Service to mark deadly battle
- Credit: PA
A service to commemorate the centenary of what has been called the deadlist naval battle during the First World War will be held next week in Great Yarmouth.
The Battle of Jutland lasted only 36 hours, from May 31 to June 1 in 1916, but it cost thousands of seamen their lives. And the centenary service will be attended by one woman who is determined not to allow people to forget this conflict which saw the might and skills of the Royal and the German Navies pitted against each other.
Pamela Breeze's grandfather Henry Wright, who was a petty officer chief stoker on HMS Queen Mary. died in the battle.
Mrs Breeze, 81, of Mill Lane, Bradwell, organised a 90th commemoration 10 years ago.
The 100-year recognition of those who died, will be held at the First World War memorial in St George's Park, Yarmouth on the anniversary date of May 31 at 3pm, and is being organised by the port chaplain, Rev Peter Paine.
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The Battle of Jutland was the only major naval battle of the First World War and took place between the German High Sea Fleet and the British Grand Fleet. Over 6,000 British sailors lost their lives, although there was no clear winner.
After a British success at Dogger Bank in holding back the German attack in January 1915, the German Imperial Navy chose not to confront the numerically superior British Royal Navy in a major battle for more than a year, preferring to rely on its lethal U-boat fleet. However, in May 1916, with the majority of the British Grand Fleet anchored at Scapa Flow, Vice Admiral Reinhard Scheer believed the time was right to resume attacks on the British coastline.
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Scheer ordered 19 U-boats to position themselves for a raid on Sunderland. Bad weather hampered the airships, however, and Scheer called off the raid, instead ordering his fleet to head north, to the Skagerrak, a waterway located between Norway and Denmark off the Jutland Peninsula.
However, a newly created intelligence unit in Britain had cracked the German communication codes and warned the British Grand Fleet's commander, Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe, of Scheer's intentions. Consequently, on the night of 30 May, a British fleet of 28 battleships, nine battle cruisers, 34 light cruisers and 80 destroyers set out from Scapa Flow, bound for positions off the Skagerrak.
On 31 May, a British naval force commanded by Vice Admiral David Beatty spotted a German squadron of warships and confronted them some 75 miles off the Danish coast, two British battle cruisers (HMS Indefatigable and HMS Queen Mary) were destroyed.
The remainder of the German fleet joined, so Beatty was forced to fight a delaying action until Jellicoe arrived with the rest of the Grand Fleet, Jellicoe manoeuvring 96 of the British ships into a V-shape surrounding 59 German ships.
The German flagship, Lutzow, was disabled by 24 direct hits but was able, before it sank, to sink the British cruiser Invincible.
The German fleet withdrew under cover of darkness at 6.30pm on 1 June 1, ending the battle, and cheating the British of the major naval success they had envisioned.
The Battle of Jutland memorial service takes place on Tuesday, May 31 at 3pm at the First World War memorial cenotaph in St George's Park, Yarmouth.
Both Admiral John Rushworth Jellicoe and Vice Admiral David Beatty have roads named after them in the north of Great Yarmouth.