Might of the Navy displayed in Forth
Civic leaders tour fleet
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.