HMS Vanguard to be commemorated at centenary event

Hundreds of Navy men killed when a ship exploded off the Scottish islands 100 years ago are to be remembered at a commemoration event attended by their descendants.

HMS Vanguard sank in July 1917, killing 843 men.
HMS Vanguard sank in July 1917, killing 843 men.

HMS Vanguard was blown apart by a series of internal explosions in July 2017 off the coast of Orkney during the First World War.

Just two of the 845 men on ship, which was anchored at Scapa Flow, survived in what is deemed to be one of the most tragic incidents in the history of the Royal Navy.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Relatives of the seamen will remember those who died at a commemorative event on 9 July - exactly a century since the disaster.

These will be preceded by a musical concert in St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall on July 8, performed by an ensemble and Corps of Drums from the band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.

The wreath-laying service involving two modern-day Royal Navy vessels will be held above the wreck of the Vanguard, which lies in 14 metres of water to the north of the island of Flotta.

It will be followed by a service at the Lyness Royal Naval Cemetery in Hoy, where 41 of the ship’s crew were buried.

Later in the evening there will also be a watch night service at St Magnus Cathedral at 11pm to mark the moment the ship went down.

The dreadnought battleship, which had been involved in the Battle of Jutland, sank after what is believed to have been an accidental magazine explosion.

Earlier this year, the first images of the warship were released after divers were given special permission to visit the wreck. Safeguarded under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986, diving is not permitted at the site except under licence from the Ministry of Defence.

Brian Archibald, head of marine services, engineering and transportation with Orkney Islands Council, said: “These will be very poignant events. They offer the opportunity to remember the sinking of HMS Vanguard and the terrible loss of life in Scapa Flow on that July day 100 years ago.

“We are very pleased that descendants of men who served aboard the ship will take part in the commemorations. Many other people from our community will want to play their part in commemorating the loss of the Vanguard and her crew and all are welcome at the services at Lyness Cemetery and back in the cathedral on July 9.”