Scapa Flow: The defences of Britain's great fleet anchorage 1914-45

Scapa Flow: The defences of Britain's great fleet anchorage 1914-45

Scapa Flow: The defences of Britain's great fleet anchorage 1914-45

Scapa Flow: The defences of Britain's great fleet anchorage 1914-45


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A strategically important natural harbor in the Orkney Islands, Scapa Flow served as Britain's main fleet anchorage during World Wars I and II. It held Jellicoe's Grand Fleet from 1914-18, and it was from here that it sailed out to do battle with the Germans at Jutland in 1916. In 1914 the British began building a comprehensive defensive network by fortifying the entrances to Scapa Flow and then extending these defenses to cover most of Orkney. These static defenses were augmented with boom nets, naval patrols and minefields, creating the largest fortified naval base in the world.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Scapa Flow again proved ideally situated to counter the German naval threat and served as the base for Britain's Home Fleet. Despite constant attacks from aircraft and U-boats, one of which managed to sink the British battleship Royal Oak, the defenses of Scapa Flow were again augmented and improved. By 1940, Orkney had become an island fortress, the largest integrated defensive network of its kind in Europe, manned by as many as 50,000 Commonwealth troops.

Backed by newly commissioned artwork, naval historian Angus Konstam tells the story of this mighty naval fortress, many pieces of which can still be seen on the island today.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781846033667
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 07/21/2009
Series: Fortress , #85
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 7.25(w) x 9.86(h) x 0.18(d)

About the Author

Angus Konstam hails from the Orkney Islands, and is the author of over 50 books, 30 of which are published by Osprey. This acclaimed and widely published author has written several books on piracy, including The History of Pirates. His most recent work is a full-length piratical biography: Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate.  A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as the Curator of Weapons at the Tower of London and as the Chief Curator of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. He now works as a full-time author and historian, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Table of Contents

Introduction 4

Chronology 6

The Development of Scapa Flow's Defences 7

World War I

Between the wars

Principles of Defence: 'Plan Q' and 'Plan R' 21

A Tour of the Fortress 28

Radar and anti-aircraft defences

Coastal defences

Anti-invasion defences

Anti-submarine and anti-surface ship defences

Air cover

The Home Fleet

Life in the Orkney Garrison 43

Scapa Flow at War 47

The Aftermath of World War II 53

The Defences of Scapa Flow Today 56

Museums and other attractions

Further Reading 61

Appendix 62

Index 64

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