|Scapa Flow, the Orkney Islands (Google Street View)|
"No, why?" she had answered with a puzzled look.
Well, Scapa Flow was the home base of the British Grand Fleet in World War I and again in World War II. It was also the destination of the German High Seas Fleet after Germany's defeat in World War I. The Germans scuttled their ships in Scapa Flow rather than let the British have them. While most of those ships were raised (due to being hazards to navigation and of course it was a Royal Navy anchorage) a number of the Kaiser's ships still lay on the sea bed there.
The battleships SMS König, SMS Kronprinz (renamed SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm in 1918), and SMS Markgraf (all of the König class) lie upside down with over 80 feet of water over them. All three ships were involved at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, enduring some of the heaviest fighting.
|SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm at Scapa Flow in 1919 (Source)|
There are also four cruisers: SMS Dresden, SMS Karlsruhe, SMS Brummer, and SMS Cöln lying on their sides under 50 to 65 feet of water.
One ship, treated as a war grave, which went down in Scapa Flow during WWI is HMS Vanguard.
|HMS Vanguard in 1909 (Source)|
HMS Vanguard blew up at her anchorage and sank in 1917, probably due to a stokehold fire heating up cordite stored against a bulkhead in an adjacent magazine. She went down with 804 men. Only two men onboard at the time of the explosion survived. One of the men who died in the catastrophe was Captain Eto Kyōsuke of the Imperial Japanese Navy (allied to the British in World War I) who was assigned to the Royal Navy as an observer.
Another war grave wreck is that of HMS Hampshire, an armored cruiser. This ship hit a mine just off the coast of the Orkneys and went down with the loss of 655 crewmen and 7 passengers. Only 12 men survived. The passengers were Field Marshal Lord Kitchener and his staff. All killed.
Yes, that Lord Kitchener...
One of the more famous episodes in the history of Scapa Flow occurred in October of 1939, the 14th of that month as a matter of fact, World War II was 44 days old.
In the quiet of the night, Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien carefully maneuvered his Unterseeboot U-47 through the shallow waters and shoals leading into Scapa Flow. There his torpedoes struck and sank the battleship HMS Royal Oak, supposedly safe at anchor at the Home Fleet's base.
|Günther Prien, Bundesarchiv (Source)|
After this exploit, Kapitänleutnant Prien was known as the "Bull of Scapa Flow," (Der Stier von Scapa Flow).
He died at the age of 33, he and his boat going missing in March of 1941.
|HMS Royal Oak in 1937 (Source)|
HMS Royal Oak was one of three British battleships lost in action in World War II (out of 20+). HMS Prince of Wales was sunk by Japanese aircraft in the South China Sea in December of 1941.
HMS Barham was also sunk by a U-Boat in the Mediterranean, the U-331, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hans-Diedrich von Tiesenhausen. She was also a veteran of the Battle of Jutland. Her loss was actually captured on film, a film which remained a secret until after the war.
Cruel indeed is the sea...