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Battle of Jutland: Bloody sacrifice in the North Sea not in vain, says Duke

By Paul Ward and Lucy Christie

The Battle of Jutland may have had no clear victor, but the sacrifice of those who died in the biggest naval battle of the First World War was not in vain, the Duke of Edinburgh has declared.

The message from Prince Philip, who was unable to attend on medical advice, was carried in the order of service for commemorations held at the final resting place for more than 450 service personnel who died in the war.

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Philip said: "Whatever the judgment on the outcome, the commemoration of the centenary of the battle is focused on the endurance and gallantry of all those who took part, on both sides, and particularly on those who lost their lives.

"War may be senseless and the Battle of Jutland may have been inconclusive, but there can be no doubt that their sacrifice was not in vain."

Earlier, David Cameron, Nicola Sturgeon and the Princess Royal joined descendants of those who fought at the Battle of Jutland for services on Orkney to remember the 8,648 seamen who died in the most decisive sea engagement of the war.

British and German military bands played and crowds lined the street as the Prime Minister arrived at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall with the First Minister for the first memorial service of the day.

Labour's shadow Defence Secretary Emily Thornberry and local Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael joined other politicians, Government ministers and naval officers to pay tribute at the UK's most northerly cathedral.

Guests and descendants later travelled by boat to Lyness Cemetery on the island of Hoy where hundreds of sailors killed at Jutland are buried.

The cemetery stands close to Scapa Flow, from where the British Grand Fleet set out for the Jutland Bank to repel the German High Seas Fleet attempting to break a British blockade.

A remembrance service was also held at sea, where British and German naval representatives scattered poppies and forget-me-nots - the German flower of remembrance - into the North Sea at Jutland Bank, where the sunken ships sit on the seabed.

Anne represented the royal family at the memorial and arrived with German President Joachim Gauck.

Mr Cameron said in the order of service it was a reminder that the First World War was not only fought in battlefield trenches.

He said: "It is very moving that we are joined today by the descendants of some of those who served at sea during the war.

"We stand together with them to pay our profound respects to their ancestors and to ensure that the events of a hundred years ago will be remembered and understood in a hundred years' time."

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