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This Great Harbour Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow is known worldwide. In two world wars it was the northern base which sheltered shops of the Royal Navy and Allied fleets from both storm and enemy attack, with sometimes well over a hundred vessels lying at anchor. Massive defense guns, searchlights, booms and minefields were built up between 1914 and 1918, and then demolished, only to be built up again twenty-five years later when the harbor's security was again threatened. This time there was the additional danger from the sky, and an antiaircraft ‘umbrella’ of over eighty guns was deployed to ward off the Luftwaffe bombers.

In This Great Harbour Scapa Flow, W.S Hewiosn tells how this was achieved as the anchorage known by mariners since the time of the Vikings and perhaps even before them, with its key position athwart the northern sea routes came into the ken of the Admiralty’s strategic thinking.

The Grand Fleet sailed from Scapa in 1916 to do battle at Jutland. Five days later, Lord Kitchener, went to his death from here in the cruiser Hampshire, sunk by mines off Orkney’s west coast. There was tragedy again in 1939 when the German submarine U47 slipped through the incomplete defense to sink the battleship Royal Oak at her moorings with the loss of 800 men. And between the wars the world’s greatest feat of salvage the raising of the scuttled German fleet was carried out in its waters.

Important places

Orkney (45)