Leading Stoker Robert Lyal

Leading Stoker Robert Hume Lyal, Royal Navy. He was killed at sea on 31st May 1916, aged 23, aboard H.M.S. “Defence” during the Battle of Jutland. He was the son of William and Elizabeth Lyal of “Govanbank”, Gattonside, Melrose and is commemorated on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. He had joined the Royal Navy in 1911 and by 1913 he was aboard the “Defence”. In 1915 he was promoted to Leading Stoker. H.M.S “Defence” was a Minotaur Class armoured cruiser of 14,600 long tons and had been launched in 1907 at Pembroke Dockyard. At Jutland she was the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot leading the 1st Cruiser Squadron. In attacking the disabled German cruiser ” Wiesbaden” they were in turn engaged by four German Battleships and a Battlecruiser who were less than 8,000 yards away. “Defence” was struck by two salvoes that detonated her magazines and destroyed the ship. There were no survivors from her crew of 900 Officers and Men. ( Arbuthnot was later criticised for his rashness in taking his under armoured ship and sister ship H.M.S. “Warrior” into a dangerous area of the Battle where he had no right to be ). The “Warrior” was severely damaged and later sank whilst under tow back to port. The final picture is the last known photograph of “Defence” taken during the Battle.

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