From Battle of Jutland Crew Lists Project
Navy News Issue Month / Year Page Index
560 March 2001 6 Navy News
Narrative Image Comments
Coal dust,
not cordite
caused explosions
WITH reference to the interesting letter on unexplained naval
disasters (January issue), the explosion of HMS Vanguard was
mentioned as having occurred at Chatham in 1917.
It actually happened at Scapa
Flow, early in the middle watch on
July 9, 1917 when the Grand Fleet
was anchored there.
Readers may he interested to
know that it was later attributed to
an explosion of cordite in the
magazine of a 12in turret, believed
to be No X, that traditionally
manned by the Royal Marines.
The storage of cordite was an
ever-present hazard in those days.
It is said rumours of sabotage were
allowed to spread because the
Admiralty thought it better for the
men's morale!
Some idea of the force of the
explosion may be realised from the
fact that 150lbs bags of flour were
found three quarters of a mile
inland - that is, one and a half
miles from where the Vanguard
was anchored.
My father, Cecil Blunt, was at
the time a 19-year-old 2nd
Lieutenant of Royal Marine
Artillery on board and had had
charge of X turret at the Battle of
Jutland because his superior was
ill with sciatica at the time.
His luck held this time, too, as
he was one of ten officers from
Vanguard who were on their way
back from a concert party in HMS
Royal Oak when the explosion
Only they and the picket boat's
crew of four were saved apart from
two other ratings who were lifted
from the water alive. Over 700
men perished - A.C. Blunt,
Sharpthorne, West Sussex
Blunt, Cecil Henry William
Lieutenant RMA
Navy News Issue Month / Year Page Index
560 March 2001 7 Navy News
Narrative Image Comments
Duchess made
'every stitch'
of Ensign
I AM trying to discover whether the Duchess of Albany did indeed make the White
Ensign that the battleship HMS Neptune bore into battle at Jutland in 1916.
Her daughter, Princess
Alice, Countess of Athlone,
claimed in a 1966 book that the
Duchess, a daughter-in-law of
Queen Victoria, had made
"every stitch" of it. But I've
been unable to find another
reference to the royal gift.
At the outbreak of World War
1 the battleship HMSNeptune
was presented with a White
Ensign by one of the senior
houses at Roedean School.
The Ensign is on display by
the entrance to the school chapel
today. Could it have been the
Roedean Ensign that snapped in
the breeze at Jutland and not the
Duchess of Albany's? - S.
Webbe, Esher, Surrey.

Possibly both did. Roedean
School confirms that an ensign
was presented to HMS
Neptune at that time - along
with three more, to HMS
Hercules, Canterbury and
Collingwood. In action, a ship
also wears a battle ensign, or
several of the same, to ensure
that the colours remain flying
whatever the damage received.
The Duchess of Albany was the
widow of Queen Victoria's
haemophiliac son Prince
Leopold. - Ed.

Navy News Issue Month / Year Page Index
560 March 2001 30 Navy News
Narrative Image Comments
br>DAVID Harvey spent a staggering 36 years writing his magis- terial two volume guide to VC headstones and memorials Monuments to Courage.

Available from sole distributor P. da Costa at 124 Oatlands Drive, Weybridge, Surrey KT13 9HL. the set costs a fairly monumental £75 plus £6.50pp - but all proceeds go to the Royal Star & Garter Home for Disabled Ex-Servicemen at Richmond. Himself badly disabled and confined to a wheelchair after a hit-and-run accident in 1992. the author has pinpointed the final resting places of all but a few of the 1,322 recipients of the highest award for gallantry - including hundreds laying in unmarked graves around the world. The catalogue is embellished with over 5,000 photographs and a wealth of fascinating detail. A typical entry - for the Boy VC Jack Cornwell - is shown here.