Published: 13:20, 01 June 2016
The grey skies above Chatham Naval memorial were appropriate for the sombre mood as Medway commemorated the centenary of the Battle of Jutland yesterday.
The memorial in the Great Lines Heritage park, Gillingham, commemorates the Royal Navy’s sacrifice in both the First and Second World Wars.
The battle was one of the largest naval actions in history and was the most decisive sea battle during the First World War.
More than 100,000 sailors on 250 ships were involved, and more than 6,000 Royal Navy sailors and 2,500 German sailors were killed during the battle.
Naval chaplain Ernie Grimshaw led the drumhead ceremony at the memorial which was attended by a number of prestigious guests including: Ros Kelly, commissioner of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Viscount De L’Isle MBE, Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Rear Admiral Richard Stokes, Admiral Sir Trevor Soar OBE and chief inspector Simon Alland.
Musician and Deputy Lieutenant of Kent Jools Holland also laid a wreath and paid his respects to his great-grandfather.
He said: “This event has particular resonance for me as I remember my great grandfather, who died at Jutland, leaving my grandmother and great aunt to carry his legacy. I try to come to this memorial every year as events such as this keep the memories of those we lost alive and those they left behind in our thoughts.”
Mr Holland would no doubt have admired the music provided for the service by the Band of the Royal Marines who played music during the service.
Admiral Soar, chairman of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust, said: “This is a poignant moment to remember all those who sacrificed their all for our nation. Knowing the strong links between the local community and the Royal Navy it is so important to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.
“Many who fought were from this area and it is fitting that today’s service of commemoration pays tribute to their valour and to their families, some of whom are here today.”
Marine cadet L Cpl Kieron Kitsell delivered the Battle of Jutland Epitaph with the famous stone memorial as a backdrop listing the thousands of names of naval personnel and which as recently been given grade 1 listed status.
The cadet said: “It was an honour to be able to attend the commemoration and remember the bravery 100 years on. Seeing the names on the memorial, particularly Major Francis Harvey VC is humbling.”
Mayor of Medway, Cllr Stuart Tranter was also at the service.
Cllr Tranter said: “Both my grandfathers served in World War One and my Father in World War Two, and it is a privilege to represent not only them but all the brave souls of the Medway towns who served in these and subsequent conflicts.”