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Keith RidleyKeith Ridley
Hms ForthHms Forth

Chairman's Chat

The National Chairman's Address at the lighting of the lamplight of peace.

 

As we are gathered in this sacred space, before the grave of the Unknown Warrior – representing all those that gave their lives in the First World War – let us also think of those who fought at sea, in the air or on land from the Naval Service.

The 63rd (Royal Naval) Division saw service ashore in the trenches of the Western Front at Antwerp in 1914; Ancre in the final phase of the Battle of the Somme, Miramout, the Second Battle of Passchendaele as well as service ashore at Gallipoli.  7,547 were killed and 2,584 died of their wounds.

The great Battle of Jutland in 1916 saw the long-anticipated battle of the German and RN battle fleets with over 6,000 killed on one day and many ships lost.  Other actions were seen at: Heligoland Bight; Coronel; Falkland Islands; Dogger Bank; and the submarine battle which was unrestricted by Germany from 1917, which nearly brought the country to its knees before the development of the convoy system.  We remember, too, the gallant sailors of the Zeebrugge and Ostend raids; and those killed in the tragedy of the May Island submarine accidents in January 1918.

In this year of the centenary of our shipmates in the Royal Air Force we recall the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought in the Royal Naval Air Service, forming with the Royal Flying Corps our newest sister Service in 1918.

The RN saw much action at sea at Gallipoli and the Lamplight of Peace will be taken from here to arrive by sea at Portsmouth tomorrow; to eventually rest for its time with the Royal Navy, near HMS M33, a coastal monitor that saw action at Gallipoli.

32,287 sailors were killed in the First World War with 5,135 wounded.  Ship losses were: 2 dreadnoughts; 11 pre-dreadnoughts; 3 battle cruisers; 13 cruisers; 12 light cruisers; 64 destroyers and 54 submarines.

Our shipmates in the Merchant Navy lost 14,661 – primarily to U-boat - with 4,837 Allied merchant ships sunk.