Two Days of May

The Skye Boat Song. Perhaps appropriate for Two Days of May. 

JUTLAND 
North Sea near the coast of the Denmark Peninsula May 31 – June 1, 1916

The research dance has started again. Realizing that the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland was on a fast approach I wrangled through several ideas firstly taking on the readily apparent. Perhaps a story of Boy 1st Class John “Jack” Travers Cornwell VC who was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions aboard HMS Chester at Jutland?

Stamp produced for the 150th Anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross, September 2006.

Stamp produced for the 150th Anniversary of the institution of the Victoria Cross, September 2006.

The research commenced and like a new sailor learning his knots, the rope or in this case research seemed endless. Will I ever tie this story together? Cornwell was 16 years of age when he was mortally wounded at his gun station. However, there will be many stories written about “Jack” at this time. Perhaps a story of other boy sailors at Jutland, perhaps the young midshipmen too…perhaps…perhaps…perhaps a bell…

This is the steady wake of crafting a story.

Eight Bells

Time was indicated aboard ship by ringing the ship’s bell which was usually inscribed with the ship’s name. The end of the watch was signaled by Eight bells that “can also be a way of saying that a sailor’s watch is over, for instance, in his or her obituary, as a nautical euphemism for “finished”. For more read: Ship’s Bells

A Knot Comes Together

At last we have a story. Bobbing and weaving or perhaps pitching, rolling or yawing is better terminology for this blog I make a connection. My days of learning knots was in my Wolf Cub (pre-Boy Scouts) days in Nova Scotia. It seems three knots are what I now recall – reef, bowline and sheepshank – the latter lost to my finger memory. Nonetheless there is connection here. Our next step, from Cubs, was Boy Scouts, where we could add to our gathering of patches and accolades. Cornwell was a Boy Scout whose gallant stand at Jutland was further honoured in Scouts with the creation of the Cornwell Scout Badge “…awarded in respect of pre-eminently high character and devotion to duty, together with great courage and endurance.” See: Awards for Gallantry and Meritorious Conduct.

Cornwell Badge

Cornwell Badge

And all of this brewed from an idea about a ship’s bell! Astonishing! Now to find the peal of the bell – eight strikes should not be too difficult to source but after some while searching for the steady tone of tradition we seemingly have lost the tide. Steady on…and in so doing, we find another day in May to recall at this time of year though the anniversary has recently passed.

Wreath in the North Sea. In Memory of the Battle of Jutland.

Wreath in the North Sea by artist Claus Bergen, 1936.  In Memory of German sailors killed in the Battle of Jutland.

HOOD und BISMARCK
BATTLE OF DENMARK STRAIT May 24, 1941

Ordered in mid-1916 HMS Hood’s design was modified as a result of the action at Jutland being fitted with heavier armour. Being very costly to complete, Hood was the only vessel of four planned Admiral-class battlecruisers completed. The Hood was named for Rear Admiral the Honourable Sir Horace Lambert Aleaxander Hood K.C.B., D.S.O., M.V.O.who was killed during the Battle of Jutland aboard HMS Invincible which was repeatedly hit by salvos from the German battlecruisers SMS Lützow and SMS Derfflinger. Suffering a fatal shot that struck “Q” turret the resultant explosion and sinking claimed 1,015 lives. There were six survivors.

Rear Admiral the Honourable Sir Horace Lambert Aleaxander Hood K.C.B., D.S.O., M.V.O.

Rear Admiral the Honourable Sir Horace Lambert Aleaxander Hood K.C.B., D.S.O., M.V.O. Killed at Jutland 1916.

Eerily similar to the sinking of Invincible, Hood was sunk May 24, 1941 by the fifth salvo fired by Bismarck resulting in a devastating explosion in Hood’s magazine that broke its back. Three minutes later HMS Hood,  the pride of the Royal Navy was gone. 1,415 men lost their lives. There were three survivors.

It was the wish of one of the survivors, Ted Briggs MBE, that one day the Hood’s bell, discovered on the seabed in 2001, would be recovered as a memorial to his shipmates. The tide was in Mr. Brigg’s favour when on August 7, 2015 the bell was retrieved from one and a half miles below the surface by a remotely operated vehicle from the M/Y Octopus. Once on board it was discovered that the bell’s rim was embossed with a memorial inscription to Rear Admiral Hood, the vessel’s namesake, reading in part, “KILLED AT JUTLAND”. 

The recovered bell was then professionally conserved choosing only minimal surface cleaning and “leaving the staining and the calcified work casts as evidence of the time spent in the sea.” (Paul Allen Expedition Team website) On the 75th Anniversary of the sinking of the Hood, May 24, 2016 the bell was unveiled by Princess Anne and is now displayed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as part of the new Jutland exhibit at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth.

For those sailors whose watch is over…the sound of the bell has struck again.

North American Fatalities at Jutland
Canada

Able Seaman William George Cargill
Royal Navy (Age 22)
HMS Warspite
31 May 1916
Queensferry Cemetery
Son of William and Lois Berrill Cargill, of Chauvin, Alberta, Canada.
Born at Forfar, Scotland

Private Joseph Glover
Royal Marine Light Infantry (Age 22)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of David and Annie Glover, of 21, Manning Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Native of Belfast, Ireland.

Able Seaman Henry Charles Gibbings
Royal Navy (Age 27)
HMS Southampton
31 May 1916
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Son of John L. and Mary Jane Gibbings, of Huntingdon, Quebec, Canada.
Born at Godalming, Surrey, England.

Commissioned Royal Marine Gunner John Henry Goss
Royal Marine Light Infantry (Age 32)
HMS Lion
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Harry and Mary Ann Goss, of Stonehouse, Devon;
Husband of Edith Frances Goss, of Woods Lake, Vernon, British Columbia, Canada.

Yeoman of Signals Edwin Ethelbert Charles Greadon
Royal Navy (Age 31)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Charles and Cordelia Greadon, of 53, South Woodrow Boulevard, Birchcliff Heights, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Native of Ireland.

Ship’s Cook William Harris
Royal Navy (Age Unknown)
HMS Indefatigable
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Husband of Susan Livingston Harris, of Canada.

Lieutenant Alexander Percival McMullen
Royal Navy (Age 24)
HMS Invincible
31 May 1916
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Son of Alex. R. and Frances E. McMullen, of Dixie, Ontario, Canada.
Native of Tullamore, Ireland.

Able Seaman Alexander Simpson
Royal Navy (Age 38)
HMS Invincible
31 May 1916
Chatham Naval Memorial
Son of Robert and Elizabeth Simpson, of Dundee, Scotland;
Husband of Maggie Ann Simpson, of 22, Tay Avenue, Fairbank, Toronto, Ontario. Canada.

Leading Seaman Thomas Alva Thresh
Royal Navy (Age 22)
HMS Indefatigable
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. Thresh, of 1638, Masson St., Rosemount, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Native of Bridlington, Yorks, England.

United States of America

Sick Berth Steward 2nd Class John Barry
Royal Navy (Age 29)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Husband of Margaret Barry, of 1179, Third Avenue, New York, New York, U.S.A.

Ship’s Steward 2nd Class Henry George Shapter
Royal Navy (Age 23)
HMS Defence
31 May 1916
Plymouth Naval Memorial
Son of Henry and Florence Shapter, of 2, Southside St., Plymouth, England;
Husband of Edith Shapter, of 3681, Rolle St., Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.

Engine Room Articifer 3rd Class Andrew Thomas Anderson
Royal Navy (Age 25)
HMS Queen Mary
31 May 1916
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Son of Daniel and Jessie Anderson, of 2,612, Canfield Avenue, Culver City, California, U.S.A.
Native of Edinburgh, Scotland.

North American Fatalities at the Battle of the Denmark Strait
Canada

Midshipman Thomas Norman Kemp Beard
Royal Canadian Navy (Age 20)
HMS Hood
24 May 1941
Halifax Memorial
Son of Comdr. Charles T. Beard and Kathleen A. Beard, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

Midshipman Francis John Llewelyn Lloyd Jones
Royal Canadian Navy (Age 20)
HMS Hood
24 May 1941
Halifax Memorial
Son of Lt.-Col. Arthur Llewelyn Jones, O.B.E., M.C., and Marie Anna Rita Jones, of Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada

Midshipman Christopher John Birdwood Norman
Royal Canadian Navy (Age 19)
HMS Hood
24 May 1941
Halifax Memorial
Son of Captain Cyril Norman and Lydia Joan Norman, of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.


About The Author

pferguson
Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii and Gallipoli. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.

Comments

One Response to “Two Days of May”

  1. pferguson pferguson says:

    The inscription near the base of the recovered HMS Hood bell reads in full, ““This bell was preserved from HMS Hood battleship 1891-1914 by the late Rear Admiral, The Honourable Sir Horace Hood KCB, DSO, MVO killed at Jutland on 31st May 1916.”

    The bell, which includes another engraved inscription, is featured in the new exhibition “36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War”, National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth, England. The exhibit opened May 19, 2016. For further information visit the Jutland exhibition website.

    When details of the other inscription are found they will be added as a comment.

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