Selected by Kate O’Brien, Archives Services Manager
Lieutenant Maurice John Bethell drowned on 31 May 1916, aged 22, when HMS NESTOR was sunk at the Battle of Jutland. His commanding officer, Commander Edward Bingham, who was taken prisoner (and subsequently awarded a VC), wrote this detailed account in a letter to Bethell’s mother from Mainz prisoner of war camp, Germany. As the handwritten note on this typed copy makes clear, the family felt bitter that Bingham had not made certain that Bethell left the ship before he jumped himself: they considered that Bingham, as commanding officer, should have been the last to evacuate.
That photo is even more haunting when you read his exultant last words, as reported by Commander Bingham. In his death, Bethell exemplified the ideals of his age. Bingham wrote in his 1919 memoir, Falklands, Jutland and the Bight, ‘Maurice Bethell died, as he had lived, a hero’.
Ref: M J Bethell 2