Admirals Sir John Jellicoe (left) and Sir David Beatty, the Royal Navy's commanders at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, are commemorated with busts in London's Trafalgar Square (Photo: Centenary News)

Jutland Centenary: Descendants invited to UK commemorations

Posted on on 11 December 2015
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Descendants of those who fought at sea in the First World War have been invited to take part in Britain's commemorations marking the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in 2016.

Remembrance services will be held at St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, and Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery in the Orkney Islands on May 31st.

Applications are invited for both events - the closing date is Friday January 22nd 2016.

UK Secretary of State for Culture John Whittingdale said: "The Battle of Jutland was the biggest and most brutal naval battle of the First World War, claiming the lives of thousands of men.

"For Jutland’s 100th anniversary next year, we want to commemorate the heroism and sacrifice of all who served.

"I am sure that their relatives, along with others from across the country, will want to attend these events in Orkney. It is a chance to pay tribute to the extraordinary bravery of so many of our countrymen."

Britain's Grand Fleet sailed from Orkney to join battle with the German High Seas Fleet in May 1916. 

More than 8,000 sailors from both sides were lost in the clashes that followed off Denmark's North Sea Coast.

100 years on, British and German ships will again gather on Jutland Bank, for a remembrance service at sea.

Commemorations and an exhibition are also planned in the German port of Wilhelmshaven.

Other events across the UK include:
*Royal Navy commemorations in Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth.
*The opening of HMS Caroline, the last surviving Jutland warship, as a museum and visitor attraction in Belfast.
*The laying of commemorative paving stones to remember the four Victoria Cross recipients from the Battle of Jutland.

Lieutenant Commander Rob Whitworth, a Royal Navy officer, is among those with a family link to Jutland. 

His great grandfather, William Henry Swan, served on HMS Warrior as Chief Engine Room Artificer (mechanic). The cruiser was severely damaged by shellfire and had to be abandoned while under tow.

Lt Cdr Whitworth said: "Researching my great grandfather’s role during the battle has helped me to understand my family’s place in history.

"It’s easy to become overwhelmed by large numbers and to lose sight of the personal stories of those that took part. Speaking to descendants and remembering their families’ individual stories helps to preserve the memories of those that lost their lives.

"I’m proud to be able to share my great grandfather’s story and would encourage others to do the same and attend events in 2016."

More details of the Jutland Centenary commemorations, and the application form for descendants, can be found here.

Also In Centenary News:

Jutland anniversary website launched by grandson of Admiral Jellicoe.

Exhibitions at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, and National Maritime Museum Greenwich to remember the Battle of Jutland.

Source: UK Government (Department for Culture Media & Sport)

Images: Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News