Royal Oak anniversary

HMS Royal Oak
HMS Royal Oak
Portsmouth in 1717 (from William Gates History of Portsmouth, 1900)

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Although it has been well documented I cannot let this week go by without mentioning the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the battleship HMS Royal Oak on October 14, 1939, in Scapa Flow, Orkney.

Of a complement of 1,234 men and boys, 833 were killed or died later of injuries. One hundred and twenty were boys aged between 14 and 18. Imagine the outrage that would cause today.

The Royal Oak was the first of five capital ships to be sunk in the Second World War.

To this day, the ship, which lies in just 100ft of water with her keel only 16ft beneath the surface, has a White Ensign attached to her stern at an annual ceremony.

A 50-minute DVD about the ship and her sinking may be obtained by ringing Peter Rowlands on 01752 863700.

Many of the men who died are mentioned on the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial on Southsea Esplanade.

This year is the 90th anniversary of the unveiling by the Duke of York on October 15, 1924, of this magnificent memorial.

On the day it was unveiled there were 9,279 names, later updated to 9,667.

An extension to include 14,918 losses in the Second World War was unveiled by the Queen Mother on April 29, 1953.