Richmond WW1 Diary 10 June 1916

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Jutland reports

As news from Jutland began to reach home, the Richmond & Twickenham Times of 10 June carried its first reports of the naval battle. The paper proclaimed the battle as a victory noting “It was with disgust that crews reached port last weekend to find the Press bemoaning the heavy losses”.

The paper told the story of the battle via the first-hand reports of a number of sailors who’d written to family in Richmond. Quoting a letter written by Warrant Officer E Norkus to his parents, the paper recorded that the German fleet had been reduced “to a shambles” and Norkus hoped that “Perhaps folk will at last realise that the navy, though silent, has been busy”.

Alfred Argent, who had been a pupil at St Elizabeth’s School and joined the navy in 1915, came home to Richmond on leave in early June and was interviewed by the paper:

“Then about midnight the battle broke out again, and continued for about an hour and a half. It was a wonderful sight to see the flashes of light and to see the great ships on fire. When the destroyers were drawn up for an attack a German cruiser tried to ram us, and it was only the skill of our captain that saved us. We were going about thirty-three knots and  a sudden turn of the helm sent us almost leaping out of the water, and the cruiser passed us about thirty yards astern. We then lost touch with the rest of the line, and later on found ourselves against the Kaiser, a German Dreadnought, which showed challenging lights, and our captain replied. The next we knew was that the big ‘un had fired a broadside at us, but the shells all went between our funnels, and we slipped off again. We had another narrow escape at once as a British battleship, seeing the flash of the Kaiser’s guns, fired at her, and we were almost hit.”

Working in the cook’s galley and preparing a roast dinner when the battle began, Alfred reported the loss of one damson tart during the battle, believed to have fallen to ‘friendly fire’ …

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