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Jutland exhibition at Devonport Naval Base

16 May 2016
The next Plymouth Navy Base Heritage Open Day is staging a special tribute to those who served in the World War One Battle of Jutland which devastated naval communities in Plymouth.

The event, at the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre, is on Monday 30th, 10am to 5pm, the day before the city’s memorial event on Plymouth Hoe marking 100 years since the major naval battle.

Exhibition organiser and volunteer John Williams, thanked all the contributors to the exhibition which is staged by volunteers: “It’s been really rewarding to have such a major reaction to compiling artefacts from Jutland. So many descendants of veterans who fought and in many cases died in action have very generously loaned us a treasure trove of remnants which mean so much to them.

“The most moving are those personal accounts which are emotional to read, especially from those who did not return.  There is nothing better than these first-hand accounts from men who were taking part in and living the heat of battle. It is very much recommended for all those interested in our maritime heritage and naval history and the lives of those who fought or worked in Devonport Dockyard.’’

The battle involved 151 Royal Navy ships and 60,000 men taking on the smaller Imperial German Navy High Seas Fleet and forcing it to retreat from major activity for the rest of the war.

Of this mighty fleet, ten were Devonport-based major battleships and cruisers with 1,600 sailors and marines from Plymouth killed in one day alone.  The crew of some ships comprised only Plymouth sailors.  Devonport dockyard was dramatically affected by the war with a huge influx of battle repair required.

Among the poignant exhibits are medals and document of ‘bounty’ paid to Jutland combatant Willie Truscott, grandfather of exhibition volunteer arranger Terry Truscott.

My grandfather received £37.10 shillings for his Jutland service which they all got to varying degrees. Willie was a master chippie on board HMS Thunderer, so he dealt with anything wooden

Terry Truscott, exhibition volunteer

Terry said: “My grandfather received £37.10 shillings for his Jutland service which they all got to varying degrees. Willie was a master chippie on board HMS Thunderer, so he dealt with anything wooden. 

"His medals are from his Navy service from 1901 to 1923 with long service and war chevrons. He was injured in the back which affected him long afterwards. I see this exhibition as a very fitting tribute to him and I feel proud of him when I helped put it together.’’

Talented amateur painter Ray O’Donnell, an ex-Royal Naval submariner, offered to paint his vivid battle pictures of the clash of the world’s two biggest navies for the exhibition. 

He said: “I create my own views based on actual documented battle manoeuvres and accuracy achieved several sources, such as photographs and models. I’m privileged to contribute to this important event.’’

The heritage site open day will feature waterfront boat tours and tours of the museum submarine Courageous.

At 11am an illustrated talk on Devonport’s Jutland 100 will be followed at 3pm by Jutland-themed presentations by Devonport MP Oliver Colvile  Dr Jeremy Black and Chris Robinson.  Visitors can also see ‘Forgotten Wrecks of the WW1’ display.  Details at devonportnhc.wordpress.com/whats-on/

The 45-min Devonport’s Jutland 100 talk can also be heard on Thursday May 26th at 7pm at the heritage centre. Details of this talk by email [email protected] or 01752 554200.

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