One hundred years ago, they were on opposite sides in one of the biggest sea battles in British history.
However, the Belton and Tyblewski families were ‘re-united’ last week at a special memorial service in Horncastle to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland.
The Belton family were at the service to honour HaroldBelton - one of 6,000 British sailors who were killed in the battle.
And they met John Tyblewski whose Polish-born father served in the Germany navy.
John’s father helped man one of the giant gun emplacements on the German flagship Lutzow.
Harold was a stoker on the British cruiser Invincible.
As the rival fleets engaged each other, Lutzow was struck by 24 direct hits from British ships.
However, before it sank, it was able to sink Invincible.
Somehow, John’s father managed to escape the sinking ship.
After three hours in the freezing North Sea, he was rescued by the British Navy.
He was taken to Scotland and spent much of the rest of his life in England - and Lincolnshire.
John, who lives in Belchford, takes up the story.
He says: “My dad didn’t really talk much about what happened in the battle.
“It must have been pretty horrific. A lot of people lost their lives.It doesn’t bare thinking about really.
“I know he was on one of the gun emplacements and I know he spent three hours in the sea before he was picked up.
“I’m not sure how he managed to survive.
“From what I can gather, he spent the rest of the war in Scotland, married and never went back to Poland.”
John’s father and wife lived in Paris for a short time before settling in Lincolnshire .
They couple built their own house and ran a poultry farm.
John’s father was also a manager on the now-demolished Panton Hall Estate.
John read about the memorial service at Stanhope Hall in the Horncastle News.
He decided to attend and met members of Harold Belton’s family who still live in Horncastle.
John added: “It was a really nice service - a fitting tribute to all the men who were involved.”
More than 100 Horncastle men lost their lives in the First World War but Harold Belton is the only sailor to be included among the names on the town’s official memorial.
The memorial service was organised by the Horncastle branch of the Royal British Legion.
Spokesman Mike Allard said: “Mr Tyblewski turning up was something we didn’t expect but it brought the whole thing together.”
The Battle of Jutland took place from May 31 to June 1 in 1916.
It involved more than 100,000 sailors and around 8,500 lost their lives - 6,000 British and 2,500 Germans.
There was no clear winner of the battle but the Germans never challenged the British Navy in the North Sea again.