WWI naval battle Hastings victim honoured after grave identified

Harry Gasson's relatives and Royal Navy representatives honour the seaman who died during the Battle of Jutland. Photo courtesy of MOD
Harry Gasson's relatives and Royal Navy representatives honour the seaman who died during the Battle of Jutland. Photo courtesy of MOD
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A seaman from Hastings was finally honoured yesterday (Tuesday, May 31) 100 years after the major naval battle of World War One which killed him.

The grave of Royal Navy able seaman (AB) Harry Gasson was re-dedicated with a new headstone at a service with his family in Denmark on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.

An old picture of Harry Gasson with his family. Photo courtesy of MOD

An old picture of Harry Gasson with his family. Photo courtesy of MOD

AB Gasson was finally named as the last unknown victim of the battle a century after his death on May 31, 1916.

The seaman from Ore’s great-niece Barbara Pritchard and great-great-niece Michelle Enrof, both from Toronto, Canada, and his cousin-once-removed Maggie Compton from Ludlow in Shropshire, travelled to Esberg New Cemetary for the service.

“It was a very emotional day and we are so happy that Harry finally has a named grave,” Ms Compton said.

“We are extremely grateful to everyone that has worked so hard to make this happen.”

AB Gasson's surviving relatives at the service in Denmark. Photo courtesy of MOD

AB Gasson's surviving relatives at the service in Denmark. Photo courtesy of MOD

Royal Navy chaplain Rev David Simpson formally recognised AB Gasson’s final resting place and brings closure for his surviving relatives, who were traced by the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre so they could attend the service.

Also attending were representatives from the Ship’s Company from HMS TYNE, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC), historians and the UK’s ambassador to Denmark.

Commodore Ian Bisson Royal Navy, who heads up the centre and attended the service, said: “I am honoured to be in Jutland to mark such a historic day with such a moving ceremony.

“This was a very personal story of one sailor who gave his life, but which represents the many who were lost one hundred years ago”.

AB Gasson's service attended by relatives and sailors from HMS Tyne. Photo courtesy of MOD

AB Gasson's service attended by relatives and sailors from HMS Tyne. Photo courtesy of MOD

AB Gasson body was recovered about two nautical miles off Grey Deep on September 25, 1916, and buried as a ‘British Seaman of the Great War Known Unto God’ five days later.

Esbjerg residents maintained the grave for almost 100 years but it was not until historians looked into the church records to find the sailor had the name H. Gossom written in his trousers.

After work by the CWGC and checking naval records, the MOD was able to confirm the sailor was AB Gasson and there had been an error in the transcription.

The Battle of Jutland involved some 250 ships and 100,000 men off Denmark’s North Sea coast and was the only major naval engagement of the First World War with 6,000 British personnel losing their lives, including AB Gasson.

Hastings seaman named as unknown victim of major WWI naval battle

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