Hampshire And Dorset Mark Start Of WW1

5 August 2014, 12:52

A cannon has been fired off the Isle of Wight to mark the 100th anniversary of the first shot fired at sea by the Royal Navy in the First World War.

The gun salute was held at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes and included a sail past by the patrol vessel HMS Mersey.

A single cannon was fired before a one-minute silence was held to remember those who served in defence of the nation before a further cannon shot was fired to bring the remembrance event to a close.

The event was held to mark the first shot at sea which was fired from the gun of HMS Lance in the North Sea on August 5 1914.

The gun is now a permanent exhibit in the HMS - Hear My Story gallery at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

This year's Britannia Cup race, run by the Royal Yacht Squadron during Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week, is also being dedicated to the centenary of the Great War at sea.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, NMRN's director-general, said:

"It is commonly believed that the First World War was fought entirely in the trenches; however, our naval forces were engaged in battle across the world.

"Some 43,244 naval personnel lost their lives during the war. That single shot from HMS Lance signified the start of a campaign at sea that came at considerable human cost.

"Cowes Week is acknowledged the world over as one of the most prestigious sailing events and we are touched that the organisers and the Royal Navy join with us in marking this sombre and thought-provoking centenary in a time-honoured fashion.''

The Royal Yacht Squadron played an important supporting role during the First World War. Members who owned large steam yachts were quick to offer their vessels to the Admiralty when war was declared and 38 were requisitioned.

Once an owner had agreed to lend his yacht for the duration of the war, their vessel was taken to a naval dockyard - usually Portsmouth - to be fitted out for war service.

Valuable items were removed and replaced by guns, the decks were strengthened to take them and they were painted grey.

Of the 38 yachts, four were sunk by mines, one was lost in a collision, one was wrecked while chasing a submarine in heavy weather and all the others survived the war.

Four others yachts served as hospital ships and the club's headquarters - the castle at Cowes - was opened up to convalescent naval officers.

Last night, more than 100,000 street lights were dimmed across Hampshire and Dorset between 10 and 11pm.

Major traffic routes were exempt from the commemoration, and some specific street lights were switched off totally in the vicinity of organised Lights Out events, such as Winchester Cathedral and the War Memorial in Church Crookham.
There were also candlelit vigils in some towns and cities, including Winchester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

Also yesterday, an open air Civic Service to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, and to remember all those who lost their lives, took place in Bournemouth at 10.45am at The Waterfront events space, Pier Approach, led by Reverend Dr Ian Terry, Bournemouth Town Centre Rector, with The Mayor of Bournemouth Councillor Chris Mayne and the Mayor’s Chaplain, Councillor Roger Marley. 

Princess Anne was on the Isle of Wight - visiting the chapel at Carisbrooke Castle in Newport for a vigil at 11pm.

Portsmouth FC revealed their new home shirt will feature the names of more than 1,400 fans, who lost their lives fighting in the war.

The 'Pompey Pals' made up two battalions of the Hampshire Regiment and most were recruited at Fratton Park.

Pompey's commercial and marketing manager Micah Hall said:

“We are delighted with the kit and are sure the fans will love it.

“As a city with a rich military history, it was very important that we honour the anniversary of World War One.

“The idea for the shirt came during a conversation with local historian and Pompey fan Bob Beech about how to honour the Pals.

"We are delighted to also be hosting the Pompey Pals memorial that Bob has pioneered and which will be officially unveiled at noon on Monday.”