Royal Navy joins Chatham centenary commemoration of First World War

A special service honouring and commemorating the lives of 1459 sailors lost in the early days of the First World War will be held on Monday 22 September.

The Drumhead Service, attended by His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent KG, will take place at The Historic Dockyard Chatham at 2pm on Monday.

First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir George Zambellas, will join His Royal Highness, along with the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, other senior Royal Navy and military officers, civic dignitaries from Kent and The Netherlands.

Members of the Live Bait Squadron Society and guests and families of those who have a direct connection with the action of September 22 1914. Service Association Standards will also be taking part.

This nationally significant commemoration marks the loss of three Royal Navy cruisers - HMS Aboukir, HMS Hogue and HMS Cressy - sunk by enemy submarine action on September 22 1914 off the Dutch coast in the North Sea with a total loss of life of 1459 men - 1264 of whom were from the Chatham Port Division.  

Two Royal Navy Archer Class patrol vessels – HM Ships Smiter and Exploit – will also be present, as will a guard of Royal Navy personnel drawn from across the Senior Service.

The day’s commemorations commence with a ceremonial Drumhead Service at 2pm led by The Right Reverend Dr Stephen Venner assisted by Chaplain of the Fleet The Reverend Scott Brown with music provided by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines from Lympstone and a Royal Navy Guard on parade.

During the service, The Duke of Kent will unveil a plaque commemorating the loss of the three ships.  

The Drumhead Service concludes with an Act of Remembrance during which the Mayor of Medway will hand a poppy wreath to the Mayor of The Hague for laying at Dutch Commemorations on Wednesday September 24. 

Last Post will be played by Royal Marines buglers and 1,459 poppy petals – one for every life lost – will fall.  

Throughout the day, there will be opportunities for visitors to share family history, recollections and photographs with The Historic Dockyard Chatham Trust Collections Staff and Volunteers.

An afternoon Beat Retreat performance by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines (CTCRM) Lympstone will provide a fitting finale to the day, with the salute being taken by the First Sea Lord. 

For more information please visit The Historic Dockyard Chatham website at www.thedockyard.co.uk