Passport to the World over 64 years. Pages from my Travel Diary
Scapa Flow Scotland, the British Home Fleet Base. Saturday the 20th. of July 1940.
Serving in HMAS Australia as a Midshipman, we had weighed anchor off Greenock in the Clyde, the previous evening, cleared the river and proceeded north at 23.5 knots with paravanes streamed in case of any sown German mines.
Today, we recovered the paravanes and passed through the outer and inner booms at Scapa Flow, the huge British Naval Base at the northern tip of Scotaland, and came to our starboard anchor with 7 shackles of cable in 17 fathoms.
We have come to join the Home Fleet, and a significant force is here in the Flow, 3 Battleships, 2 Battle Cruisers, 6 Cruisers, an Aircraft Carrier, a host of Destroyers and smaller craft.
This British Base is steeped in Naval history, on the 21st. of June in 1919, the High Seas Fleet of the Imperial German Navy was scuttled by their crews before the startled eyes of British Naval Officers, an event quite unique in Naval affairs. Then, only last September, Gunter Prien in U-47 penetrated the anchorage to sink the Battleship HMS Royal Oak with a large loss of life.
For me, Scapa Flow always invoked a feeling of mystery, as if it were withholding secrets, but you were never going to unveil them. I enjoyed the rugged terrain and the wilderness that obtained, and can still cast my mind back to those quite momentous days of 1940.