Dad watched the Germans surrender at Scapa Flow

Tony Jennings's father (far right) watching the surrender of 70 German warships at Scapa Flow in 1918 on board HMS Cardiff
Tony Jennings's father (far right) watching the surrender of 70 German warships at Scapa Flow in 1918 on board HMS Cardiff

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Much will be written in the coming weeks about the First World War, its land battles and the terrible slaughter for just a few yards of territory.

But of course the Royal Navy also played a key role in the conflict.

And today this page is devoted to a timely reminder of the part the senior service played at the end of the ironically-named Great War.

The pictures on this page come from Tony Jennings, of Hazel Grove, Locks Heath, and in the photo on the right is his father (on the far right).

Albert Thompson Jennings was just 18 when the picture was taken in 1918, but he had risen to the rank of Chief Gunnery Instructor apparently passing his exams with a 100 per cent score – the first time this had been achieved.

He is standing on the stern of the light cruiser HMS Cardiff, which would go on to serve in the Second World War.

He might have cast a glance at the camera, but surely it was only for a moment.

For what the other members of the ship’s company are peering at so intently is one of the most historic moments in naval warfare.

Cardiff was the flagship of Admiral David Beatty’s light cruiser squadron at Scapa Flow, Orkney, and the men are watching the surrender of more than 70 German ships.

As part of the Armistice agreement at the end of the war, Germany had to surrender most of its fleet. A total of 74 ships of the German High Seas Fleet arrived at Scapa Flow for internment.

But on June 21, 1919, under the mistaken belief that peace talks had failed, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter gave the command to scuttle the entire fleet in the Flow.

A total of 52 ships went to the seabed – the greatest loss of shipping ever recorded in a single day.

But what of CGI Jennings? Tony says: ‘He left the ship and was sent with the Naval Brigade to fight the Bolsheviks in Russia – a King George V order to try to save the Tsar.

‘He was then sent to gunships on the Chinese Yangtze river, served in the Second World War and was president of the chiefs’ mess on Whale Island.’