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Portsmouth to install HMS Royal Oak memorial


Royal Oak
HMS Royal Oak painting by Rico Oldfield

A permanent memorial to the HMS Royal Oak, which was tragically sunk in Scapa Flow in World War Two with the loss of more than 830 sailors, is set to be installed in Portsmouth.

The nearly three metre high obelisk will be erected on The Hand in Portsmouth, the ship's home port, in time to coincide with the 85th anniversary of the sinking next year.

The HMS Royal Oak was sent to the bottom of the natural Scottish harbour, in the Orkney Islands, on 14 October 1939 when a German U-Boat managed to breach defences and launch a torpedo.

Royal Oak
There is a memorial to the HMS Royal Oak in the Orkney Islands

Bizarrely, despite the vessel being a Devonport-built warship, the Portsmouth Society objected to the project, questioning the relevance of the HMS Royal Oak to Portsmouth – stating the vessel was mostly based on other locations – as well as the actual memorial design.

However, the city council awarded planning permission to the HMS Royal Oak Association, , with councillor Gerland Vernon-Jackson saying: “Many hundreds of Portsmouth residents lost their lives in the sinking. It's commemorated at Scapa Flow, but it's absolutely right and proper that it's commemorated here in Portsmouth as well”.

Photo credit: Royal Navy / Painting credit: Rico Oldfield

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Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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