Scapa Flow: The Defences of Britain's Great Fleet Anchorage 1914-45 (Paperback)

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

By Angus Konstam, Peter Dennis (Illustrator)

Osprey Publishing (UK), 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

Angus Konstam hails from the Orkney Islands, and is the author of over 50 books, 30 of which are published by Osprey. This acclaimed and widely published author has written several books on piracy, including The History of Pirates. His most recent work is a full-length piratical biography: Blackbeard: America's Most Notorious Pirate. A former naval officer and museum professional, he worked as the Curator of Weapons at the Tower of London and as the Chief Curator of the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. He now works as a full-time author and historian, and lives in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Praise For Scapa Flow: The Defences of Britain's Great Fleet Anchorage 1914-45

"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)