British Dreadnoughts patrolling the North Sea, and the Battle of Jutland headlined in 'The Morning News' (Image © National Museum of the Royal Navy).

Centenary update - Navy Museum to challenge 'belief Jutland was a German victory'

Posted on centenarynews.com on 24 January 2016
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The National Museum of the Royal Navy says its Jutland Centenary exhibition, opening on May 19th 2016, will challenge "the belief that the battle was a German victory." 

Announcing the launch date, NMRN also gave more details of the exhibits that'll be featured in ‘36 Hours 1916: Jutland, The Battle That Won The War'.

They include a lifebelt worn by Loftus William Jones, a naval commander posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross, and a nurse's diary.

The exhibition will highlight the essential role of Britain's Royal Navy in winning the First World War, states NMRN.

'Through never-before-seen displays and immersive galleries the exhibition will challenge the belief that the Battle of Jutland was a German victory', the museum says. 

'Jutland will be presented as a British victory, both tactically and strategically'.

Supremacy

Although more British lives were lost, NMRN argues these figures 'do not represent the impact upon the British and German fleets'.

At the end of the battle the Royal Navy maintained numerical supremacy, it insists.

'Only two dreadnoughts were damaged, leaving 23 dreadnoughts and four battlecruisers still able to fight, whilst the Germans had only 10 dreadnoughts'.

'Most British losses were tactically insignificant, with the exception of HMS Queen Mary, and the Grand Fleet was ready for action again the next day', NMRN continues.

'One month after the battle the Grand Fleet was stronger than it had been before sailing to Jutland'.

'So shaken were the Germans by the weight of the British response that they never again seriously challenged British control of the North Sea', the museum concludes.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy, in Portsmouth's historic dockyard (Photo: Centenary News)

The exhibition, produced in partnership with the Imperial War Museum (IWM), will feature contributions from more than 20 private lenders, and five public organisations.

Exhibits include personal effects from men and women involved in the Battle of Jutland.

Mary Clarke's diary tells of her service as a naval sister on the  British hospital ship Plassy. The diary, part of IWM's collection, includes a description of the reception and treatment of British casualties after the North Sea clash with Germany's High Seas Fleet. 

Lifebelt

There's also a lifebelt belonging to Commander Loftus William Jones, who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions at Jutland. It was recovered after his body was washed ashore in Sweden.

The belt will be displayed alongside a photograph of survivors from Commander Jones' ship, HMS Shark, sunk on May 31st 1916.

Large exhibits will include some of the weaponry from Jutland. A gun from the German destroyer SMS B98, and two smaller deck guns from HMS Opal and HMS Narborough, are on display from Orkney Islands Council’s Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum at Lyness.

The exhibition will also feature ensigns flown by British warships, including the 2.6m by 5.3m flag flown by the dreadnought, HMS Bellerophon. 

'Defining battle'

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of the NMRN, comments: "One hundred years after the fleets of the Imperial German and Royal Navies fought the defining naval battle of the First World War, it is essential that we mark and commemorate the incredible sacrifice made.

"In a year of commemoration it is imperative that the Royal Navy’s greatest battle, the Battle of Jutland, is remembered with the same importance as the Battle of the Somme, and alongside other anniversaries including Shakespeare 400 and the Battle of Hastings.

"Jutland’s significance in turning the tide of the First World War must not be underestimated. We are proud to be able to tell its story."

‘36 Hours 1916: Jutland, The Battle That Won The War' is part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy's wider First World War Centenary programme, 'The Great War at Sea'. 2016 also sees the opening of the last surviving Jutland warship, HMS Caroline, in Belfast on June 1st.

Also in Centenary News:

UK's National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, to hold Jutland Centenary exhibition

Source: National Museum of the Royal Navy

Images © NMRN (Dreadnoughts/Morning News); Centenary News (Portsmouth Historic Dockyard)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News