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A New Zealander at the Battle of Jutland

On 31 May 1916, Lieutenant Alexander Boyle from South Canterbury was in charge of a gun turret and two 12-inch guns on the HMS New Zealand during the Battle of Jutland, the greatest naval clash of the First World War. In this excerpt from a 1959 radio talk, he recalls seeing the British battlecruisers Indefatigable and Queen Mary destroyed with a large loss of life. Lt. Boyle also remembers his crew’s faith in a Māori mat [piupiu] and tiki given to their captain when HMS New Zealand visited New Zealand just before the war.

Year:1916 (Recorded 1959)

Location:The North Sea

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A New Zealander at the Battle of Jutland

On 31 May 1916, Lieutenant Alexander Boyle from South Canterbury was in charge of a gun turret and two 12-inch guns on the HMS New Zealand during the Battle of Jutland, the greatest naval clash of the First World War. In this excerpt from a 1959 radio talk, he recalls seeing the British battlecruisers Indefatigable and Queen Mary destroyed with a large loss of life. Lt. Boyle also remembers his crew’s faith in a Māori mat [piupiu] and tiki given to their captain when HMS New Zealand visited New Zealand just before the war.


Year: 1916 (Recorded 1959)

Length: 03:42

Source: Radio New Zealand collection, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: 35290 The Battle of Jutland


People: Alexander David Boyle

Location: The North Sea


Image Title: Damage to X turret of HMS New Zealand at Jutland

Image Source: http://navymuseum.co.nz/worldwar1/people/lieutenant-alexander-david-boyle-rn/


Lieutenant Alexander David Boyle is the only New Zealander known to have served at all three major naval battles of World War One.

After leaving school in New Zealand, Boyle joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman. He was on board the HMS New Zealand when it visited in 1913 to thank the country which had raised the funds to purchase the ship for Britain. He served as a lieutenant on board HMS New Zealand at the Battles of Heligoland Bight and Dogger Bank in the North Sea, in August 1914 and January 1915 respectively, before taking part in the Battle of Jutland from 31 May - 1 June 1916.

At Jutland, the Royal Navy’s Grand Fleet under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and the German High Seas Fleet engaged each other, with over 60 battlecruisers and battleships taking part. Communication between vessels was a problem, with poor visibility making signalling difficult. Fourteen British and 11 German ships were sunk with great loss of life. During the night the Germans managed to head back to port and rather than pursuing the German fleet, the British turned away. This move was hotly debated afterwards in the British press, which wanted a decisive victory.

Both sides claimed victory. Although the British losses were greater in terms of ships and men, the strength of the Royal Navy was still largely intact. After Jutland the German fleet was kept out of the North Sea for much of the rest of the war, concentrating instead on submarine warfare.