Commemorations to mark centenary of First World War's Battle of Jutland


Nicola Sturgeon, the Princess Royal and naval leaders are to lay wreaths at the start of a week of commemorative events marking the centenary of the largest naval battle of the First World War.

More than 8,500 British and German seamen died off the coast of Denmark in the 36-hour Battle of Jutland which began on May 31, 1916 and changed the course of the war.

The First Minister will join Princess Anne and Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence at a service in Rosyth, Fife, on Saturday to remember those involved in the battle.

The Battlecruiser force deployed at Jutland sailed from the Firth of Forth, and wreaths will be laid at Rosyth Parish Church.

A minute's silence will also be held following the ringing of a bell made from the hull of HMS Tiger, a battlecruiser that suffered damage during the Jutland campaign.

Ms Sturgeon and other dignitaries will later visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery in South Queensferry where 40 casualties from the battle are commemorated or buried.

They will be joined by Jutland descendants, local school pupils and school children from Wilhelmshaven in Germany at the private service.

The final event of the day will take place at Hawes Pier where HMS Kent will recreate the departure of the Battlecruiser force.

On Tuesday - exactly 100 years since the battle started - members of the UK Government and Royal Family will join descendants of those who fought for a service at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on Tuesday.

They are being remembered on Orkney as the British Grand Fleet was launched from Scapa Flow to repel German forces attempting to break a British blockade.

Both sides claimed victory as the Germans lost 11 ships and Britain 14, but the enemy's naval fleet was seriously weakened and failed to significantly challenge the British again during the conflict.

German president Joachim Gauck will join the Duke of Edinburgh at the service, which will be followed by a second memorial at Lyness Cemetery on Hoy - the final resting place for more than 450 service personnel who died in the war, including sailors killed at Jutland.

Orkney Islands Council vice-convener Jim Foubister said: ''We are proud to be hosting the UK's national commemoration of the Battle of Jutland.

''On Tuesday we will remember the huge importance of Jutland to the outcome of the First World War, and the enormous number of lives lost during the course of the battle.

''It is fitting that the Jutland commemorations will draw to a close among the graves of some of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries a century ago.''