Jutland memorial wood named in honour of Bangor-born VC winner

Barry Bingham VC was a Royal Navy commander during the Battle of Jutland
Barry Bingham VC was a Royal Navy commander during the Battle of Jutland

A Victoria Cross recipient from Co Down has had a Battle of Jutland memorial named in his honour, one hundred years after the brutal First World War encounter.

Bangor-born Rear Admiral Edward Barry Stewart Bingham of the Royal Navy is one of four VC winners to be recognised at the Woodland Trust’s Jutland Wood in Surrey.

The wood containing 6,000 saplings – representing each of the Allied lives lost during the 1916 sea battle – will also commemorate all those who died at sea during the Great War.

Fourteen semi-mature oaks have been planted, representing the 14 ships sunk at Jutland by the Imperial German Navy.

Four separate groves have been created as part of the join initiative with the Royal Naval Association.

‘Barry’ Bingham was born at Bangor Castle in 1881. On 31 May 1916, while holding the rank of commander, Bingham was in command of a Royal Navy destroyer division.

The officer led his warships in an attack on enemy destroyers, and then against the battle cruisers of the German High Seas Fleet.

When the enemy ships came in sight, Commander Bingham ordered his own destroyer HMS Nestor, along with HMS Nicator, to close to within torpedo range.

In doing so, Bingham’s men came under concentrated fire from the secondary batteries of the German fleet and Nestor was sunk.

Bingham was picked up by the Germans, and remained a prisoner of war until the Armistice of 1918.

He remained with the Royal Navy following the war and retired in 1932 holding the rank of Rear Admiral. The distinguished officer died in 1939 and is buried in the Golders Green cemetery in London.

More than 300 seamen from the island of Ireland died during the two-day battle. The forces of the British Empire suffered more than double the German losses, and almost twice the tonnage of ships.

Despite having greater losses, the battle was viewed as a strategic victory for the British.

Rear Admiral Bingham’s Victoria Cross will be on display at North Down Museum, Bangor, Co Down from June 2.