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Let's rediscover our heroes; HMS Calliope, the Royal Naval Reserve unit on the banks of the Tyne, is preparing to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland next year. But they need the public's help to trace relatives of the men killed in action. SONIA SHARMA reports.


The North east has a proud association with the Royal Navy. Notable examples are Lord Collingwood, Nelson's second-incommand at the Battle of Trafalgar, and the hundreds of ships built on the Tyne including hMS Ark Royal, hMS King George V and hMS Newcastle.

Another link is hMS Calliope, now the name of the Royal Naval Reserve unit based at the riverside in Gateshead.

A hundred years ago, Calliope was a light cruiser that took part in the Battle of Jutland -the greatest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the First World War.

It was fought between the German and British navies at Jutland, Denmark, from May 31 to June 1, 1916.

During the battle the Royal Navy's Grand Fleet, under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, and the Imperial German Navy's high Seas Fleet, under Vice-Admiral Reinhard Scheer, clashed in the North Sea.

The high Seas Fleet's intention was to lure out, trap and destroy a portion of the Grand Fleet, as the German naval force was insufficient to openly engage the entire British fleet.

This formed part of a larger strategy to break the British blockade of Germany and to allow German mercantile shipping to operate.

Meanwhile, the Royal Navy pursued a strategy to engage and destroy the high Seas Fleet, or keep the German force contained and away from Britain's own shipping lanes.

More than 6,000 British sailors lost their lives in the clash, while the number of German losses reached over 3,000.

Fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk -including Royal Navy battle cruisers Indefatigable, Queen Mary and Invincible. however both sides claimed victory after the fighting. The British lost more ships and twice as many sailors, and the British press criticised the Grand Fleet's failure to force a decisive outcome, but Scheer's plan of destroying a substantial portion of the British fleet also failed.

During the battle, hMS Calliope received a number of hits from the German fleet and 10 of her crew were killed in action.

Now a collection of photos of some of the sailors and Royal Marines who lost their lives have been donated to the Royal Naval Reserve Unit. They were mysteriously left at hMS Calliope's gatehouse in Gateshead by an unknown person. There is no clue as to where they came from.

In total, around 20 pictures were donated - but only seven of the sailors and marines were named. Now Lieutenant Commander Duncan Young, the unit's heritage officer, is hoping that relatives of the men killed in action will come forward before the Battle of Jutland centenary next year.

Members of the public are being asked to help identify the people in the images and then trace their fam-Turn to Page 42 From Page 41 ily members. They will then be invited to join in the centenary celebrations.

Lt Cdr Young said: "Sadly, we don't know who left these photos at our gatehouse and as such there is a gap in our understanding of who they were and indeed if they have any family still living in the region.

"We'd like to be able to show the families the photographs and invite them to take part in HMS Calliope's remembrance events for the Battle of Jutland and wider maritime campaign next year."

Among the seven men who were named alongside their photos in the collection was William Collins, who died during the battle.

There is a verse printed next to his picture, which reads: "Afar he sleeps -the ocean's roar, disturbs his calm repose no more, what though no voice of home was near, to soothe with love his dying ear, the cloud is passed from that clear brow, it glows in heaven's own brightness now."

Under the name of another fallen sailor, Thomas Trish, it says: "Died of wounds received in the Great Naval Battle of Jutland, June 1, 1916."

The other portraits were of William Frank Rowlingson, Thomas Joseph Hogan, Frederick Thomas Horsfall and Thomas Edward Sutcliffe.

In addition, a Roll of Honour gives details of all Calliope's "casualties sustained in action".

It shows that four other men lost their lives -Joseph Skidmore, Walter Fairweather, Archer William Balcombe and Sidney Thomas Ellis. The collection also includes a picture of W Fletcher, whose name is not on the Roll of Honour.

The document further states that staffsurgeon Bertram Raleigh Bickford was severely wounded and 24 other men were injured in the battle.

Anyone with information about the photographs or details about relatives of the fallen men are asked to contact HMS Calliope. People should email or write to Unit Heritage Officer, HMS Calliope, South Shore Road, Gateshead, NE10 8WH.

There has been a Royal Naval Reserve presence on Tyneside since 1905, when Tyne Division of the RNVR was formed.

For its first training ship, the division chose the famous HMS Calliope, veteran of the Samoa Hurricane, which was berthed at Elswick in Newcastle.

In 1951, the original HMS Calliope was replaced by HMS Falmouth that was renamed Calliope. This new ship kept the same moorings at Elswick.

However the unit moved ashore in 1968 to its current location, retaining the name HMS Calliope.


Lieutenant Commander Duncan Young with Royal Marines Major Hall looking at the photos on HMS Calliope

HMS Invincible blows up during the Battle of Jutland in 1916. It was amongst the a number blown up in just one day of the First World War during a sea <Bbattle that both sides claimed to have won The National Museum of the

HMS Queen Mary is destroyed during the Battle of Jutland in 1916 The National Museum of the Royal

Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe, <B was the British Royal Navy admiral who commanded the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland in World War I.
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 19, 2015
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