THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: Memories of Jutland as warships moor at Bangor

From the News Letter, June 18, 1931

British Navy battleships during the Battle of Jutland 1916
British Navy battleships during the Battle of Jutland 1916

The two great battleships Malaya and Warspite which were lying anchor six or seven hundred yards off Bangor had arrived during the morning of the previous day on a “showing the flag’’ visit Northern Ireland, reported the News Letter.

They battleships were to be “thrown open” to the public for inspection under expert guides.

The News Letter reported: “For the next few days the familiar blue and gold of the Navy will seen in Bangor and Belfast, and a number of Ulstermen who belong to the ships will able to engage in pleasant family reunions.”

The News Letter continued: “These steel monsters Bangor Bay gave one comfortable sense of security and not unreasonable pride of race. While Ulster is closely identified with the Army, her people have always had a real affection for the Senior Service, and the officers and creaks of these two battleships are assured of a very hearty welcome.”

Warspite flew the flag of Rear-Admiral Wilfred Frankland French, CMG, an Irishman, born in Queenstown, Co Cork.

Of Rear-Admiral French the News Letter noted: “He is a jolly-looking man with a real sailor’s smile. In his profession he is regarded as man of some considerable merit and he has fine naval record. He was formerly on HMS Hood, and has pleasant memories of his last visit to Ulster a few years ago. Captain Wake is flag captain of the Warspite and chief staff-officer to the Rear-Admiral.”

Meanwhile the News Letter of the battleships: “The first Warspite of the British Navy was built 1596 and Captain Wake’s ship is the seventh of that name, and with the Nelson, the Rodney, the Malaya and the Valiant, she is member of the Second Battle Squadron, Atlantic Fleet, and was re-commissioned at Portsmouth 23rd January, 1929. She was one of the first battleships to use oil fuel only. She carries eight 15-inch guns, twelve 6-inch mine, four 4-inch anti-aircraft, guns and four 3-pounders. The ship’s company is 1,300 strong and she cost £3,000,000 to build and equip.”

Members of the Royal Ulster Yacht club were “interesting” themselves in the visit of the battleships, and to provide the men with “attractive recreation” have arranged a series of tug-o-war contests for the Friday and Saturday of the visit. On Friday at 5pm, an “eight men 110 stone” team from Warspite was to meet a similar team from the Royal Ulster Constabulary. The winner of the event would be required to meet a team from the Malaya at 6pm.

On the Saturday at 5.30pm, the Royal Ulster Yacht Club were promoting an “inter-ship” tug-o-war contest between the Malaya and Warspite,

“The winning team will received a handsome silver cup,” reported the News Letter.