Account of Jocelyn Latham Storey at the Battle of Jutland

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Located in RNMN/MCWILLIAM in the Liddle Collection at the University of Leeds. Three sheets.


I must write and tell you all that happened and about the fight when the "QUEEN MARY" blew up. I had the most marvellous escape, and I can hardly realize now that it has all happened, it was truly awful.

x x x x x x x

The actual fight was something like this. We left Rosyth on Tuesday evening and steamed over towards the Danish coast. At about 3.50 we sounded off "Exercise Action" and all went to our turrets and tested through everything. We were the told [sic] that "A" and "Q" turrets' crews could go and get their tea. "Q" turret was my turret, the one amidships in the waists between the funnels. At 4.25 action was sounded and we all went to our stations and at twenty minutes to five the order was given "Load all guns". We all then realized that the real thing had come at last. At seven minutes to five we opened fire at 8¾ miles range at the third ship in the enemy's line and everything went beautifully till 5.21, when "Q" turret was hit by a big shell and the right gun put out of action. We continued firing with the left gun for two or three minutes and then a most awful explosion took place which broke the ship in half by the foremast, it was I believe a torpedo into one of the fore turret magazines. When the explosion took place, our left gun broke off outside the turret and the rear end fell into the working chamber;the right gun also slid down. The turret was filled with flying metal and several men were killed. A lot of cordite caught fire below me and blazed up, and several people were gassed. The men left and myself got to the ladder leading out of the turret and climbed quickly out. There was no panic and no shouting at all, the men were splendid heroes. Just as I got out of the turret and climbed over the funnels and masts which were lying beside the turret, and got off my coat and one shoe, another awful explosion occurred blowing me into the water, and the remaining part of the ship, the after part, blew up, "X" turret magazine going off. I was sucked down and down in the [Start of sheet 2] water, and swallowed pints, and a lot of oil, and gave up hope, but eventually got to the surface and got hold of a floating lifebelt. When I reached the surface there was nothing left of the ship except some wreckage and a few heads bobbing in the water.

After about five minutes the 5th B.S. passed me firing grandly, and all German shells were falling short and near us in the water. The swell they made in passing washed me under again, and then I got hold of a plank. About ten minutes later, a Division of our Destroyers passed and appeared not to see us, in reality they did and signalled for help, being unable to stop themselves. This was the worst part and a lot of people gave up hope and sank. I was again washed clear of my wood by the swell of these destroyers and went down a bit, but eventually got two bits of wood under my arms and was kept up.

H.M.S. "LAUREL" then turned up and lowered a boat and picked a lot of us up. Just before she had got all who were left she was ordered to make off at full speed as enemy cruisers and destroyers were closing in on onher her. We had to leave, and there were still about six left in the water, it was terrible to have to leave them there. We only got away just in time however not a minute to spare. When we were on board they were all very kind to us. The time was about 6 p.m. and we had just been half an hour in the water, oh how cold it was. From the time we were picked up to 2.40 a.m. the next morning, we were having Germans shells dropping near and around us. I was lying down almost too weak to stand, and it was awful waiting and wondering if we should be sunk, you see, all this time we were on the fringe of the night attack made by our destroyers.

At one period during the night a German cruiser and switched a searchlight on us, but we made a heavy smoke screen and she put it astern of us, and saw another destroyer one mile astern of us, and blew her out of the water with one salvo of shells. However we eventually got back to Rosyth at 8 p.m. on Thursday, and after writing reports, and seeing the Admirals, I was sent on [Start of sheet 3] indefinite leave, to be sent for when required up to about six weeks. I am now at home and awfully glad to be here.

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