Allied Warships

HMS Royal Oak (08)

Battleship of the Royal Sovereign class


HMS Royal Oak at anchor before the war.

NavyThe Royal Navy
TypeBattleship
ClassRoyal Sovereign 
Pennant08 
Built byDevonport Dockyard (Plymouth, U.K.) 
Ordered 1913 
Laid down15 Jan 1914 
Launched17 Nov 1914 
Commissioned1 May 1916 
Lost14 Oct 1939 
Loss position58° 55'N, 2° 59'W
HistoryTorpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-47 inside Scapa Flow. [For more details see the event for 14 October 1939 below.]

For some more information on HMS Royal Oak see this website (offsite link).  

Hit by U-boat
Sunk on 14 Oct 1939 by U-47 (Prien).

U-boat AttackSee our U-boat attack entry for the HMS Royal Oak

Commands listed for HMS Royal Oak (08)

Please note that we're still working on this section.

CommanderFromTo
1Capt. William Gordon Benn, RN7 Jul 193914 Oct 1939

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Notable events involving Royal Oak include:


This page was last updated in December 2017.

4 Sep 1939
The battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) both departed Scapa Flow to patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel. They were escorted by the destroyers HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN). They were joined at sea early in the afternoon of the 6th by three more destroyers; HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN).

4 Sep 1939
For the daily positions of HMS Royal Oak during the period of 4 September 1939 to 6 September 1939 see the map below.

(1)

6 Sep 1939
Late in the afternoon the battleships HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) and HMS Royal Sovereign (Capt. L.V. Morgan, CBE, MVO, DSC, RN) and their escorting destroyers; HMS Broke (Capt. R. Kerr, RN), HMS Wanderer (Cdr. R.F. Morice, RN) and HMS Whitehall (Lt.Cdr. A.B. Russell, RN), HMS Foresight (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Lambert, RN), HMS Forester (Lt.Cdr. E.B. Tancock, RN) and HMS Fury (Cdr. G.F. Burghard, RN) returned to Scapa Flow from their patrol to the east of the Fair Isle Channel.

11 Sep 1939
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

15 Sep 1939
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

20 Sep 1939
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN) conducted gunnery exercises at Scapa Flow. (1)

9 Oct 1939
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) departed Scapa Flow to patrol to the west of the Fair Isle Channel. She was escorted by the destroyers HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Cooper, RN).

10 Oct 1939
In very heavy seas, HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN), had lost touch with her escorting destroyers HMS Matabele (Cdr. G.K. Whitmy-Smith, RN) and HMS Sturdy (Lt.Cdr. G.T. Cooper, RN). Course was therefore set to return to Scapa Flow.

11 Oct 1939
HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) arrived back at Scapa Flow. Anchor was dropped in the north-east corner of the Flow close to the seaplane tender HMS Pegasus (Cdr.(Retd.) H.E. Seaman, RN).

14 Oct 1939
At 0116 hours on 14 October 1939 the German submarine U-47 fired a spread of three torpedoes at HMS Royal Oak (Capt. W.G. Benn, RN, flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H.E.C. Blagrove, RN) and the British seaplane tender HMS Pegasus (Cdr.(Retd.) H.E. Seaman, RN) lying at anchor in the harbour of Scapa Flow, then turned around and fired a stern torpedo at 0121 hours. Prien claimed a hit on the seaplane tender, misidentified as HMS Repulse, but one of the torpedoes apparently hit the starboard anchor chain of HMS Royal Oak and both targets were undamaged.

At 0123 hours, the U-boat fired a second spread of three torpedoes of which two hit HMS Royal Oak on the starboard side and caused a magazine to blow up. The battleship rolled over and sank in 19 minutes. 833 of the crew were killed. 386 of the 420 survivors, including the Commanding Officer, were rescued by the drifter HMS Daisy II (Skr. John Gatt) which had been alongside as tender.

Media links


U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor


amazon.com
($ 53.54)

amazon.co.uk
(£ 45.00)

amazon.de
(EUR 43.96)


British Battleships of World War One

R. A. Burt


amazon.de
(EUR 72.51)


British Battleships, 1919-1945, Revised Edition

R. A. Burt


amazon.com
($ 81.95)

amazon.co.uk
(£ 63.38)

amazon.de
(EUR 75.99)


British battleships 1939-45 (1)

Konstam, Angus


amazon.com
($ 17.95)

amazon.co.uk
(£ 7.73)

amazon.de
(EUR 11.99)

Sources

  1. ADM 53/110303

ADM numbers indicate documents at the British National Archives at Kew, London.


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