Battle of Jutland centenary to be marked with tribute event

Both sides claimed victory in the Battle of Jutland. Picture: Getty
Both sides claimed victory in the Battle of Jutland. Picture: Getty
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A major commemorative event marking the centenary of the largest naval battle of the First World War is being held in Orkney next week.

More than 8,500 British and German seamen died off the coast of Denmark in the 36-hour Battle of Jutland which began on 31 May, 1916 and changed the course of the war.

Members of the UK government and royal family will join descendants of those who fought in the battle for a service at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on Tuesday.

They are being remembered on Orkney as the British Grand Fleet was launched from Scapa Flow to repel German forces attempting to break a British blockade.

Both sides claimed victory as the Germans lost 11 ships and Britain 14, but the enemy’s naval fleet was seriously weakened and failed to significantly challenge the British again during the conflict.

German president Joachim Gauck will join the Duke of Edinburgh and the Princess Royal at the service, which will be followed by a second memorial at Lyness Cemetery on Hoy – the final resting place for more than 450 service personnel who died in the war, including sailors killed at Jutland.

The government said the commemorations will remember those who lost their lives while also paying tribute to the role of the Royal Navy and the Orkney Islands in the 1914-18 conflict.

St Magnus Cathedral is currently host to thousands of ceramic poppies, first seen at the Tower of London, as 
part of the Jutland commemorations.

Orkney Islands Council vice-convener Jim Foubister said: “We are proud to be hosting the UK’s national commemoration of the Battle of 
Jutland.

“On Tuesday we will remember the huge importance of Jutland to the outcome of the First World War, and the enormous number of lives lost during the course of the battle.

“The cemetery at Lyness stands close to the waters of Scapa Flow, from where the British Grand Fleet set out for the Jutland Bank.

“It is fitting that the Jutland commemorations will draw to a close among the graves of some of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries a century ago.”

Ceremonies remembering the battle are also being held in Rosyth and South Queensferry on Saturday, ahead of the anniversary.

The Battlecruiser force sailed from the Firth of Forth, and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is among those expected to pay their respects during a wreath-laying service at Rosyth Parish Church.

A further memorial will take place across the Forth at a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery 
where 40 casualties from the battle are commemorated or buried.