God it was an awful sight.

Capt Raymond Poland, turret commander on battleship HMS Warspite

The cruiser’s demise was one of the most terrible moments in the battle – every man who witnessed her spirited charge against the German lines, followed by her cataclysmic destruction commented on it.

Capt Raymond Poland, a turret commander on battleship HMS Warspite, was impressed by the “very gallant show” Defence made. His delight instantly turned to horror as she was hit by three German salvoes in quick succession and the cruiser seemingly disintegrated, her crushed bow sticking out of the North Sea at a 60-degree angle before sinking. 

“I nearly vomited,” Poland wrote to his brother. “God it was an awful sight.”

Echo found Defence just 500 yards from the spot she was listed as sinking some 100 miles west of the coast of Jutland.

The wreck lies in 51 metres (167ft) of water, rising ten metres off the seabed. Despite eyewitness accounts describing the cruiser’s total destruction, Defence is rather more intact.

“The wreck appears to be separated into three distinct pieces, sitting upright on her hull, with part of the bow and stern separated from the main superstructure,” said Lt Matt Cullen.​

Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering)

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