Book Review: Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield.

Book Review by Peter L. Belmonte

The author is Innes McCartney, Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing, 2016. Hardcover, illus., 272pp.In Jutland 1916: The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield, marine archaeologist and author Innes McCartney discusses his examination of the underwater wrecks of twenty-two of the twenty-five vessels sunk at the Battle of Jutland. Prior to reviewing his dives, McCartney gives a brief explanation of marine archaeology, the historical record of the Jutland wrecks, and his overall methodology. McCartney and others examined the wrecks by physically diving and through remotely operated vehicles. Explorers have employed sophisticated technology to obtain images and scans of the vessels. Many of these images are included in the book. To present his findings, McCartney divides his narrative into four main sections, the first three of which correspond to the phases of the battle: The Battlecruiser Action, The Fleet Action, The Night Action, and Jutland One Hundred Years On.

In each section, he first summarizes the action(s) that led to the various wrecks; then he proceeds to each vessel in turn. McCartney gives eyewitness accounts of each vessel’s loss, and he discusses how these accounts mesh or conflict with the current state of the wrecks as seen in situ. Interestingly, McCartney believes many of the wrecks have been salvaged by those seeking to profit by scrapping or otherwise selling pieces of the vessels. McCartney identified various features and equipment, such as guns, turrets, magazine features, range finders, and armor, for each vessel. Considering these items and their relative positions, McCartney gives his opinion as to the circumstances of the vessel’s sinking. This esoteric analysis is sure to please naval enthusiasts. The author’s conclusions bear upon determining the circumstances of the vessels’ loss and the accuracy of historic battle charts and wreck locations. In particular, McCartney determined that the HMS Black Prince was able to turn away from the German line before she sank. In the end, McCartney concludes: “This book has highlighted what is realistically possible, but it is far from being the final word on the subject” (p. 243). The book is very well illustrated with photographs of the ships at sea as well as on the seabed. McCartney has included helpful maps showing some of the action and the reported and actual location of the wrecks. Jutland 1916 is a valuable addition to the historiography of the Battle of Jutland. It is recommended for anyone interested in that battle or marine archaeology.

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