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Jutland parade and ceremony to honour Portsmouth’s fallen in titanic naval clash
16 March 2016

Sailors will parade through Southsea ahead of the most solemn day in the Navy’s WW1 centenary commemorations: the 100th anniversary of Jutland.

More than 100 sailors will march through the town – led by the Band of HM Royal Marines Collingwood – to the naval memorial on Southsea Common where a 45-minute ceremony and service will take place on May 31.

The crew of battleship HMS Malaya commit their shipmates to the deep the day after Jutland

SAILORS will parade through Southsea ahead of the most solemn day in the Navy’s WW1 centenary commemorations: the 100th anniversary of Jutland.

More than 100 sailors will march through the town – led by the Band of HM Royal Marines Collingwood – to the naval memorial on Southsea Common where a 45-minute ceremony and service will take place on May 31.

Around 50 veterans of later conflicts (the last Jutland veteran, Henry Allingham, died in 2009 at the age of 113) from the Royal British Legion and Royal Naval Association will also join the parade.

Members of the public are being encouraged to line the route from Palmerston Road, along Avenue De Caen and the Esplanade. The parade starts outside Knight and Lee, Palmerston Road, at 1.30pm.

A contemporary 'death card' honouring 16-year-old Jack Cornwell, subsequently awarded the VC for his bravery manning a gun on HMS Chester

Half an hour later, the service of thanksgiving will begin, focused around a drumhead ceremony – drums piled in a pyramid to create a makeshift altar.

Four schoolchildren involved in the WWI schools’ project Never Such Innocence will give readings about the conflict.

No city mourned more than Portsmouth in the aftermath of Jutland, the only all-out clash between the British and German Fleets between 1914 and 1918.

More than 6,000 Royal Navy sailors – nearly 1,900 of them from the Portsmouth area – were killed in the action, which involved 250 warships and in excess of 100,000 men on both sides.

Part of HMS Malaya's deck torn through by a German shell

The Germans lost fewer men and ships, but fled the field of battle; their Fleet never seriously challenged the Royal Navy again.

The 100th anniversary of the largest naval battle ever fought in European waters is prompted national, international and local commemorations.

The RN is supporting events in the Orkneys and Scapa Flow, over the site of the battle itself in the North Sea, and smaller scale ceremonies at the naval memorials in Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham.

Cdr Andy Green, who is organising commemorations in Portsmouth, said relatives of sailors who fought or died at Jutland were especially welcome to attend and should contact him at jutland.portsmouth@gmail.com.

“We are hoping that the people of Portsmouth turn out in their numbers to line the route or attend the service and ceremony,” he said.        

“There have been many commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of World War 1 battles, but this is the one key date that allows a singular focus on the Royal Navy.”