Jutland Losses: the Royal Navy's Battlecruiser Force Decimated
The Battle of Jutland occurred as Germany sought to break the Royal Navy imposed blockade of its North Sea ports. Germany was fighting enemies on two fronts and its civil industry was running short of needed supplies. Although the High Seas Fleet was inferior in size to the Grand Fleet of the Royal Navy, an attempt to break the blockade was judged vital to the war effort.
During a previous battle, the Germans experienced a near-fatal attack on one of their battlecruisers that revealed a dangerous quirk in the armor protection scheme employed by most battlecruisers. Their weaker armor could allow a penetrating strike on a major gun turret, and this could result in the explosive detonation of the vessel's primary magazine. The afflicted German vessel survived through luck and skill, and the Germans made efforts to mitigate this danger.
The British had no such knowledge, and at Jutland they paid dearly. Admiral Hipper of the German battlecruiser detachment managed to lure his British counterpart, Admiral Beatty, into the range of the guns of the main German force. HMS Indefatigable was struck by shells from the SMS Von der Tann and exploded, taking all but three of her crew of over a thousand down with her. HMS Queen Mary was hit by shells from SMS Seydlitz and SMS Derfflingler and also blew up, killing all but nine of her crew of around twelve hundred. Even Admiral Beatty's flagship, HMS Lion, was nearly lost.
From there raged the Battle of Jutland, losses mounted, and at the end of the day HMS Invincible, another battlecruiser, had also exploded and killed all but six of a crew of over a thousand. All in all, three of the nine Royal Navy battlecruisers present exploded, and others sustained heavy damage.