Scapa Flow

Scapa Flow Cover

Scapa Flow

The Defences of Britain's Great Fleet Anchorage 1914-45

By Angus Konstam; Peter Dennis (Illustrator)

Osprey Publishing (UK), Paperback, 9781846033667, 64pp.

Publication Date: July 21, 2009


A strategically important natural harbor in the Orkney Islands, Scapa Flow served as Britain's main fleet anchorage during World Wars I and II. It held Jellicoe's Grand Fleet from 1914-18, and it was from here that it sailed out to do battle with the Germans at Jutland in 1916. In 1914 the British began building a comprehensive defensive network by fortifying the entrances to Scapa Flow and then extending these defenses to cover most of Orkney. These static defenses were augmented with boom nets, naval patrols and minefields, creating the largest fortified naval base in the world.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Scapa Flow again proved ideally situated to counter the German naval threat and served as the base for Britain's Home Fleet. Despite constant attacks from aircraft and U-boats, one of which managed to sink the British battleship Royal Oak, the defenses of Scapa Flow were again augmented and improved. By 1940, Orkney had become an island fortress, the largest integrated defensive network of its kind in Europe, manned by as many as 50,000 Commonwealth troops.

Backed by newly commissioned artwork, naval historian Angus Konstam tells the story of this mighty naval fortress, many pieces of which can still be seen on the island today.

About the Author
With over 50 history books in print, Angus is a widely recognised and much-published historian. While he specialises in military and naval history he has also written numerous more general history books, designed to make the subject more accessible to a wider audience. Uniquely he has been able to draw on his expertise as a senior museum curator who has worked on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as on his academic training as a historian and as a maritime archaeologist. His latest book is a full-length biography: Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate, which is published by Wiley & Sons. of New York (June 2006) Angus is also just finished writing a history of the Allied landings at Salerno in September 1943 for the British publisher Pen & Sword, and he is currently working on a new project, with the working title of Supership: The Quest for the Renaissance Battleship. Angus lives in Edinburgh, in Scotland.

Peter Dennis was born in 1950. Inspired by contemporary magazines such as Look and Learn he studied illustration at Liverpool Art College. Peter has since contributed to hundreds of books, predominantly on historical subjects, including many Osprey titles. A keen wargamer and modelmaker, he is based in Nottinghamshire, UK.

Praise For Scapa Flow

"There are not too many places you can find any detail, or even a decent plan of Scapa Flow.  This book fills a gap.   Although this fortified site lacks an impressive battle history, largely due to the success of its defenses, this work will answer many questions for those who want to know what was there...  The reader will find there is sufficient detail on the type and location of coastal artillery, air defenses, and the various types of naval defenses that protected the anchorage.  Also, the covers the troop units assigned to the islands.   There are two good maps showing the defenses in each World War and a number of illustrations of the various types of positions.  This book will be of most interest to those that want a source of reference for Scapa Flow or just more information on the defenses of Great Britain." -JE Kaufmann, Site-O / (January 2010)

"... a well written, interesting book on a subject of importance that has been largely ignored. The defenses are presented as a unified whole, protecting against surface, submerged and aerial attack... This book is recommended to those with a wide range of interests, from coastal dfense to naval history, to the world wars in general." -Bolling Smith, Coast Defense Journal (March 2010)