First World War Commemorations held at Chatham Historic Dockyard

A special service commemorating the lives of 1459 sailors lost in the early days of the First World War has been held at Chatham Historic Dockyard.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent was joined by the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas, two Royal Navy patrol ships and a naval guard at the ceremony yesterday.

The service commemorated those who perished when HM Ships Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy were sunk by a German U-Boat off the Dutch coast on September 22 1914.

Of the 1459 who lost their lives on that tragic day, 1264 were from the Chatham Port Division.

It is an honour to be here today as part of the commemoration service and plaque dedication to the brave service personnel of Her Majesty’s Ships’ Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy

Leading Seaman (Electronic Warfare) Carl Malone

Leading Seaman (Electronic Warfare) Carl Malone, 30 of HMS Drake was part of the naval guard which had been practising for the event at HMS Collingwood for the past few weeks.

Carl, who is from Mansfield, said: “It is an honour to be here today as part of the commemoration service and plaque dedication to the brave service personnel of Her Majesty’s Ships’ Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy which were sadly lost in action off of the hook of Holland 100 years ago to the day.

“It makes me so proud to be an enduring legacy of what they striving to achieve during the Great War all those years ago.”

For the service the First Sea Lord joined His Royal Highness, along with the Lord Lieutenant of Kent, 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 also took part.

Two Royal Navy Archer Class patrol vessels – HM Ships Smiter and Exploit – were also present.

The day’s commemorations began 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.

Music was provided by The Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines from Lympstone with the Royal Navy Guard on parade.

During the service, The Duke of Kent unveiled a plaque commemorating the loss of the three cruisers.

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

The Last Post was be played by a Royal Marines bugler and 1,459 poppy petals – one for every life lost – fell onto the crowd below. 

Hundreds of visitors attended the ticketed event where they could 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 also provided a fitting finale to the day, with the salute being taken by the First Sea Lord.