Monday, 4 January 2010

The Battle of Jutland

William Millington was one of 81 men injured when HMS Princess Royal (above) was hit by the Derfflinger on 31st May 1916

The Battle of Jutland was the greatest naval battle of the 1st world war and involved the German High Seas Fleet taking on the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet in the sea between South Norway and Denmark. Both sides claimed victory and both occurred heavy losses. The British lost 14 ships including 3 battle cruisers and 6094 men whilst Germany lost 11 ships and 2551men.

Jutland is described as the largest and last great battle between fleets of battle cruisers, with very little use of planes or submarines. It largely took place throughout the day and night of 31st May 1916.

The HMS Princess Royal was one of the first ships to be hit by German fire at Jutland. It was hit in the early hours of the 31st May by a German battle cruiser called Derfflinger. Fortunately Princess Royal did not sink but 22 men were killed and 81 injured from a crew of 907.

HMS Princess Royal was more fortunate than another ship, HMS Indefatigable which was hit 3 minutes after Princess Royal and blew up in the water killing all but 4 of her 1017 crew.

Like many aspects of the 1st world war the tactics of the Battle of Jutland were retrospectively questioned by both sides due to the heavy loss of ships and men for very little gain. Following Jutland the Germans put much greater emphasis on stealthful submarine warfare as opposed to firing heavy shells at close range across the sea’s surface.

What became of William?

We have no information presently about the extent of William’s injuries at Jutland. He left the navy on 22nd March 1919. I am grateful once again to my father’s cousin Brian Millington for sharing his research about William’s marriage. William married Annie Jones on 2nd September 1905, at Birmingham Register Office. According to the marriage certificate William Joseph Millington was 30 years old and Annie was 24. William’s occupation was Stoker, Royal Navy and at the time of his marriage he was residing at 5 Wheeleys Lane, Birmingham (also in Lee Bank), as was Annie. William’s father was John Millington, a general labourer and Annie’s father was Thomas Jones, a railway shunter. The marriage was witnessed by William’s younger brother Terence and his wife Phoebe (my great grandparents). From the evidence of the photograph of William in his Naval uniform, we can guess that William and his wife had a baby in 1905 because this was when he was stationed on HMS Racer.

Millingtons in the 1911 Census

A record from the 1911 Census may shed further light on William's family. Living at 1 House Court 1 Hollier Street in Birmingham in 1911 were:

William Millington, head of family, married for 5 years, aged 35, born in 1876 in Birmingham, Sailor

Annie Millington, wife, aged 30, born 1881 in Birmingham, a Press Worker Picture Hooks Etc

Phyliss Millington, aged 3, daughter, born in 1908 in Birmingham

Edna J, daughter, aged 2, born in 1909 in Birmingham

Lillian M R, daughter, aged 0 (2 MONTHS), born 1911 in Birmingham

According to the Millington online archive the birth of a Phyllis Aurora Millington was registered in Aston in the September quarter of 1907, an Edna Joan S Millington registered in Aston in the September quarter of 1908 and a Lilian M R Millington registered in Aston in the March quarter of 1911.

Further to this, a Lilian M R Millington married Francis J O'Coy in Birmingham in the December quarter of 1937.


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