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Old 05 November 2002, 12:21   #51
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Oh my gawd....who invited him?

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Old 05 November 2002, 12:28   #52
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The Royal Oak

We will be passing right by the Royal Oak. Once again to whet your appetites and to encourage even more expiditioneers, here we have the story of The Royal Oak. BTW many of the crew were from Hilton of Cadboll (where my house in Scotland is). The relatives found out about this sinking via the BBC News. This caused an understandable uproar. It was after this that the MOD informed relative BEFORE releasing details of ships going down.


The Royal Oak is a war grave. The sinking of the Royal Oak during the early weeks of the Second World War was a national disaster. Although she was over 25 years old, the battleship was considered to be robust and strong enough to resist enemy attack. This faith proved to be unwarranted.

The Royal Oak was built at Devonport, Plymouth over 1914-1916. She was nearly 600 ft long with a maximum width of 100 ft. She was armed with eight 15 inch guns contained in 4 turrets, plus an assemblage of 6 inch, 3 inch guns and 4 torpedo tubes. The warship was well armoured with 13 inches of steel that extended 5 ft below her water line. She was capable of a 20 knot speed powered by 40000 HP oil fuelled engines. A crew of nearly 1100 men was needed to handle her. She saw action at the battle of Jutland.

On 13th October 1939 the large battleship was lying at anchor near the port of Scapa on the southward side of Kirkwall. She was acting as anti aircraft cover for the capital city. The night was cold and quiet. Under cover of darkness a German U boat made a daring entry into Scapa Flow through the narrow channel of Kirk Sound between two of the islands surrounding the Flow. Once inside the German commander surveyed the scene. He expected to find a number of British warships at anchor, but only the Royal Oak was left to defend the naval anchorage. So just after midnight, despite the blackout, the U boat located the great warship and prepared to launch a torpedo attack. Shortly before 1 am it launched the first of two salvoes. This scored a minor hit which did not unduly alert the crew of the Royal Oak. Twenty minutes later the second salvo arrived with devastating consequences. 3 direct hits sent the 600 ft battleship to the sea bed in just under 11 minutes. Over 800 men perished - some trapped within the boat, others simply drowning in the bitingly cold waters of the Flow. Thankfully, a small naval tender - the Daisy 2 - managed to save nearly 400 men.

The Navy reacted quickly. On 15th October nets were spread over the wreck to catch any floating bodies. Divers went down to inspect the wreck. Some ascended in horror at the sight of the suspended, drowned bodies that they encountered. Men were found jammed in the portholes as they tried in desperation to get out of the wreck. Oil slicks abounded. The wreck was quickly declared a war grave. It remains so to this day. No diving is allowed on this wreck unless with the express permission of the Royal Navy. Since the wreck is so near to the mainland, this prohibition is rigorously and effectively maintained. Nobody dives the Royal Oak except for an annual remembrance dive conducted by Navy divers.

The battleship lies in 30 metres on her port side at an angle of 45 degrees. Her hull is only 7 - 8 metres below the surface. Even to this day, a slow seepage of oil continues to escape the wreck. It is most poignant to approach the wreck marker buoy and see the oil globules breaking the water and watch the echo sounder. Her shape is clearly visible. Indeed it possible to see the hull as you pass over it.

Attached is a picture of the memorial buoy which is over the wreck.

Keith (come on, you know you want to come) Hart
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Old 05 November 2002, 12:28   #53
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Okay, okay JK. But, do you have a SIB and are you coming to Orkney?
For the first time in years I have managed to become completely boatless. Sold the RIB and the SIB. Still, should have something or other by then so count me in!

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Old 05 November 2002, 12:52   #54
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I don't normally look that daft Keith, I can assure you. My normal look is "big 'n scary", instead of "on a different planet".

As for these occasional posts about the area and history and so on, keep em comin', it's interesting to read about the area before we go up.

Matt (still can't wait!) Brown
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Old 05 November 2002, 13:44   #55
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JK you're on the mailing list. Hey if the weather is bad you can part the waters for us! Ooooh, JK, you could come across in Quicksilver with me if you are boatless (he,he,he,he)

Okay Matt. The idea is to drum up support for the expedition.

Keith (bow and scrape) Hart
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Old 05 November 2002, 14:27   #56
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Keith, your making it sound so exciting that I might have to travel the 750miles to join you.

I'm not really sure what I will be doing in August, I'm in my year out before Uni, but boating up north sounds fun.

Be nice to get in a few dives too.
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Old 05 November 2002, 14:51   #57
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Orkney Factiod
Just one factiod in a series designed to make you want to become an Orkney Expeditioneer

The Royal Oak.
Just take a look at this. When you check out the charts (bear in mind that this was before the Churchill Barriers were built), you will see just what an incredible feat of navigation and bravado Gunter Prien (Captain of the U47) and his crew did on that terrible night.

Keith Hart
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Old 05 November 2002, 15:04   #58
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Orkney Factiod
Just one factiod in a series designed to make you want to become an Orkney Expeditioneer

17th October 1939, just days after The Royal Oak was sunk, Orkney was again in the firing line. Four Junkers JU88 bombers led by Kapitan Donch, took off from Sylt, bound for Orkney.

The orkney guns received a ‘Red Alert’ and at 10.20 hours the bombers were spotted by 226 Battery at Lyness. Two of the bombers dived and dropped bombs on the ‘Iron Duke’. All 8 guns of the battery let rip.

The fleet was not in the flow following the sinking of ‘The Royal Oak’.

One of the bombers appeared to stagger slightly, then a wing dropped steeply, and trailing black smoke, the bomber slowly, so it seemed, plunged earthwards and crashed into the banks of Pegal Burn (stream) on Hoy.

226 Battery had scored their first ‘kill’. The first enemy aircraft of WW2, shot down on British soil by an anti-aircraft battery. Another deathly first for Orkney.

Well folks, I have spoken to one of the gunners on 226 battery that night. I also have a small piece of the remains of that very JU88 bomber. It was dug out of the banks of Pegal Burn about 50 years after the war by that same gunner. It now adorns a polished wood stand in my house in Birmingham.

Just another interesting factiod in the series.

Keith (now you really want to come) Hart
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Old 05 November 2002, 15:06   #59
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Ooooh, JK, you could come across in Quicksilver with me if you are boatless (he,he,he,he)
With the two of us on board I'm not sure that there would be room for the sarnies though. Perhaps we could get one of those beach-type VSIBS as a floating tuck trailer . . .

John (even taller than you) Kennett
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Old 05 November 2002, 15:09   #60
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Ahhhhhh, but are you wider?

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With the two of us on board I'm not sure that there would be room for the sarnies though
Why do you think I'm getting some RIBs to come along?

Keith (this all sounds like great fun) Hart
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