The Royal British Legion Scotland
Kirkwall Branch - Orkney Isles

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HMS Royal Oak 76th Anniversary Commemoration

On a cool, but bright and dry, Wednesday 14th October 2015 a memorial service was held at the Scapa Garden of Remembrance to commemorate the sinking 76 years ago of the battleship HMS Royal Oak and the deaths of 834 sailors. With a strong Royal Navy presence, including the Northern Diving Team, RNA and Sea Cadets, and several visiting families of Royal Oak sailors lost, Area Co-ordinator for HMS Royal Oak Survivors Association Agnes Ratter welcomed those attending. RNA Chaplain David Dawson conducted the memorial service, during which Kirkwall City Pipe Band piper Michael Harcus played Highland Cathedral, bugler Alasdair Harvey the Last Post and Reveillie and Kirkwall RBL President Bryan Taylor recited from Binyon's "For the Fallen".

The various contingents made their way to Scapa Pier, where the Flotta Lass and OIC Harbours pilot boat embarked passengers to travel the short distance to the Royal Oak buoy above the sunken battleship. Wreathes were laid over the battleship wreck by the families, the new Honourary Secretary of the HMS Royal Oak Survivors Association Gareth Derbyshire, and the service delegations. After the ceremony most of the participants returned to Kirkwall Royal British Legion Branch, for soup and sandwiches. The Northern Diving Group presented the RN ensign retrieved this year from the wreck to Orkney's Lord Lieutenant Bill Spence, for use by the Royal Navy at next year's Jutland centenary commemoration, and also gave Legion Chairman Eddy Ross a large framed photo of the ensign on the wreck.