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Guildford Men Who Took Part In Naval Battle Of Jutland

Published on: 31 May, 2016
Updated on: 1 Jun, 2016

By David Rose

One hundred years ago today and tomorrow (May 31 and June 1) the First World War’s Battle of Jutland was fought between the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet and The Imperial Germany Navy’s High Seas Fleet.

It took place near the coast of Denmark’s Jutland penisular. Fourteen British and 11 German ships were sunk with the loss of thousands of lives.

The Battle of Jutland rages.

The Battle of Jutland rages.

Men from Guildford and the surrounding area were involved and the local press soon reported the details.

A report in the Surrey Weekly Press under the headline ‘HEROES OF THE NORTH SEA BATTLE’, wrote: “Prodogies of valour were performed by the men who manned Sir David Beatty’s Cruiser Sqaudron in their gallant, unequal but signally successful fight against the German High Seas Fleet on the afternoon and night of May 31st. Admiral Beatty, although both in ships and guns vastly inferior to the foe, dauntlessly gave battle, and held the Germans until the arrival of Sir John Jellicoe with the main British Fleet. By that time fearful havoc had been wrought to both sides, but the Germans turned and fled with frantic haste for their mine-protected waters, closely pursued by our ships, whose gunnery crippled and sank many of the finest ships of the Kaiser’s Navy.”

HMS Queen Mary.

HMS Queen Mary.

The report noted the 14 British ships that were lost, including the Black Prince, Queen Mary, and Invincible, which had Guildford men on board and who died.

HMS Queen Mary is destroyed.

HMS Queen Mary is destroyed.

The Surrey Weekly Press‘ report of several men who had connections with Guildford of some kind as well as those who were actually from the borough, listed them in order of rank. (Today such a report would list  those with the closest connection first, irrespective of rank!).

However, under a heading ‘GUILDFORD HEROES’ DEATH ROLL’, the newspaper listed and gave details of those who had died. Below is the column that was published along with several pictures.


Death roll 1



Death roll 2

Death roll 3

Death roll 4


Death roll 5

Death roll 6



Death roll 7

The Surrey Weekly Press also reported on survivors of the battle. They included 17-year-old Albert Hicks who was soon back home with his parents at Roseneath in Woodbridge Road.

While Albert Sutton, who had been on board a destroyer, returned to his home at 35 Chertsey Street “to the great joy of his friends”.

William Reeves of 12 New Cross Road, Stoughton, was a stoker on board HMS Hogue when it was torpedoed during a previous encounter. On that occasion he was in the sea for three hours until picked up by a Dutch boat and taken to Holland. He subsequently returned to Britian and was on board another ship during the Battle of Jutland (the report did not say which one for secutiry reasons) and he was wounded.

The Battle of Jutland was regarded as a British victory as it ultimately prevented German access to both Great Britain and the Atlantic.

Debate over the strategies and performance of the Royal Navy during the battle continue to this day.

The newspaper cuttings from the Surrey Weekly Press reproduced here can be viewed at the Guildford Institute in Ward Street. They are pasted into its Great War Scrapbook, a fascinating read for anyone interested in Guildford during the First World World.

More details about Guildford and the home front during the First World War are in my book Great War Britain Guildford Remembering 1914-18, published by The History Press. It costs £12.99 and signed copies are available from me on 01483 838960, or email

Great War Britain Guildford Remembering 1914-18 by David Rose has just been published.

Great War Britain Guildford Remembering 1914-18 by David Rose.

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Responses to Guildford Men Who Took Part In Naval Battle Of Jutland

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    May 31, 2016 at 3:08 pm

    A very interesting article, as always from David Rose. I can recommend the book to everyone.

  2. Dave Holt Reply

    May 31, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Thanks for the article. Ernest Alfred Holt was a cousin of my grandfather. This is the first time I have seen his picture.

    [David Rose: Thank’s Dave. I wondered if he was from your family. I think the family would have supplied the newspaper with his photograph.]

  3. Vivien McDonald Reply

    June 1, 2016 at 9:31 am

    Thank you for your report. This is the first time I have seen a photograph of my Gt. Uncle Theodore William Wood Bowler, known as Tim.

    He was always talked about in the family. I recently printed his war service records. Now I can show my family.

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