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Service marks 80th anniversary of HMS Royal Oak sinking

The ship was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney when it was torpedoed by a German submarine in 1939.

HMS Royal Oak: The ship was torpedoed during World War Two.
HMS Royal Oak: The ship was torpedoed during World War Two. Royal Navy

A remembrance service has taken place to mark the 80th anniversary of the sinking of HMS Royal Oak.

The ship was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney when it was torpedoed by a German submarine during World War Two on October 14, 1939.

With the loss of around 835 men and boys, it remains as one of Britain's most controversial naval tragedies.

A series of poignant events - including a church service, poppy planting session and exhibition - took place across the weekend.

On Monday morning, a service took place at the Garden of Remembrance.

Vessels will then depart from Scapa pier to hold a further service of remembrance over the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, during which 835 red carnations will be placed into the water as well as bio-degradable wreaths.

Remembrance service was held on Monday morning.
Remembrance service was held on Monday morning. STV
Servicemen remember those who lost their lives.
Servicemen remember those who lost their lives. STV
Historic: HMS Royal Oak was one of five Revenge-class battleships built for the Royal Navy during the First World War.
Historic: HMS Royal Oak was one of five Revenge-class battleships built for the Royal Navy during the First World War.

HMS Royal Oak

  • HMS Royal Oak was one of five Revenge-class battleships built for the Royal Navy during the First World War.
  • Launched in 1914 and completed in 1916, Royal Oak first saw combat at the Battle of Jutland as part of the Grand Fleet.
  • In peacetime, it served in the Atlantic, home and Mediterranean fleets, more than once coming under accidental attack.
  • By the start of World War Two, the ship was no longer suited to front line duty due to its lack of speed.
  • The raid on Royal Oak made an immediate celebrity and war hero out of the U-boat commander, Gunther Prien, who became the first German submarine officer to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.
  • Before the sinking, the Royal Navy had considered the naval base at Scapa Flow impregnable to submarine attack, and U-47's raid demonstrated that the German Navy was capable of bringing the war to British home waters.
  • The shock resulted in rapid changes to dockland security and the construction of the Churchill Barriers around Scapa Flow.
  • The wreck of Royal Oak, a designated war grave, lies almost upside down in 100ft of water with the hull 16ft beneath the surface.
  • In an annual ceremony to mark the loss of the ship, Royal Navy divers place a White Ensign underwater at the stern.
  • Unauthorised divers are prohibited from approaching the wreck at any time under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

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