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Special service held to honour war heroes

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Governor George Fergusson has paid tribute to two sailors with strong Bermuda ties that perished in the infamous Battle of Jutland during the First World War.

Mr Fergusson's comments came as a special service was held in Orkney on Tuesday to mark the centenary of the largest naval battle of the two-day conflict, in which more than 8,500 British and German servicemen died.

“Bermuda's links to the sea and the Royal Navy are part of its historic identity,” said Mr Fergusson. “Tuesday's anniversary of the biggest naval battle of the First World War, at Jutland, is a reminder of that and of Bermuda's sacrifices in times of war.

“Two Bermuda-linked Petty Officers, Walter Ernest Newton, and George Temple, born in Somerset and later of Portsmouth, England, were killed on 31 May, in HMS Fortune and HMS Invincible respectively.

“Their deaths and those of more than 6,000 Royal Navy colleagues and 2,500 German counterparts, were marked on Tuesday at a ceremony in the Orkney Islands, where the Royal Navy fleet was based.

“The first Bermudian casualty of the First World War was also in the Royal Navy; William Edmund Smith of Sandys Parish, on HMS Aboukir in September 1914.”

Petty Officer Temple was born in Bermuda on December 31, 1879. His father had also served in the Royal Navy and it is believed that is why Petty Officer Temple was born on the island.

He went on to live in the naval city of Portsmouth in England and was 37 when he died in the Battle of Jutland.

Meanwhile, little is known about Petty Officer Newton's Bermuda links, although the Commonwealth War Graves Commission states that he was “son of Walter John and Ellen Maria Newton of Bermuda, late of Portsmouth and husband of Ellen Newton, Whitworth Road, Alverstoke, Gosport.”

Mr Fergusson added: “On a more personal note, my great-uncle, James Fergusson, served at Jutland on HMS Thunderer, and survived to serve in the Navy in Bermuda in the 1920s; and a cousin of that generation, Alexander Boyle, served in the battle in the New Zealand ship HMS New Zealand.

“My guess is that very many Bermudians would find, if they have access to their family history, or talk to some of their older relations, that they had links to this battle. It was a crucial battle in the war, but the loss of life was appalling; and the conditions must have been grim and terrifying.”

Fierce combat: more than 8,500 people lost their lives in the two-day Battle of Jutland
Remembering the fallen: a special service was held this week to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland
Crucial attack: the Battle of Jutland

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Published June 02, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated June 02, 2016 at 9:01 am)

Special service held to honour war heroes

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