This week have added 139,520 new pages to The Archive. We are delighted to welcome four brand new titles this week, three of which cover the late twentieth century: London title the Harefield Gazette, the Reading Evening Post and Buckinghamshire title the Amersham Advertiser. Rounding off our new titles this week is the Orcadian, which covers the years 1854 to 1912 and was published in Kirkwall, Orkney.
We have updates to ten of our existing titles this week, with new pages covering the length and breadth of the British Isles and Ireland. We have updates to titles covering the counties of Kent, Middlesex, Cambridgeshire, Sussex, and Warwickshire, as well as updates to our Scottish and Irish titles.
One of our new titles this week, the Orcadian, gives us an intriguing insight into the selection of Scapa Flow as the main base for the British Grand Fleet. Traditionally, the Royal Navy had been based in the south of England to face Spanish and French threats, however, the emergence of Germany as a military threat in the early twentieth century meant that the Admiralty had to consider a location for a new northern base.
Scapa Flow, a body of water sheltered by the islands of Mainland, Graemsay, Burray, South Ronaldsay and Hoy, had long been used by the Royal Navy for exercises, and had a extensive history of being used for travel, trade and conflict purposes across centuries past.
Consequently, Scapa Flow became a possibility for this northern base. However, in November 1909 the Orcadian reports that there will be ‘no naval harbour for Scapa Flow.’ Indeed, it reports that ‘there is no foundation for the statement that the Admiralty have in contemplation any scheme for converting Scapa Flow, the splendid harbour of the Orkney Isles, into a naval base.’
However, by the February of 1910, the ‘Scapa Flow Proposal’ is once more under consideration. The Orcadian comments how ‘Scapa Flow seems to be an ideal water for the headquarters of a fleet. It is practically a land-locked sea, with well sheltered entrances from the ocean.’ Sir Arthur Bignold and Mr Wason, local MPs, urged Parliament to consider plans for the development of a naval base at Scapa Flow, which would bring an economic boost to the Orkney Islands. However, some inhabitants were wary: ‘An objection to the proposal which is also widely held is that in the wake of the fleet there would come an undesirable population…there exists a feeling of apprehension lest this immemorial quietness should be rudely disturbed.’
Upon the outbreak of war in 1914, Scapa Flow was eventually settled upon as the base for the British Grand Fleet. During the course of the war it was heavily fortified, and there were only two attempts by German U-boats to enter its waters, both of which were unsuccessful.
After the Armistice, the German fleet were sent to Scapa Flow. On 21 June 1919, German Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter, after seven months of waiting for a decision on the fleet’s future, gave the order for his men to scuttle their own ships. 53 of the 74 German ships were sunk.
Scapa Flow was again used in World War 2, however, its defences had fallen into disrepair during the intervening years, in October 1939 allowing U-boat the U-47 to enter the harbour and torpedo HMS Royal Oak, with the loss of 833 men. The wreck of the Royal Oak is now a protected war grave.
|Reading Evening Post||1993|
This week we have updated ten of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.
|Middlesex County Times||1939-1941, 1953-1954, 1957-1976, 1978, 1980|
|Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser||1880, 1883, 1886, 1890, 1892|
|Drogheda Argus and Leinster Journal||1961-1964|
|Orkney Herald, and Weekly Advertiser and Gazette for the Orkney & Zetland Islands||1888-1949|
|Folkestone Express, Sandgate, Shorncliffe & Hythe Advertiser||1885-1890, 1892, 1909, 1920-1924|