- HMS Alyssum during the Great War -
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10th February 1916 Battle of Dogger Bank 1916 The Second Battle of Dogger Bank took place on the 10th February 1916 off Dogger Bank in the North Sea. This engagement resulted in a German victory. Ships engaged were 4 sloops and 25 torpedo boats. Casualties and losses were 1 sloop sunk (HMS Arabis) with 56 crew dead and 24 captured
Background to the Battle.
Admiral Reinhard Scheer took command of the German High Seas Fleet in 1916 due to the illness of Admiral Hugo von Pohl and immediately began to take a more offensive strategy in the North Sea. This resulted in more frequent raids and incursions into British dominated areas. One of these occurred on the 10th February 1916 when the Germans sent the 2nd, 6th, and 9th Torpedo-Boat Flotillas to Dogger Bank in an attempt to intercept Allied shipping. At least 25 torpedo boats were deployed. The only British vessels operating in the area were the British 10th Minesweeping Flotilla, consisting of HMS Arabis, Poppy, Buttercup, and Alyssum.
Each of these Arabis-class sloops was armed only with two 4.7 in (120 mm) guns as well as two 3-pounder anti-aircraft guns and were little match to the large numbers of German torpedo boats(also described as destroyers).
Arabis — along with the other three sloops of her division — had been engaged in sweeping a clear channel east of Dogger Bank when they were sighted by a large number of German torpedo boats. The Germans at first hesitated in attacking them as they were not familiar with the new Arabis-class vessels and thought they were much more powerful cruisers. However with their numerical advantage the Germans decided to launch their attack anyway. The British attempted to flee back to the safety of the coast with Poppy, Buttercup and Alyssum succeeding. Arabis was not so fortunate. She was caught and engaged by three of the German torpdeo boats. After fighting off this attack, Arabis was attacked by six of the German boats and finally went down after being struck by a torpedo. Thirty of Arabis' crew were pulled from the sea by the Germans, but four of them died shortly afterwards due to exposure to the elements.
Aftermath of the Action
The British caused some minor damage to a few of the German destroyers and the only losses from the action was HMS Arabis along with 56 of her crew killed and another 24 captured by the Germans. For his actions during the battle, Arabis' commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Robert Raymond Hallowell-Carew, received the Distinguished Service Order. He and two other officers were amonst the captives Having only sunk a single minesweeping sloop, the Germans claimed that they had engaged a squadron of four new cruisers and sunk two of them with torpedoes. The British Admiralty quickly responded confirming that no other Allied forces had been engaged besides the 10th Minesweeping Division and that no cruisers had been sunk in the action. Following the action off Dogger Bank, the Battlecruiser Fleet from Rosyth, the 5th Cruiser Division from Harwich, as well as other elements of the Grand Fleet were deployed. These British forces assembled in the North Sea and swept southward. This action was called off on the 11th when it was established that the German forces were solely torpedo boats which had already returned to their bases.
Upon returning from the failed intercept operation, the light cruiser HMS Arethusa struck a German mine and sank, losing 12 of her crew.John Doran
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