SMS Blucher

The Ship

Dogger Bank - Came under fire and sank 24 January 1915

Laid Down: 21 Feb 1907 Launched: 11 April 1908 Completed: 24 March 1910
Fate: Sunk at Dogger Bank, 24 Jan 1915
Length: 530'5" oa Beam: 80'3" Draft: 26'3" Displacement: 15,590 tons normal, 17,250 full load
Armament: twelve 21cm (6x2), eight 15cm, sixteen 8.8cm
Four 45cm submerged torpedo tubes 21" tubes (4x3)
Performance: 24.3 knots maximum Range: 6,600nm @ 12 kts, 3,520 nm @ 18 kts knots

Complement: 847 officers & men (1,036 when sunk at Dogger Bank)

Among the most memorable of WW1 images is that of a capsizing warship, her sides covered with sailors trying to save themselves before she goes down. The ship is the German battlecruiser SMS Blucher, battered into submission and sunk at The Battle of Dogger Bank, 24 January 1915. The largest naval battle of WW1 up to that time, The Battle of Dogger Bank was the first clash between Royal Navy and German battlecruisers.

Intended to be an improvement upon Scharnhorst class armoured cruisers, Blucher possessed neither the speed nor the armament of later generation German and Royal Navy battlecruisers. Aware of the soon to be launched HMS Invincible, thought to carry 9.2" main armament, the Germans fit Blucher with their superior 8.2" gun. In the event, HMS Invincible and the more capable Royal Navy battlecruisers that followed carried 12" (and larger) main gun armament, not to mention being faster than Blucher. The Germans immediately recognized Blucher's limitations. Their subsequent battlecruisers were faster, more heavily armed, and better protected.

Blucher's limitations may have doomed her at The Battle of Dogger Bank. Unable to outrun her opponents, she was stuck at the end of the German battle line, where she was hit repeatedly by gunfire. A round fired by HMS Princess Royal at a range of 20,000 yards penetrated her forward ammunition handling spaces, causing a disastrous fire. Confused Royal Navy signaling enabled more valuable German targets like BC Seydlitz, severely damaged and afire, to escape while Royal Navy gunners concentrated on the doomed Blucher. A flaming wreck, she fought on, but hits from at least 50 high caliber shells and 2 torpedoes sealed her fate. She capsized and sank shortly thereafter. Of 1.036 men on board, only 260 survivors were rescued by HMS Arethusa and escorting destroyers.

My Postcards

Not postally used but has the following notes written on the reverse:

Blucher - German Navy
Armoured Cruiser
1908 Kiel
Sank Jan 1915 following exchange of fire with HMS Lion, Tiger, Pricess Royal and New Zealand dring the Battle of Dogger Bank.

Card reads:
Sinking of the 'Bluecher' (Blucher)
Here is depicted the most dramatic moment of history's first battle of Dreadnoughts. The 'Bluecher' turned over, and she floated for ten minutes with a number of the crew walking on her side. Men are sliding down towards the water, and in it many heads appear as black dots. The dense black group astern is perhaps the line of officers, linked arm in arm, who were seen there as the warship sank. White smoke pours from the hull amidships; dense black smoke from her forward. Great fires rage on board her. The wreck of the tripod foremast is seen to the right foreshortened, and just below and to the left of it a 6-in gun.
Postcard series: Photochrom Co Ltd, On Active Service
Postcard number: 45


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