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Grandson of World War One Admiral visits HMS Caroline in Belfast

Nick Jellicoe at HMS Caroline in Belfast

Nick Jellicoe, grandson of the Admiral who commanded the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet in 1916, says the complete restoration of HMS Caroline in Belfast would create one of the most significant World War One commemoration projects in the world.

The fast light cruiser played a lead role in the 1916 Battle of Jutland in which the Royal Navy forced the German Imperial Navy to retreat to port.

Jellicoe, who made his first visit to Belfast to see the Caroline before restoration work begins, now lives in Switzerland. He says he was deeply moved to step on board the historic fighting ship which is moored in Alexandra Dock.

“If Caroline can help tell the story of just why Jutland was so important in the first place and tell it in a way that engages a younger generation and sparks new interest, then she will have served a very much higher cause.

“We have a chance to re-tell some chapters of history, not only of the battle but through her later role in the Royal Navy Reserves. It is absolutely essential that a strong communications role be developed for Caroline in the upcoming World War One centenary commemorations and that she contributes and pays her way to helping the rebirth of Belfast through educational tourism.”  

The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth, which is now responsible for the decommissioned Caroline, has secured a National Heritage Memorial Fund grant of £1.1m to pay for repairs to prevent any further deterioration.

A joint application by NMRN and the Northern Ireland Department for Enterprise Trade and Investment for a major grant was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund late last year. This has resulted in a further £845,000 being made available as a Round One grant to develop the plans further. The successful outcome of the Round Two application would see £14m being used to fully preserve, restore and open the ship to the public in time for the Jutland centenary on May 31 2016.   

“I am very happy indeed that Caroline may be the way through which a whole generation can re-discover their history. Caroline played a significant part in a very significant battle but has also had a long, honourable relationship with Belfast so it is fitting that she remains there,” says Jellicoe.

Jellicoe is currently writing a book about the Battle of Jutland. His grandfather, Admiral of the Fleet, John Rushworth Jellicoe, the First Earl Jellicoe, commanded the Grand Fleet at the battle.

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