Immediately we can say the following. No "shame" of Russian fleet on the island of Gotland June 19, 1915 did not take place. In fact, the following happened:
1. The Baltic Fleet Communications Service was able to promptly reveal the enemy’s intentions to concentrate all the bulk of the warships in Kiel for an imperial review, which the Kaiser was to attend;
2. The fleet headquarters promptly (no more than 12 hours) developed and brought to the direct executors a rather complicated plan of the German port attack, which involved the use of heterogeneous forces with the release of a demonstration group, long-range cover forces, and the deployment of submarines on the enemy’s possible route. . Perhaps the only drawback of the plan was the change of the object of attack - at the insistence of the new fleet commander V.А. Kanin instead of Kolberg was chosen Memel;
3. The deployment of surface ships was carried out in accordance with the plan, however, the deficiencies of the material part of domestic submarines affected, as a result of which they had to assign patrol areas not where the situation required. Nevertheless, the fleet headquarters, having only one fully combat-ready submarine (we are talking about the British E-9 under the command of Max Horton), appointed her precisely where her presence could bring the greatest benefit;
4. Strong fog interfered with the shelling of Memel, but thanks to the clear and professional communication services of the Baltic Fleet, a detachment of Commodore I. Karpf was discovered (“Karf” was mistakenly indicated in Russian sources), who set up a minefield in the northern part of the Baltic Sea;
5. Intelligence specialists provided prompt decryption of the German radiograms and sent them to the flagship of the commander of the Special Purpose Detachment, Mikhail Koronatovich Bakhirev, which allowed the latter to intercept I. Karpf's ships without any problems. Detection and targeting of own forces to an enemy detachment should be considered a brilliant success of the Baltic naval intelligence service (functioning under the name of the Baltic Fleet Communications Service), as well as a model of interaction with the ships of the fleet;
6. Contrary to popular belief, M.K. Bakhirev and his 1 brigade of cruisers did not undertake any difficult maneuvers in a battle with the Augsburg, Albatross and three destroyers. An analysis of their maneuvering, according to domestic and German sources, shows that for most of the battle Russian ships constantly and at full speed went to the intersection of the enemy’s course or after him, trying to use as much artillery as possible. An exception to this rule arose only when the German destroyers set up a smoke screen and the ships of the 2 second brigade “Bogatyr” and “Oleg” changed the course to get around it - but in this case their maneuver should be recognized as correct and fully corresponding to the current situation;
7. Contrary to popular opinion about inaccurate shooting of Russian ships, the 203-mm artillery of the armored cruisers Bayan and Admiral Makarov achieved (taking into account various assumptions) from 4,29% to 9,23% of hits in the Albatros, which indicates excellent preparation Russian gunners. The absence of hits at Augsburg is explained by the high speed of the latter, which made it possible to keep at the limit of visibility, which did not exceed 4,5-5 miles on that day, and that the cruiser quickly left the battlefield.
8. Further actions by M.K. Bakhirev was determined by two factors, which, unfortunately, were often underestimated by national historiography. First, he mistakenly identified the Albatross minelayer as an Undine type cruiser. Secondly, the communications service of the Baltic Fleet, which had worked so brilliantly before, subsequently, alas, misinformed the Russian commander, passing on to the flagship Admiral Makarov information about the presence of a strong German detachment, including armored ships, at the northern tip of Gotland. As a result of this, M.K. Bakhirev could only guess what was going on and why I. Karpf took his ships out to sea. If the Russian commander realized that he had driven the Albatross minelayer to the stones, he would have easily guessed the goal of the German operation, and so ... Seeing the enemy light cruisers and destroyers and “knowing” about the presence of a strong German detachment, in fact, cut off the Russian way to retreat, M.K. Bakhirev saw his main task in connecting as quickly as possible with long-range armadillos ("Tsesarevich" and "Glory") in order to be able to give the Germans a decisive battle;
9. As a result, M.K. Bakhirev did not give a serious rebuff to the Roon detachment, but in fact he only shot back from him. Without a doubt, it would be completely unwise to start a decisive fight with an enemy armored cruiser, having already felt a shortage of projectiles, and on the eve of a battle with another strong German detachment. In essence, Mikhail Koronatovich made the only correct decision based on the information he had. In addition, M.K. Bakhirev provided the commander of "Rurik" A.M. Pyshnova with necessary and sufficient information so that he could intercept the German detachment and impose a battle on Roon;
10. "Rurik" was able to intercept the unit "Roona" and acted stubbornly and persistently, first trying to reduce the distance with the German ships, and then let them fight, leading the "Roon" to the 60 course angle so as to continue to approach, to be able to act on the enemy all overboard. As soon as the “Roon” turned away, trying to get out of the battle, “Rurik” followed him and again turned straight to the German detachment. Unfortunately, at this moment the false news about the periscope made A.M. Pyshnova make a dodge maneuver and thereby interrupt the battle. However, after that the Rurik turned after the German ships and pursued them for some time. However, his superiority in speed was not so great (if it was at all) to quickly get close to the Roon. It could take hours, but this time "Rurik" did not have, especially since M.K. Bakhirev told A.M. Pyshnovu "Fear the approach of the enemy from the south." Therefore, after futile pursuit, the Rurik turned away and followed the cruisers of M.K. Bakhireva;
11. The poor shooting of “Rurik” (he did not get to anyone) should be attributed to the result of considerable distances of the battle and unimportant appearance (the “Roon” to which Rurik suffered fire immediately after it was recognized by the German armored cruiser did not achieve not a single hit), but also to the disfavour of the Rurik team, because because of the damage to the hull of the 1 February February 1915 g, the ship had to be repaired for half a year and was unable to conduct combat training. Perhaps there were other reasons (almost complete wear of the main caliber guns, unless they were changed during the repair);
12. The British submarine E-9 demonstrated the traditionally high level of combat training and was able to hit the Prince Adalbert armored cruiser, which hurried to aid the squadron of I. Krapf;
As we see, neither the staff officers, nor the intelligence of the Baltic Fleet, nor the special forces detachment and its commanders deserve any reproach. The headquarters in the shortest possible time developed a plan of operation, which did not proceed as it was intended, but still led to substantial losses for the Germans. The success of the E-9 cannot be attributed to the actions of the Russian ships, but Max Horton achieved it also because his submarine was sent precisely to the area from which the guard detachment left, that is, the merit of the Baltic Fleet staff officers in torpedoing Prince Adalbert Is indisputable. "Guidance" detachment M.K. Bakhirev on the forces of I. Karpf should be considered a model of actions of electronic intelligence. The commanders and crews of the special purpose detachment acted professionally and aggressively where it was not associated with unjustified, excessive risk. Maneuvering Russian ships should be considered optimal in all cases. The fact that the 1 th brigade of cruisers from the detachment of I. Karpf managed to destroy only the slowest ship, the minelayer Albatros (which, by the way, was not inferior to Russian cruisers in speed) was not caused by gaps in tactics, combat training, or lack of determination of the Russian crews. The sailors of the 1 squadron of cruisers did not achieve greater success only because they were forced to go into battle on ships of pre-Susim projects. Be at the disposal of M.K. Bakhirev modern high-speed cruisers - the result of the battle would be completely different. As for the Rurik cruiser, he, in general, also acted exemplary for a ship that had been in repair for six months before the operation.
Analysis of the decisions of Mikhail Koronatovich Bakhirev leads to the conclusion that the commander of the Russian forces did not make any mistake. All his actions were timely and correct - of course, given the amount of information that M.K. Bakhirev possessed.
But strangely enough, we cannot say anything like that about German sailors.
Without a doubt, the forces of the Kaiserlichmarines in the Baltic were small. But all the more attentively should the German admirals plan their operations! They were completely relaxed and did not expect any trick from the Russians. The only excuse for them is that the Russian fleet, with its long passivity, itself provoked them to do so, but ... “Statutes are written in blood,” and you never need to give yourself discounts - no matter how sluggish and indecisive the enemy may seem. The Germans have forgotten this truism, for which, in fact, paid.
So what do we see? Of the three armored cruisers that could take part in the cover of "Albatross", in fact only one was engaged - "Roon". The other two - "Prince Adalbert" and "Prince Heinrich" pretended to be a distant cover. The Russian battleships Slava and Tsesarevich left their bases and reached the Abo-Aland skerry position, where they were fully prepared to immediately go to sea as soon as it was needed. They carried out a distant cover for the ships of M.K. Bakhireva. And what did the armored cruisers of Rear Admiral von Hopman do, which took almost four hours just to get out of the mouth of the Vistula? You can call it whatever you like, but the phrase “distant cover” is completely inapplicable to them.
Apparently, Commodore I. Karfu couldn’t even think of Russian ships in the middle (especially the southern) part of the Baltic. His actions irrefutably indicate that the only thing he feared were the Russian cruisers patrolling at the throat of the Gulf of Finland. That is why he so easily divided his forces and sent the “Roon” with “Lübeck” to Libava shortly before being intercepted by the 1 th brigade of cruisers.
If the Germans considered the possibility of countering the Russian fleet at all seriously, they should have transferred "Prince Adalbert" and "Prince Heinrich" to Libau, where they were much closer to the mine setting, and where, if anything, they could help detachment I. Karpf. But nothing of the kind was done.
In general, the first mistake of the Germans - the absence of long-range cover, was made at the planning stage of the operation, the second - sending Roon and Lübeck with a part of the destroyers to Libava was made by I. Karpf himself. Then his detachment was intercepted by a team of cruisers M.K. Bakhireva, and ...
The German description of the battle of Augsburg, Albatross and the three destroyers with Russian cruisers is very contradictory, and this is a fact, and the following is the personal opinion of the author of this article. So, when comparing domestic and German sources, a persistent impression is created that I. Karpf simply panicked and fled from the battlefield. The destroyers, gathering first to go into a heroic and suicidal torpedo attack on where, as superior to their Russian detachment, seeing the running flagship changed their point of view and fled after him. Subsequently, the German commanders were ashamed of their actions and tried to give their actions "a bit of tactical brilliance." So, for example, according to Russian data, the “Augsburg” escaped, and then was covered with the smoke curtain of the destroyers and, for a while, ceased to be visible. Then, when the cruiser M.K. Bakhirev bypassed the veil, the "Augsburg" appeared again - shooting at the Russian cruisers, he continued to retreat and soon disappeared in the fog. But in the presentation of I. Krapf, this episode looks like this - "Augsburg" retreated, then returned and, trying to divert the attention of Russian cruisers to themselves, during the 13 minutes, fired upon "Admiral Makarov", and when he failed, he retreated again.
The only ship of the detachment of I. Karpf, who most certainly did not deserve reproach for anything, is the minelayer "Albatross". The crew heroically fought to the last and managed to bring the wounded ship to the Swedish territorial waters, thereby saving it from destruction. Of course, the Albatross was interned and did not take part in further hostilities, but was later returned to Germany.
However, the feat of the “Albatross” crew once again testified that heroism is a means of redeeming someone else’s incompetence. We have already said above that I. Karpfu should not have let go of the Roon and Lübeck, but this is not what is being discussed now. Even when confronted with a Russian squadron without the support of an armored cruiser, the Albatross, in general, did not need to die, because I. Karpf immediately called Roon to the rescue. If she came, this help, on time, and most likely the Albatross would have survived, because even alone Roon was stronger than Bayan and Admiral Makarov together, and Rurik was still too far away. But "Roon" did not come to help in time, and why? Due to the error of his navigator, who managed to get lost and bring the ship is not at all where his name was, and where he was needed. As a result, help did not come, and the Albatross was forced to throw themselves on the rocks, but what did the armored cruiser continue to do?
One of two things, either the commander of the Roon lied in his report, or common sense was not considered a quality necessary for command of Kaiserlichmarin warships. The fact that the commander of the armored cruiser decided that he was between two Russian troops was, in principle, explicable - “having lost” your location as a result of a navigator's error and finding the Russian squad “in the wrong place”, it is easy to imagine that you met with another enemy unit and that these units are at least two. But then what? “Roon”, in the opinion of his commander, was “in the grip” because the Russians seemed to be from the north and from the south. The southern Russian detachment threatened the ships of Commodore I. Karpf, the northern ones did not threaten anyone, and left for the north. And the commander of the “Roona”, whose task was, in fact, assisting I. Karpfu, instead of turning south, runs in pursuit of the northern detachment, engages with him, after some time “changes his mind” (“Well, I, because my commander needs help in the south! ”), leaves the battlefield and hurries back to the south ...
And how would you rate the actions of von Hopman, who was with his armored cruisers in Danzig and received a radiogram in 08.12, from which it was incontrovertible that the German ships were fighting at sea? Who kept the Olympic calm for 35 minutes without doing anything? But then, after another three hours (when his ships obviously did not decide anything and could not help anyone), von Gopman rushed forward without waiting for the destroyers. And even those that were taken with him, the rear admiral did not bother to put in antisubmarine escort. Without a doubt, von Hopman "reacted", only the price of this was a huge hole in the board of the "Prince Adalbert" and the death of ten people. Is it a bit too much for a line in the report?
In general, neither the plan of the German operation, nor its execution, nor the actions of the German commanders during the battle deserve approval. The bright spot against the general background looks only the heroism of the Albatross crew, and the excellent training of the Lübeck gunners, who were instantly shot down at the Rurik from their ultimate distances.
What is the result of the battle of Gotland?
As you know, the Albatross threw itself onto stones and did not take part in the war, and the torpedoed Prince Adalbert was out of action for two months. "Admiral Makarov", "Bayan" and "Rurik" received minor damage.
During the discussions of the Gotland battle, the author of this article repeatedly encountered regrets that only a minelayer had been thrown onto the stones, and not a cruiser, as M.K. Bakhirev. But in fairness it must be said: the sea war in the Baltic was in many ways a mine war, and here the importance of a high-speed mine layer is difficult to overestimate. At the same time, the Kaiser has a lot of light cruisers, and from this point of view, the loss of the Albatross for the Kaiserlichmarin was much more sensitive than the “Undine-type cruisers”, as M.K. Bakhirev.
Well, how did the Germans react to this fight?
Unfortunately, most sources do not give an answer to this question. And in vain, because otherwise statements, like those made by Patients AG in his book The Tragedy of Errors:
“I am ready to argue for anything that in the Royal Navy after such a“ victory ”all the commanders of the squadron - both the admiral and the commanders of the ships - would go to the tribunal. In fact, this “victory” did away with all the claims of the ships of the Baltic Fleet for some role in this war. The enemy didn’t take them into account and wasn’t afraid of them; their own high command didn’t count on them anymore. ”
would be hardly possible.
But back to the German command. After 9 days after the battle, 28 June 1915 g, Heinrich of Prussia presented to the Admiral Scale a report on the circumstances of the battle, based on the reports of I. Karpf and his commanders. In his report, the grand admiral in general approved the actions of the German forces, reproaching I. Karpf only with the fact that he separated the Lübeck and Roon detachments too early. Admiral G. Bachmann, chief of the Admiral Headquarters, apparently fascinated by the colorful theses of the report on “selfless support of ships” and “striving to get close to the enemy,” generally agreed with Prince Henry, but noted that, in his opinion, the torpedo attack was stopped at the moment when the Russian cruisers were already within the range of the “Whitehead mines”, and that the continuation of the torpedo attack would force the Russian cruisers to turn away, and this gave the Albatross hope for salvation. However, he agreed that in this case the ships of M.K. Bakhirev would still have been destroyed by the Albatross, even if it was in Swedish waters.
However, Kaiser Wilhelm II did not at all share such a marvelous unification of views and demanded an explanation "of the reasons that prompted both at the beginning of the operation and during its conduct to deviate from the basic principle - the concentration of forces." Naturally, von Hopman, being the commander of the German intelligence forces in the Baltic, could not give a sane answer to this question. Therefore, he set off for all the hard times, starting to paint the obsolescence of most of his ships and (attention!) The power of the Baltic Fleet, which was clearly not going to sit behind the minefields of the Gulf of Finland. “The general conduct of the struggle on the Baltic Sea is based on the assumption that the Russian fleet has very limited initiative and capacity. Without this prerequisite, the overall superiority of the forces of the Russian fleet ... ... compels us to expect retaliatory strikes at any time. ”
One can only guess what Prince Heinrich thought while reading this report by von Hopman, but, according to the author, he clutched his head. There was no doubt that the Kaiser had reached the root and, after the report by G. Bachmann, asked that the key question - why were the German forces dispersed at the right moment? And now, as an answer to this question, von Hopman proposes to take into account the “power of the Russian fleet”, but since this fleet is really powerful and no longer sits behind minefields, this all the more required the concentration of German forces! Which was not done. In fact, von Hopman wrote the following in his report: "We expected that the Russian fleet would remain passive and did nothing in case of its intervention." That is, with his report, von Hopman, one might say, “buried” himself!
Under these conditions, Prince Heinrich simply had no choice but to “take the fire on himself” - he reported to the Kaiser that he approved of the division of forces made by the junior flagship, although earlier he himself reproached him for this. But this approval of the higher authority (after all, Heinrich of Prussia wore the rank of grand admiral) removed the “thunder and lightning” from von Hopman’s head, and that was the end of the matter. According to the Admiral Headquarters, the loss of the mine layer “Albatross” was “a consequence of poor visibility and that existed until that time, however, it is fully justified, the underestimation of the enemy.”
In other words, the statement of A.G. Patients that "the enemy of the Baltic Fleet no longer took into account" is true ... exactly the opposite. In fact, it was after the battle at Gotland that the Germans came to the conclusion that they had so far underestimated the Russians, and they did it in vain.
Immediately after the battle, the Admiralstaff transferred the light cruiser Bremen and the newest destroyer V-99 to the Baltic (oddly enough, both of them died in the same 1915 year, the first on mines, the second - under the fire of Novik). Some two days after the battle, 21 June 1915, the Kaiser signed an order to transfer to the Baltic:
1. The 4 th battleships squadron - seven battleships of the Braunschweig and Wittelsbach types, commanded by Vice Admiral Schmidt;
2. The destroyers' 8 fleet - eleven pennants commanded by frigatette captain Hundertmark;
3. Two submarines.
The head of the Admiral Head reported the state secretary of the imperial maritime administration (that is, the minister of the sea) Tirpitz about these measures to the state:
"The Baltic Sea forces, after the collapse of Prince Adalbert, which has a great moral significance, the loss of the Albatross, must be strengthened so that they can continue the old line of warfare, which has the goal of discouraging the Russians from hunting for active actions in our waters to achieve this as much success as possible ... The lingering nature of military actions against Russia may require the final abandonment in the Baltic Sea of part or all of the reinforcements now sent there. ”
In other words, the battle at Gotland, which took place on 19 on June 1915, or “The disgrace at the island of Gotland” (according to some of our historians and publicists) entailed a complete change of ideas about the necessary workout of forces in the Baltic. Before the battle at Gotland, it was believed that the Kaiserlhmarine tasks here could be performed by three armored cruisers. After the battle, the Germans found it necessary to use seven squadron battleships and two armored cruisers to solve the same tasks. Of course, such a change in attitude towards the Russian Baltic Fleet was infinitely far from “no longer taken into account.”
And what about von Gopman? Formally, he retained his post, but now he was directly subordinate to Vice Admiral Schmidt, commander of the 4 squadron of battleships. As far as the author knows (but this is inaccurate), von Hopman never again held posts implying independent leadership of the fleet units.
And the last. As we said earlier, the main purpose of the raid on Memel was to influence the public opinion of Germany on public opinion. The shelling did not take place, but information about the appearance of Russian cruisers in the southern Baltic and the death of the Albatross received wide publicity — for example, on June 10 (the day after the battle) the Revel newspapers published a telegram from Stockholm about the battle at Gotland. According to numerous intelligence reports, the death of the minelayer made a huge impression on the public circles of Germany, and, in fact, Admiral G. Bachmann spoke of her as having "great moral value." Thus, in this sense, the Russian operation ended in complete success.
Thank you for attention!