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[英伦广角] 2016-06-04 英国举行日德兰海战100周年纪念活动

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The Battle of Jutland was the biggest naval confrontation in World War One. The German fleet wanted access to the Atlantic. The English Channel is too narrow and too well defended, so they went to north towards Scotland. In their way was the Royal Navy which dominated the seas. The British Grand Fleet was based here at Scapa Flow in Orkney.

“This place was perfect as a base for the Royal Navy. They can get access to the Atlantic in one direction, and then out to the North Sea in the other direction. The waters were relatively calm as well because Scapa Flow is surrounded by lots of small, little islands. They gave the British fleet a degree of protection.”

250 ships and 100,000 men confronted each other in the North Sea. The commander of the British fleet was Admiral John Jellicoe

“The British wanted to defend their supremacy and control of the sea. The Germans wanted to take it way. Well, if that was the mission, they didn’t succeed, but as I say, they inflicted a very, very heavy pain on the Royal Navy. For both navies, this was a cataclysmic and very, very sad day. The loss of 6,500 lives was enormous, that’s 10% roughly of the British sailors at sea. And it wasn’t just stokers and ratings. Senior officers and admirals were also fighting side by side.”

The old means have been getting ready for the centenary of a battle that was a big part of the history. A royal naval frigate HMS Kent has been joined by a German warship of the Island of Hoy. And there’ll be a service at the cathedral in Kirkwall tomorrow morning. But the Duke of Edinburgh who was due to attend the events has been told by the doctor not to travel for health reasons. Buckingham Palace says that he is not seriously ill and he hasn’t gone to hospital. But prince Philippe who will be 95 in just a few weeks time and of course he’s a former officer of the Royal Navy himself will be disappointed to miss this event.

“He is very frustrated and disappointed that he can't be here and we're all very sad that he won't be with us.”

“And how is his health?”

"He's fine. He just has a minor ailment and I think at his age it would be unwise to go and stand in a windswept cemetery for a long period at that stage."  

In the one day of fighting, 14 British ships and 9 German’s were sunk, 8,500 men drowned. It’s probably going too far to say that this was the decisive battle of the entire war. But the British sea blockade of Germany remained in place, and the Germany Navy never set to sail again in quite the same way.

Alistair Bunkall, Sky News, the Orkney Islands.
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