May 31 marks the centenary of The Battle of Jutland, when more than 8,000 British and German men lost their lives at sea.
The battle lasted just 36 hours but along with the terrible death toll, its impact on the First World War was significant.
Undoubtedly many men from South Tyneside were among those who lost their lives in the conflict, which was the biggest naval battle of the war.
As a result, I have been asked by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) to highlight the battle, and the many commemorative events and exhibitions which have been arranged to remember those brave crewmen.
Faye Jackson, of the IWM said: “The centenary is an opportunity for people in the UK to come together to remember those, on both sides, who lost their lives at Jutland, and to recognise the pivotal role of the Royal Navy in the First World War.
“The First World War Centenary Partnership, led by IWM, is presenting a series of exhibitions, events and concerts throughout May and June to commemorate the Jutland centenary.”
Although most of the events and exhibitions are being held away from South Tyneside (I will tell you later of an exhibition not far from here, in Hartlepool), I will make mention of a few which you may want to visit when you are on your travels.
From today, the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, in partnership with the IWM, hosts an exhibition entitled 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle that won the War.
The display (which costs £10 for adults and £5 for children to visit) features objects including guns from British and German ships, battle ensigns stained with smoke, and tells the stories of the men and women involved in the battle.
HMS Caroline, the last surviving ship from the Battle of Jutland, currently moored in Belfast, will also open to visitors following a restoration funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
On Friday, the Scottish Fisheries Museum, in Fife, will stage The Forth At War, which explores the contribution of the Firth of Forth to the war at sea through paintings, models and memorabilia from the Battle of Jutland.
The exhibition runs until August 28 and entrance costs £8 for adults, £6 concessions, with children going free.
On May 21, just down the road, the Museum of Hartlepool is hosting Jutland 1916: Remembering the Forgotten Battle, in partnership with the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
The exhibition (which runs until September 18 and is free) explores the role communities in the North East of England played in the Battle of Jutland, using artefacts, models and interactive family activities.
I’m sure a lot of people from our area will make the trip to Hartlepool to see this exhibition which, if it is anything like other displays staged at the museum, should be well worth the short journey south.
The official commemoration of the battle takes place somewhat further afield, on May 31, in Orkney, and will include a service at St Magnus Cathedral, in Kirkwell, followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at sea on Jutland Bank by British and German ships.
Faye Jackson said: “The Battle of Jutland ensured that Britain’s naval blockade of Germany remained in place, forcing Germany to fight on in the face of hunger and raw material shortages.
“Both sides claimed victory at Jutland, but whilst the Germans lost fewer ships, after the battle the British could put as many as 24 dreadnoughts to sea, in comparison to Germany’s 10 ships fit to fight. The Germans failed to significantly challenge the British again at sea throughout the rest of the war.”
Please let me know of any local men who fought in the battle so that I can tell their story in Time Of Our Lives.