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 Gomersal & The Great War                   

The Battle of Jutland, off the coast of Denmark, was the only major naval battle between Britain and Germany during the First World War.

      . . . . at sea               


John Elvin Collett was born on 10th August 1891 and his occupation is listed as a painter on the 1911 census.  He married Florence Johnson in 1914 and they had two children Elvin and Lucy.  Sadly Elvin died at just 5 days old and is buried in St. Mary’s Church.


John was killed in action south of Ypres. 

He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Ploegstreert Memorial.

The British needed their fleet to keep the seas open for merchant ships bringing food and supplies to Britain and also to transport men and supplies to France.  Germany needed its naval fleet to protect itself against invasion.

On 31st May 1916, the two fleets met head-on when a combined force of 250 ships collided in the North Sea for the largest steel ship battle ever seen.  The fighting continued into the night until finally the German fleet retreated under cover of smoke.

Harry Collett

Died: 31st May 1916.  Aged 23

J49879 Ordinary Seaman, Royal Navy

Lived : The Gasworks, Gomersal

large HMS shark (2).jpg

Harry Collett was born in Castleford on 23rd April 1893 to Benjamin and Lucy Collett.  On the 1911 census he is listed as being an Overlooker Worsted Spinner at Burnley’s Mill.


It is not known when or why Harry joined the Royal Navy, but he had only been a member of the crew of HMS Shark for three weeks when the ship was sunk by a torpedo during the Battle of Jutland.


Harry’s body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

Just nine months later, Harry’s brother, John was killed in action at Ypres.

Although the British lost more ships and men than Germany, the battle was still claimed as a British victory as they had managed to maintain control of the North Sea.

A combined total of 25 ships were lost and the conflict claimed the lives of over 8,500 sailors. 

The Battle of Jutland May 31, 1916

John Elvin Collett

Died:  11th February 1917. Age 25

40682: Private

23rd Northumberland Fusiliers

(Tyneside Scottish)

Lived: Queen Street, Gomersal

John Elvin Collett.jpg
Harry Collett.jpg

HMS Shark

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