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Stromness RNLI Pay their Respects to Royal Oak

Lifeboats News Release

The volunteer crew of RNLI Stromness lifeboat attended a service in Scapa Flow today to mark the 80th anniversary of the loss of HMS Royal Oak

Solitary lifeboat crew member standing quietly at wreck site

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Crew member at Royal Oak Buoy
On October 14th 1939 a German submarine, U-47, evaded defences to enter Scapa Flow and fire torpedoes at HMS Royal Oak lying at anchor in Scapa Bay. 835 men and boys were killed, many under 18 and some as young as 15 years of age.

Royal Navy minesweeper, HMS Bangor, carried the principal wreath-laying party which included members of the Royal Oak Association.

John Davidson, Stromness lifeboat mechanic and representing the British Legion, scattered poppy petals on the water, close to the buoy marking the final resting place of HMS Royal Oak.

As well as Stromness lifeboat, Violet Dorothy and Kathleen, a small flotilla of vessels brought several hundred people, including many family members of the lost sailors. Lighthouse support vessel Pharos was in attendance, as were two Orkney pilot boats, several dive charter boats and Flotta Lass from Flotta oil terminal close by.
On a flat calm sea, under a clear, blue, sunny sky it was difficult to imagine the horrors of 80 years ago.
Poppy wreath is laid on the water from HMS Bangor

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Wreath laying
Ships company and visitors at attention during service

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Service of Remembrance
The Orkney pilot boat, John Rae is close to Royal Oak marker buoy

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Pilot Boat, John Rae, pays respects
Ferry, Flotta Lass, carrying people to service.

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Family and friends pay respects
Ceremony attendees talking after the service on HMS Bangor

RNLI/Richard Clubley

Guests and visitors in quiet reflection

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.

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