Current Bulletin

Fall/Winter 2019/2020

Peterborough Naval Association

Peterborough Naval Association, 24 Whitlaw St. Peterborough, Ontario K9K 1K9
Clubhouse 705-743-6115, Admiralty Hall 705-749-3588





In a few weeks, each of us will have the privilege and honour to remember those who served this great country of ours, Canada, during peacetime and war, by participating and/or attending REMEMBRANCE DAY services. May we NEVER FORGET their contribution to secure our freedom. We live in the greatest country in the world and I am so proud to say: “I am a Canadian.”


They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
many they fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

The Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 52 Church Service will be held on Sunday, November 10th at Calvary Church, Lansdowne Street West, at 0845 and 1045.

The Remembrance Day Parade and Service are on Monday, November 11th. Muster at the PCVS parking lot 0930. Courtesy cars will be available for Veterans who are unable to march in the parade. Please contact the PNA office in advance


My main message once again is to remind everyone of the Remembrance Day activities involving our Association.

We hope all members physically able will attend the Parade on the 11th of November. Your presence will represent Shipmates who have crossed the Bar, or who are unable to join us in the march due to health concerns. We ask all those who wish to participate to meet at 1000 hours in the P.C.V.S. parking lot.

Following the Parade, we will hold our Annual Remembrance Day Reception for all in Admiralty Hall. Refreshments will be serviced by our Ladies Auxiliary.

At the time of writing, Vice President Dan Ayotte and his group of volunteers are busy doing renovations to our maintenance garage. Thanks to Dan and his gang. The “door of death” on the garage is being replaced at last by a safe roll-up door.

Finally, a gentle reminder to submit your 2020 dues. New Membership Cards are available at the Bar in the Club House and will also be available for purchase at the bar in Admiralty Hall on Remembrance Day.

John E. Carter



My first 4 months as 1st Vice and Club House Manger have been busy to say the least. With a lot of help from Frank, Vic, Erwin and other volunteers we have done a significant amount of tree and brush removal, and I can’t say how many trips we have made to the dump clearing out all the non-essentials from the garage. On September 27, 2019, a new garage door was installed which was long overdue. Thanks everyone for your help!

Starting October 4, 2019, we are going to have “Karaoke” after our Friday Night Dinners from 7:00 pm to Close. Be sure to come out and enjoy the entertainment. If you come to the Dinner the $5.00 Karaoke cover charge will be waived.

Our next “Open Mic” will be on Saturday, October 26th and starting Saturday, November 9th we will be holding our “Open Mic” twice a month. This is a great way to spend an entertaining afternoon with family and friends and help us bring some life into the Club House over the late Fall and Winter months.

Since June 2019 a significant number of new members have joined the PNA and hopefully this will continue. Be sure to renew your membership by Saturday, November 30th to get the $10 discount. The 2020 Membership Cards are now available at the Club House Bar.

See you soon,

Daniel Ayotte, 1st Vice-President


To foster a spirit of good fellowship and mutual assistance, develop
and retain comradeship and cooperation amongst those who have
served and the supporters of those who have served in the Naval
Services of Canada, the British Commonwealth and its Allies;
to perpetuate the memory of those members of these services who
made the supreme sacrifice in the service of their country;
to support and render benevolent services, financial or otherwise,
to its members or their dependents as may be required from time
to time.


Ralph Lloyd, Navy WWII, May 2019
Edward Garrett, Associate, May 2019
William (Bill) Goodman, Navy WWII, May 2019
Kenneth Carter, Navy WWII, July 2019
Gregory Higgins, Army, September 2019



During the past 3 months we have added 9 new members to our ranks. “Welcome aboard”, and may I encourage you to become active in the PNA. If interested in being part of a committee, contact a member of the Executive or the PNA office. Looking forward to working with you.


November 25, 0900 – Executive meeting

December – No meeting

January 27, 0900 – Executive meeting

February 3, 0900 – Executive meeting
February 3, 1900 – General Members

March 2, 0900 – Executive meeting
March 2, 1900 – General Members

April 27, 0900 – Executive meeting

PresidentJohn Carter705-799-5065 Cell: 705-930-5065
1st Vice PresidentDan Ayotte705-876-0881 Cell: 705-872-2638
2nd Vice PresidentBill Preston705-749-0290 Cell: 705-872-8685
TreasurerJack Oakley705-742-8941 Cell: 705 875-7322
Ways & Means ChairWava Brown705-742-1154 Cell: 705-930-7700
Ways & MeansBrenda BirdCell: 705-808-387
Recording SecretaryJune McLellan705-740-2965 Cell: 705-768-4941
NevadaVic DeCarlo705-743-4780
Sick & VisitingFrank Schofield705-748-6589
Master at ArmsVic DeCarlo705-743-4780
BuildingsBill Preston
Dan Ayotte
As above
As above
RegaliaJack OakleyAs above
BulletinBill PrestonAs above
PublicityBill PrestonAs above
Parades & MemorialsJohn CarterAs above
Cadet LiaisonJohn Carter705-799-5065
Peterborough Naval
Association Cenotaph
Bill PrestonAs above
TrusteeBill Downey705-742-8489
TrusteeRalph Smith705-742-3394

President, Diane Heard
Vice President, Vacant
Secretary, Barb Millar
Treasurer, Linda Livings


Reservations must be made by Wednesday the week of the Dinner by calling 705-743-6115
Cost: $12.00 per person

25 October 2019Pork Tenderloin
01 November 2019Roast Beef
15 November 2019Chicken Breast with Cream Sauce
29 November 2019Pork Tenderloin
13 December 2019Turkey Dinner


03 January 2020Roast Beef Dinner
17 January 2020Stuffed Chicken
31 January 2020Roast Pork
14 February 2020Ribs
28 February 2020Turkey Dinner
13 March 2020Roast Beef Dinner
03 April 2020Steak & Baked Potato
17 April 2020Ribs
1 May 2020Battle of Atlantic Dinner –
Admiralty Hall
15 May 2020Chicken Breast &
Rice Pilaf
29 May 2020Pork Tenderloin
12 June 2020Ribs
26 June 2020Steak & Baked Potat


12:00 – 1:00 pm – $8.00 per person
7:00 pm Sharp
2:00 to 3:00 pm
Friday Night Dinners$12. Per person, 6:00 pm.
Reservations required by Wednesday
the week of the Dinner
by calling 705-743-6115
Karaoke:Following every Friday Night Dinner
from 7:00 pm to Close.
If you come to the dinner the $5.00 cover charge
will be waived.
Open MICThe 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month
(starting October 26th). Doors open at 1:30 pm.


(As of October 14, 2019)
Monday & Tuesday: CLOSED
Wednesday: Open at Noon
Thursday: Open at 1500 (3:00 pm)
Friday & Saturday: Open at 1400 (2:00 pm)
Sunday & Holidays: CLOSED


The following are not my words, but those of a well known radio personality Roy Green, three time consecutive winner of the Canadian Association of Broadcasts National Gold Ribbon award, Canada’s most prestigious broadcast award. I agree fully with his comments and the shameful manner Vice- Admiral Norman was treated by our Federal Government. Mr. Green speaks of the sordid assault on Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, June 28,2019.

Mr. Green says……….

Thank you, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, for your service.

Canadians from all regions and walks of life rallied to your side as increasingly we became aware of the current federal government’s mission to destroy not only your exemplary military career, but also to ruin you financially and taint the remainder of your life with a criminal record.

Canadians stepped up. The GoFundMe page opened to generate support for your legal costs, raised $442,810 pledged by 3,547 people who, in the name of fairness, gladly contributed what they could.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman to retire from the Canadian Forces

Incrementally, we learned of how you angered those sitting at the federal cabinet table for doing your job. For delivering on budget and on time HM Asterix, the first new naval supply ship to enter service with the Royal Canadian Navy in half-a-century. A ship desperately needed in order for the Navy to perform its obligations on a global stage, and without which the RCN would have been limited to a compromised coastal defence role. Canadians learned the prime minister twice publicly mused you would see the inside of a courtroom, and this before any criminal charge was laid against you, Vice-Admiral. We became privy to the information that while you were denied payment of your legal expenses, Mr. Trudeau green-lighted himself and others in government to engage outside counsel at taxpayer expense. This in the event they might be called by your lawyer Marie Henein during the trial.

Of course, there would be no trial. The prosecution last month blinked, declared ‘no mas’ and stayed the criminal charge. Canadians cheered. We learned your legal expenses would be covered by the government. More cheers. Mark Norman GoFundMe legal fund could go to veterans’ charities

You expressed a strong desire to return to military life, Vice-Admiral. Your words were “immediate reinstatement and return to serving Canada.” The chief of defence staff expressed enthusiasm. A return to your position as head of the Navy and second-in-command of the CAF? Not going to happen, declared the federal defence minister in parliament. They were clearly afraid.

You told Canadians you wanted to share much about your story publicly, Vice-Admiral. I thought they wouldn’t let you. And they haven’t and won’t. Were you to have that public conversation, it might serve to compromise a prime minister, himself paddling furiously toward October 21, attempting to salvage the leaky Liberal Party ship. House of Commons offers all-party apology to Vice Adm. Mark Norman over failed prosecution. And then this week came the release of a four-paragraph announcement that you are leaving military service following a separation agreement negotiation. It’s non-disclosure, so Canadians will never learn of the details.

No one begrudges you a fair settlement, Vice-Admiral Norman. God knows you’ve suffered and the entire situation must remain bitter and galling.

Taxpayers, who are ultimately paying millions of dollars in total costs to satisfy a small-minded government vendetta, are left in the dark. (NDP urges Liberals give Norman a chance to tell his story; Scheer reiterates call for inquiry into Mark Norman case;

Liberals vote down request for defence committee to study Norman case; Goodale says RCMP investigation into Vice Admiral Mark Norman was completely independent)

Canadians, including those who served with you, won’t be afforded the opportunity to salute your stellar career in a dignified military manner. No official ceremony. No traditional thank you. You’re a cardboard box and elevator ride from the sidewalk.

I do hope we hear from you again, Vice-Admiral Norman. I would encourage you to engage in the political arena. Perhaps in time for October 21, even. However, that may be rushing things and perhaps the NDA includes a provision you won’t seek election in 2019.

Full sails and fair winds to you, Vice-Admiral. We’ll remember on a day in October.


Scapa Flow is a body of water about 120 square miles in area and with an average depth of 30 to 40 metres. The Orkney Mainland and South Isles encircle Scapa Flow, making it a sheltered harbour with easy access to both the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.

The name Scapa Flow comes from the Old Norse Skalpaflói, meaning ‘bay of the long isthmus’, which refers to the thin strip of land between Scapa Bay and the town of Kirkwall.

Scapa Flow has been used as a harbour since Viking times, the name Skalpaflói being given to it by the Vikings. However, it wasn’t until the Napoleonic wars of the early 1800s that the Admiralty first took an interest in Scapa Flow. The Admiralty used the area as a deep water anchorage for trading ships waiting to cross the North Sea to Baltic ports. Two Martello Towers were built on either side of Longhope in order to defend these trading ships until a warship arrived to escort them to the Baltic Sea.

Subsequent wars were waged against countries including France, Spain and the Netherlands – as such a northern naval base became unnecessary. However, by the early 20th century the Admiralty once again looked at Scapa Flow. This time it was to defend against a new enemy: Germany. Scapa Flow was ideally situated to provide a safe anchorage in the north with easy access to open waters. If the Admiralty were to rely on the Firth of Forth further south, there was a real risk their ships could be trapped if a minefield was placed across its mouth.


At the outbreak of World War I defences were put in place to guard the Grand Fleet in its new home. Coast defence batteries were built and boom defences, including anti-submarine nets, were stretched over the entrances to prevent enemy vessels from penetrating Scapa Flow. Old merchant ships were also sunk as blockships to prevent access through the channels. It was from this well guarded naval base that the Grand Fleet sailed in May 1916 to engage in battle with the German High Seas Fleet at the Battle of Jutland. On 5 June in the aftermath of the battle, the Minister of War – Lord Kitchener – visited the Grand Fleet in Scapa Flow on his way to Russia for a goodwill visit. He never made it to Russia. She sank in twenty minutes with a loss of 737 men including Lord Kitchener, only 12 of the company survived.

A greater loss of life would be suffered the following year when the battleship HMS Vanguard exploded at anchor in Scapa Flow with the loss of 843 men; only two of those on board survived. It is thought that spontaneous combustion of cordite triggered the devastating explosions.

As part of the Armistice agreement at the end World War I, Germany had to surrender most of its fleet. A total of 74 ships of the German High Seas Fleet arrived in Scapa Flow for internment.

On 21 June 1919, under the mistaken belief that peace talks had failed, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter gave the command to scuttle the entire fleet in the Flow. A total of 52 ships went to the seafloor and this remains the greatest loss of shipping ever recorded in a single day.

The majority of the German ships were raised in one of the largest ever salvage operations in history. Only seven of the 52 ships remain in the Flow, although evidence of others can still be seen in some locations on the bottom of Scapa Flow.

Instead the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow was a deliberate act of sabotage ordered by a commander who refused to let his ships become the spoils of war.

It was the single greatest loss of warships in history and the nine German sailors killed that day were the last to die during World War One. The final peace treaty was signed just a week later.

After the fighting in WW1 ended in November 1918, the entire German fleet was ordered to gather together in the Firth of Forth, near Edinburgh, to be “interned” by Allied force

Nine German battleships, five battlecruisers, seven light cruisers and 49 destroyers – the most modern ships of the German High Seas Fleet – were handed over to the victorious forces off the east of Scotland.

Within a week, the 70 German ships were escorted to the sheltered waters of Scapa Flow, off Orkney, where they and four other vessels were held while the details of the peace talks were worked out.

The final decision on their fate was to be taken at Versailles, but until then German sailors were kept on board their ships in the vast natural harbour. At Versailles, the victorious powers wrangled over what to do with the ships. Britain and the US wanted them destroyed. The French and Italians thought it better to share them out between the Allies.

“The ships were not actually surrendered and that’s why there were no British troops on board them to prevent them being scuttled,” Tom Muir from Orkney Museum told BBC Radio Scotland’s When the Fleet Went Down. “They were German government property and remained that throughout their time here.”

The German commander, Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, was not kept informed of what was happening outside of his ships. He had to rely on briefings from British commanders and old copies of the Times newspaper, according to Tom Muir.

The peace talks had been intended to conclude on 21 June but the deadline was extended. As far as von Reuter knew the talks had failed and he was fully expecting his ships to be boarded and seized by the Royal Navy. The German admiral felt duty-bound not to let that happen.

Mr Muir says: “Von Reuter had already sent letters around the commanders of the ships telling them that he was planning to have the fleet scuttled at his signal. Ironically it was the British drifters who were carting those letters around to the officers on the other ships.”

On the morning of 21 June 1919, the British fleet took advantage of good weather to steam out of the harbour on exercise. At 10:30, von Reuter’s flagship, Emden, sent out the seemingly innocuous message – “Paragraph Eleven; confirm”. It was a code ordering his men to scuttle their own ship.

The “paragraph eleven” signal, using semaphore and searchlights, took a while to reach all the ships because they were positioned right across the vast flow. “They would have waited and like a wave it went through the ships from north to south,” says Mr Muir.

Beneath decks, German sailors began to open seacocks – valves that allow water in – and smash pipes. Mr Muir says: “They had all been deliberately flooded from one side first so that they would turn over and sink because they believed it would make it more difficult for them to salvage them.”

At first it was not clear what was happening and it took a couple of hours before it became apparent that the Germans had deliberately sunk their ships.

The German sailors took to small boats to escape the sinking ships as the few remaining British sailors onboard Royal Navy drifters, small vessels about the size of fishing trawlers which often escorted destroyers,tried to work out what to do.

The only civilian witnesses were schoolchildren from Stromness who were on a trip to view the German fleet onboard a water tender.

One of the schoolchildren, 12-year-old Leslie Thorpe, wrote that one German boat full of fleeing soldiers did not have a white flag and the British fired on it with a machine gun.

“The one thing that should not be forgotten is men died that day,” says Mr Muir. “We see all these images and it is just a huge piece of metal rolling over in the sea and sinking and you forget about the cost in human terms.

“The men in the drifters were ordered to open fire on the defenceless German sailors. They had no weapons, they were not allowed them and they didn’t have any.”

It is believed nine Germans died as a result of the actions that day

By 17:00, most of the German High Seas Fleet had disappeared beneath the surface of Scapa Flow. The Hindenburg, the biggest German battlecruiser, was the last to sink.

During the 1920s and ’30s many of the 52 ships were lifted from the sea bed by commercial contractors and broken up.

The seven wrecks that remain are now classed as scheduled monuments, nationally important archaeological sites given protection against unauthorised change. Earlier this week it emerged that four of the vessels, which are now owned by a retired diving contractor, are being sold on eBay.

“The scuttling of the German fleet removed them from being a bargaining chip in peace negotiations but it was seen as a hostile act by the British,” says Mr Muir. “In Germany it was seen as a way of restoring some honour. The navy had not let the ships fall into enemy hands.”

A senior German officer declared at the time that this act had wiped away the “stain of surrender” from the German fleet

World War II saw the Home Fleet return to Scapa Flow. However, most of the World War I defences had long been dismantled and, despite some preparation for the outbreak of war, the anchorage was vulnerable to attack.

This weakness became all too apparent on the night of 13/14 October 1939 when the battleship HMS Royal Oak was sunk at anchor, by torpedoes fired by U-47, and 834 men lost their lives. The German submarine had crept in through Kirk Sound, on the eastern side of Scapa Flow, through gaps opened after time and tide had moved the blockships which had sealed it in the previous world conflict.

Work began immediately to strengthen the defences. The construction of the Churchill Barriers saw the vulnerable eastern channels closed forever. Italian prisoners-of-war who worked on their construction left behind a symbol of peace in the form of a small chapel made from converted Nissen huts and scrap, beautifully designed and painted by Domenico Chiocchetti. It remains an inspiration to all who visit it.

Some of the most significant naval action of World War II began in Scapa Flow. The hunt for the German battleship Bismarck began from here in 1941, as did aircraft carrier raids against its sister ship the Tirpitz. This was also the base for the Arctic Convoy escort ships that sailed to northern Russia with vital war supplies for the Soviet Union.


– Warships from around the world gather for CUTLASS FURY 19

Approximately 2,800 personnel from Canada and seven partner nations participated in CUTLASS FURY 2019 (CF19) off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland from September 9 to 20. CF19 was an opportunity for Canada’s Atlantic fleet, allied navies and other joint elements to maintain readiness in tactical-level warfare.

– On September 5, the week before CF19, participating warships began arriving in Halifax Harbour with planned public showings and events for that coming weekend. Unfortunately, these activities coincided with the incoming Hurricane Dorian so most were cancelled and all CF19 ships were moved out of Halifax Harbour to deeper waters to reduce the risk of damage to equipment and material.

Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in CF19. Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) participants included Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Fredericton, Ville de Québec, St. John’s, Shawinigan, and Glace Bay, as well as Naval Replenishment Unit (NRU) Asterix.

– HMCS Ottawa welcomed in South Korea.

On September 2, HMCS Ottawa arrived in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, its first port visit to the country since Op PROJECTION 2017. HMCS Ottawa is deployed in the Asia-Pacific region on Op PROJECTION until December.

During its South Korean port visit, Ottawa held a reception with the Canadian Head of Mission, members of the Republic of Korea Navy and senior government officials from various nations, made official calls, and participated in a friendly game of basketball with its hosts.

The purpose of Op PROJECTION is to conduct forward naval presence operations in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to conduct cooperative deployments and build capacity with partner nations.

During this deployment Ottawa will also support Operation NEON, Canada’s contribution to the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 on North Korea.

– HMCS Halifax is currently supporting Standing NATO Maritime Group Two on Op REASSURANCE, Canada’s support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

This month, HMCS Halifax conducted manoeuvres and helicopter operations with its German NATO partner, Federal German Ship Hessen; participated in DYNAMIC GUAR

Now warships are an unusual sight in Scapa Flow but the unsalvaged vessels of the German High Seas Fleet offer some of the greatest wreck diving the world has to offer.

At 12.58am on 14 October 1939 German torpedoes struck HMS Royal Oak. The battleship sank quickly with the loss of more than 800 lives.

Today the wreck is a designated war grave and the waters above are a place of remembrance in Scapa Flow.

HMS Royal Oak was a Royal Navy battleship under Captain WH Benn. She had been moored off the cliffs of Gaitnip, in the north-east corner of Scapa Flow, so her anti-aircraft guns could help defend against any air attack on the vital Netherbutton Radar Station which stood above the cliffs.

On the night of 13/14 October 1939, German submarine U-47, under the command of Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien – one of the three recognised U-boat aces of World War II – crept into Scapa Flow through Kirk Sound, between the blockships which were meant to have made the Sound impassable to enemy vessels.

Royal Oak was sighted. U-47 fired three salvoes. The first landed a minor hit which the crew of the battleship mistook as a minor internal explosion, rather than a sign of attack. Despite the second salvo missing, the confusion surrounding the first hit gave Prien time to return to his original firing position, reload, and fire again. This third salvo delivered the fatal hits.

The ferocity of the explosions caused the ship to heel over alarmingly and she sank with frightening speed. Those men that managed to escape the initial explosions and ensuing fires were faced with a swim through chilling waters thick with oil. Few survived the half-mile swim to shore.
From the crew of more than 1,200, 834 were lost. Recent careful research has better-established the casualty list, 833 having been the figure commonly given in the past.

Captain Benn was one of the survivors and both he and his crew were credited with doing all they could to save their ship.

The HMS Royal Oak saw much active service before coming to its tragic end on 14 October 1939. Although lacking speed, the ship proved its worth in World War I and during both peacetime operations and the early part of World War II.

This super-dreadnought battleship was laid down in January 1911 at HM Dockyard, Devonport. She was part of the five-strong Revenge class and was the last battleship to be built at Devonport . The Revenge class ships were slower than their predecessors – the ships of the Queen Elizabeth super-dreadnought class. They used lower-powered engines and were smaller and cheaper overall. This was not considered to be an issue because the Revenge class was not intended to form a fast battleship division of the Grand Fleet, instead it was to serve in the main battle line.

The Revenge class battleships were also narrower and this design was intended to lessen the roll of the ships and make them more stable gun platforms. However, this narrower width meant it was subsequently difficult to upgrade them without compromising their stability in contrast to the Queen Elizabeth class ships. The ships were initially designed to burn coal due to concerns about security of the oil supplies. However, during construction they were changed to burn both coal and oil.

The HMS Royal Oak was launched in November 1914 and commissioned in May 1916. The ship replaced a pre-dreadnought battleship of the same name.

She was part of the IV Battle Squadron at the Battle of Jutland in World War I, during which the ship fired a total of 38 15 inch shells and managed to emerge unscathed.

Between the wars, the duties of the HMS Royal Oak included non-intervention patrols in response to the Spanish Civil War and planned exercises (mainly based in Malta).

The ship first came to public notice due to a collision with HMS Campania in November 1918 and then again due to the ‘Royal Oak affair This was a well-publicised disagreement in 1928 between Rear-Admiral Collard and the ship’s two most senior officers, Captain Kenneth Gilbert Balmain Dewar and Commander Henry Martin Daniel. It led to all three men being relieved of their positions. The ship was regularly and extensively refitted over the years, resulting in an increase in weight and decrease in speed. These changes included the fitting of a wide range of additional anti-aircraft armament, the provision of a further 900 tonnes of armour, and the fitting of an aircraft catapult. The ship’s radio equipment, which included direction-finding equipment and fire-control directors, was also updated. The 1924-27 refit included the fitting of anti-torpedo bulges 2.1 metres wide along the sides of the hull. During the 1934-37 refit an additional four inches of armour was installed over the magazines and machinery spaces.

The Revenge class battleships were considered obsolete at the start of World War II with Winston Churchill labelling them “coffin ships”. However, despite starting to show their age and struggling to keep up with faster capital ships, they were heavily used – taking part in

fleet operations, shore bombardments, ship-to-ship engagements and convoy protection. Even a German Bismarck class battleship might have hesitated engaging a convoy protected by a Revenge class battleship. The chances of suffering significant damage hundreds of miles away from a safe harbour were too steep.

“The place where the German U-boat sank the British battleship Royal Oak was none other than the middle of Scapa Flow, Britain’s greatest naval base! It sounds incredible…” William L Shirer, journalist, 18 October 1939.

In 1938, with the threat of war looming, surveys showed that Kirk Sound (part of Holm Sound) had a perfectly clear and deep passage running through it, 300 to 400 feet wide. This posed a real danger to British ships stationed in Scapa Flow. Indeed, a 2,000-ton vessel was said to have made it through in 1932.

In an attempt to block the channel more effectively the old merchant ship Seriano was sunk as a blockship on 15 March 1939. Nevertheless, navigable channels remained through both Kirk Sound and Skerry Sound . The survey vessel Scott even reported this as a navigable channel in May 1939, 400 feet wide with a depth of two fathoms at low water. In spite of this it was concluded that the sounds would be too hazardous for a vessel passing through on the surface.

Admiral Sir William French, commanding Orkney and Shetland, refuted this judgement. He travelled through Kirk Sound and Skerry Sound in a picket boat in June 1939 and determined that a submarine or destroyer could make it through at slack water.

Costs slowed the sinking of more blockships until the outbreak of war when SS Cape Ortegal was sunk in Skerry Sound. SS Lake Neuchatel was destined to be a blockship in Kirk Sound, but was still afloat on the night of 13/14 October 1939).

Konteradmiral Döenitz, Commander of the Submarines, said on receipt of a survey to find Scapa Flow’s weakness: “I hold that a penetration at this point [Kirk Sound] on the surface at the turn of the tide would be possible without further ceremony.” Kapitänleutnant Günther Prien was to prove how inadequate the British defences were when he made one of the most daring attacks ever recorded.

A sortie by units of the Kriegsmarine, or German Navy, including the battlecruiser Gneisenau, the cruiser Köln and nine destroyers, was staged to tempt units of the British Home Fleet out of Scapa Flow for attack by the Luftwaffe. Although many ships of the Home Fleet did respond, the Luftwaffe did not engage and this tactic left Prien with just a few ships in Scapa Flow as targets. HMS Royal Oak had returned early from the Home Fleet sweep and took up its role as anti-aircraft defence for the Scapa Flow anchorage and the Radio Direction Finding station at Netherbutton.

The German submarine U-47, under the command of Prien, approached Scapa Flow through the narrow approaches at Kirk Sound with surprising ease. It was high tide and a little after midnight on 14 October 1939. U-47 first sailed towards Lyness but, finding no ships in the area and encountering no resistance, then turned to the north where HMS Royal Oak, HMS Pegasus and possibly HMS Iron Duke were spotted . A total of 51 ships were in Scapa Flow at the time, 18 of which can be described as fighting ships.

When the first torpedo struck HMS Royal Oak at 12.58am, the dull thud confused the sailors – they thought the muffled explosions were an on-board problem, perhaps an explosion in the paint store. They certainly did not think it was a U-boat attack. A second salvo failed to deliver a hit but the confusion surrounding the first hit gave Commander Prien an additional 20 minutes to return to his firing position, reload, and fire a third salvo. This third discharge landed direct hits amidships.

Such was the ferocity of the explosions, the ship heeled over alarmingly and all the lights went out. It had been fine weather so all of the ship’s hatches were open. Undoubtedly Royal Oak would have taken longer to sink and more lives would have been saved if the watertight hatches had been closed; but it is not normal procedure to have all hatches closed when in a supposedly safe harbour with no alerts.

When the ship rolled its gun barrels shifted, pulling the ship faster beneath the surface. Water crashed through the open hatches and men asleep in their bunks were unable to get out in time. It took just minutes for the battleship to sink. Hundreds fought for their lives in the water, trying to swim for shore through thick fuel oil and in freezing temperatures. A total of 834 men lost their lives. Many of the men are buried in the Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery on Hoy

The sinking of HMS Royal Oak was a notable German propaganda coup. However, there is conjecture that she may not have been the only British ship struck by the German forces that night.

Prien’s account stated that he hit another ship – the battlecruiser HMS Repulse. This warship had, in fact, left that day with the rest of the fleet. However, it is possible that U-47 hit the British Atlantic Fleet’s Flagship, HMS Iron Duke. On 17 October a Luftwaffe squadron attacked HMS Iron Duke as she lay beached at Lyness. When the attack commenced it is claimed that the ship was already listing heavily and had a large hole in the bow. Metal Industries were engaged in pumping out the vessel and patching the hull. The British Admiralty never confirmed that HMS Iron Duke had been hit but it has been argued that it was deemed too sensitive to report that the Fleet’s Flagship had also been torpedoed on the same night as Royal Oak was lost.

Later it was discovered that Prien never subscribed to many of the claims attributed to him. His ghost-written account was inevitably embellished by propaganda and it has taken some work to untangle his original account. In 1978 Karl Dönitz, who became head of the German navy during World War II, said that Prien’s identification of the HMS Repulse at anchor came from the German High Command: “Lt Prien arrived home safely, was told he had torpedoed Repulse, heard the evidence and didn’t like it. Except when cornered by questions he avoided positive identification of Repulse wherever possible. Despite conspiracy theories that HMS Royal Oak sank as a result of sabotage, involving a bomb in the explosives store, the damage to the ship has been confirmed as external. Moreover, the gaping torpedo holes reveal why she sank so quickly.

The vessel’s torpedo bulge, although modernised in 1934, had been fitted in 1922 and was designed to withstand torpedoes with 450 to 500 pounds of explosives (Rickard, 2007). By World War II torpedoes were more powerful and so ships like HMS Royal Oak could fall prey to a few well-placed torpedoes.

In a film recording of Prien discussing his actions he says:

“Inside of Scapa Flow, the harbour of the English sea force, it was absolutely dead calm in there. The entire bay was alight because of bright northern lights. We then cruised in the

bay for approximately one and a half hour, chose our targets, fired our torpedoes. In the next moment there was a bang and the next moment the Royal Oak blew up. The view was indescribable. And we sneaked out, in a similar fashion as we got in, close past the enemy guards, and they did not see us. You can imagine the excitement and happiness we all felt, about the fact that we managed to fulfil our task and achieve such a huge victory for Germany.”

The realisation that U-47 had entered Scapa Flow through Kirk Sound prompted the immediate sinking of further blockships. By 1940 the Churchill Barriers were under construction and, when completed, they permanently blocked the eastern entrances to Scapa Flow.

History of U-47

U-47, a type VII submarine, was laid down in Kiel on 27 February 1937, launched on 29 October 1938 and commissioned on 17 December 1938 under command of Günther Prien. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross First Class by Adolf Hitler. He commanded U-47 through 10 patrols, sinking 30 ships in the process.

The last radio message from U-47 was received on the morning of 7 March 1941 from the North Atlantic near the Rockall Banks. The sinking of U-47 has always been attributed to the British destroyer HMS Wolverine. What actually happened remains confusing, but accounts indicate that the destroyer kept up a sustained attack on an unknown U-boat resulting in its probable destruction. All that is definitely known is that U-47 failed to report back to headquarters after 7 March 1941.

* EDITOR’S NOTE – The following is prominently displayed beside the original nameplate from HMS Royal Oak, located in the Kirkwall Museum, Orkney Islands:

“These nameplate letters were illegally removed from the wreck of HMS Royal Oak in the early 1970’s by a amateur diver on holiday in Orkney. The diver later emigrated to Canada taking the letters with him.

In 1994 the letters were handed over to the Royal Navy in Canada and then returned to Great Britain. After restoring and mounting the letters, the Royal Navy presented them to Orkney Islands Council in October 1995.

They are on display here as a memorial to those who lost their lives in the sinking.


The Churchill Barriers are a series of four causeways in Orkney, Scotland, with a total length of 1.5 miles (2.4 km). They link the Mainland in the north to South Ronaldsay, via Burray, and the two smaller islands of Lamb Holm and Glimps Holm.

The barriers were built in the 1940s primarily as naval defences to protect the anchorage at Scapa Flow, but now serve as road links, carrying the A961 road from Kirkwall to BurwicK.

U-47 used the partially blocked channel between Lamb Holm and the Mainland to attack HMS Royal Oak in October 1939.
On 14 October 1939, the Royal Navy battleship HMS Royal Oak was sunk at her moorings within the natural harbour of Scapa Flow by the German U-boat U-47. Shortly before midnight on 13 October U-47, under the command of Günther Prien, had entered Scapa Flow through Kirk Sound between Lamb Holm and the Orkney Mainland. Although the shallow eastern passages had been secured with measures including sunken block ships, booms and anti-submarine nets, Prien was able to navigate the U-47 around the obstructions at high tide. He launched a torpedo attack on the Royal Navy battleship while it was at anchor in Scapa Flow. The U-47 then escaped seaward using the same channel by navigating between the block ships. In response, First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill ordered the construction of several permanent barriers to prevent any further attacks. Work began in May 1940 and was completed by September 1944. The barriers were officially opened on 12 May 1945, four days after the end of World War II in Europe.
The contract for building the barriers was awarded to Balfour Beatty,[2] although part of the southernmost barrier (between Burray and South Ronaldsay) was sub-contracted to William Tawse & Co. The first Resident Superintending Civil Engineer was E K Adamson, succeeded in 1942 by G Gordon Nicol. Preparatory work on the site began in May 1940, while experiments on models for the design were undertaken at Whitworth Engineering Laboratories at the University of Manchester. The bases of the barriers were built from gabions enclosing 250,000 tons of broken rock from quarries on Orkney. The gabions were dropped into place from overhead cableways into waters up to 59 feet deep. The bases were then covered with 66,000 locally cast concrete blocks in five-ton and ten-ton sizes. The five-ton blocks were laid on the core, and the ten-ton blocks were arranged on the sides in a random pattern to act as wave-breaks. Labour – A project of this size required a substantial labour force, which peaked in 1943 at over 2,000. Much of the labour was provided by over 1,300 Italian prisoners of war who had been captured in the North African Campaign, and were transported to Orkney from early 1942 onwards. As the use of POW labour for war effort works is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions, the works were justified as “improvements to communications” to the southern Orkney Islands. The prisoners were accommodated in three camps, 600 at Camp 60 on Lamb Holm and the remaining 700 at two camps on Burray. Those at Camp 60 built the ornate Italian Chapel Building the Churchill Barriers was an incredible task. To create the foundations a ¼ million tons of stone was laid on the sea-bed. On top of this was built the causeway, from 66,000 huge blocks of concrete, some weighing five and some weighing 10 tonnes each! Along the sides of the barriers, concrete blocks were placed at varying angles to prevent the sea from sweeping over the road that runs along the top.


The Italian’s camp consisted of 13 huts and was rather gloomy, but in their spare time the prisoners planted flowers and made concrete paths (the POWs daytime job allowed them access to lots of concrete!) A theatre with scenery was created and a recreation hall, complete with three concrete pool tables was built in Camp 60! An artist from Moena, Domenico Chiocchetti, made a statue of St George slaying the dragon for the ‘square’. It had a frame made of barbed wire and was covered with cement. The base of the statue contained all of the prisoners names and some Italian coins and the statue itself represented the prisoners triumph over defeat and loneliness during the years of captivity on Lamb Holm.

In 1943, it was agreed between Major Thomas Pyres Buckland, Camp 60’s new commandant, and Father Gioacchino Giacobazzi, the Camp’s priest, that a place of worship should be built. Two nissen huts were joined end-to-end with the intention of creating a chapel at one end and a school at the other. Domenico Chiocchetti did most of the interior decoration. The other principle men that worked on the chapel were Buttapasta, a cement worker; Palumbi, a smith; Primavera and Micheloni, electricians; Barcaglioni, Batto, Devitto, Fornaiser, Pennisi, Sforza and many others.

The corrigated interior was hidden by with plasterboard. The tabernacle was made from wood obtained from a wrecked ship. The alter was made from concrete. Scrap metal was used – two candelabra were forged from iron by Palumbi, and two were forged from brass by Primavera. The light holders were made out of corned beef tins. The baptismal font was a car exhaust covered with concrete! The sanctuary’s gold curtains were bought from a firm in Exeter using money from the prisoners’ welfare fund.

The painting of Madonna and Child surrounded by cherubs at the altar was inspired by a prayer card that Chiochetti carried throughout the war. It is Chiochetti’s masterpiece and it carries a moving message – “Regina pacis ora pro nobis” (Queen of Peace pray for us). Baby Jesus holds an olive branch and one cherub holds a blue shield, the badge of Moena, depicting a boat moving out of tempests into good weather. Another cherub is sheathing a sword.

The beautiful rod screen and gate was made by Palumbi out of wrought iron and took four months to complete. There is a tiny metal heart in the floor under the gates – a symbol of Palumbi’s love for a local girl. He already had a wife and family back home in Italy, so he left his heart behind. The rest of the chapel was now looking a bit drab, so Chiochetti covered it with plasterboard and painted it so that it resembled brickwork and carved stone. At this point he received help from a painter from another camp.

With the interior of the chapel looking so splendid, attention was turned to the exterior. The exterior was covered in a thick layer of concrete. At the front of the chapel, Buttapasta made an impressive facade with pillars to conceal the ugly nissan hut and make the building look like a church.

Pennisi moulded the head of Christ out of red clay.The Italian Chapel was only used for a brief time before the prisoners returned home on 9th September 1944. A special service was held, incorporating the bells and Choir of St Peter’s in Rome, provided by gramophone records in the vestry. Chiocchetti remained behind for two weeks to complete the font.

After the war the Italian Chapel become an extremely popular place to visit, but it also began to deteriorate. In 1958, the Chapel Preservation Committee was established. With financial assistance from the BBC, Domenico Chiocchetti was traced to his hometown of Moena and was asked to return to Orkney for three weeks in 1960. Along with Mr Stanley of Kirkwall, he assisted with the restoration of the paintwork. Later a bitumenised waterproof covering was added to the roof.

In 1961, the carved figure of Christ, which stands at the chapel entrance, was gifted by Chiocchetti’s home town, Moena. The cross and canopy were made in Kirkwall. When Chiochetti returned in 1964 with his wife Maria, he brought the gift of 14 lovely carvings of the Stations of the Cross, which are hung on the walls of the Italian Chapel to this day.

Though Chiochetti was too ill to return in 1992, a group of eight former prisoners returned to the Chapel for the 50th Anniversary of their arrival on Orkney. Domenico Chiocchetti died in 1999 in Moena, aged 89.


– Warships from around the world gather for CUTLASS FURY 19

Approximately 2,800 personnel from Canada and seven partner nations participated in CUTLASS FURY 2019 (CF19) off the coast of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland from September 9 to 20. CF19 was an opportunity for Canada’s Atlantic fleet, allied navies and other joint elements to maintain readiness in tactical-level warfare.

– On September 5, the week before CF19, participating warships began arriving in Halifax Harbour with planned public showings and events for that coming weekend. Unfortunately, these activities coincided with the incoming Hurricane Dorian so most were cancelled and all CF19 ships were moved out of Halifax Harbour to deeper waters to reduce the risk of damage to equipment and material.

Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in CF19. Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) participants included Her Majesty’s Canadian Ships (HMCS) Fredericton, Ville de Québec, St. John’s, Shawinigan, and Glace Bay, as well as Naval Replenishment Unit (NRU) Asterix.

– HMCS Ottawa welcomed in South Korea.

On September 2, HMCS Ottawa arrived in Pyeongtaek, South Korea, its first port visit to the country since Op PROJECTION 2017. HMCS Ottawa is deployed in the Asia-Pacific region on Op PROJECTION until December.

During its South Korean port visit, Ottawa held a reception with the Canadian Head of Mission, members of the Republic of Korea Navy and senior government officials from various nations, made official calls, and participated in a friendly game of basketball with its hosts.

The purpose of Op PROJECTION is to conduct forward naval presence operations in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to conduct cooperative deployments and build capacity with partner nations.

During this deployment Ottawa will also support Operation NEON, Canada’s contribution to the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2375 and 2397 on North Korea.

– HMCS Halifax is currently supporting Standing NATO Maritime Group Two on Op REASSURANCE, Canada’s support to NATO assurance and deterrence measures in Central and Eastern Europe.

This month, HMCS Halifax conducted manoeuvres and helicopter operations with its German NATO partner, Federal German Ship Hessen; participated in DYNAMIC GUARD

19-2; and conducted a visit to the Aksaz Naval Base where the crew participated in a friendly game of soccer with members of the Turkish navy.

– HMCS Kingston wrapped up its Arctic operations as part of Op NANOOK 2019 on September 20. From August 9 to September 13, the ship brought a naval presence and monitoring to the Northwest Passage during its busiest time of the year for maritime traffic as part of the fourth part of the operation, Op NANOOK-TUUGAALIK. During this time, Kingston participated in Community Days in Clyde River, Nunavut from September 5 to 7 and visited Nuuk, Greenland.

During Op NANOOK-TUUGAALIK, Kingston also supported Defence Research and Development Canada and Canadian Armed Forces science and technology experimentation in the vicinity of Gasocyne Inlet near Devon Island, and supported Environment Canada by embarking two wildlife officers and patrolling national protected areas in Baffin Bay and Hudson Bay.

– Oriole returns home an honorary tall ship

HMCS Oriole returned to HMC Dockyard Halifax on September 15, concluding its Great Lakes Deployment (GLD), but it came back a different ship than when it departed.

HMCS Oriole returned with an honorary membership in the Tall Ships Canada organization. It was presented during a ceremony held in Brockville, Ont., in early September. The Tall Ships Canada organization welcomes members who are committed to supporting sail training, the preservation of maritime heritage, environmental stewardship and advocacy for maritime careers.

– 1952,HMCS Iroquois was on its first tour of duty in Korea, under frequent fire as it patrolled the peninsula’s east coast, itself frequently firing on North Korea rail lines. On 1600, October 2, 1952 the Tribal-class destroyer hit by North Korean shore batteries. Lieutenant-Commander John Quinn was killed, as well as gun loaders Elburne Baike and Wally Burden, 10 others were wounded. HMCS Iroquois became the only Royal Canadian Navy ship to suffer losses due to enemy action during the Korean War.

The dead crew members were buried with full military honours in the Commonwealth war cemetery near Yokohama, Japan

– In 2018, th e Royal Canadian Navy supply ship, Asterix spent 213 operational days at sea, according to the RCN. The navy numbers, however, don’t tell the whole story. They only represent the days at sea conducting operations. In fact, Asterix in 2018 was deployed 355 days. That included days in foreign ports, loading up with supplies, etc. The planned “at sea” times for both 2019 and 2020 are 229 days.

Federal Fleet personnel on Asterix said the ship is capable of being at sea almost continuously year-round if needed.The Conservative government pushed the project to convert the Asterix, a commercial vessel, into a naval supply ship in the summer of 2015. After being elected the Liberal government tried to put the project on hold after it received a letter from the Irving family complaining that its proposed ship hadn’t been given a fair examination.Navy officers have noted the Irving proposal was examined and rejected.Asterix was at the heart of the Crown’s case against Vice Admiral Mark Norman.Norman, who was the second-highest ranking officer in the Canadian Forces before being suspended by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance, was charged with one count of breach of trust. The RCMP alleged Norman tipped off Davie Shipbuilding in the fall of 2015 that the Liberal government was considering delaying the Asterix project.

Details about the government’s decision were also leaked to journalists, and the resulting embarrassment — along with $89 million in financial penalties that would have been imposed on the government — forced the Liberals to back down on their plans.
The case against Norman collapsed May 8 after new evidence prompted the Crown to conclude there was no reasonable chance of securing a conviction. The naval officer, who entered a plea of not guilty, always maintained he had done nothing wrong.
Asterix is a rare example of a defence purchase that has been delivered on time and on budget.
The Liberal government has rejected Davie’s plan to convert a second commercial ship into a supply vessel, stating that such a capability isn’t needed.
Asterix is the only refuelling and resupply vessel that is assigned to the RCN.

Canadian Surface Combatants Ship Building Status
Replacement of the Halifax and Tribal-class ships.

The BAE Type 26 frigate appears to be the most popular frigate design in the West. In February, the Canadian government finalized its decision to buy a version to replace its current fleet of Halifax- and Tribal-class ships. The Royal Australian Navy signed an AUS$35 billion contract ($26 billion) for development and construction of nine Type 26 ships last June to replace its current ANZAC class. Combined, the two Commonwealth navies, Canada and Australia and the Royal Navy have ordered 32. The Franco-Italian FREMM has done well also, with 20 on order and a potential order for another 8. The U.S. Navy is considering FREMM for the 20-ship FFG(X) future frigate program, but not the Type 26, because a program requirement is ships under consideration must already be in service.

Recalling the past export success of British ships such as the Type 12/Leander design, BAE sees other export customers considering the Type 26 as well. Chile historically has favoured British designs, and its aging frigate force is due for replacement soon. Brazil is another possibility. There also has been speculation that the Royal Navy may reverse its decision to buy five less-capable Type 31 frigates in favour of more Type 26s. The export success of the frigate raises the question of whether the U.S. Navy’s decision should be revisited.

The Type 26 is large; at nearly 7,000 tons, it is about twice the size of the frigates it will replace in the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. In past decades, the Royal Navy usually preferred the smallest ships it could buy on the theory that smaller ships were less expensive. Unfortunately, small ships also have less capacity for modernization or modification, which limits effective lifetimes.

* Editor’s note – The replacement of the Halifax and Tribal-class ships has been ongoing for over 5 years and the first ship will not be delivered until the late 2020’s. Typical government inefficiencies.
Bill Preston, Editor 705-749-0290, 705-872-8685
Peterborough Naval Association
24 Whitlaw Street
Peterborough, Ontario K9J 1K9

*articles may have been obtained from public, government. magazine, newspaper websites and edited for this publication .

Next bulletin April 2020