Plans are developing to mark the centenary of the scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow.
The deliberate sinking of the vessels on 21 June 1919 remains one of the greatest losses of shipping ever recorded in a single day.
One hundred years later, commemorations will be held on Midsummer’s Day 2019 to remember the 15 German lives lost as a result of the internment and scuttling of the fleet.
A programme of community events held around the time of the anniversary will reveal the historical significance of the scuttling and mark its impact and continued legacy in Orkney.
The events in 1919 were witnessed by a large group of school children from Stromness, who were on an outing in Scapa Flow aboard a local vessel, the Flying Kestrel. They watched in amazement as ship after ship started to heel at strange angles before sinking to the seabed. Descendants of those on board are invited to get in touch if they would like to be involved.
Antony Mottershead, Arts Officer with Orkney Islands Council, said: “We are working with partners in Germany to see if we are able to identify and contact any descendants of the 15 sailors who sadly lost their lives. Closer to home, we would like to hear from descendants of the children who were aboard the Flying Kestrel or have a close family connection to the events that unfolded that day.”
Antony can be contacted by email or by phone on 01856 873535 extension 2406.
Following the end of the First World War, Germany had to surrender most of its Naval vessels as part of the Armistice agreement.
A total of 74 ships from the German High Seas Fleet arrived in Scapa Flow for internment. On 21 June 1919, acting under the mistaken belief that peace talks had failed, Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter gave the command to scuttle the entire fleet, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the British and Allied forces.
A total of 50 ships went to the seafloor. Many were later brought to the surface again during one of the most remarkable salvage operations ever attempted at sea. Those that remain on the seabed attract divers from worldwide keen to explore the wrecked vessels.