Eastbourne war hero remembered 100 years later

James Charles Haizelden ... died while serving aboard HMS Black Prince at the Battle of Jutland in 1916
James Charles Haizelden ... died while serving aboard HMS Black Prince at the Battle of Jutland in 1916

With national and international commemorations to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland, Looking Back this week remembers Eastbourne resident James Charles Haizelden who died in the conflict.

Able Seaman Haizelden went down with the Black Prince during a sea battle with the German fleet in the North Sea off the coast of Denmark. He died on May 31 1916 and was aged just 22.

His name is on the war memorial at St John’s Church in Meads.

He was the son of James and Alice Haizelden who lived at 38 Meads Street and he attended Meads School.

In his newspaper obituary, the writer said that even in his schooldays Haizelden “displayed those characteristics which have valiantly upheld the credit of the British flag”.

The writer continues, “He was a member of the Meads CLB under Mr E Capon and subsequently he joined the local RNVR from which he transferred into the Navy about four and a half years ago.

“Haizelden came of a fighting stock, his father being an old sailor who served on a ship bearing one of the most famous names in the British Navy.

“Mr Haizelden senior was on board the Temeraire when Captain Michael Culme-Seymour forced the Dardanelles during the Russo-Turkish War in 1878.

“A fleet of six ships passed right through the straits and anchored within two miles of the walls of Constantinople, remaining there three weeks until the treaty of San Stefano was signed.

“Able Seaman Haizelden formerly played for the Meads School football team and for the RNVR.

“He was also a member of the Eastbourne Swimming Club.

“It was only last week that his parents received a letter saying he was coming home on leave and but for the battle would have been home on Tuesday.”

A letter to his family from the Admiralty in London dated November 29 1923, reads, “I am directed by my Lords Commissioner of the Admiralty to transmit to you the accompanying 1914-15 Star, British War medal and Victor Medal, which would have been conferred upon the above named had he lived in memory of his services with the British Forces during the Great War.

“In forwarding the decorations, I am commanded by the King to assure you of His Majesty’s high appreciation of the service rendered.”

The anniversary of the Battle of Jutland was commemorated on May 31 and June 1 2016.

The battle was the only major naval battle of the First World War and took place between the German High Sea Fleet and the British Grand Fleet. Officials say more than 6,000 British sailors lost their lives, although there was no clear winner in the battle.

On May 31 a British naval force commanded by Vice Admiral David Beatty spotted a German squadron of warships and confronted them some 75 miles off the Danish coast.

The two squadrons opened fire on each other simultaneously. This lasted around 55 minutes, during which time two British battle cruisers, HMS Indefatigable and HMS Queen Mary, were destroyed with the loss of 2,000 sailors.

The remainder of the German fleet and the Grand Fleet faced off in their entirety, and a great battle of naval strategy commenced.

As sections of the two fleets continued to engage each other throughout the evening and the early morning of June 1, 96 of the British ships were manoeuvred into a V-shape surrounding 59 German ships.

The German fleet withdrew under cover of darkness on the evening of June 1, thus ending the battle, and cheating the British of the major naval success envisioned.

The Battle of Jutland engaged a total of 100,000 men aboard 250 ships over the course of 72 hours.

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