On Tuesday (31 May 2016) the regular bell ceremony in the Cathedral will be extended to mark the centenary of the fiercest sea battle of the First World War, the Battle of Jutland.
More than 8,000 British and German men lost their lives at sea during the battle lasting 36 hours and HMS Canterbury played an important role as her crew were the first to see and report the presence of part of the German fleet. A C-class light cruiser, she had been launched just before Christmas 1915 with a crew of 323 officers and men.
After Jutland, HMS Canterbury spent most of the war operating out of Harwich and in 1917 she helped sink the German torpedo boat, the S20, near Zeebrugge.
Bell given to Cathedral
The ship was scrapped in 1934, and her bell was given to Canterbury Cathedral where it is placed in the south east transept. It is rung at 11am every weekday, and prayers are offered for those who have died in conflict, and for world peace. Her ship’s badge is now held by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich, and a lifeboat badge is held by Canterbury Museums.
A similar ship, HMS Caroline, which also served at Jutland, survives in Belfast and has been restored with funds from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
For a more detailed account of HMS Canterbury at Jutland by one of the Cathedral’s volunteer guides Adrian Beaumont see here.
For more information about the battle itself go to the Imperial War Museum and to find out more about events marking the Battle of Jutland centenary go to the First World War centenary for commemorative events happening across the country.
Below is ‘St George’s Day 1918: Bridge of HMS Canterbury’, by Philip Connard (© IWM (Art.IWM ART 1285)