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The documentary film "Fallen Oak" - premiere!

On the 81st anniversary of the sinking of the British battleship Royal Oak, a documentary film recorded during an expedition to the shipwreck last year has been released. The sinking of the vessel by a German submarine is regarded as one of the greatest tragedies in the entire history of the Royal Navy. 14 October
Published: October 14, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:19
The documentary film “Fallen Oak” – premiere!

On the 81st anniversary of the sinking of the British battleship Royal Oak, a documentary film recorded during an expedition to the shipwreck last year has been released. The sinking of the vessel by a German submarine is regarded as one of the greatest tragedies in the entire history of the Royal Navy.


14 October 1939. HMS Royal Oak was torpedoed by German U-Boat 47 while it was moored in Orkney. Of the 1259 men on board at the time, 835 were killed. Over 100 of the fatalities were sailors aged 15-17.

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Documentation of the wreck of the battleship Royal Oak
Royal Navy divers on the wreck of HMS Royal Oak on the 79th anniversary of the sinking of the ship

This event still echoes among the relatives of the victims and the people of Orkney. It was an extremely painful loss and a great trauma for the whole local community, who were eyewitnesses to a tragedy that occurred in a place generally regarded as completely safe.

The film Fallen Oak chronicles the extensive research carried out by a small international team of volunteers. The work used pioneering underwater survey and visualisation techniques to document the wreck resting today on the seabed at Scapa Flow.

The wreck of HMS Royal Oak has war grave status and is under protection and a total ban on diving. The Secretary of State for Defence has granted the team special permission to document the final resting place of 835 men and boys who lost their lives on 14 October 1939.

The project, which produced the material for the documentary, is a collaboration between the Royal Oak Association and the Royal Navy. The activities resulting from this co-operation aim to ensure that the tragic story of the ship and its crew is never forgotten.

Royal Navy divers on the wreck of HMS Royal Oak
Royal Navy divers with the flag

HMS Royal Oak was a Revenge class battleship measuring 189 metres long and 27 metres wide. She was sunk by the Kriegsmarine submarine U-47 on 14 October 1939, killing 835 crew members. She was the first ship of the British Royal Navy to be sunk in combat operations during World War II.

The German U-boat U-47 fled the scene and its commanding Captain Günther Prien returned to Germany as a hero. The sinking of HMS Royal Oak was an important propaganda tool for Germany, in turn causing a real shock among the British Admiralty. As a direct result of the attack, the Churchill Barrier was built to protect access to the Scapa Flow anchorage.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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