The Austrian ships at Heligoland were commanded by Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, who later became famous for his victory at Lissa.
The Battle of Heligoland took place on this day in 1864. It was a naval engagement that took place during the Second Schleswig War, in which Austrian ships fought on the side of Prussia and against Denmark. The battle took place in the North Sea, near the Heligoland islands and some 40 km from the German coast. Heligoland is currently part of Germany and has an exceptionally important strategic position. From it, one can oversee practically the entire western part of the German North Sea coast and can be used as an airbase just off the German coast.
The Austrian navy sent its ships to the North Sea from the Adriatic, which means they had to undertake a very long journey to get there. The Austrian forces in the Battle of Heligoland were commanded by the famous Wilhelm von Tegetthoff, who later went on to win the Battle of Lissa against a superior Italian fleet.
At Heligoland, Tegetthoff was in command of the “Schwarzenberg”, a screw frigate with 51 guns. The Danes managed to hit the ship and cause a fire. Tegetthoff decided to withdraw to the vicinity of Heligoland, which was under British rule (the Danes decided not to pursue for fear of causing a political incident. Tegetthoff thus saved his ships. Although the battle was essentially undecided, Tegetthoff was awarded the Order of the Iron Crown after it and promoted to rear admiral. His side was eventually victorious in the war.