2014 Community Project Gun painting at Lyness Museum

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Romford and Hornchurch branch member visits Orkney Branch
Bert Redwood of the Romford and Hornchurch branch along with his son Graham travelled north to be with the lads in Orkney. They arrived on Thursday 17th July and were met by the Orkney Branch Chairman Dave Hughes. Bert presented a Romford and Hornchurch Branch Plaque to the Orkney Branch. This plaque was gratefully received by the Orkney chairman at a Branch meeting. Bert and Graham enjoyed there stay in Orkney and another bond of friendship was forged.

The first photo shows WW2 vet Bert Redwood talking to WW2 vet Harry Russell of the Orkney Branch. We reckon the conversation went something like; “ Who was your last skipper Harry? Hornblower, who was yours? “Nelson” replied Bert.


L to R. Mr Walter Crosbie, Mrs Celia Green and Mr Ken Bannerman Chairman, Trustee and Founder of the charity 'Airfields Of Britain Conservation Trust'.

31st May 2014 The Commonwealth War Graves Commission were in Hoy at Lyness to unveil 3 commemorative/information plaques for the First and Second world wars and the Battle of Jutland. A memorial service was held and speeches made. Members of the Orkney RNA branch and standard were present along with representatives from both Stromness and Kirkwall Royal British Legions, Orkney Islands Council and members of other military and associated organisations.

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Running through the order of service with SM Dave Hughes carrying
the RNA branch standard. Stuart Hutcheon carrying the Queen's colour. Capt Chris Smith and Legion officials

(below) Keen interest from those present

Members present were: SM's Dave Hughes,
Reg Jamison, Daran Brown, Steve Horne, Catriona Matheson, Donny Mckinnon,
Ian MacDonald.

Officials: Commodore Brian Archibald, Captain Chris Smith Naval Regional Commander for Scotland and N Ireland, Vice Convener OIC Jim Foubister, Deputy Lord Lieutenant George Stevenson.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission's UK area Director Deirdre Mills, and Lead Director for the centenary of the First World War Colin Kerr

Chairman and Presidents of Stromness and Kirkwall Legions.

Lament played by Pipe Major Stromness PB Mark Wemyss

Last Post and Reveille played by James Burgon

Kinlay Francis RNA - ANZAC Day. 2014 St Ola- Orkne

Shipmate Reg Jamison lying a wreath SM Kinley Francis Lays a poppy cross

On the evening of Friday 25th April 2014 ANZAC day four members of the Branch visited the commowealth (anzac) war graves at St Olaf's Cemetery Kirkwall. Poppy Crosses were laid and a silent tribute to commemorate those lost in the wars was observed.


Royal Oak

14 Oct 1939: The battleship HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed whilst anchored at Scapa Flow resulting in the deaths of 834 sailors.

HMS Royal Oak was a Revenge-class battleship launched on 17 November 1914 and completed in 1916. The First World War had been under way for almost two years when Royal Oak was commissioned. She was assigned to the Third Division of the Fourth Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet, and within the month was ordered, along with most of the fleet, to engage the German High Seas Fleet in the Battle of Jutland. Following the battle, Royal Oak was reassigned to the First Battle Squadron.

In peacetime, she served in the Atlantic, Home and Mediterranean fleets, more than once coming under accidental attack. The ship drew worldwide attention in 1928 when her senior officers were controversially court-martialled. Attempts to modernise Royal Oak throughout her 25-year career could not fix her fundamental lack of speed, and by the start of the Second World War, she was no longer suited to front-line duty.

During the Spanish Civil War, Royal Oak was tasked with conducting 'non-intervention patrols' around the Iberian Peninsula. In May 1937, she and HMS Forester escorted SS Habana, a liner carrying Basque child refugees, to England. In July, as the war in northern Spain flared up, Royal Oak, along with the battleship HMS Resolution rescued the steamer Gordonia when Spanish nationalist warships attempted to capture her off Santander. She was however unable on 14 July to prevent the seizure of the British freighter Molton by the Spanish nationalist cruiser Almirante Cervera while trying to enter Santander. The merchantmen had been engaged in the evacuation of refugees.

In 1938, Royal Oak returned to the Home Fleet and was made flagship of the Second Battle Squadron based in Portsmouth. In October 1939 Royal Oak joined the search for the German battleship Gneisenau, which had been ordered into the North Sea as a diversion for the commerce-raiding pocket battleships Deutschland and Graf Spee. The search was ultimately fruitless, particularly for Royal Oak, whose top speed, by then less than 20 knots was inadequate to keep up with the rest of the fleet. Attempts to modernise Royal Oak throughout her 25-year career could not fix her fundamental lack of speed, and by the start of the Second World War, she was no longer suited to front-line duty.

On 12 October, Royal Oak returned to the defences of Scapa Flow in poor shape, battered by North Atlantic storms: many of her Carley floats had been smashed and several of the smaller-calibre guns rendered inoperable. The mission had underlined the obsolescence of the 25-year-old warship. Concerned that a recent overflight by German reconnaissance aircraft heralded an imminent air attack upon Scapa Flow, the Admiral of the Home Fleet ordered most of the fleet to disperse to safer ports. Royal Oak remained behind, her anti-aircraft guns still deemed a useful addition to Scapa's otherwise scarce air defences.

On 14 October 1939, Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47. Of Royal Oak's complement of 1,234 men and boys, 833* were killed that night or died later of their wounds. Over one hundred of the dead were Boy Seamen, not yet 18 years old, the largest ever such loss in a single Royal Navy action.

To this day the Royal Oak, which is a designated war grave, lies almost upside down in 100 feet (30 m) of water with her hull 16 feet (4.9 m) beneath the surface. In an annual ceremony to mark the loss of the ship, Royal Navy divers place a White Ensign underwater at her stern. Unauthorised divers are prohibited from approaching the wreck at any time under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
Grey Funnel Line's photo.

* figures have varied between 833 and 835 but it is now considered the loss was 836 lives. This has been attributed to men who subsiquently died in hospital which were not added originally to the casualty list.


Monday, 22 September 2014 from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency

This week we will be honouring those Coastguards who died during the First World War in the service of their country.

At that time, Coastguards could be called upon by the Royal Navy as reservists and posted to ships due to their expertise in signalling. Each year HM Coastguard sends a contingent of Coastguards from around the UK to the national service of remembrance at the Cenotaph in London. HM Coastguard itself suffered considerable losses in the early months of the war, and following this, the Admiralty decided to return the majority of Coastguard personnel back to their stations.

For the remainder of the war, shore based Coastguards continued with their duties as well as manning War Signal Stations, undertaking dangerous and highly specialised disposal of mines and keeping a watch for spies or saboteurs who may have tried to land. They also provided early warning of raids by German warships and assisted the police and army in rounding up suspects and escaped POWs.

Today is the 100th anniversary of the naval battle involving the Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue in the North Sea. These three ships were torpedoed and sank. The majority of the 1,459 men listed as killed or missing in action from these vessels were Coastguards.

Ian Mac says: As an Ex Coastguard myself I have been aware of this battle, however it is not common knowledge to the public. And I'm sure most would not know it was Coastguards that manned these ships and as it says in hindsight it was probably foolish to put so many of them in the three ships.
I have also had the honour of taking part in the Remembrance Sunday service at Whitehall as a Coastguard making up part of the RN contingent that forms the square around the Cenotaph. This is never mentioned by the BBC.


HMS Aboukir, Hogue, Cressy

Over the years Orkney has remembered the dead onboard HMS Vanguard which exploded on the evening 9th July 1917. A special 100 anniversary service was held in 2017 attended by relatives, RN and RM Officers and many officials.

Shipmate Ian MacDonald played the Lament while wreaths were laid during the ceremony of remembrance at the Vanguard memorial Lyness War Graves Cemetery.

Vanguard memorial.

Shipmates Catriona Matheson, Reg Jamison Nearest Shipmate The late Steve Horn, Ian Taylor
David Young, The late Steve Horn and Donnie Mackinnon Stromness Branch RBL and Brian Taylor Kirkwall Branch

Above: On previous occasions local dignataries, Royal British Legion branches and RNA have met each to lay wreaths on the anniversary of the sinking.

Dec 2019 I have been on a jaunt down to Pompey Dockyard to take part in the Historic Victorian Christmas Festival. An annual event to celebrate all things that gave us the Christmas we know today. There were lots of veterans there both from the services and dockyard mateys. Actors dressed as Royalty, Dickensian charactors, soldiers, sailor, shop keepers, street traiders, gentry and many others of the time. Plus the Christmas market stuff. Mulled wine and cider are pentiful. A great weekend, and HMS Prince of Wales was there alongside to over see it all.

I tell you all this to excuse myself from my absence on this site, well, since the last time I Double click to insert body text here ...

Members of the Royal Navy Piping Association Even the Queen Vic with her Equerry paid a visit.
joined the local Rose and Thistle Pipe Band
who entertained the crowds throughout the day
marching around the dockyard playing in various areas.

It wasn't real snow.

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