HMS Chester, damaged at the Battle of Jutland, May 31st 1916. (Photo: Imperial War Museum, © IWM SP 1587)

Centenary News Lookahead: Battle of Jutland

Posted on centenarynews.com on 16 June 2015
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31 May 2016 will mark the centenary of one of the most important naval battles of the First World War – the Battle of Jutland between the British and German fleets in the North Sea.

Centenary News has received requests for information from a number of descendants and readers regarding next year's commemorations. In response, we have done a preliminary round-up of the Jutland events planned in the UK that have been announced thus far.

This page will be updated in the run-up to the centenary as more information comes through.

- The UK Government has announced that the Battle of Jutland centenary is one of the six key First World War dates chosen for special national commemorations.

Although specific details have yet to be released, they are expected to include events on 31 May and 1 June in Scapa Flow, Orkney. More details are expected to be announced later in 2015.

- The Royal Navy will be leading a commemorative event in Scapa Flow, from where the Grand Fleet sailed in 1916. The event is likely to involve modern warships from a number of navies.

- Orkney Islands Council: It is anticipated that a number of cultural events will occur in the days following the national ceremony on 31 May.

These will culminate in a commemorative event on 5 June 2016 marking the 100th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Hampshire, with the loss of 737 men including Britain's War Minister, Lord Kitchener. In addition, the summer exhibition at Orkney Museum will focus on the war at sea.

- Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum: Alongside other confirmed funding, Orkney Islands Council was awarded £25,000 in 2014 from Museums Galleries Scotland as part of a large scale project which aims to refurbish and improve the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum. 

The museum is housed in wartime naval buildings at Lyness on the island of Hoy.  The overall project to refurbish the museum is a long term programme which will start after the Battle of Jutland commemorations.

However, the MGS funding will support the conservation of key small wartime artefacts from the Council collection, which will be completed by the time of the commemorations.

- Orkney Memorial Project: The Orkney Heritage Society is leading a project to restore the Kitchener Memorial tower in Birsay, Orkney, and to add a commemorative wall to the hundreds of crewmen who died aboard HMS Hampshire in 1916. The current memorial, raised by the people of Orkney in memory of Lord Kitchener, was erected in 1926.

- HMS Caroline: the last surviving warship to take part in the Battle of Jutland was the recipient of a £12 million Heritage Lottery Fund grant that will see her fully restored and transformed into a floating museum. The restoration is taking place in Belfast docks, where the cruiser has been berthed since 1923. In her final years, she served as a static training base. HMS Caroline's opening will coincide with the Battle of Jutland anniversary.

- Jutland Memorial Project: a project aiming to erect a memorial and open a museum to commemorate the Battle of Jutland at the Royal Navy’s home city of Portsmouth. It hopes to create a Jutland Book of Remembrance to detail and commemorate casualties from the British and German navies.

Sources: UK Government, Department of  Culture, Media and Sport, Orkney Heritage Society, Orkney Islands Council, National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Images courtesy of the Imperial War Museum (© IWM SP 1587)

Posted by: Eadaoin Hegarty, Centenary News