HMS Royal Oak


The seventh incarnation of HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed this day 1939, sinking 25 minutes after the first explosion into the dark, shallow waters of Scapa Flow. Of the ship’s crew of 1,234 men and boys, 833 were killed and the bodies of most who died remain on the vessel, now a protected war grave.

The family headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard says Charles William BAILEY was “lost in HMS Royal Oak” so he is perhaps there still. It is one thing to see a single life remembered, another to see a list of those serving at the time of her sinking.

Charles William is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial and on the Filey Memorial in Murray Street.

He was unmarried when killed at age 40 but he has an extensive pedigree on FamilySearch Tree. The man most clearly responsible for his death, U-47’s commander Günther PRIEN, is not so blessed.


Location of HMS Royal Oak in Scapa Flow: Open Street Map


From a postcard © Wright & Logan, Southsea, accessed here



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