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Battle of Jutland centenary to be marked with major exhibition in Portsmouth

Published 24/01/2016

HMS Caroline is on display in Belfast as part of the Battle of Jutland commemorations
HMS Caroline is on display in Belfast as part of the Battle of Jutland commemorations

The 100th anniversary of the most important sea battle of the First World War is to be marked with a major exhibition.

The Battle of Jutland, in which more than 8,500 men died, is being remembered as "the battle that won the war" for the display at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth, Hampshire.

The exhibition launch coincides with the NMRN's other major contribution to the Jutland centenary, the opening of the battle's only survivor HMS Caroline, in Belfast.

Fought over 36 hours from May 31 to June 1 1916, Jutland is often considered a German victory because the British lost 6,094 seamen compared to the 2,551 Germans who died during the battle.

But the exhibition will highlight how the British fleet maintained numerical supremacy at the end of the battle as only two of its dreadnoughts were damaged, leaving 23 dreadnoughts and four battlecruisers still able to fight, whilst the Germans had only 10 dreadnoughts.

A NMRN spokeswoman said: "Most British losses were tactically insignificant, with the exception of HMS Queen Mary, and the Grand Fleet was ready for action again the next day.

"One month after the battle the Grand Fleet was stronger than it had been before sailing to Jutland. By contrast, so shaken were the Germans by the weight of the British response that they never again seriously challenged British control of the North Sea."

The exhibition, which will open on May 12, will include personal effects of those involved including the diary of a naval sister on board the hospital ship PLASSY as well as a lifebelt belonging to William Loftus Jones, English recipient of the Victoria Cross and commander of HMS Shark which sunk during the battle.

A lso on display will be the large gun from German destroyer B98, and two smaller deck guns from HMS Opal and HMS Narbourgh, which are usually on display at Orkney Islands Council's Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum at Lyness, and which will undergo conservation work as part of the loan arrangement.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the NMRN, said: "One hundred years after the fleets of the Imperial German and Royal Navies fought the defining naval battle of the First World War, it is essential that we mark and commemorate the incredible sacrifice made."

Diane Lees, director-general of Imperial War Museums, said: "The Battle of Jutland had a huge impact on the war; never again during this landmark conflict did the Germans challenge British control of the North Sea.

"Yet it is one of the lesser-known battles to be commemorated this year."

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