An interactive map has been set up to mark the centenary of a naval battle which claimed the lives of two Crawley men.
The Battle of Jutland was fought in the North Sea, near the coast of Denmark’s Jutland Peninsula, on May 31 and June 1 1916.
With the centenary approaching, the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) launched the online map to help share the stories of the thousands of sailors who took part in the battle, when the Royal Navy faced down the might of Kaiser Wilhelm’s German fleet.
Casey Keppel-Compton, digital manager of the project, said: “Many of the people who went out there didn’t come back. We can’t allow them to be forgotten – they mustn’t be the forgotten sailors.”
Visitors to the map can zoom in on entries to read about the sailors, ships, memorials and sites connected with the First World War battle.
People can contribute stories of ancestors who were involved in the battle.
Ms Keppel-Compton said the response to the project had been “mindblowing”.
She added: “On one evening after it was launched we had 10,000 unique users from around the world – it was 100 hits a second. Since then we’ve had a constant stream of emails sent to us from people telling fantastic stories about their Jutland family members.
“A lot of those stories would have previously been hidden in loft boxes.”
Ms Keppel-Compton said the project was being driven by a team of 15 volunteers who were working from home inputting information, and the ‘back-end’ developers at tech firm NautoGuide.
She added: “We also hope to one day be able to tell the German side of the story. We have a relationship with the German Naval Museum so there is the possibility that will eventually happen.”
A major exhibition about the Battle of Jutland is due to open at the NMRN on May 12.
Called 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War, the exhibition is described as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to bring together material from across the UK and Germany to mark the centenary of the battle.
The Battle of Jutland has been called the biggest naval battle of all time – and the human cost was certainly high.
Men who had grown up in the lanes and meadows of Sussex met their maker in horrific circumstances on the unforgiving North Sea.
The interactive map lists two Crawley men who perished during the battle – though their ages made them little more than boys when they died.
Frederick James Ledger was born in Crawley on April 10 1899 and his mother was called Annie.
He joined the Royal Navy on April 10 1914 on his 15th birthday and served as Boy 1st Class on HMS Indefatigable under the command of Captain Charles F Sowerby.
The ship was part of the Grand Fleet and was the first of three British battle cruisers to be sunk by the Germans.
Only two of the 1,019 men and boys survived. Frederick was just 17-years-old when he died.
Arthur Brooker was the son of Martha and John Brooker and was 18-years-old when he died during the sinking of HMS Invincible. Invincible sank with the loss of 1,226 men, including ordinary seaman Brooker.
Among those who have taken a keen interest in the interactive map is Nick Jellicoe, grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, who commanded the British Grand Fleet in the battle.
Mr Jellicoe said: “This is one of those moments where engaging with the interactive map and what the museum is providing is a real opportunity to fill in some parts of a jigsaw, a family jigsaw you’ve never been able to solve.
“It’s nice to think about stories from your father, grandfather or great-grandfather, and be able to pass them on.
“Always one of my biggest regrets is that I never talked to my father in more detail about his father.
“I never did, and I hope other people don’t make the same mistake.”
Pictures courtesy of The National Museum of the Royal Navy.
Some information courtesy of www.jutland1916.com .
To use the interactive map, log on to nmrn.nautoguide.com.
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