Pupils from Burnhaven Primary School paid tribute to those who fought and fell at the Battle of Jutland during a three day all-expenses paid trip to Orkney.
The nine pupils and two teachers, from the Peterhead school, travelled to the islands on June 1st to June 3rd, after winning first place in Legion Scotland (Royal British Legion Scotland)’s annual primary school competition.
During their time on the islands they visited key landmarks and locations including Scapa Flow, Britain’s main naval based during World War One where seven battleships still lie today, the Italian Chapel and Hoxa Defensive battery.
The children aged nine and ten also paid tribute to those who lost their lives during the biggest naval battle of WWI by laying commemorative crosses at the Royal Naval Cemetery Lyness.
More than 6000 British personnel and 2500 Germans died in on May 31st, 1916 during the Battle of Jutland which took place in the North Sea near Denmark 100 years ago.
Christian Ritchie, Teacher, Burnhaven Primary School, said: “Going on the trip brought all the stories, photographs and reports the pupils had collated as part of their research to life. Being able to see the shipwrecks and visit the cemetery really brought home the human collateral of the battle. This was a once-in-a-lifetime school trip that we will all remember for the rest of our lives.”
Funded by Co-operative Funeralcare and The Scottish Government, the annual competition, run by Scotland’s largest veteran’s membership charity, challenged P5, P6 and P7 pupils to use their imaginations and produce a newspaper article about life on board a First World War battleship.
Burnhaven’s entry, which reported the story of the British fleet sailing into Scapa Flow after engaging in the Battle of Jutland off the Danish coast, received 28% of the 5,000 public votes cast, along with the votes of the final judges securing them the top place – and the trip to Orkney.
Kevin Gray MM, Chief Executive Officer of Legion Scotland, said: “The aim of our annual primary school competition is to challenge children to think about their past, and appreciate how the World Wars affected not just those who fought but also their families, and the towns and cities in which we now live. By visiting the many historic locations on the Islands of Orkney, the trip not only put all the research the children did into context, it gave them lasting memories to pass on to their friends and families.
“We would like to thank Co-operative Funeralcare and The Scottish Government for their continued sponsorship of the competition, and our gratitude to Loganair who provided two return tickets from Aberdeen to Kirkwell for free.”
Lesley van Dyk, Community Support Manager for Co-op Funeralcare, said: “We’re so pleased to have been able to support this competition. Our colleagues are passionate about commemorating our fallen heroes, and hold regular remembrance services and activities across Scotland to ensure they are never forgotten.
“We’d like to say well done to the winners of this year’s competition, and we hope that their trip to Orkney has given them life experiences which they will be able to carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
Trevor Royle, Legion Scotland primary school competition judge, and member of the WW1 Commemoration Panel, added: “From an excellent group of entries Burnhaven Primary School emerged as deserved winners with their newspaper report describing the battle of Jutland. Well researched and vividly realised, the writing captures all the facets of naval warfare in 1916 – from the clash of the great battle fleets to the efforts of the mine-sweeping steam drifters.”
Legion Scotland is the largest ex-service membership charity in Scotland working at the heart of the veterans’ community. With nearly 170 branches, 70 clubs and over 31,000 members, Legion Scotland provides essential wellbeing and befriending services for all veterans – whether they left service yesterday or 50 years ago – as well as providing disablement pension advice, comradeship events, grants and remembrance services.
Currently, Legion Scotland represents around 85% of people at the disablement pensions tribunals each year and offers grants for veterans’ and their families.
Legion Scotland is the day-to-day name for the Royal British Legion Scotland and whilst it works alongside Poppyscotland and The Royal British Legion to deliver the best for veterans it has always been a separate charity from The Royal British Legion which operates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.