Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

Gunner's son hails Caroline rescue

HMS Caroline is set to undergo a multimillion-pound preservation project by the National Museum of the Royal Navy

The 92-year-old son of a First World War naval gunner has spoken of his relief that HMS Caroline has been saved from the scrapyard.

Thomas Weddick, whose father, James, was a chief gunner during the 1916 Battle of Jutland said the 100-year-old vessel, which is set to become a floating museum, will provide invaluable insight into the challenges of life at sea.

"It would have been such a shame if Caroline had been scrapped," he said. "The lines of the vessel are so perfect and she was the fastest battleship in the world when built.

"I would like to think it will capture the imagination of people and help explain how difficult it was to be in the navy in those days and how dreadful war is.

"When you see things like the galley of the ship - it is not as big as the kitchens of half the people I know - it just shows how difficult life must have been back then."

HMS Caroline is set to undergo a multimillion-pound preservation project by the the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) over the next three years.

Mr Weddick, a retired customs officer from Liverpool who also served with the Royal Navy between 1940 and 1945, said he had fulfilled a lifetime promise to visit the vessel on which his father served but hoped to return once it was restored.

"My father was a Limerick man who joined the navy at the age of 15-and-a-half in 1899. To see the vessel and the parts of it which remain as my dad would have known them is a very moving experience," he added.

A light cruiser, weighing 3,750 tons and measuring 446 feet, HMS Caroline was part of the screening force that sailed out ahead of the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet during the Battle of Jutland to establish the position of the German battleships.

Both sides sustained heavy casualties in what was the most significant clash between battleships during the First World War. Britain and Germany both claimed victory.

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