Lord Jellicoe, Admiral of the Fleet, Battle of Jutland 1915

Descendants of Jutland: Nick Jellicoe

On the eve of the centenary of the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval engagement of the First World War, we talk to the grandson of the Admiral of the Great Fleet.

"Jutland's impact was decisive"

Nick Jellicoe, grandson of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe, talks about his grandfather’s role in the battle.

“As the grandson of the Admiral Sir John Rushworth Jellicoe, my forebear’s role in the Battle of Jutland has always been in the background for me. But it wasn’t until I was tasked by my family to address what his role had actually been in the battle that I took a keen interest."

Nick Jellicoe stands by Lord Jellicoe's memorial in Trafalgar Square

Nick Jellicoe and the memorial to his grandfather in Trafalgar Square

"The history of the First World War tends to focus on the poetry, the agony of the trenches and the madness of it all. Quite often that has misplaced the importance of what was occurring on the seas, which was a quiet but very effective war. It was a different kind of war.”

At the outbreak of war in 1914, Nick Jellicoe’s grandfather was given the acting rank of admiral and took command of the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet based in the Orkney Islands.

Jellicoe's cautious approach was criticised by those who wanted a major battle against the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea. But a more aggressive policy was naturally a riskier one - Winston Churchill famously commented that Jellicoe was 'the only man on either side who could lose the war in an afternoon'.

In May 1916, the British and German fleets met for the only time during the war at the Battle of Jutland. Although Britain lost more ships, the German fleet sustained greater damage. British claims of victory were justified by the German decision to stay in port for the remainder of the war.

Lord Jellicoe

Sir John Jellicoe, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet at Jutland

Nick Jellicoe explains further: “The effects of Jutland were decisive. Despite the British Navy’s losses, the battle confirmed that we had supremacy of the seas to such a point that the German Navy had to throw its last card on the table – submarine warfare. This failed and can be ultimately perceived, along with other factors such as the demoralisation of their navy, to have brought on the collapse of Germany.

"Commemorating the Battle of Jutland, and my grandfather’s role in it, is very important to me. Jutland is particularly important because we are an island nation and we seem to have forgotten what the role of our Navy is all about. Just go to Trafalgar Square in London: the fact that it was rededicated in 1948 on Trafalgar Day to Jellicoe and his Vice Admiral at Jutland, David Beatty, is not known to most. Therefore, the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in 2016 for me is very important - we need to put the Navy back on the map."

Lord Jellicoe went on to become President of The Royal British Legion from 1928 to 1932. After this, he continued working with the Legion as Vice Patron.

 

JUTLAND 100

Download our special Jutland 100 commemorative toolkit to find out more about the historical battle.

You can also commemorate an individual who died during the battle by leaving a special message on our Every Man Remembered website - www.everymanremembered.org.uk. Help us to commemorate every man and woman who gave their lives during the First World War.

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