World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

HMS Royal Oak

From Wikipedia
HMS Royal Oak (pennant number 08) was a Revenge-class battleship of the British Royal Navy. Launched in 1914 and completed in 1916, Royal Oak first saw action at the Battle of Jutland. In peacetime, she served in the Atlantic, Home and Mediterranean fleets, more than once coming under accidental attack. The ship drew worldwide attention in 1928 when her senior officers were controversially court-martialled. Attempts to modernise Royal Oak throughout her 25-year career could not fix her fundamental lack of speed, and by the start of the Second World War, she was no longer suited to front-line duty.

On 14 October 1939, Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47. Of
Royal Oak's complement of 1,234 men and boys, 833 were killed that night or died later of their wounds.

The loss of the old ship – the first of the five Royal Navy battleships and battle cruisers sunk in the Second World War
The loss of the old ship – the first of the five Royal Navy battleships and battle cruisers sunk in the Second World War – little affected the numerical superiority enjoyed by the British navy and its Allies, but the effect on wartime morale was considerable. The raid made an immediate celebrity and war hero out of the U-boat commander, Günther Prien, who became the first Kriegsmarine submarine officer to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross.

To the British, the raid demonstrated that the Germans were capable of bringing the naval war to their home waters. The shock resulted in rapid changes to dockland security and the construction of the Churchill Barriers around Scapa Flow.

The Royal Oak, which is a designated war grave, lies almost upside down in 100 feet (30 m) of water with her hull 16 feet (4.9 m) beneath the surface. In an annual ceremony to mark the loss of the ship, Royal Navy divers place a White Ensign underwater at her stern. Unauthorised divers are prohibited from approaching the wreck at any time under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.