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Proud Culdrose sailor commemorates her Jutland roots

18 May 2016
A Naval Writer from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose is looking forward to taking part in the nation’s commemorative events that will mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.

19 year old Alicia Blackledge from Carlisle is set to attend a national service of remembrance, on 31 May in the impressive setting of St Magnus’ Cathedral on Orkney, followed by a memorial ceremony at Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery on Hoy overlooking Scapa Flow. 

She will be among other descendants of sailors and Royal Marines who fought at Jutland. 

Alicia’s Jutland connection is her Great, Great Grandfather Hubert Reynolds who served on board HMS Chester during the historic battle, and went on to serve for over 40 years in the Royal Navy as a Stoker. 

At Jutland Hubert was in the thick of the action as his ship scouted ahead of the mighty Dreadnaughts before coming under intensive shelling from the German Battle Fleet. 

HMS Chester received a total of 18 hits, but partial hull armour meant the interior of the ship, where Hubert worked, suffered little serious damage and was able to break away and survive. But on the open decks the situation was dire.

I’m really very proud of my family history and its Jutland connection

Writer Alicia Blackledge, RNAS Culdrose

Many of the crews manning open backed turrets were killed and their guns destroyed. However on one 5.5-inch gun mounting the sight-setter, 16 year old Boy Seaman Jack Cornwell stayed at his post awaiting orders until his ship turned away from the action. 

Jack died of his wounds later in hospital and was posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross; the country’s highest recognition for valour in the face of the enemy.  

“I’m really very proud of my family history and its Jutland connection,” said Alicia. “My grandparents did a lot of research and I’ve grown up with Hubert’s stories and adventures. 

"When I joined up at HMS Raleigh I was in Cornwell Division and read all the history on the walls, learning more and more about HMS Chester.”

Hubert Reynolds was no stranger to fighting the Germans in the North Sea, his previous ship HM Torpedo Boat No 12, was hit by a German mine in June 1915 and sunk. 

“I’m quite excited; it will be my first time at Sea. I sail on HMS Bulwark to Scapa Flow and then take part in the Jutland service at the Orkney Islands’, St Magnus Cathedral as well as the memorial ceremony by the graves of some of those who were killed, it will be very emotional.”

“I’m very honoured and I think my Great, Great Grandfather Hubert Reynolds would be proud of me.”

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