The Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, also called the Action in the Helgoland Bight was an inconclusive naval engagement fought between British and German squadrons on 17 November 1917 during the First World War.
The action began at 7.30 a.m., roughly 65 nautical miles west of Sylt, when HMS Courageous sighted the enemy. She opened fire at 7:37 a.m. Admiral Reuter, the German commander, with four light cruisers and eight destroyers, [Note 1] advanced to engage the Royal Navy units in order to cover the withdrawal of his minesweepers, all of which escaped except for the trawler Kehdingen,(GE) which was sunk. The battle thereafter developed into a stern chase as the German forces, skilfully using smoke-screens, withdrew south-east at their best speed, under fire from the pursuing British ships of the 1st Cruiser Squadron, the 1st and 6th Light Cruiser Squadrons, and, later, HMS Repulse (which had been detached from the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron and came up at high speed to join the battle). Both sides were hampered in their maneuvers by the presence of naval minefields.
At about the same time, the light cruisers came under fire from two German Kaiser-class battleships, SMS Kaiser and SMS Kaiserin which had come up in support of Reuter's ships; HMS Caledon was struck by one 30.5 cm (12.0 in) shell which did minimal damage; shortly thereafter, the British ships gave up the chase as they reached the edge of known minefields.
All personnel on the bridge of the light cruiser HMS Calypso, including her captain, Herbert Edwards, were killed by a 15 cm (5.9 in) shell.[Note 2] The battle cruiser HMS Repulse briefly engaged the German ships at about 10:00, scoring a single hit on the light cruiser SMS Königsberg that ignited a major fire on board.
^two of the German destroyers were initially detached, but rejoined during the battle
^There is some dispute as to whether it was a 15cm or 30.5cm shell which damaged HMS Calypso; since she was hit at 9.40 a.m. (see Newbolt, op. cit., p.175), before the German battleships opened fire, the former is the more likely.
^Repulse, which was faster and of shallower draft than the other British battle cruisers, was detached from Pakenham's group in order to support the 1st Light Cruiser Squadron, c.8.0am; she came into action c. 9.0am and scored a 15-inch hit on Königsberg at 9.58am, the end of the engagement.
^The principal source for the British order of battle is Newbolt, Naval Operations v.5, pp. 168-9, footnote 2, with additional organizational details from The Admiralty (1917) Supplement to the Monthly Naval List, November 1917 (London: Harrison and Sons). Commanding officers are from The Admiralty (1917) Monthly Navy List, November 1917.
^ abcMonthly Naval List Supplement, (November 1917), p.12.
^The principal source for the German order of battle is Gladisch, pp. 56-57. Commanding officers are from Gladisch, Scheer op. cit., German Wikipedia articles on the individual cruisers, Dave Alton, Commanding Officers of German Capital Ships 1914-19 (accessed 29 May 2013) and Stoelzel, Kontreadmiral a. D. Albert (1930). Ehrenrangliste der Kaiserlich-Deutschen Marine 1914–18 [Honor Rank List of the Imperial German Navy 1914–18]. Berlin: Marine-Offizier-Verband. OCLC62432982..