THEY turned out in force to pay their respects.
People of all ages from across the Portsmouth area lined the streets to watch a grand parade to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.
For many it was an emotional affair as they remembered loved ones – some of them just boys in 1916 – who went to their deaths in the icy North Sea.
Others showed their pride in the Royal Navy, which took a terrible pounding in the 36-hour battle, but ultimately emerged victorious and has continued protecting the shores of Great Britain for the 100 years since then.
More than 100 sailors from HMS Sultan and HMS Collingwood marched through Southsea – led by the Royal Marines Band Collingwood – to Southsea War Memorial.
The parade, along Palmerston Road, Avenue De Caen and Clarence Esplanade, also included 50 veterans from the Royal British Legion and Royal Naval Association, together with Royal Marine and sea cadets.
Yesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland – the only major battle fought at sea during the First World War and arguably the largest surface battle in naval history.
The Germans claimed the battle represented a victory for them as the British lost more ships – 14 in total – and more than 6,000 men.
The Germans lost nine ships and suffered more than 2,500 casualties.
But it was a decisive turning-point as it left the German navy too diminished to put to sea again.
Though a costly endeavour for the Royal Navy, being able to maintain the blockade brought severe hardship to the Germans and ultimately led to the British victory in 1918.
Among the crowds watching the parade in Palmerston Road yesterday was Christine Carter, 61, whose great-grandfather William Allen died on HMS Fortune during the battle.
‘He’s my family,’ said Mrs Carter, of Owen Street, Eastney.
‘I would not be here today but for him.
‘I wanted to be here to represent the loss to my gran – he was her father.
‘It’s so awful that so many men lost their lives.’
Joanne Knapp, 33, from Fareham, and Charlotte Parr, 33, from Copnor, were there with their children and marvelled at the parade on Southsea seafront.
Joanne said: ‘It was great that there were all the generations there.’
Kiera Knapp, 10, said: ‘It was nice to see. It was like a timeline.’
Retired Wren Paulette Mullord, 74, of Festing Road, Southsea, reflected on the actions of the men as she watched the parade.
‘I think they were incredibly brave,’ he said.
‘They were doing their duty. You don’t expect to die, but you are prepared for it.
‘We should never forget any of these battles.’
Joelle Medze-Kitching was proud to watch her son, 13-year-old Royal Marine cadet Benjamin, take part in the parade.
Joelle, 37, of Hercules Street, Buckland, said: ‘It’s part of our history. It’s part of who we are.’
Pete Stroud was beaming with pride watching his son, 12-year-old Royal Marine cadet Ashley, take part.
David Roper, 73, from North End, said of those lost at Jutland: ‘They were very brave men. An awful lot of mistakes were made and an awful lot of men died for political reasons. I want to show them some respect. It was a terrible waste of life.’
A host of civic dignitaries, including Portsmouth North MP and armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt, were present.
Mark Francois, the minister for Portsmouth, told The News: ‘I think 100 years on it’s quite difficult to imagine what it must have been like for the city to receive a shock of that magnitude – something that would have affected families across the class divide.
‘It would have touched every corner of the city and been an absolutely devastating loss.’
Speaking of the turnout and support from the city, he added: ‘I thought that it was a very impressive turnout. All sections of the community were represented but it was particularly good to see relatives and also to see the naval veterans on parade.’
He added: ‘The Royal Navy is part of Portsmouth’s soul and always will be.’