A Fylde casualty of the only full scale sea battle of the First World War is to be commemorated on the centenary of the incident.
Cpl First Class John Cottew Taylor died on board HMS Defence at the Battle of Jutland on May 31, 1916 and, as has been the custom at St Annes Parish Church to mark 100 years since the loss of the town’s Great war victims, a quarter peal of the church bells will be rung in his memory on Tuesday.
The Battle of Jutland, off the coast of Denmark, involved 250 combat ships and resulted in the loss of 14 British ships, 11 German ships and more than 8,600 men, including 903 on HMS Defence.
Cpl Taylor was born in County Durham in 1885 but at a young age, after the death of his parents, came with his younger brother Charles to live with his aunt, Mary Taylor, in Lightburne Avenue, St Annes.
In 1904, at 19, he enlisted in the Royal Marine Light Infantry and according to Parish Church server Gerald Wilson who along with his wife Fiona and others at the church, has carried out extensive research into the background of St Annes’ Great War victims, Cpl Taylor’s service record identifies some 15 ships on which he served before in 1915 he joined HMS Defence.
“HMS Defence was an armoured cruiser and was flagship of the First Cruiser Squadron in the British Grand Fleet,” said Gerald. “At Jutland, she was hit by two heavy salvoes in quick succession and disappeared in a roar of flame with the loss of all 903 souls on board.”
Cpl Taylor’s name is commemorated together with all his shipmates on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, which Gerald and Fiona Wilson visited earlier this year and laid a memorial cross on behalf of St Annes.
“Locally John is commemorated in the memorial window and on the memorial board at The Drive Methodist Church and also on the St Annes War Memorial in Ashton Gardens,” added Gerald.
Meanwhile, St Annes Royal British Legion will be marking the centenary of the Battle of Jutland by holding a Remembrance Service at the war memorial in Ashton Gardens on Tuesday at 2pm.
The branch’s monthly meeting, at the Gardens’ Pavilion cafe, will follow the service, and everyone is welcome to attend.