Royal and German Navy sailors gathered on the flight deck of HMS Duncan to remember and pay their respects to thousands of men that lost their lives one hundred years ago in the Battle of Jutland.
HMS Duncan, Type 45 Destroyer, was joined in this historic event by HMS Iron Duke (Type 23 Frigate) and FGS Brandenburg (123 Frigate) where they formed up into formation in the North Sea in the exact area where the biggest sea battle of the WWI took place one hundred years ago.
A service was conducted by the Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet, Reverend Martyn Gough which saw Vice Admiral Ben Key, Fleet Commander of the Royal Navy and Vice Admiral Brinkmann the Vice Chief of the German Navy lead the scattering of Poppies and Forget-me-nots into the North Sea, one poppy or forget me not for every Royal Navy or German sailor lost in the battle.
HMS Duncan flew the very same the battle Ensign and Union Jack that had been flown on the British Flagship during the battle of Jutland, HMS Iron Duke. The Jack was flown to aid identification of British ships as the German Ensign was so similar.
Cdr Charles Guy, Captain of HMS Duncan said: “I am immensely proud to be able to fly the Battle Ensign and Union Jack of the British Flagship, HMS Iron Duke, one hundred years to the day from the Battle of Jutland.”
“Seeing my sailors stood next to their German counterparts on a commemoration like this is a very moving and humbling experience.”
Some 250 ships sailed into action on the afternoon of Wednesday may 31 1916 – 151 British, 99 German with around 100,000 crew in all, making it the greatest naval battle ever fought in European waters.
The two fleets clashed about 80 miles south of the coast of Norway and 90 miles west of Denmark’s Jutland peninsula which gives the battle its name in the English speaking world; the Germans named the action after the waters between Denmark and Norway, the Skagerrak.
At stake: naval supremacy in the North Sea. The smaller German fleet sought to whittle down its larger foe, while the Royal Navy was determined to maintain command of the sea so Britain’s sea lane could never be threatened – and, if possible annihilate the German fleet.
When it petered out in the small hours of June 1 2016 with the Germans successfully evading the Royal Navy in the darkness and slipping back into their bases, 25 ships, 14 of them British, had been sunk. Lost with them, 6094 Royal Navy and 2551 German sailors, plus more than 1500 men wounded or taken prisoner.
The Germans proclaimed victory, arguing that ‘the spell of Trafalgar’ had been broken at last, while Britain declared it had triumphed for the enemy had fled the field of battle and never seriously threatened the Grand Fleet again.