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3. Gaming the Battle of Jutland

General Plan of the Battle of Jutland as understood by H.H. Frost, Naval War College, 1916 for use in Battle of Jutland game

Battle of Jutland General Plan via H.H. Frost, 1916

Pete Pellegrino  
Senior Military Analyst, War Gaming Department
Cubic Applications, Inc.
Naval War College

The Battle of Jutland was studied extensively by classes throughout the interwar year period. Deck and radio logs permitted detailed reconstruction of ship movements and actions and, between 1916 and 1924, Lieutenant Commander Holloway Halstead Frost assembled a series of overlays or plates depicting the battle in 15 minute increments.

In addition to studying the plates, NWC students used the game floor to reenact the battle. Rather than re-playing the battle with students assuming the roles of the British and German commanders, and challenging the historic outcome, the game-floor events should more properly be described as “demonstrations” with the students retracing the movements of the opposing fleets according to Frost’s script, pausing at critical junctures to discuss tactics. In many ways this was not unlike an Army War College staff-ride at Gettysburg.

Works Referenced

Battle of Sable Island Manuscript, Serial No. 71, October-November 1923. Record Group 4 (College Publications), Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College.

CDR Chester W. Nimitz, Thesis on Tactics, 28 April 1923. Record Group 13 (Student Theses), Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College.

Rear Admiral Harris Laning, The Naval Battle, May 1933.

Douglas V. Smith, One Hundred Years of U.S. Navy Air Power (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2010).

H. H. Frost, Jutland, June 1923. RG 4 (College Publications), Box 16, Folder 713A. Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College.

Michael Vlahos, The Blue Sword: The Naval War College and the American Mission, 1919-1941 (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1980).

Philip Gaudet, Oral History Interview on the History of War Gaming, Interviewed by Francis J. McHugh, 7 September 1974. Oral History 60, Naval Historical Collection, U.S. Naval War College.