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Forth estuary to host major Jutland centenary commemorations

Forth estuary to host major Jutland centenary commemorations
16 May 2016
Sitting on the rocks beneath the Forth Bridge, 13-year-old Royal Marines Cadet Ethan Megson imagines the firth filled with dreadnoughts – exactly as it was 100 years ago when they sailed from here to do battle with the Germans.

Schoolchildren, Royal Navy veterans and sea cadets headed to Hawes Pier in South Queensferry to launch Scotland’s part in national commemorations marking the Great War’s greatest naval battle: Jutland.

A remembrance service, parade, community event, a dazzle ship and schools’ exhibition are just some of the events taking place on Saturday May 28 to mark sacrifices made by more than 6,000 British sailors lost in the clash between the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet and Germany’s High Seas Fleet.

In 1916, the then-new Rosyth dockyard was the base for the battle-cruiser force and a division of battleships – most of which took a severe battering at Jutland, with two of the battle-cruisers (HMS Queen Mary and Indefatigible) blowing up, killing almost every man aboard.

The Princess Royal and her husband Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence – Commissioner for the Commonwealth War Graves Commission – the First Ministers of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales, and the Secretary of State for Scotland will attend a wreathlaying and service of thanksgiving in Rosyth Parish Church.

There’ll be a second act of remembrance at South Queensferry Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Cemetery where 40 men who died in or after the battle are laid to rest; this will be a private ceremony attended by Jutland descendants, veterans, local school children and their counterparts from Wilhelmshaven, one of the homes of the German Navy.

Proceedings on the Saturday will close with a Beat Retreat at Hawes Pier performed by the Band of HM Royal Marines Scotland while frigate HMS Kent, which will be in the Forth throughout he day’s events, weighs anchor and sails north to take part in the main commemorative events in Orkney on May 31 – the 100th anniversary of the battle.

“It's very welcome that we are remembering just how important this stretch of the river has been, and indeed remains to the Royal Navy of the 21st Century,” said Capt Chris Smith RN, Naval Regional Commander Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“Jutland was the most significant naval engagement of the war and saw the loss of thousands of lives in a matter of hours. So it is absolutely right that it is a key part of the commemorative programme.

“Invergordon had commemorations just a few weeks ago and we will see the second of those events in Rosyth and South Queensferry. The Royal Navy is delighted to be a part of this very special commemorative activity.”

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