independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

History project focus on battleship

An appeal has been issued to find veterans and relatives of those who served on First World War battleship HMS Caroline

Relatives of those who served on First World War battleship HMS Caroline have been encouraged to help bring the historic vessel back to life.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NRMN), which owns the last survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland, wants servicemen's relatives to contribute to an oral history currently being compiled on the ship.

NMRN director general Professor Dominic Tweddle said: "Many of us breathed a huge sigh of relief and following our collective efforts to rescue this magnificent piece of history, we want to bring Caroline back to life and collect as many stories from relatives of those who served on her and possibly actual veterans themselves."

HMS Caroline has been berthed at Alexandra Dock in Belfast since 1924 and was recently saved from scrap.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund pledged £1 million for restoration which is expected to be completed in time for the centenary of the Battle of Jutland in 2016.

Stormont Tourism Minister Arlene Foster said her department would also contribute £100,000 towards the redevelopment.

Ms Foster added: "HMS Caroline is a strong and distinctive part of Belfast's Titanic Quarter and it is important that the full story is told. So many people from different walks of life will have had a connection with the ship, whether themselves or through a family member, during the 99 years of its life. If these memories can be recorded, they will add to what is already a rich tapestry of maritime history in Northern Ireland."

HMS Caroline was built at Birkenhead in 1914 and was one of the fastest warships of its time. It is the last survivor of the Grand Fleet that fought at Jutland. Caroline came to Belfast in 1924 and acted as a floating administrative base in the Second World War.

It was decommissioned as the Headquarters of the Ulster Division of the Royal Naval Reserve in March 2011.

Anyone with information relevant to the oral history is asked to contact the National Museum of Royal Navy through the Friends of Caroline organisation by emailing Pete Bleakley on pete@bigdukesix.co.uk.

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