANR

A compelling, dramatic account of the Royal Navy's great sea battle.

Robert K Massie

About Nicholas Jellicoe

NICHOLAS JELLICOE has lived his whole life under the shadow of Jutland. The ongoing controversy surrounding his grandfather’s actions on that day inspired him to undertake a major investigation of the battle and an analysis of the arguments that followed. This book is the result.

Nicholas Jellicoe was nominated for the Maritime Foundation’s Mountbatten Maritime Award for Best Literary Contribution for their book 'Jutland: The Unfinished Battle'.

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