Were lives wasted when the Indefatigable sank?
On 31 May 1916 the largest naval battle of the First World War took place off the coast of Jutland in Denmark. Over 6,000 British sailors lost their lives.
These high losses were partly due to the unexpected sinking of three large battleships which were designed to take heavy hits without sinking. At the time the sailors who died were heralded as gallant comrades who died gloriously in battle. However, some historians believe that most of these sailors died because people made careless mistakes.
- What is the sailor's full name?
- What was his date and place of birth?
- What job did the sailor do before joining the Navy?
- When did he join the Navy?
- How old was he when he joined up?
- How many ships did he serve on?
- What ship did he die on and when?
- Does the service record give any information on why HMS Indefatigable sank?
1. Look at Source 1. First, find out the following information from the service record of a sailor involved in the battle:
- How according to the telegram was the Indefatigable sunk?
- Was the Indefatigable the only ship to be sunk by this means?
- What is the ship's Magazine? (Hint: It is not a publication!)
2. Look at Source 2. This is a telegram reporting on the sinking of the Indefatigable.
- Is any reason for the 'severe losses' given in this statement?
- What does the Navy think of the men who died?
- Is there any sign of the Navy being concerned at the reasons for the losses of these ships?
3. Look at Source 3. This is a public statement made by the Navy on the loss of the Indefatigable.
- What 'deduction' was made about why the Indefatigable exploded?
- Charges are explosives. What was wrong with the way the charges were carried to the guns?
- What other factor contributed to the explosion?
- Was the death of Joseph John Ackrill and countless others on the Indefatigable:
- an unnecessary loss?
- Explain your answer.
- Write a newspaper report based on one of the following headlines.
- The sinking of the Indefatigable: A glorious and noble sacrifice for the defence of King and country
- Indefatigable goes down! Lives wasted due to mistakes made on board ship