The Battle of Jutland May 31st 1916

Image of Battle of Jutland
Battle of Jutland

The Battle of Jutland was the only major Naval Battle fought during WWI. The previous German Naval attacks on British coastal ports and the deployment of its fleet off the Danish coast were intentionally planned to provoke the British into bringing out its Naval Fleet from the North Sea.

The British Navy did respond, both confident in its naval supremacy and eager to engage the enemy, and the Battle commenced on the 31st May 1916.

Both sides claimed victory, and although the British Fleet suffered greater casualties and losses (14 ships and 6,000 lives compared to Germany's 9 ships and 2,500 lives) the larger British fleet still remained sea worthy while Germany was no longer able to engage the British Fleet in any major battle and for the duration of the war had to rely mostly on its deadly U-Boat attacks.

A large number of Brixham men were serving with the Navy in the North Sea and the Brixham Western Guardian vividly recounts the charged atmosphere created in Brixham when news of the battle spread.

“a large crowd gathered outside the telephone office - news spread like wild fire – families came to the office with just their white aprons thrown over their heads, and with tears streaming down their cheeks”.

In total, seven Brixham men lost their lives during the battle; Harry Jackson and Archibald Salisbury of HMS Defence, William Cross Fast of HMS Warrior, Ernest George and Frederick Ash of HMS Indefatigable, Alfred Stephens (or Stevens) of HMS Lion and Ernest Orr (sometimes spelt Hoare) of HMS Invincible. These losses from a single battle were keenly felt by the close knit community of Brixham with a population of less than 8,000.