Next month will mark the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Jutland and will be commemorated by the Duke of Edinburgh on his visit to Orkney.
The Battle of Jutland saw the main fleets of the British and German navies clash on the eastern side of the North Sea on 31st May, 1916. It was the largest naval battle of World War I and played a decisive role in the allied victory two years later.
The Orkney Islands served as the main base for the Royal Navy during the First World War and will be the major focal point for the anniversary ceremony. On 31 May, Prince Philip will attend a service at St. Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall. Following the mass, the Prince will join a ceremony at Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery in Hoy.
The cemetery contains the graves of 439 Commonwealth burials, 112 of which are unidentified. The majority of the graves are of officers, ratings, and members of the land forces lost from H.M.S. “Hampshire,” “Vanguard,” “Narborough” and “Opal”.
110,000 sailors in 150 British and 100 German vessels fought for control of the waters and, despite losing 6,000 sailors with many others burned or wounded, the British maintained command of the sea.
The HMS Duke of Edinburgh, the ship bearing the Duke’s namesake, wasn’t damaged during the battle and was the only vessel in the squadron to survive. 25 warships were sunk or damaged beyond repair.
Prince Philip will also view a familiar sight; thousands of ceramic poppies, that served as part of a national wartime tribute, will be on display in Orkney. ‘Poppies: Weeping Window’ will be on display at the St Magnus Cathedral from 22 April through 12 June. The Prince first viewed the installation at the Tower of London in 2014, as part of the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ exhibition.
Like its London counterpart, the Orkney display will see 888,246 poppies cascade from the western end of the cathedral – each poppy honouring the individual sacrifices made by British and Colonial soldiers lost during World War I.