These two German units were to meet north-west of Steinworth Lighthouse on 09.30 on the morning of June 18, but the fog prevented the rendezvous. Radio communication, mutual transfer of detachment coordinates, signals by searchlights and sirens, search for destroyers — nothing succeeded and after an hour of mutual and fruitless searches for the Germans, without joining, the two troops went to the northern tip of Gotland. At noon on June 18, the German units dispersed in 10-12 miles with Rear-Admiral M.K. Bakhirev, thanks to the fog, the opponents did not see each other. In Gotland, the fog was much less common (which later helped MK Bakhirev to establish its location), and the Germans were nevertheless reunited. In 19.00, when the Special Purpose Squadron, losing Rurik and Novik in the fog, turned to the southern tip of Gotland, the Germans headed to the mining area - more precisely, the Albatross and Augsburg went there, and other ships took east in order to shield the operation from the possible appearance of Russian ships. “Augsburg” with “Albatross”, heroically avoiding the Russian submarine that met them on the way (which was not there and could not be), went to the place they were looking for, and in full compliance with the plan, 22.30 mined the 160 “Albatross”. At the end of the mine setting, I. Karf exchanged radiograms with his cover ships and the Albatross (during the mining Augsburg, which had previously followed the Albatross, moved to the east). These were the first radiograms that were intercepted by the Baltic Fleet communications service that night, and which were read by Rengarten and their content was transmitted to 01.45 by M.K. Bakhirev.
At 01.30 on July 19, the German detachments reunited, and I. Karf sent a triumphant broadcast about the task of the operation. This radio message was also intercepted and transmitted to the commander of the Special Forces at about 05.00 in the morning. It should be noted that since the interception of the German radiogram by the Baltic Communications Service fleet and up to the moment when the decrypted text of this telegram lay on the table to Mikhail Koronatovich Bakhirev, who was on the cruiser at sea, no more than 3-3,5 hours passed! Receive a radiogram, decrypt it, check your work, compose a radiogram on the flagship Admiral Makarov, encrypt it, transmit ... Without a doubt, the work of our communications intelligence officers is worthy of the highest praise.
Meanwhile, the unsuspecting I. Karf led his squadron home. In the morning of 07.00 19 June, he released the Roon and Lübeck with four torpedo boats to Libau, and himself on Augsburg and with the Albatross and the S-141 torpedo boats; “S-142” and “G-135” went to the southern tip of Gotland in order to turn from there to Neufarvasser. Exactly half an hour later, on 07.30, a large smoke in the northeast was seen on the Augsburg, and soon the silhouette of a four-pipe cruiser came out of the mist, followed by the second one. Russian and German squads finally met.
The flagship of Rear Admiral M.K. Bakhirev "Admiral Makarov". Photo 1913
What happened later is described in a variety of sources. It would seem that with such an abundance of attention the battle of 19 June 1915 should be literally taken apart piece by piece and there could be no mysteries in it. Instead, alas, we see a lot of mistakes in the description of the battle and a lot of far-reaching conclusions made on deliberately false premises. Therefore, the article offered to your attention is built “from the reverse” - we will not describe the course of events in it, as the author sees it (this will be done in the next article), but consider the main sources' errors in the description of the battle string. Alas, without a detailed description of them to build a consistent picture of those distant events is not possible.
Let's see what happened in the outset of the battle. To do this, take the description of the German historian Heinrich Rollman. It is of some interest that reviewers of the “Wars on the Baltic Sea. 1915, published in Russian in 1937, of course, decisively dismisses "all the chauvinistic agitation and falsification to which the author resorts," but pay tribute to both the volume of materials collected by G. Rollman and the quality of their systematization. .
This is how G. Rollman describes the battlefield: “In 07.30, at Augsburg, they saw smoke (hereinafter Russian time is indicated), soon after that they noticed the silhouette of the Russian cruiser and almost immediately the second one. Then the Russian cruisers lay down on a parallel course and entered the battle, opening fire on 07.32, i.e. after just 2 minutes after the Germans saw the smoke. The speed of the Russian detachment reached 20 nodes. After the U-turn, the Russian cruisers again disappeared in the fog, on the German ships they saw only flashes of shots of their guns, according to which it was guessed that four cruisers were fighting with them. The Russians obviously saw the Germans, because visibility was noticeably better towards the north-west.
"Augsburg" gave full speed and pumped oil into the boilers through the nozzles in order to hide the Albatross that followed him in clouds of smoke. "Augsburg" and "Albatross" went zigzagging to impede the sight of the enemy, but they themselves could not shoot, because they did not see the enemy. Despite the measures taken, the Russian salvoes lay down near the cruiser and the high-speed mine layer (“but still they remained under good cover”, writes G. Rollman) and “Augsburg” in 07.45 slowly turned the 2 rumba to the right, while the Albatros strongly lagged behind. "
Having reached this point, G. Rollman interrupts the description of the battle and begins to talk about the possibilities of a torpedo attack — after all, the detachment of I. Karf had three destroyers. And here begins the oddities. G. Rollman writes this:
“Could this attack give any results? Commodore Karth denied this. ”
That is, G. Rollman, simply speaking, declined to express his own opinion, and instead cited the position of I. Carf. And what did I. Karf say? He argued the impossibility of a torpedo attack as follows:
1) the distance from the beginning of the battle has grown from 43,8 cable to 49,2 cable;
2) the sea was "smooth as a mirror";
3) against three destroyers there were four cruisers whose artillery was not damaged;
4) the destroyers were armed with old torpedoes, with a range of no more than 3 000 m;
5) one of the destroyers, the "G-135", had a maximum speed of 20 nodes, the rest were a little faster.
It seems to be all logical, right? But this set of reasons does not fit at all with the description of the battle, given by G. Rollman himself.
19 June 1915 Combat Scheme, by G. Rollman (Russian edition)
If the Russian cruisers in the final battlefield lay on a parallel course, as G.Rollman declares, they would be in the position of catching up. At the same time, the Russians walked (according to G. Rollman!) On 20 nodes. The German squad before a sudden meeting with the ships of M.K. Bakhirev was not in full swing (remember the I. Karf radiogram, in which he pointed out speed knots 17), that is, he needed some time to give this very full stroke. But neither the Albatross nor the G-135 could develop more 20 nodes, moreover, when they came under fire from the Russians, the Germans began to maneuver, knocking down the gauge, however, it is not clear whether they belonged to the destroyers or "chased after volleys "Only" Augsburg "with" Albatross ". All this means that the Germans were slower than the Russian squad on parallel courses, and if so, then the distance between the ships I. Carf and MK Bakhirev should have been reduced, but not increased!
How to explain this paradox? Perhaps the fact is that the flagship of I.Karfa "Augsburg", having speed in 27 with more nodes, of course, was faster than the "Albatross", and the destroyers, and Russian cruisers. He gave full speed and broke away from the rest of the ships of the German squad, the distance between him and the Russian cruisers increased too. But - between the "Augsbug" and the Russian cruisers, and not between the destroyers and the Russian cruisers!
If the maximum speed of the “G-135” really did not exceed 20 nodes, the distance between the German destroyers and Russian cruisers could not increase, and if it did increase, the speed of the German destroyers was much higher than the 20 nodes sounded. And in any case, we come to a certain slyness of the report of I. Karth.
You can, of course, recall the cuff of the “Augsburg” to two points to the right - theoretically the new course led to an increase in the distance between the opponents. But the fact is that the rumba is a 1 / 32 circle, that is, only 11,25 degrees and a gradual flap on 22,5 degrees, started in 07.45, could not lead to an increase in the distance on the 5,4 cable in a few minutes. There is an obvious contradiction that the reports about the combat of the destroyer commanders could probably solve, but alas. Here G. Rollman manages streamlined:
“The division head held the same opinion; his flag officer, recently assigned to the semi-flotilla, considered the attack hopeless. Both destroyer commanders "S-141" and "S-142" in the reports of the battle spoke in the same sense. "
That is, it is clear that on the German destroyers the attack was considered hopeless, but it is completely unclear for what reasons, and do the commanders of the destroyers confirm the reasons outlined in the report of I. Karth?
An interesting nuance - according to the description, G.Rollman (and, obviously, I.Karfa) the Germans almost did not see the Russian cruisers, watching only flashes of their shots, but they could not shoot themselves. However, when the German commanders needed to justify the refusal of a torpedo attack by increasing the distance to the enemy, they indicated a change in the distance to the ships of M.K. Bakhirev up to a tenth of cable length - 43,8 and 49,2 KBT.
But these are flowers, but then surrealism begins. Suppose, nevertheless, that by some miracle (teleportation?), Twenty-node German destroyers did indeed increase the distance by almost 5,5 cable. What does this mean? Recall that the opponents were able to detect each other at a distance of 45-50 cable, because visibility was extremely limited. And the destroyers were able to break the distance to almost five miles, which means that quite a bit more - and they will break away from the Russian squad, which will simply cease to see them. It remains to hold out even a little bit, and nothing will threaten the small German ships ...
Instead, G. Rollman read:
“But at that moment the situation was such that the destroyers had to take into account the possibility of their destruction; for a long time, shells fell in close proximity to them, and it was only a matter of time when the hits would begin. It was necessary to get ahead of the enemy and try to save the Albatross. The division head decided to launch an attack ... ”.
That is, at the very moment when the German destroyers so successfully broke the distance and were about to emerge from the shelling, hiding in the fog, their command suddenly overcame an attack of the blues: “We will not be saved, the Russians will shoot us (blindly ?! ) and still kill everyone, let's attack! ". Special cynicism of the situation is due to the fact that, generally speaking, no one fired at German destroyers during this period of time. "Admiral Makarov" and "Bayan", having entered the battle, beat on "Augsburg", and "Bogatyr" and "Oleg" - on "Albatross".
But back to G. Rollman. According to him, the flag “Z” was raised on the flagship destroyer and three German ships nevertheless rushed into a torpedo attack. But at that moment I.Karf, realizing that the low-speed Albatross could not be saved, decided to break under the nose of the Russian detachment and began to lean to the left, letting the Albatross radiogram go to neutral Swedish waters.
And here there was a sad incident. The fact is that in the Russian edition of the book by G. Rollman it is indicated that "Augsburg" began to lean to the left and went to intercept the Russian course at 07.35. This is an obvious slip of the pen. G.Rollman describes the events of the battle consistently, here, outlining the events that happened after 07.45, suddenly comes back, which is not typical of him. The turn to the left in 07.35 refutes the entire description of the battle given by G.Rollman before (an attempt to cover the Albatross with a smoke screen, a lapel in 07.45 two points to the right, the decision to pass under the nose of the Russian squadron at the time of the release of the destroyers in a torpedo attack, etc. .). There is nothing of the kind on the battle chart shown by G.Rollman, where Augsburg is leaning to the left near 08.00. Yes, actually, anyone who finds the time and desire to read the page 245 of the Russian edition of the “Wars on the Baltic Sea. 1915 d. ”Will make sure that the turnaround to the Russian course in 07.35 completely contradicts the whole description of this episode of the battle given by the German historian.
Most likely, there was an annoying typo, and this is not about 07.35, but about 07.55, which is not completely out of the context of the picture of the battle and the scheme attached to it. The author of this article did not read G. Rollman in the original and cannot say who made this annoying typo - perhaps the error is present only in the Russian edition. But it is surprising how many authors subsequently did not make out this misstep and replicated this error in their works. We meet her at the respected V.Yu. Gribovsky in the article "Fight Gotland 19 June 1915":
“Augsburg rushed ahead at full speed and began to dodge to the left with 7 and 35 mines, intending to slip under the enemy’s nose.”
It also builds a description of this battle, and AG. Patients:
“Karth immediately realized that he was threatened, and made the only right decision. He decided to throw the Albatross and try to save the cruiser and the destroyers. "Augsburg" increased the course and began to lean to the left "
In fact, as follows from the description of G. Rollman, I. Karf was not at all distinguished by the speed of reaction: after finding Russian ships on 07.30, he found it possible to “trim” the Russian course in almost half an hour.
And when I.Karf made this decision, on the destroyers they found out that the Russian cruisers turned north, that is, went to rapprochement, perpendicular to the German course, in order to pass under the stern of the German detachment (this moment in the above scheme corresponds to 07.00, in Russian time is 08.00). Accordingly, with such a change in the course of low-speed German destroyers, there was a chance, taking to the left, following the "Augsburg", to disperse from the Russian squadron of the left sides. The fact is that having equal speed with the Russians (20 nodes), the German destroyers could not go against the Russian course while the opponents followed in parallel - they unacceptably approached the cruisers, and they would be shot. But after the Russians went north, the Germans had such an opportunity, because the inclination to the left no longer led to such a strong rapprochement with the Russian ships. Destroyer commanders took advantage of this opportunity. The destroyers set up a smoke screen covering the Albatross, and followed the Augsburg. In 08.35, the Augsburg and the destroyers broke through the Russian cruisers and went beyond their limits of visibility.
It seems to be logical, and geometrically consistent, but there is a nuance. The fact is that while writing his book, and it was published in 1929, G. Rollman did not use the Soviet archives, but wrote the book mainly according to German data. As a result, the German historian describes not how Russian ships actually maneuvered, but only how German eyewitnesses imagined Russian maneuvers. But, as you know, in order to make the right impression about a particular battle, it is necessary to read the documents of all the parties involved. As we can see, the version of the Gotland battle as presented by G. Rollman has many internal contradictions, even if the Russian detachment acted exactly as described in the book. Here are the cruisers M.K. Bakhirev maneuvered completely differently. Two statements by G. Rollman, on which all of his description is built: that the Russians started a parallel course at the beginning of the battle and that they turned north to 07.55 - 08.00 turned to the north are in fact incorrect, because domestic sources do not confirm this.
On the other hand, domestic sources claim this ...
What did Mikhail Koronatovich Bakhirev actually do after visual detection of the enemy? A very simple maneuver, the meaning and purpose of which he absolutely clearly and unequivocally explained in his report, and even before that - in the watch journal “Admiral Makarov”:
"Wishing to embrace the head, we leaned to the left, leading the lead ship to the course angle 40 ° starboard"
But how many reproaches for this maneuver fell upon the head of the commander of the Special Purpose Squad! According to the general opinion, M.K. Bakhirev should, without further ado, and without inventing all sorts of head that, with such a balance of power, are completely unnecessary, just get close to the enemy and “roll” him. So, for example, MA Petrov in the book “Two fights” writes:
“One wonders why this tactical device was needed, superfluous and aimless?”
Then, however, the same V.Yu. Gribovsky "acquitted" Rear Admiral. After analyzing the actions of the commander of the Special Purpose Squad, the distinguished historian came to the conclusion:
“In fact, the team maneuvered almost 20-nodal move - the simplest and most advantageous way for firing - at combat loxodrome. After the battle, Bakhirev, obviously, wanted to give his tactical designs more brilliance, which was reflected in his report, and earlier - in the watch log of Admiral Makarov.
Translated into Russian: Mikhail Koronatovich did not plan any coverage of any heads, but simply kept the enemy on a constant course angle, providing his gunners with favorable shooting conditions. Well, then, in a report, he invented a “wand over T”. Why not join a bit, right?
Let's look at the scheme of this maneuver.
So, it is absolutely clear that in this situation M.K. Bakhirev chose the only correct solution. He saw the enemy in 07.30 "left-ahead" of himself. On the Russian cruisers, the German ships were identified as the “Augsburg” and the “Nymph” type cruiser, which meant that the Russian squadron did not have any superiority in speed, because the “Nymph” had a maximum speed of 21,5 knot. But the Germans did not expect to meet the detachment of M.K. Bakhirev, so you can count on some “tetanus” on their part - they will need a little time to analyze the situation and decide what to do. However, the time of "tetanus" was calculated in minutes and it was necessary to properly dispose of it.
What did M.K. Bahirev? He turned against the enemy's course and led the enemy to the heading angle, which allowed the Russian cruisers to shoot the whole board. Thus, the ships of Mikhail Koronatovich simultaneously approached the enemy, and were able to use maximum artillery. At the same time, the new course of the Russian squadron led it to reach the head of the German column and, not least, the ships of M.K. Bakhirev would remain between the German detachment and its base on the German coast.
What other options did the Russian commander have?
It was possible to turn around with the nose to the enemy and rush straight at him, then the distance would be reduced faster (in the diagram, this course is designated as “Variant 1”). But in this case, the enemy would have been on a very sharp course angle and only the nasal turret guns could have fired at the enemy, and then, quite likely, not all cruisers in the convoy, except for M.K. Bakhirev ordered to turn not consecutively, but “all at once”, in order to go on the Germans in the front line. But as soon as the Augsburg realized what was happening, they simply fled, turning away from the Russian cruisers and taking advantage of their excellent speed. The chances of targeting and knocking out a high-speed German cruiser in this case were near-zero. It is possible that with such a maneuver the Russians became close to the Nymph (which, in fact, was an Albatross, but we argue from the position of MK Bakhirev, and he believed that he sees a cruiser of this type before him) they succeeded in reality, but at the same time they missed "Augsburg" almost guaranteed. At the same time, turning to the enemy, allowing at the same time to immediately fight the whole artillery of the starboard, gave the Russians a certain hope to destroy not only Nymph, but Augsburg. Therefore, the refusal to throw “straight at the enemy” according to the 1 Option (see diagram) is more than justified.
The second option is to bring the German ships to the course angle 40 degrees, but not the right one, as M.K. Bakhirev, and the left side does not make sense. Firstly, it is not at all clear whether Russian cruisers would converge with German ships in this case, or would move away from them (there’s no way to understand each other without knowing the exact courses and places of troops relative to each other), and secondly, even if they came together, then very soon the Russian and German detachments would disperse the left sides. Thus, the commander of the Special Purpose Unit would have let the Germans through to their base, which is no good. Moreover, as we know from German sources, on the MK cruisers. Bakhirev saw the Germans better than they saw the Russian ships. Well, if there is a discrepancy on countercourses for the 2 Option M.K. Bakhirev would have to turn around and chase after the Germans - the troops would change places and now the Russian cruisers saw the enemy worse than the enemy.
In other words, carrying out a maneuver of coverage of the head of the German column, M.K. Bakhirev competently solved as many as three tasks - by continuing to cut off the Germans from their bases, he moved closer to the I. Karf detachment and from the very beginning brought the maximum of his artillery into battle. As we see, an equivalent alternative to such a solution of M.K. Bakhirev simply did not exist, but nevertheless, how many "flowers in pots" were thrown into the Russian rear admiral for this maneuver!
And now let's go back to G. Rollman. According to his description, at the beginning of the battle the Russians went to a course parallel to the Germans, but, as we see, nothing of the kind happened, in fact the Russians went against the Germans. Accordingly, the distance between the Russian and German detachments could not increase - it was reduced! Yes, the Germans began to take to the right, thereby leaving the head, but Mikhail Koronatovich followed them and continued to hold the German squad on the course angle 40 degrees - the same “combat loxodromy” that V.Yu. Gribovsky wrote about. That is, it was worth the Germans turn away - M.K. Bakhirev turned after them. With such a maneuvering, the distance between the troops, following with equal speed (MK Bakhirev was walking at 19-20 nodes, the Albatross could not go faster than the 20 nodes, the destroyers, according to the Germans, could not), either could be reduced, or stay roughly constant.
In such circumstances, the German destroyers, if they were really limited in speed, would never have been able to break the distance with the Russian cruisers. But even if by some miracle they managed to do it, and they really ended up in the 49,2 cable from Admiral Makarov, then they followed the Augsburg, crossing the course of the Russian squadron, and even about 5 miles from the Russian ships (though this estimate is Russian, not German), they could only in two cases: if the Russian cruisers, as G.Rollman writes, turned to the north, or if the German destroyers could reach a speed substantially higher than the speed of the Russian cruisers.
Ships M.K. Bakhirev did not turn to the north, which means that in fact the speed of the German destroyers was much higher than indicated in his report I. Karf. And this means, in turn, that reports of German commanders should be treated with extreme caution, and they are clearly not the last resort.
So, we have considered the main “errors” of sources in the description of the beginning of the battle at Gotland 19 June 1915. We can say that we found out what could not be in that fight. Now you can try to imagine what really happened there.
To be continued ...