HMS Royal Oak (08)

Royal Oak en route to Norway with the body of Queen Maud, in 1938. Note the Royal Navy ensign and Norwegian flags at half-mast. Royal Navy photo.

Laid Down

HMS Royal Oak (08) was a Revenge-class (also known as the Royal Sovereign- or R-class) superdreadnought battleship laid down in January, 1914, and launched ten months later. Royal Oak commissioned on 1 May, 1916, being one of the newest ships at the Battle of Jutland at the end of the month. She oversaw the surrender of the German High Seas Fleet at the end of the War, and Royal Oak operated with the Atlantic Fleet until transferred to the Mediterranean in 1926. Royal Oak was heavily employed in the Spanish Civil War, conducting non-intervention patrols off the Iberian Peninsula, and was attacked twice by Republican forces, the first resulted in near-misses by aerial bombs, and the second the Oak took an anti-aircraft round that injured five crew. In 1936-37, Royal Oak was cast in the film Our Fighting Navy, playing a fictional South American battleship. Royal Oak was reassigned to the Home Fleet in 1938, and decommissioned that December. She was reactivated in June, 1939, but a Mediterranean deployment was scrubbed when war loomed. Royal Oak was in Scapa Flow on 3 September, and participated in the hunt for the Gneisenau in early October. Royal Oak returned to Scapa on 12 October, and was still anchored there when U-47 infiltrated the sound the next night. U-47 fired two spreads of torpedoes, which sank the battleship with the loss of 833 men.