Nelson & His World

Discussion on the life and times of Admiral Lord Nelson
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 Post subject: 200th Anniversary of the sinking of St George and Defence
PostPosted: Fri Sep 16, 2011 10:21 am 
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Some little while ago I was asked by Nick Slope, Chairman of the Nelson Society, if I would attend the above ceremony in Denmark on behalf of the Society, as he unable to be present. I have accepted.

The Commemorative Service begins at 10.00am on Saturday 24th September, at Sdr. Nissum Church, where after a short service, wreaths will be layed at the stone in the churchyard which marks the grave of 60 of the approximately 1,400 men who perished on the coast of Jutland on 24th December 1811. The Commemoration then continues at the Memorial Stone on the beach at Dead Men’s Dunes, Thorsminde, where second wreaths are to be layed and short speeches made. These will be given by the Mayor of Holstebro, the British Naval attaché, a representative of the Danish Navy, myself, representing the Nelson Society, and a representative from the Friends of the Strandings Museum. I shall be laying both of the Nelson Society wreaths, and there will be a piper attending. At midday gun salutes will be fired, by a Danish warship off Thorsminde and returned by a group in costume and firing period cannon.

A special lunch will then be given in the Strandings Museum and further gun salutes will affectively close the Commemoration at 2pm. Thereafter, there will be a band concert by the Danish Navy Band, and a demonstration of lifsaving and rescue procedures, which will apparently involve a helicopter and the lifeboat, to round off the day. My wife and I will most likely forgo the proceedings after the actual ceremony, and instead spend the afternoon in the Museum looking at the artefacts from the wrecks, and meeting some of the Friends, including Erik Ritter and Gert Normann Andersen. Many of you may remember that they kept us informed on this site, during the crisis over the Petition for a separate Strandings Museum. Amongst other enquiries, I hope to be be asking them about the current situation.

Lotta and I have been found comfortable accomodation right next to the Museum, and dinner has kindly been offered to us by Erik and his wife on the Friday evening, the day we arrive. I get the impression we will be well looked after! We will be returning to Sweden on the following Monday, so there should be ample time to revisit the Museum, and to see something of Thorsminde itself. I am certainly looking forward to this, and can only hope that the weather is at least reasonable. I have been assured that contingency plans have been made, should the weather not co-operate – although it would, of course, be in keeping with the historic event itself. At the moment it is not too good, with rain and strong winds, the tale end we’re told of Hurricane Irene, so I imagine Denmark has similar weather. I shall be taking a mac and a brolly, just in case – although the latter might not be such a good idea if the winds remain strong!

Incidentally, October’s Nelson Dispatch should contain at least two articles on the tragedy. One will be about the drama surrounding the sinking of the St George and Defence; the other concerns the artefacts, and their discovery and raising by the Strandings Museum. Nick has suggested this should be a special ’themed’ edition.

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 Post subject: Re: 200th Anniversary of the sinking of St George and Defence
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 9:49 am 
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Devenish wrote:
Incidentally, October’s Nelson Dispatch should contain at least two articles on the tragedy. One will be about the drama surrounding the sinking of the St George and Defence; the other concerns the artefacts, and their discovery and raising by the Strandings Museum. Nick has suggested this should be a special ’themed’ edition.
Three issues in a row, Kester - Well done, great stuff! I am also in touch with Nick Slope about the 'themed' edition...

I look forward to your report on next week's Commemoration and wish you every success with the brolly :)

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Tony


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 Post subject: Re: 200th Anniversary of the sinking of St George and Defence
PostPosted: Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:29 am 
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Tony,

Ok, you guessed, but only one of the two articles is mine. (To paraphrase Oscar Wilde: one is acceptable, but I think two a bit over the top). The other is from Erik Ritter, and I'll leave you to work out which is which! It will also be good to have something from the Danish angle.
Tony wrote:
I am also in touch with Nick Slope about the 'themed' edition...

I look forward to your report on next week's Commemoration and wish you every success with the brolly :)

Nick said that another article was to be included! :wink:

I'll write a report for WON on the Commemoration, and will probably contribute one for the Dispatch, together with a few photographs. I'm hoping that the mere sight of the mac and brolly will do the trick, and frighten the bad weather away! :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: 200th Anniversary of the sinking of St George and Defence
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 1:17 pm 
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Location: Stockholm, Sweden
My wife and I returned from the Commemoration Weekend, as outlined above, on Monday 26th September, and after a most eventful and memorable few days. We were initially met on our arrival on the previous Friday afternoon just outside the Strandings Museum, by Gert Normann Andersen, and Svend Nielsen from the Friends association. We were shown our comfortable accomodation, which is only a few minutes walk from the Museum, before Gert took us for dinner at the house of Erik Ritter, another of the Friends, and where we were introduced to both him and their wives.

After a dinner, during which the conversation switched between things nautical and things not, we retired to another room and discussed both the ceremony the following day, and the Museum itself. Gert produced some drawings of the proposed extension of the museum, which will virtually double the size of the existing exhibition space. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this, from our perspective, will be the provision of a tower to house the rudder from the St. George, in a vertical position as if hung from the ship’s sternpost, with viewing galleries at various heights. Part of the proposed new development is for a major exhibition to be devoted to the Battle of Jutland in 1916, fought in the North Sea just off the Danish coast.

The proceedings on the following Saturday were much as outlined in my previous post. The day, mercifully turned out bright and sunny (the mac and brolly remained firmly behind!) and proceedings began at Sdr. Nissum church, south of Thorsminde. The service included an address by the Priest Jakob Sandal, relating the saga of the sinking of the St. George and Defence, and the reading of the Royal Naval Prayer by Commander Martin Smith, the British Naval Attaché. Outside in the churchyard, wreaths were then laid beside the stone marking the grave of sixty of the drowned seamen. These were placed by the Mayor of Holstebro, on behalf of the town and locality, Commander Martin Smith for the Royal Navy, Captain Gorm Bergquist for the Royal Danish Navy, myself, on behalf of the Nelson Society, and Ronald Pedersen for the Friends of Strandings Museum. Bagpipe music, ably provided by piper Glen Gillespie, added to the solemnity of the occasion.

After this short service, we then proceeded by car to the memorial stone at Thorsminde, which is placed directly opposite the spot where the St. George was wrecked. Here proceedings began with a piece played on the trumpet by a musician from the Prince’s Music Corps, followed by the hymn ’Nearer my God to Thee’. Second wreaths were then laid, by the same representatives, and the speeches were made. (The full text of mine I will include in my report to the Nelson Society, which will most likely appear in the January 2012 Nelson Dispatch.) On their conclusion, ’Amazing Grace’ was played by piper Glen Gillsepie, again followed by a another hymn. All then made their way to the beach on the other side of the road, off which the St. George was wrecked. A salute was then to have been fired from a Danish warship off Thorsminde, but unfortunately the vessel had not turned up and the museum was given no explanation for her non-appearance! Luckily the Friends had somehow learned of this before the ceremony (although, seemingly not from the navy!) so it was not the complete disappointment it might have been. A salute was then ’returned’ from the beach by the Aurora Kanonlaug, a display team dressed in period seamen’s costume, and with a period cannon. (I’m not sure how old the cannon actually was , but it looked of some antiquity, which was probably why they fired it using reduced charges!) The salute finished, they all then partook of something from a bottle, which was probably reason enough for the whole procedure!

The formal proceedings over, all then retired to the Strandings Museum for a lunch and a few more speeches. I had been seated next to Solveig Ashton, wife of David Ashton, a former member of the Nelson Society who sadly died last year. Naturally we spoke of David, but I was most surprised by her Cumbrian accent. At 14.00 another salute was fired by the Aurora team - and another tipple was enjoyed by the members of the crew on its completion! The remainder of the afternoon was taken up with rescue displays by helicopter, and a rocket firing line demonstration. Outside the museum, a band concert was given by the Prince’s Music Corps.

However, I was rather more interested in seeing the exhibits inside the museum, which had free entry for the day. These ranged from an impressive diorama model of the St. George during the stranding, to salvaged cannon, and personal items recovered from the wreck site. These were all most interesting, and there were some good videos showing the diving on the wreck and artefacts being recovered from it. I returned the following day, and found other sections I had missed previously. Perhaps the most impressive item is the original rudder from the St. George, which is temporarily housed in a separate building. It is of course very similar to the Victory’s rudder, so if you can imagine that lying on its side, this was what I was looking at - apart from the damage caused when it was wrenched off of the ship.

It is hoped that the new museum extension, shown to me by Gert on the drawings, will be opened in 2016, on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. I understand that there have been discussions with the German and British authorities, with the proposal that the Strandings Museum have a major permanent exhibition about the battle. It should be most interesting on completion and is sure to bring in many more visitors. I was told that visitor numbers were one of the Museum’s greatest problems, especially from abroad, but I would think that the Jutland exhibition will create a significant interest, certainly from many individuals and groups in England. This is likely to create increased visitor numbers in the future.

Later, on both the Saturday and the Sunday afternoons, Lotta and I spent some time walking on the beach in the welcome sunshine, and on the Monday morning, the day of our departure, Gert kindly showed us around the premises of his diving company in Holstebro. They specialise in laying deep sea cables of all types, and in marine diving. This suitably rounded off our trip to Thorsminde, and we are indebted to Gert, Erik, Svend, and others of the Friends for making us feel really welcome, and ensuring that our stay was so pleasurable. I am sure we will be returning at a future date.
Attachment:
File comment: Gravestone, Sdr. Nissum Church
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Attachments:
File comment: Memorial Stone, Thorsminde
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StGeorge_memoria.JPG [ 73.25 KiB | Viewed 4908 times ]
File comment: Rudder of the St. George
StGeorge_rudder.JPG
StGeorge_rudder.JPG [ 65.01 KiB | Viewed 4908 times ]

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Kester.
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 Post subject: Re: 200th Anniversary of the sinking of St George and Defence
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:24 pm 
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Many thanks, Kester, for that most interesting post.

Many of us will recall that it was Kester who brought to our attention the threat to the Museum some time ago and we were able to mobilise support and a petition through this website. It is good to know that all is progressing well and I hope Kester will pass on our good wishes to his contacts.

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Anna


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 Post subject: Re: 200th Anniversary of the sinking of St George and Defence
PostPosted: Tue Oct 04, 2011 2:55 pm 
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Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Anna,

I will certainly do so.

With regard to the situation regarding the museum and the hope to be 'self-standing', post the petition, there has been some movement, on the reorganisation of the museums in Denmark. I fear however, that it is not exactly what the Friends of Strandings Museum wanted. I will try and see if either Gert or Erik can give a report direct to us here WON, as I am sure we would all be interested to know what has happened so far and what the situation now is.

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