The big guns: Arsenal of B98 German destroyer from World War One Battle of Jutland heads to Portsmouth

By Culture24 Reporter | 05 January 2015

A century after the Battle of Jutland, two guns from Orkney are about to form part of a powerful exhibition in Portsmouth

A photo of the large circular front of a first world war gun
This is what curators call the “business end” of the German B98 destroyer’s large deck gun, usually on display at the Scapa Flow Visitor Centre in the Orkney Islands, where the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet was based during World War One.

A black and white photo of a First World War warboat at sea
The B98 destroyer in action between Orkney and Germany© NMRN
In the 1916 Battle of Jutland, the B98 led the 2nd Flotilla of the German High Seas Fleet. The ship later went aground in the Bay of Lopness in Sanday, where parts of it can still be seen – the base plates of the hull survive, along with boilers and turbine casings.

A photo of the large circular front of a first world war gun
Wear and tear to the gun© NMRN
A century on, the gun is about to be loaned to Hampshire's National Museum of the Royal Navy alongside a smaller gun from HMS Opal, which took part in the battle as part of the 12th flotilla before being destroyed when she sailed straight into the cliffs at Hesta Rock, on Orkney’s South Ronaldsay, during a Dark Night Patrol navigational error in January 1918.

A photo of the large circular front of a first world war gun
Facing severe weather and poor visibility, Opal and her sister ship, HMS Narborough, were wrecked. There was only one survivor, with 188 casualties.

A photo of the large circular front of a first world war gun
One of the guns from HMS Narborough, HMS Opal's sister ship© NMRN
Jutland brought together the two most powerful naval fleets of the time in the pivotal maritime engagement of the war, with 6,000 British and 2,500 German personnel lost.

A photo of the large circular front of a first world war gun
“It will set the scene brilliantly at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard,” says Victoria Ingle, of the naval museum, who is overseeing a major First World War exhibition which the gun will stand outside of at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

“When our visitors walk through the gate they will be confronted by it and in no doubt how intense it was to be under constant fire from it.

A photo of the large circular front of a first world war gun
“The Battle of Jutland was all about the big guns and the clash between the two naval forces which saw them unleash their awesome power.

“This gun, and the smaller one we will have from HMS Opal, will be a fitting reminder of the huge human loss each side experienced as a result of the battle.”

  • 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle that Won the War will open to the public in May 2016. Tickets will be available online from February 1 2016. Visit

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Four museums to discover World War One at sea in

Scapa Flow Visitor Centre and Museum, Orkney
World War I displays include a propeller and other artifacts from HMS Hampshire, mined off Orkney in 1916 with the loss of Lord Kitchener and over 700 men. Guns salvaged from the German High Seas Fleet which was scuttled in Scapa Flow in 1919 form part of the display along with railway engines on tracks. There is a large photographic collection as well as objects on display inside, where you can see one of the pumps in action.

National Maritime Museum, London
Opening on May 20, the exhibition, Jutland: The Battle and its Legacies, places the battle within the wider context of the war, examining the action through content created with the grandson of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, the Commander of the British Grand Fleet. Visitors will learn of the battle and the experience of serving aboard British and German warships through paintings, photos, ship models and plans, sailor-made craft work, medals and eyewitness accounts. The exhibition will also cover the immediate aftermath of the battle, as well as the protracted controversies it generated which continue to this day.

Historic Dockyard Chatham
An award-winning maritime heritage destination with an impressive range of attractions, iconic buildings and historic ships to explore, as well as a programme of temporary exhibitions at the No.1 Smithery.

HMS Belfast, London
Explore HMS Belfast’s nine decks to discover the stories of life on board this warship during Arctic convoys, D-Day and beyond. Imagine sleeping in one of the tightly packed hammocks during duties in Arctic waters, or being stationed deep in the bowels of the ship when she opened fire in support of Allied troops on D-Day. Venture into the interactive Operations Room, and immerse yourself in the midst of battle in the Gun Turret Experience.
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