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OTTOMAN WORLD WAR I NAVAL BATTLE MAP: [Raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby]



A rare and intriguing contemporary map of the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby on December 1914, which was a prelude for the Battle of Dogger Bank (1915), one of the most important naval battles of World War I, was printed in Ottoman script.

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Lithograph on thick paper (Very Good, folds with minor wear and a small reapired tear, irregular blank margin in upper right where map was seemingly removed from a book / pamphlet, two contemporary Ottoman drawings of navy ships in green on the back), 42.5 x 40 cm (16.5 x 15.8 inches).

This intriguing map was printed in Ottoman script, shortly after the Battle of Dogger Bank (January 24, 1915), a consequential naval altercation between Britain’s Royal Navy and the German Kaiserlichen Marine, during the early period of World War I.  It showcases the prelude of the battle, when on December 16, 1914, following the the British success at the Battle of Heligoland Bight (here showcased on the right-hand side), the German Navy approached the British coast and in the morning of December 16 attacked  killing 108 and wounding 525 civilians in the raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby.

Battle of Dogger Bank

The battle came on the heels of a devastating German naval raid upon the Yorkshire coast in December 1914.  Eager to head off another such calamity, ‘Room 40’, the Royal Navy’s communications espionage office, was desperately trying to crack German codes in order to gain advance warning of the next attack. Fortunately, the British managed to acquire a copy of the Signalbuch der Kaiserlichen Marine (SKM), the German navy’s wireless code book.  They were thus able to learn that a sizeable German fleet was preparing to raid the English coast on or around January 25, 1915.  The British deployed overwhelming force to the North Sea, with their Grand Fleet from Northern Scotland, as well as a number of subsidiary fleets with the intent of not only intercepting the German fleet, but of also utterly destroying it!

However, while the British flotilla managed to intercept the unsuspecting German fleet, the British command showed a noticeable lack of drive, combined with extremely poor coordination due to faulty signalling.  They lost their benefit of surprise and while they manged to sink the Blücher, a German dreadnought, they failed to catch the rest of the German fleet, which fled successfully home, while the Lion, a British ship, was severely mauled by German fire, barely making it back to port. 

While the battle was technically a British victory, the Admiralty saw it as a bungled operation.  While the British did succeed in preventing another German coastal raid, they blew an unprecedented opportunity to destroy a large German fleet.  They also caused the Germans to ‘smarten up’ and change both their codes and tactics in future altercations, ensuring the British totally wasted thousands of man-hours of prime intelligence gathering. Major changes in personnel in both the Royal Navy and the Kaiserlichen Marine were enacted to ensure that such a scenario never repeated itself.

As shown on the map, the Dogger Bank is the large shoal located in the middle of the North Sea.  The shaded blocks of waters off of the English coast represent minefields, protecting key ports from German raids.  The lines descending diagonally south-eastwards from Scotland and upwards from the Thames Estuary towards the Dogger Bank represent various British naval deployments, with the wide double line being the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet.  The annotated area further to the southeast of the Dogger Bank represents the spot when the British fleet caught up the Germans and sunk the Blücher.

While we have not seen able to find the exact source of this map, it was evidently printed in Ottoman Turkey shortly after the Battle of Dogger Bank, as part of a book or pamphlet.  The map seems to have been copied and translated into Ottoman Turkish from a popular, publically available British plan of the battle.  There was intense interest in the battle in Turkey, as while the Ottomans did not participate in this action, they were allies of Germany in the ongoing war.  

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