Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Work to repair Royal Oak Roll of Honour

Work to repair Royal Oak Roll of Honour
20 June 2018

Conservation work is to be carried out to repair damage to the HMS Royal Oak Roll of Honour.

The book, which records the names of all the men lost in a U-boat attack on the battleship in 1939, was damaged during a break-in at St Magnus Cathedral.

The repair work will be undertaken by Caroline Scharfenberg, at Book and Archive Conservation Services in Edinburgh.

The book was created in 1993 and is displayed in a glass cabinet in the Cathedral, beneath the bell from HMS Royal Oak.

The Cathedral memorial holds great significance for descendants and relatives of Royal Oak crew-members, and is a focus for the annual commemoration of the disaster.

The pages listing those lost when the battleship was torpedoed on 14th October 1939 were regularly turned.
Caroline will clean the pages to reduce or remove damage caused during the break-in and by years of handling, and repair and re-stitch the binding.

She said: “It is lovely that the memorial book is being repaired and I am really pleased to have been chosen to carry out the work.”

Rachel Boak, curator at Orkney Museum, said: “We are delighted that Caroline will be undertaking the conservation of the Royal Oak Roll of Honour. Her treatment proposal was very comprehensive and she has years of experience of working with books and archive material.”

Gareth Derbyshire, Chairman of the Royal Oak Association, said, “I am very grateful for the time and effort that is being put into the restoration, and I am sure I speak for all of the Royal Oak families.”

The return date for the book will depend on the time required to carry out the treatment and repair the binding, but it is hoped that the Roll of Honour will be back in Orkney later this year.

German torpedoes struck HMS Royal Oak at 12.58am on 14 October 1939. 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.