Urmston WW2 

Frank Conroy

Rank:Ldg StokerNumber:P/KX 83434
Ship/Rgn/Sqn No:Royal Navy
Name of Rgt or Ship:H.M.S. Royal Oak
Country of burial:Lost at Sea
Cemetery or Memorial:Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Town Memorial:Not Listed
Extra Information:
H.M.S. Royal Oak was torpedoed at 01.30hrs & 01.45hrs on the 14/10/39 in
the Scapa Flow Naval Base by 'U.47' that managed to get into the area - 786
men were lost.   The sinking was also a phychological disaster to the
British so early on in the war.   It was a 'Royal Soveriegn' class
battleship, of which 5 were built between 1914 & 1916, they had a
displacement of 29,150 tons and a complement of 1,150 personnel.

The Royal Oak was built at Devonport, Plymouth over 1914-1916. She was
nearly 600 ft long with a maximum width of 100 ft. She was armed with eight
15 inch guns contained in 4 turrets, plus an assemblage of 6 inch, 3 inch
guns and 4 torpedo tubes. The warship was well armoured with 13 inches of
steel that extended 5 ft below her water line. She was capable of a 20 knot
speed powered by 40000 HP oil fuelled engines. A crew of nearly 1100 men
was needed to handle her. She saw action at the battle of Jutland. 

On 13th October 1939 the large battleship was lying at anchor near the port
of Scapa on the southward side of Kirkwall. She was acting as anti aircraft
cover for the capital city. The night was cold and quiet. Under cover of
darkness a German U boat made a daring entry into Scapa Flow through the
narrow channel of Kirk Sound between two of the islands surrounding the
Flow. Once inside the German commander surveyed the scene. He expected to
find a number of British warships at anchor, but only the Royal Oak was
left to defend the naval anchorage. So just after midnight, despite the
blackout, the U boat located the great warship and prepared to launch a
torpedo attack. Shortly before 1 am it launched the first of two salvoes.
This scored a minor hit which did not unduly alert the crew of the Royal
Oak. Twenty minutes later the second salvo arrived with devastating
consequences. 3 direct hits sent the 600 ft battleship to the sea bed in
just under 11 minutes. Over 800 men perished - some trapped within the
boat, others simply drowning in the bitingly cold waters of the Flow.
Thankfully, a small naval tender - the Daisy 2 - managed to save nearly 400

The Navy reacted quickly. On 15th October nets were spread over the wreck
to catch any floating bodies. Divers went down to inspect the wreck. Some
ascended in horror at the sight of the suspended, drowned bodies that they
encountered. Men were found jammed in the portholes as they tried in
desperation to get out of the wreck. Oil slicks abounded. The wreck was
quickly declared a war grave. It remains so to this day. No diving is
allowed on this wreck unless with the express permission of the Royal Navy.
Since the wreck is so near to the mainland, this prohibition is rigorously
and effectively maintained.  Nobody dives the Royal Oak except for an
annual remembrance dive conducted by Navy divers.

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