For 100 years, no one has heard the sound of the guns from the Battle of Jutland, but on 1 June 2016 one of them will be heard again. A gun from the light cruiser Rostock has been salvaged after 100 years at the bottom of the North Sea and will be used as a salute gun, when the centenary of the battle is marked in Thyborøn, and a memorial park for the 8645 victims is inaugurated.
The Battle of Jutland took place off the west coast of Jutland on 31 May and 1 June 1916. The ships were not visible from the coast, but the thunder of the guns could be heard, and this forms a major theme in the Danish marking of the centenary. A total of 25 ships were sunk during the Battle of Jutland, and whenever a ship went down, a salute will be fired.
The Royal Danish Navy will fire a salute 31 May at 15.05 local time to mark the beginning of the battle, and then the gun from Rostock will take over. At 17.05 it will fire a salute to mark the sinking of the first ship, after which the salutes will continue regularly throughout the evening and the night until 1 June at 09.45, when the last ship went down.
One of the salutes will be fired in honour of SMS Rostock, which was scuttled by its own crew at 5.25 in the morning after a serious torpedo hit from a British destroyer. Before that, Rostock had fired about 500 shots from its 4 in guns, and it is one of these guns that has been salvaged and now will be used for saluting.
A significant part of the two-day commemoration will be the inauguration of a Memorial Park for the Battle of Jutland next to the new Sea War Museum in Thyborøn. Here, there will be no difference between friend and foe. German and British sailors are commemorated equally, and for each sunken ship a granite stone formed like a ship's bow rises from the surrounding sand. The park covers an area of 20,000 square meters, and over time all 8645 perished sailors will be remembered with a sculpture each. At present, the first 170 sculptures have been raised.
The Memorial Park will be inaugurated on 1 June by two people, who both grew up in the shadow of the Battle of Jutland: Nick Jellicoe, grandson of the British commander, Admiral John Jellicoe, and his German counterpart, Reinhard Scheer-Hennings, grandson of the German commander, Admiral Reinhard Scheer. Both attach great importance to the fact that the Memorial Park makes no distinction between German and British sailors.
The two-day event will follow a comprehensive programme, which also features participation from the Danish, British and German navies.