Post by DeMatt on Jul 2, 2019 7:13:07 GMT -5
December of 1912 brought with it the thirty-fourth month of war between Great Britain and the Kaiserreich of Germany. A war with the United States barely five years previous had ended inconclusively, and the European upstart had sensed weakness. Two long years of warfare had proven otherwise, with the proud German battleline now lying on the seabed and British ships outfighting their peers at virtually every opportunity.
But age has a way of evening the score. Unable to withdraw their vessels for refitting or replacement, the Royal Navy is increasingly finding itself unable to bring the fast and modern German navy to battle. And nowhere, perhaps, is this more evident than in their newest class of ships - the "battlecruiser".
Moltke had brazenly challenged the Royal Navy's armoured cruisers on more than one occasion, and every time had proven to have the upper hand. Only the Kaiser's insistence that his most capable warship not risk substantial damage had allowed the decade-old Diadems to survive. The night of December 27th should have been no different.
It was intended to be a raid. A reminder that, though the Royal Navy held an iron blockade on the Baltic, the Kaiserliche Marine could and would fight. Shortly before sunset, the seas east of Harwich began to boil, as Moltke attacked. First sending a minesweeper scuttling for safety, then smashing a merchantman into ruin. The wireless cries for help crackled through the night, and the Grand Fleet belatedly responded.
But Moltke lingered almost too long. A patrol boat, trying to intervene, drew the wrath of her thirteen-inch guns, and then came the warning from her escorts. "The Grand Fleet approaches!" A course northeast selected, the quicker to reach the safety of German waters... and then, out of the gloom, disaster.
First to appear were the two most modern British battleships, Ramillies and Redoubtable. Their fifteen-inch guns would make a mockery of Moltke's armor, should she linger within their sight. Next came three Rodney-class pre-
DreadnoughtRamillies battleships, whose old guns and fire controls were still lethal at such close ranges. Accompanying them, a swarm of destroyers and cruisers. No ship could hope to stand against such an array of firepower... but for all their strength, the Ramilies-class could only make 22 knots, and only the destroyers could exceed that at 27... and Moltke could make 26.
Pinned between Grand Fleet and Shore, Moltke made to run the gauntlet. She dropped a torpedo, catching Ramilies's propeller shaft and leaving her lame. Redoubtable turned to pursue, but her clumsiness cost her valuable time. The cruisers Ariadne and Europa, caught off guard by Moltke's charge, could do nothing but evade, their fire going wild. 13-inch guns roared briefly back and forth, and the battleship Howe swung aside, her consorts hastily trimming helm to avoid a disastrous collision. It seemed that once again the Moltke would evade the Royal Navy's grasp...
... but unnoticed before her lay one more ship. The destroyer Arun, veteran of multiple clashes with her German peers and forewarned by the spectacle ahead, had her torpedo tubes ready. A single warhead sped through the dark seas and connected, water fountaining from Moltke's side, and the battlecruiser lurched drunkenly as her engine rooms flooded. With the best part of her speed lost, it was a matter of minutes before Redoubtable caught up and began punishing the lamed battlecruiser, ultimately catching a turret magazine with a 15-inch shell and ending Moltke's career in a dreadful pillar of fire.
A dramatic end to a thorn in my side, that I just HAD to write up after the battle played out.