At 5.30 pm, having withdrawn from the Germans in the first phase of the Jutland engagement, the remaining British battlecruisers, tailed by German battleships, headed northwards towards the British Grand Fleet. The German squadron, led by Vice-Admiral Scheer, did not know that at 6.16 pm, Admiral Jellicoe, commander of the Grand Fleet, was approximately 15 miles (24 km) away and had deployed his battleships behind the port column. Had he taken the starboard column, his fleet would have been pounded by German guns. The German fleet sailed into a trap. Hammered by British guns, Scheer turned southwards in ‘retreat’, but turned back at 7.17 pm and fired torpedoes at Jellicoe’s destroyers. Rather than risk extreme losses, Jellicoe, controversially, turned away, believing that it would be preferable to resume engagements at dawn. By 9.00 pm, the two sides were still sporadically engaging, but southwards, with Scheer heading back towards Germany.
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