Descendants of the Royal Naval personnel who fought at the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago in World War One will pay tribute to them at a memorial ceremony in Plymouth.
More than 50 descendants will lay wreaths and other tributes at the Royal Naval Memorial during a parade and religious service on Tuesday 31 May to mark the 100th year of the battle.
The service begins at 11am, following a parade of 120 sailors and Royal Marines, veterans from the Royal British Legion, cadets and a guard from HMS Raleigh led by Her Majesty’s Band Royal Marines, Plymouth.
Representing the descendants at the event will be Peter Silverwood, 37, and his daughter Ellen, age seven, who will join civic and military leaders in laying wreaths. They will be joined by Plymouth (Sutton and Devonport,) MP Oliver Colvile whose grandfather served in the Battle of Jutland.
Mr Silverwood, of Plympton, Plymouth, is the great grandson of Jutland veteran Arthur Lee Picton who was an engineer officer in HMS Broke during Jutland and survived. Arthur left the Royal Navy in the rank of Rear Admiral and headed the former Royal Naval engineering college at Manadon in Plymouth. One of the few remaining descendants with direct connection to Arthur is his daughter-in-law Mrs Joan Picton, aged 95, who lives in Saltash. She herself was a Wren Officer during the Second World War and worked under Plymouth’s Mount Wise in the tunnels. She married Admiral Picton’s only son, in 1947.
Peter said: “It is an exciting opportunity to honour those who fought at Jutland, especially on the 100th anniversary. Because of this event and our family’s lengthy naval history I have looked into the past more. This has made me more aware of how fortunate we are all now in general in this country due to the sacrifices men and women have made in all wars and who continue to make. We have shown Ellen the Naval Memorial and she is very excited about coming to the Jutland parade.’’
The event is hosted by Plymouth City Council with VIPs will include the incoming Lord Mayor Councillor Pauline Murphy and her consort Councillor Brian Vincent.
Councillor Murphy said: “We are proud to commemorate the centenary of this significant naval battle and remember those who lost their lives, many of whom were from Plymouth. It will be an honour to welcome family members of some of the brave men who fought 100 years ago, as a well as pay tribute to the personnel who continue to serve our country, both at home and overseas.’’
Commodore Ian Shipperley, Naval Base Commander, Devonport, said: “It is a great honour for me to be able to pay tribute to the personnel of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines who played such an enormous role in the Battle of Jutland, especially to those serving onboard Devonport ships who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“I hope that many people from the Plymouth area will come and join me along with their descendants at this important memorial event on the Hoe.’’
Poignant and inspirational pre-recorded readings from the past will be heard at the event from the German and British sides. Among them will be children from HMS Heroes (linking forces children in Plymouth) narrating a tribute to Royal Navy boy seaman Jack Cornwell, 16, Jutland Victoria Cross winner.
A 21-gun salute will be fired from HMS Monmouth in Plymouth Sound, followed by a two-minute silence and the sounding of the Last Post.
The clash of the German and Royal Naval fleets is credited with restricting the enemy fleet in harbour for the rest of the war. The battle killed many hundreds from the Plymouth area alone with 1,600 perishing on one tragic day and 1,200 dying from only two Plymouth ships HMS Indefatigable and HMS Defence.
The crew of some Devonport ships were manned only by local people. The local casualty list reads :- H.M.S. Indefatigable 600+, H.M.S. Defence 600+, H.M.S. Warrior 50+, H.M.S. Invincible 50+, H.M.S. Queen Mary 50+, H.M.S. Lion 50+, H.M.S. Tiger 12.