Hundreds mark centenary of WWI's Battle of Jutland

HUNDREDS gathered to mark the centenary of the largest naval battle of the First World War at the beginning of a week of commemorative events.

A Service of Commemoration takes place in South Queensferry Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery where 40 casualties from the battle are commemorated or buried. The ceremony is attended byThe Princess Royal and Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence. Picture: John Devlin

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

The Battlecruiser force deployed at Jutland sailed from the Firth of Forth, and events took place on both sides of the water in Rosyth, Fife, and South Queensferry, West Lothian.

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Princess Anne and Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence were joined by Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Baroness Annabel Goldie to lay wreaths at Rosyth Parish Church.

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The ceremony was followed by a service to remember those involved in the battle, during which local school pupils carried out readings and laid a book of remembrance on the church altar.

A minute’s silence was held following the ringing of a bell made from the hull of HMS Tiger, a battlecruiser that suffered damage during the Jutland campaign.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This centenary commemoration is an opportunity for us to honour and pay tribute to the many thousands of sailors from both sides who lost their lives during the Battle of Jutland.

“The sacrifices made by those who fought in this battle, the largest naval encounter of the First World War, and by other seafarers throughout the conflict must never be forgotten.”

Fife’s depute provost councillor Kay Morrison said: “These commemorations provide an important opportunity for communities to come together to honour those who sacrificed their lives during the Battle of Jutland, one of the most significant naval battles of the First World War.

“The events in Fife and South Queensferry are also about remembering the sacrifices made by all of those who contributed to the war effort, and ensuring that their compelling stories are told for generations to come.

“Our naval heritage is an integral and valued part of Rosyth’s history. Scotland, and Rosyth’s naval dockyards, played a vital role in the UK’s war efforts and the focus for these commemorations is reconciliation.”

Several hundred people lined the street outside the church in bright sunshine to watch the Princess Royal and other dignitaries arrive.

Their departure was delayed slightly after two cars were involved in a minor collision directly outside the church, and, in a separate incident, an elderly woman became unwell and collapsed in the road, later being taken to hospital by ambulance.