Breaking of the German Code
Before the battle commenced one of the German naval Ships had been captured by the Russians, after it ran aground in Russian territorial waters. The Russian broke the German code and transmitted it to Royal Navy. So when the Germans transmitted their order to start the battle to their fleet, the British having the code could read all German communications. Thus the plan of the German fleet was in some ways known to the Royal Navy. The German plan was to use their cruiser squadron to act as a decoy and lure the main British fleet to a collision course and Admiral sheer counting on surprise and efficiency of the German fleet was thinking he could annihilate the imperial naval armada.
The battle was fought in two phases. In the first phase the fleet of Admiral Hipper was chased by the British fleet and in the second phase the German fleet under Scheer faced the British fleet. The battle lasted all night and heavy gun fire from the battleships was the hallmark of this battle. It is without doubt the greatest naval battle between surface ships in the history of naval warfare.
Strategic Results of the Battle
The British battleships had heavier guns and less armor while the German battleships had heavier armor and slightly lighter guns. Thus the longer range of the British guns prevailed and the German battle ships were hit 27 times. The Germans however fought with accuracy, once the British ships closed in nearer to the German fleet. The unerring aim of the German gunners caused the loss of 3 British battleships with heavy loss of resultant life. In real terms the British losses were double of the Germans. But in the strategic sense the Germans could not annihilate the British fleet and after this battle the German navy never ventured out for any more battles with the British fleet. Kaiser Wilhelm II claimed victory in battle and so did the British. But in England there was a sense of disappointment as the public expected another decisive victory as at Trafalgar in 1805, when the naval fleet of Napoleon was decisively defeated by Lord Nelson the one-eyed admiral.
Now in hindsight one can evaluate this battle dispassionately. Historians and students of Military History do not give much credit to the British admirals, who had the basic principle of warfare i.e.concentration of force in their favor. Yet they failed to annihilate the German fleet. The Germans were outgunned, but they did not concede a decisive victory to the British. But the end of the battle saw the British dominance over the North Sea increase. It was a bitter pill for the Kaiser who wished the German fleet to be more powerful than the Royal navy. This failure to contain the Royal Navy was one of the causes of the German defeat in this war