The following are first hand quotes and diary extracts of the war at sea during the Great war. They are taken from Paul Allens book 'Neath a foreign sky.'
Extract: Battle of Jutland
However, before the Defence had had a chance to finish the Wiesbaden off she had been hit by the combined firepower of the German Battlecruiser force, whose proximity to the British cruiser had, until that moment, been hidden by smoke and mist. Hit by numerous enemy shells that had initially caused superficial damage, the Defence had shortly been hit by a salvo that had blown up her after magazine, this terrific explosion triggering further explosions on the ammunition rails leading to her broadside 7.5-inch guns the cruiser's secondary armament. Within seconds of this, another salvo had crashed into the forward part of the ship, causing the Defence to explode in a massive fireball of flame and flying debris. A witness aboard the battleship H.M.S. Warspite would later describe;
'I saw Defence heading straight at the enemy, with a cloud of white smoke amidships and aft. She was banging away and going full speed, masthead colours and made very gallant show. I saw three salvoes fall across her in quick succession, beauties. A flicker of flame ran along her forecastle head, and up her fore turret, which seemed to melt. Then whoof, up she went, a single huge sheet of flame, 500 feet high, mixed up with smoke and fragments. As it died down I saw her crumpled bow, red hot, at an angle of sixty degrees, and then she sank. I nearly vomited—God it was an awful sight. I couldn't get to sleep that night for thinking about it'. 
Another survivor of the battle, this time aboard a German warship; would also later report;
'In the misty grey light the colours of the German and the English ships were difficult to distinguish. The cruiser was not very far away from us. She had four funnels and two masts, like our Rostock. She is certainly English, Lieutenant Commander Hauser shouted, May I fire? Yes fire away! I was now certain she was a big English ship. The secondary armament was trained on the new target. Hauser gave the order, 6,000! Then, just as he was about to give the order, fire, something terrific happened. The English ship, which had meanwhile identified as an old English armoured cruiser, broke in half with a tremendous explosion. Black smoke and debris shot in the air, a flame enveloped the whole ship, and then she sank before our eyes. There was nothing but a gigantic smoke cloud to mark the place where just before a proud ship had been firing'. 
 Commander Georg von Has had been aboard the Battlecruiser S.M.S. Defflinger at the time of the loss of the Defence. His account of her loss is extracted from; The Battle of Jutland; Sutherland and Canwell; Pen & Sword; 2007.
Extract: Loss of the Aragon
Fortunately, the news of the loss of the Aragon had eventually been included in 'The Scarborough Mercury' of Friday the 1ST of February 1918, and had been accompanied with a graphic account of the sinking of her sinking that had been written by one of the survivors, army Chaplain Captain John Lawrence White, coincidentally, a former member of Scarborough's Holy Trinity Church:
... 'There was a terrific explosion on my side of the ship. The boat shook violently and listed somewhat. I put on my lifebelt and everyone made for their boat stations. There was no panic of any sort. Everybody was absolutely splendid. My station was on the poop deck, next to where we were struck, and when I got there that end of the boat was sinking quickly. All the women were saved and we cheered them as they went off in boats to the trawlers, which fortunately were near or hurrying to our aid. Rafts and boats were launched, and we waited orders on deck. When the water was well covering the deck we were told to leave. There was no need to jump. We simply walked into the sea'.
Extract: U-Boat attack
The scene may have been the same as that recalled by another U-Boat captain during the same war;
'The steamer appeared close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge, a small whistle in his mouth. I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward... stand by for firing a torpedo! I called down to the control room... Fire!. A slight tremor went through the boat—the torpedo had gone... The death bringing shot was a true one, and the torpedo ran towards the doomed ship at high speed. I could follow its course exactly by the light streak of bubbles which was left in its wake'.
I saw that the bubble track of the torpedo had been discovered on the bridge of the steamer, as frightened arms pointed towards the water... Then a frightful explosion followed, and we were all thrown against one another by the concussion, and then, like Vulcan, huge and majestic, a column of water two hundred metres high and fifty metres broad, terrible in its beauty and power, shot up to the heavens'. 
 Quoted from 'U-Boat attack, 1916' [published 1919], the memoirs of Adolf K.G.E. von Spiegel the commanding officer of a U-Boat during the Great War; courtesy of Eyewitnesses to history, www eyewitnesstohistory.com .
Extract: First trip at sea
Appleby's first trip to sea, like those of most 'first trippers' apprentices, had been made under sail and inevitably been a rude awakening after the shelter of home and family. Perhaps he had undergone the same feelings as one of his contemporaries, Apprentice F. Bullen... 'How many lads are there to be found, I wonder, leaving good homes, such as the majority of sea apprentices do leave, who have ever washed a shirt or a plate, made a bed, or sewn on a button? Not one in a thousand. These things have always been done for them'...
Extract: Steaming into battle at Jutland
... The squadron had presented a never to be forgotten sight:
'Steaming at over twenty knots in 'line ahead' with thick oily black smoke belching from their funnels, at their mastheads streamed huge white ensigns straining at their halyards in the slipstream created by their mad rush into the unknown. Their prow's had knifed through the grey North Sea like the proverbial hot knife through butter sending up huge creamy white bow waves. At the ship's sterns, equally large washes created by the thrashing of the huge propellers biting into the cold northern water had risen almost to the height of the quarterdeck to fall back leaving a trail of disturbed water reaching back to the horizon'.
Extract: Scarborough man
Scarborough born Able Seaman Edward Ruston Reed, had told of the exciting battle in a letter to his parents living at No 52 Hoxton Road, that had eventually been featured in 'The Scarborough Pictorial' of Wednesday the 27TH of January 1915 under the banner; 'The Atlantic Victory'.
... 'We intended coaling [at Port Stanley] on the Tuesday [the 7TH of December 1914], and leaving so as to pick up the Germans on the Wednesday. However, we had just got started coaling when it was signalled from the shore that two German warships were on the horizon. We immediately cast off from our collier and proceeded to sea. We had to pass the [light cruisers] Dresden, Leipzig, and Nurnburg to get at our opponents [the armoured cruisers Scharnhorst, and Gneisenau]. We fired on them, and put Leipzig on fire. Then we went on chasing the others. After a couple of hours fight we sank the Scharnhorst, the Flagship. The Inflexible was told to lay off, and we fired on the Gneisenau. We gave her a heavy list to port, and then called up the Inflexible at the death. 'Cease Fire' went, and I stood on top of our turret just in time to see her go down. She went slowly over to port, then turned turtle and disappeared, bow first. We steamed up and lowered boats to pick up survivors. We picked up over a hundred, of whom, fourteen died, and were buried on the Wednesday. Don't think because we did not lose any hands that we were not hit, because we were, but I am not allowed to tell you where... I hope this engagement will 'buck' the Army and Navy up to more strenuous endeavours'.
Extract: Passing dead bodies
Daylight of Thursday the first of June had found the North Sea empty of German warships; they had escaped under the cover of smokescreens and darkness leaving a battered Royal Navy to search in vain for a long gone enemy;
'This patrolling, wrote a British seaman, was the most pathetic instance during the whole business for we were constantly passing wreckage and the dead bodies in rafts, and floating comrades and foe. This is what got home to you'...
Extract: Trawler mined
The news of the loss of the Strathord had been borne into Scarborough by Sam Normandale's elder brother. The skipper of the Spence Macdonald, William Normandale [born Scarborough 1882] had reportedly witnessed the disaster and during a subsequent interview that had been reported in 'The Scarborough Mercury' of Friday the 27TH of February he had said that it had been at about ten minutes to ten on Monday evening when the Strathord had been mined. His vessel, being the nearest to the ill-fated ship, had been about to go alongside the trawler 'to speak to her' when the explosion took place. Normandale had continued:
'We heard them knocking out the warps to haul, when there an explosion followed by another, which would be caused by the boilers exploding. Then down came a dense fog right on the job before we could do anything. I expect that he either got the mine in his trawl, or got it in the cod end and dropped it on deck. But I think it was underneath the vessel, in his trawl. In another three seconds we should have been alongside him'.
Bill Normandale had also said that following the two explosions he had hauled in his trawl and had laid stopped in the fog for over six hours in the hope of hearing anything, but no sounds had been heard. The Spence Macdonald had then trawled amongst the great quantity of floating wreckage to find the Strathord's undamaged ship's boat, and a lifebuoy bearing the stricken vessel's name, following these discoveries the heavyhearted Bill Normandale had taken the Spence Macdonald back to Scarborough, knowing there had been nothing more he could do for his lost brother and his crew. 
The news of the Strathord's loss had come as a bitter blow to Scarborough's fishing fraternity, the tidings being included in 'The Scarborough Mercury' of Friday the 27TH of February 1920:
Fishing some forty-eight miles to the north east of the Tyne the Jack Johnson had last been sighted by the skipper of the North Shields trawler 'Island Prince' who had seen the vessel during the late afternoon of Friday the third steaming in an east by half south direction. The unnamed skipper had later reported... 'On or about 1am while trawling 48 miles from the Tyne I heard a sound as of a big gun in the distance, and about 2-15 on the 4th inst I was in the wheelhouse with the man on watch when one of the crew said that there were pieces of driftwood going by. It was very thick and raining at the time. I ordered the small boat to be got ready and we rowed and steamed about and never heard anything, and saw only small wreckage, but nothing to pick up'.
The explosion had also been heard by the men aboard the Scarborough owned trawler 'Stratherrick' [another sister ship of the ill fated Strathord] who, upon their return to their base at North Shields three days later, had enquired whether the Jack Johnson had returned to port. With no sign of the Jack Johnson and the report made by the North Shields skipper, rumours of the trawlers possible loss had eventually filtered through to Scarborough. 'The Scarborough Mercury' of Friday the 10TH of September 1920 had duly reported:
'Anxiety for Scarborough Trawler - Rumours arising from North Shields report - Vessel not overdue - Great anxiety is felt in fishing circles for the safety of the trawler, Jack Johnson, skipper, Mr James Walker, one of the largest of the Scarborough owned fleet and her crew.. On enquiry with the owners this [Friday] morning we were informed that no news has reached them. The fact was emphasised, however, that the vessel is not overdue. Under ordinary circumstances it is quite likely that the Jack Johnson, being a large vessel, would have remained at sea the whole of the week, possibly with a view to catching the Monday market. There is nothing unusual in its absence for several days, and it is hoped that the report made by the Stratherrick may have no connection with the vessel's absence. As can be readily understood, however, the anxiety caused—it is to be hoped without foundation—is very great to those with relatives aboard the vessel.
By the beginning of the following week no good news regarding the missing Jack Johnson had been forthcoming the vessel having never returned to port as expected, the trawler and her crew had vanished from the face of the earth within the blink of an eye. It had been heavyhearted 'Scarborough Mercury' of Friday the 17TH of September 1920 that had duly reported the awful news loss of the Jack Johnson and her crew:
'Scarboro trawler disaster - Jack Johnson mined with loss of crew - Forty one children left - Anxiety gave place to gloom in Scarborough fishing circles on Monday when it was made known by the owner, Mr James Johnson, of the local trawler Jack Johnson that the vessel is presumed to have been mined and the entire crew of ten lost about thirteen hours after it had left Scarborough on the afternoon of Friday, September 3RD.