First service marks WWI Battle of Jutland centenary

28th May 2016, Comments 0 comments

Britain on Saturday kicked off a week of commemorations marking one hundred years since the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval battle of World War I.

More than 6,000 British and 2,500 German sailors were killed in the 36-hour battle, which began off the Danish coast on May 31, 1916.

Britain's battlecruiser force sailed from the Firth of Forth in eastern Scotland and events took place outside Edinburgh on Saturday.

Queen Elizabeth II's daughter Princess Anne and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon were joined by hundreds of people for a ceremony.

"This centenary commemoration is an opportunity for us to honour and pay tribute to the many thousands of sailors from both sides who lost their lives during the Battle of Jutland," said Sturgeon.

"The sacrifices made by those who fought in this battle, the largest naval encounter of the First World War, and by other seafarers throughout the conflict must never be forgotten."

Anne, 65, and the first minister spoke to the families of those killed or wounded in the battle.

Anne's grandfather king George VI served as a young midshipman in the battle on board HMS Collingwood.

On Tuesday, 100 years since the battle began, Queen Elizabeth's husband Prince Philip -- a former naval officer -- will attend a service in Scotland's remote Orkney Islands along with German President Joachim Gauck.

The British Grand Fleet was launched from the archipelago to repel German forces attempting to break a British blockade.

Though Britain lost more ships and men, the German fleet was more seriously weakened and failed to pose a significant challenge to the British during the remaining two years of the war.

A memorial sculpture park at Thyboroen in Denmark's northern Jutland region is due to open next month.

© 2016 AFP

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