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Jutland: The Centenary

In Military History

Today marks the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the only major fleet engagement of World War I and the biggest battleship action of all time. To commemorate the occasion we will be focussing on Jutland throughout the day, with this blog looking at the four Victoria Crosses that were awarded from the battle.

The text is sourced from issues of the London Gazette reporting on men who were to be awarded the Victoria Cross.


Major Francis John William Harvey, VC

Whilst mortally wounded and almost the only survivor after the explosion of an enemy shell in “Q” gunhouse, with great presence of mind and devotion to duty ordered the magazine to be flooded, thereby saving the ship. He died shortly afterwards.


Boy 1st Class John Travers (‘Jack’) Cornwell VC

Mortally wounded early in the action, Boy First Class John Travers Cornwell remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders, until the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded all round him. His age was under sixteen and a half years.


Commander Loftus William Jones VC

On the afternoon of the 31st May, 1916, during the action, Commander Jones in H.M.S. "Shark", Torpedo Boat Destroyer, led a division of Destroyers to attack the enemy Battle Cruiser Squadron. In the course of this attack a shell hit the "Shark's" bridge, putting the steering gear out of order, and very shortly afterwards another shell disabled the main engines, leaving the vessel helpless. The Commanding Officer of another Destroyer, seeing the "Shark's" plight, came between her and the enemy and offered assistance, but was warned by Commander Jones not to run the risk of being almost certainly sunk in trying to help him. Commander Jones, though wounded in the leg, went aft to help connect and man the after wheel. Meanwhile the forecastle gun with its crew had been blown away, and the same fate soon afterwards befell the after gun and crew. Commander Jones then went to the midship and the only remaining gun, and personally assisted in keeping it in action. All this time the "Shark" was subjected to very heavy fire from enemy light cruisers and destroyers at short range. The gun's crew of the midship gun was reduced to three, of whom an Able Seaman was soon badly wounded in the leg. A few minutes later Commander Jones was hit by a shell, which took off his leg above the knee, but he continued to give orders to his gun's crew, while a Chief Stoker improvised a tourniquet round his thigh. Noticing that the Ensign was not properly hoisted, he gave orders for another to be hoisted. Soon afterwards, seeing that the ship could not survive much longer, and as a German Destroyer was closing, he gave orders for the surviving members of the crew to put on lifebelts. Almost immediately after this order had been given, the "Shark" was struck by a torpedo and sank. Commander Jones was unfortunately not amongst the few survivors from the "Shark" who were picked up by a neutral vessel in the night.


Commander Edward Bingham

For the extremely gallant way in which he led his division in their attack, first on enemy destroyers and  then on their battlecruisers. He finally sighted the enemy battle-fleet, and, followed by the one remaining destroyer of his division (“Nicator"), with dauntless courage he closed to within 3,000 yards of the enemy in order to attain a favourable position for firing the torpedoes. While making this attack, "Nestor" and “Nicator" were under concentrated fire of the secondary batteries of the High Sea Fleet. “Nestor " was subsequently sunk.

 

We have a number of books available that look at the Battle of Jutland. If you are interested in reading more then take a look at the titles below:

Campaign 72: Jutland 1916

New Vanguard 163: British Destroyers 1892-1918

New Vanguard 164: German Battleships 1914-18 (1)

New Vanguard 204: British Battleships 1914-18 (2)

Duel 31: British Dreadnought vs German Dreadnought

Duel 56: British Battlecruiser vs German Battlecruiser

 


Previous: The German Admirals

 

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