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Hundreds turn out for Portsmouth Battle of Jutland Centenary Commemoration

1 June 2016
Hundreds of people gathered in Portsmouth for the Royal Navy’s parade and ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland – the most significant Naval battle of World War I.

More than 100 sailors from HMS Sultan and HMS Collingwood marched through Southsea – led by the Royal Marines Band Collingwood – to Southsea War Memorial where a 45-minute service was held in front of 330 guests including Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt and 284 descendants of sailors who either fought or were lost in the battle.

The parade, along Palmerston Road, Avenue De Caen and Clarence Esplanade, also included 50 veterans from the Royal British Legion and Royal Naval Association plus Royal Marine and sea cadets.

The service at the memorial involved a drumhead ceremony where drums are piled in the shape of an altar and readings by military personnel, local dignitaries, and some of the descendants.

The bravery of people like Jack Cornwell is unbelievable – he was so young like many of his comrades in the battle.

AB Ellison

Wreaths were laid by Penny Mordaunt and seven other guests including Minister for Portsmouth, Mark Francois, Keith Simpson of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and Portsmouth Naval Base Commander, Commodore Jeremy Rigby.

Hymns were accompanied by Portsmouth Military Wives Choir and the RM Band Collingwood.

One of the readings was given by Able Seaman (Writer) Emily Ellison, who spoke about Victoria Cross recipient John ‘Jack’ Cornwell.

He continued to stand alone at his post awaiting orders on board the cruiser HMS Chester, despite being seriously injured with steel shrapnel in his chest. On June 2 1916, after the ship’s return from battle, Jack was taken ashore and transferred to hospital but died of his wounds later that day.

AB Ellison, 25, said: “I was glad to be able to take part in such a poignant and important ceremony. The bravery of people like Jack Cornwell is unbelievable – he was so young like many of his comrades in the battle.”

Event organiser, Commander Andy Green, said he was delighted with the number of people who lined the parade route and attended the service.

“It was pleasing to see so many residents from Portsmouth lining the parade route and attending the commemoration service, paying their respects to the many brave officers and men from the city who died in the battle of Jutland.

“The large turnout was made all the more poignant because of the 6,000 officers and men who lost their lives at Jutland the great majority were attached to Portsmouth.

“Many lives were irrevocably altered by the events that occurred at sea in those few hours on May 31 1916 and the impact on the city of Portsmouth lives on to this day.

“It was important that today so many people should come out to pay their respects to those who lost their lives and to those left behind whose names do not appear on the memorial.”

He added: “There have been many commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of World War One battles, but this is the one key date that allows a singular focus on the Royal Navy.”

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