Call for sea battle to be remembered each year

Undated handout photo issued by the National Museum of the Royal Navy of dreadnought battleships of

Undated handout photo issued by the National Museum of the Royal Navy of dreadnought battleships of the Grand Fleet on patrol in the North Sea, as the 100th anniversary of the most important sea battle of the First World War is to be marked with a major exhibition. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Sunday January 24, 2016. The Battle of Jutland, in which more than 8,500 men died, is being remembered as "the battle that won the war" for the display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, Hampshire. See PA story HERITAGE Jutland. Photo credit should read: National Museum of the Royal Navy/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. - Credit: PA

The sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the trenches of the First World War is burned on the nation's collective memory.

But the contribution of the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy personnel, many of whom perished at sea and have no known grave, is less well known.

And a Bradwell woman believes one of the major and most decisive acts of warfare, the Battle of Jutland, should be remembered on May 31 each year - and most definitely this year, the centenary.

Pamela Breeze, 81, who lives in Mill Lane, Bradwell, is determined the two-day Battle of Jutland is not forgotten. Her grandfather, Henry Wright, was one of the 6,094 Allied sailors who died in the biggest naval assault of the 1914-18 war.

Mrs Breeze said: 'My grandfather spent his life in the Navy. I wish I had known him but my mum was nine when he died.'


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Henry Wright, who was 47, was a petty officer chief stoker and died after the dreadnought HMS Queen Mary, was fatally struck by a German torpedo.

In 2006, Mrs Breeze organised a 90th anniversary commemoration service at the Great Yarmouth's war memorial with Port Chaplain, the Rev Peter Paine, because she said: 'if you do not do these things, they get forgotten.'

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Mrs Breeze also never knew her mother, as she died shortly after giving birth to her, and Pamela was brought up by her father's family.

She began her research into her family's history after the death of mother's sister, and unearthed her grandfather's wartime service.

Such was her fascination with what she found Mrs Breeze travelled with her late husband to Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland where HMS Queen Mary set off on her final voyage.

She recalled: 'I looked out to the water and thought how awful it was that all those men were at the bottom of the sea.'

And it was painful to her to realise lives lost in the trenches were commemorated more than those who died at sea.

'It is not just the men who died, English and German, but all the families who were deprived of someone.'

Her grandfather was born on March 25, 1869 in North Market Road and his father was a beachman and lifeboatman. He started his Naval career at the age of 12, working on a number of ships. He married Hannah Bly in December 1894, a son Henry Thomas, two daughters Annie and Dora.

He came out of the Navy in 1912 but a few years later re-enlisted to help with the war effort.

The Battle of Jutland lasted for two days from May 31, 1916 until June 1. After the clash, both sides claimed victory.

However, crucially, the German fleet was never again in a position to put to sea and challenge British supremacy afresh. So while the outcome of the battle was, tactically inconclusive, strategically it is considered a British victory.

Mrs Breeze said she hopes to be involved with any commemoration events in Yarmouth held for the centenary of the battle in May.

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