BRNC CADETs take part in Scapa Flow memorial

  • Author: Nicki Dunwell Public Rela
  • Date: Friday 28th June 2019
BRNC CADETs take part in Scapa Flow memorial

Young Officers from Britannia Royal Naval College have taken part in a remembrance service to mark the 100th anniversary of the deliberate sinking of the German High Seas Fleet off Orkney.

Standing with their German counterparts the Young Officers were on board the Northern Lighthouse Board tender Pharos for the service of reflection and one minute’s silence over the wreck of the German Light cruiser, Dresden. 

With the Young Officers acting as ceremonial wreath bearers, wreaths were laid by the two most senior naval officers present, Rear Admiral Stephen Haisch, from the German Navy, and Captain Chris Smith, Royal Navy Regional Commander for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Navy divers from Britain and Germany then made a commemorative dive to lay the wreaths on the hull of the Dresden.

It was on 21 June 1919 that Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter issued the order to scuttle the vessels under his command - 74 vessels from the German High Seas Fleet interned in Scapa Flow after the Armistice which ended the First World War.

Fifty of the warships went to the seabed and the commemoration was held in memory of the 15 German sailors who lost their lives during the internment and on the day of the scuttling.

Rear Admiral Stephen Haisch said: “I am deeply touched by the heartfelt commemoration service that was organised by the people of Orkney.  Commemorating what happened here 100 years ago also brings to mind how far we have come since those dark days. How from enemies we, the United Kingdom and Germany, have become true friends. Today, our nations stand side by side on the world stage, upholding the joint values we believe in.”

Captain Smith added:  “I am honoured to stand alongside Rear Admiral Haisch in friendship on this day, looking back to a time when our countries were not as close as we have since become and to represent the Royal Navy as we complete the task set four years ago of commemorating the sacrifice made by so many during the course of what we now call the First World War. Today has seen sailors of both the Royal Navy and the German Navy jointly recognising a part of our collective history and doing so as allies, demonstrating that out of the adversity which once divided us we have forged a lasting friendship, which I think is the best tribute we can pay to those whose memory we honour on this day.”

A century ago, Rear Admiral von Reuter was acting under the mistaken belief that peace talks had failed, when he gave the command to scuttle his fleet, to prevent the warships from falling into the hands of the British and Allied forces.

In later years, many were later brought to the surface again during one of the most remarkable salvage operations ever attempted at sea. Those that remain – seven vessels in all - attract divers from worldwide and make Scapa Flow the premier wreck diving site in Europe.

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