Springingtiger's Blog


Childhood Jutland Memories

So we are going to commemorate the Battle of Jutland. The expression ‘celebrate the centenary’ seems inappropriate when so many thousands of young men died. Many burned to death, many more drowned, trapped between the decks of their sinking ships. So many died that, at the time, the British people felt it was a defeat. It was a victory only because it kept the German fleet in port for the remainder of the war.

For me, as a child in the Fifties Jutland just had something to do with a gun. Coming up to the centenary of the battle I remembered that the gun I climbed on as a child had something to do with Jutland. I couldn’t remember the connection and so I looked it up. I had always thought that the submarine from which the gun in Ward Park in Bangor came, had been sunk at Jutland. Today I learned that the submarine U19 had been scrapped at the end of the war. Her gun was given to the people of Bangor County Down in recognition of the actions of Commander Edward Bingham at the Battle of Jutland.

I was quite excited to discover that the U19 had been the submarine who landed the Irish revolutionary hero Sir Roger Casement at Banna Strand in 1916. I hadn’t known that when I was swinging on the gun barrel or turning the various wheels that no longer performed a useful function. Personally for me the significance of 1916 lies in the Proclamation of The Irish Republic, but that gun reminds me that every event, everything is connected. Indeed were it not for the Battle of Jutland I wouldn’t have been able to  swing on the U19 gun. And had it not been for that memory I wouldn’t know of its connection with Sir Roger Casement. On the other hand the whole point of this piece has really been to share a happy childhood memory of Bangor in the Nineteen Fifties.

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