Might of the Navy dis­played in Forth

Civic lead­ers tour fleet

Stirling Observer - - FIRST WORLD WAR CENTENARY - John Row­botham

Stir­ling coun­cil­lors and of­fi­cials had an away-day 100 years ago when they vis­ited the Royal Navy fleet an­chored in the Forth.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Bridge of Al­lan and other coun­cils in the area also had a glimpse of sur­ren­dered Ger­man war­ships as they steamed away to Scapa Flow in the Orkney Is­lands.

No fewer than 180 coun­cil­lors and of­fi­cers were aboard the steamer Forth when it left the Car­ron Dock, in heavy rain, for the visit.

Be­fore long, a large num­ber of war ves­sels – de­stroy­ers, light cruis­ers, bat­tle­ships and aux­il­iary craft – came into view.

Many, such as the Lion, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Coura­geous and Swift had “cov­ered them­selves in glory in ac­tions through­out the war,” and there were also a num­ber of French and Amer­i­can ships on show.

“Cheers were raised” from the party as the steamer glided past the war­ships and near Inchkeith the spot was pointed out where the Cam­pa­nia sank.

The former ocean liner, con­verted to a sea­plane ten­der and air­craft car­rier, went down on Novem­ber 5, 1918, when it dragged an­chor dur­ing a Force 10 squall and hit other ships from the Naval fleet. All on board were res­cued. An­other sight which at­tracted the coun­cil­lors’ at­ten­tion was a large air­ship which “lay in the wa­ter like a huge hulk” and was used by sea­planes con­nected to the fleet..

After a “re­fresh­ing cup of tea and sand­wiches” the steamer sailed on, al­low­ing those on board to see the last of the Ger­man fleet as it weighed an­chor, moved into line and headed out of the es­tu­ary leav­ing be­hind a trail of black smoke.

“That was the end of Ger­man Naval power pass­ing silently into the mist un­der the watch­ful­ness of the silent Bri­tish Navy which had achieved silently the great­est Naval vic­tory in the his­tory of the world,” said the Ob­server.

As the party headed for dry land, there was a cheer for Ad­mi­ral of the Fleet David Beatty, who had laid on the steamer, and the out­ing con­cluded with the singing of the Na­tional An­them.

* The Ger­man fleet was or­dered to be in­terned at Scapa Flow, un­der the terms of the Ar­mistice, while the fate of its ships was de­cided.

On June 21, 1919, fear­ing the ves­sels were to be seized by the Al­lied pow­ers, com­man­der of the Ger­man fleet Ad­mi­ral Lud­wig von Reuter or­dered the ships to be scut­tled.

Fifty-two of the 74 in­terned ves­sels went down.

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