The Grand Scuttle: The Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919

The Grand Scuttle: The Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919

The Grand Scuttle: The Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919

The Grand Scuttle: The Sinking of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow in 1919

Synopsis

At Scapa Flow on 21 June 1919, the German High Seas Fleet, one of the most formidable ever built and prime cause of the Great War, was deliberately sent to the bottom of the British Grand Fleet's principal anchorage at Orkney by its own officers and men.

Excerpt

For the past three years I have lived with the sonorous names of dead ships. the names are royal, military, commemorative and honorific or merely functional. Seiner Majestät Schiff Seydlitz eventually became my favourite because she should have sunk at the Battle of Jutland in 1916, but refused, because she bore the burden of leading the German High Seas Fleet into internment at the end of the First World War, and because she resisted more than forty attempts to raise her from the bottom for scrap, after the pride of the Imperial Navy scuttled itself at Scapa Flow in Orkney on 21 June 1919.

On that day there occurred the greatest single loss of shipping since Man first sat astride a log and floated away from land. the Persian fleet met its end at Sal amis, and the Pacific Fleet of the United States was smashed at Pearl Harbor, but both those disasters resulted from enemy action. the Spanish Armada was scattered and destroyed, but the main reason for its doom was a providential storm. the German High Seas Fleet survived a cataclysmic war almost unscathed, but the bulk of its strength and tonnage was destroyed by order of the German Admiral in command at the time. the scale of the loss, over 400,000 tons of the finest warships then in existence, seventy-four vessels of which fiftytwo actually went to the bottom under the eyes of the enemy, is unique in itself. That it was an act of self-destruction based on a misapprehension only compounds the uniqueness of a story which is extraordinary by any standard. It is also surprising that the story of this fleet has never before been told in logical form, from its inception through its construction and frustration in peace and war to its humiliation, its self-immolation in the name of honour, its salvage and its still continuing value as a source of uncontaminated steel: from the idle speculations of an under-occupied naval staff officer called Tirpitz to Man’s first ventures into space. That is the theme of this book.

The reader is entitled to know why and how the author, a most un-naval person, came to attempt to fill this gap. I am a reporter by . . .

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