December 2016

The story of a Royal Marine bandsman who fought at the Battle of Jutland a century ago is to be told at a blockbuster exhibition from The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN).

The fragment of a trombone played by Bandsman Frederick Charles Palfreman, his medals, a photograph and newspaper clipping are now on display at 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War, the immersive new exhibition at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Bandsman Palfreman, born on April 1 1899 in Pimlico, London, fought on HMS Warspite at Jutland, the greatest naval battle ever fought which claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 sailors from Britain and Germany.

He played trombone in the Royal Marines Band having studied, it is believed, at the RM School of Music at Eastney, Portsmouth.

Bandsman Palfreman second from left back row

Bandsman Palfreman, second from left, back row


His son David Palfreman sent in the artefacts. He said: “My father never spoke in any detail about his experience at Jutland except to say the noise and fires were indescribable, although the ‘going round in circles’ episode with all guns blazing and the Warspite rolling alarmingly as a result had clearly been, subsequently, a source of wry amusement.

“He died in 1987, aged 88, and since then, as I’ve got older, I have so regretted not talking to him about his experience in the Royal Marines - he was so young. I remember him marching rather than walking, in the way marine bandsmen do, and beating in time to any music that might be playing. He rarely became excited but the Royal Navy Field Gun competition was an annual exception.

“I’ve had the artefacts for many years but the 100th anniversary of Jutland made we wonder if they would be of interest to an audience outside the family. I’m surprised and very pleased by the interest but my overwhelming feeling is one of pride in my dad with thoughts of how I would have behaved aged 17 in the battle - I had just started my A Levels!”

Head of Heritage and Development at The NMRN, Nick Hewitt, said: “We were delighted and very grateful to be able to borrow this extraordinary set of objects, which together make up a very unusual Jutland tale.

“I think they really make two important points so well; that everyone on a warship was exposed to the same risk, even the band, and also that there were many participants on both sides who would today be considered children.”

Visitors wishing to visit 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War can purchase a Jutland All Attraction Package. This allows the recipient to access the exhibition and ten other attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, including The Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860, and also the Harbour Tours, HMS Alliance at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, both in Gosport. It also gets the ticket holder entry to the Royal Marines Museum in Eastney, Portsmouth.