Jutland commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial. Digital technology now enables the sharing of millions of WW1 life stories (Photo: Centenary News)

Jutland Centenary - IWM call to share remembrance online

Posted on centenarynews.com on 21 May 2016
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Ahead of the Jutland Centenary, the public are being to urged to discover and share stories of the men who fought on Imperial War Museums' digital memorial, Lives of the First World War.

IWM has invited descendants to add to the contributions already online by uploading pictures, family stories and other evidence.

The historian and broadcaster, Dan Snow, said: "Jutland is one of the greatest sea battles of all time. It decisively affected the outcome of the First World War and thus the course of the twentieth century. 

"The experience of the men involved or the terrible fate of those sailors trapped on doomed ships deserve to be remembered. Digital memorials like Lives of the First World War help to ensure that they will be."

Lives of the First World War, a Centenary project launched in 2014, is intended to stand as a permanent memorial to eight million British and Commonwealth men and women who served in WW1.

Stoker First Class Robert Kitt, killed on HMS Indefatigable at the start of the Battle of Jutland, remembered on IWM's Lives of the First World War

The stories of several Jutland sailors have been highlighted ahead of the May 31st 2016 Centenary:

*Chief Baker Petty Officer Walter Joseph Henry Greenaway  was proving 360 lbs (163 kg) of dough on the Dreadnought HMS Vanguard when the battle started in the North Sea. He described his experiences in letters home to his parents:

“While my dough was proving in tins I went out on the quarter deck and witnessed a magnificent spectacle, one never to be forgotten. The whole visible horizon which was not more than four miles was one long blaze of flame, the hulls of the enemy’s ships was not visible to the naked eye, but could be seen dimly through the haze with the telescope.

Greenaway also talked of the bravery of German sailors: 

“One must pay tribute to the enemy, they are brave men and fought splendidly. Several instances was (sic) observed during the battle where their vessel was awash and they blazed away with one gun… The sight of the gun flashes, searchlights, starshells (which the enemy use) was a grand but terrible spectacle, for we realised hundreds of brave men were going to their doom.”

Walter Greenaway was among more than 800 sailors killed when an accidental explosion sank HMS Vanguard at the Royal Navy's Scapa Flow base, in the Orkney Islands, in 1917. He is among those 'who have no other grave than the sea' commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.  

*Signalman Reuben Poole served on HMS Warrior during the Battle of Jutland. Poole was ordered to signal to another British ship Engadine ‘Come alongside. Am sinking’ after the cruiser had been heavily shelled. Reuben Poole survived the war and went on to work as a postal clerk during the Second World War. He died in 1975 at the age of 79.

*Stoker First Class Robert Francis Kitt  was killed while serving on HMS Indefatigable, a British battleecruiser sunk in the opening phase of the battle. Only two crew members survived. Robert Kitt is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial.  

In April 1918, Kitt's mother donated his portrait photograph to the IWM Bond of Sacrifice Collection, stating: ‘Having seen in the paper that you have formed a National War Museum, I am enclosing a photo of my son, who was killed in the Jutland Battle having joined the Navy just a year before at the age of nineteen’.

The Battle of Jutland, the biggest naval clash of the Great War, cost more than 8,000 British and German lives.

IWM makes this appeal for the Centenary: "Do you have a relative who fought in the Battle of Jutland? Can you help us complete the stories by uploading photos, linking to evidence and adding stories? Help us to piece together more life stories, remember and share your First World War connections on Lives of the First World War".

Source: Imperial War Museums (IWM)

Images: Centenary News (Chatham Naval Memorial); Screenshot from IWM 'Lives of the First World War'

Posted by: CN Editorial Team