Film pays tribute to the 835 souls lost on HMS Royal Oak

The anniversary of one of the Royal Navy’s largest single losses of life has been marked with a special documentary.

Last resting place...the Huskyan documented the area where 835 souls perished on October 14, 1939.
Last resting place...the Huskyan documented the area where 835 souls perished on October 14, 1939.

Staff from the University of Dundee’s Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design used 3D imagery to map the wreck of HMS Royal Oak.

She was sunk on October 14, 1939, with the loss of 835 lives after being torpedoed while at anchor at Scapa Flow.

To mark the 81st anniversary of the sinking, Professor Chris Rowland and Kieran Duncan, from Dundee’s Communication Design course, incorporated the images into a new documentary, Fallen Oak.

3D image....clearly shows the damage to the ship, which was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47.

It charts how a small team of volunteer civilian divers utilised the highly-specialised visualisation technology to document the wreck.

Professor Rowland said: “Documenting this historic ship has been a highlight of my experience in shipwreck visualisation.


“The international team involved videographers, photographers and divers to capture the condition of the wreck after 80 years underwater.

“The results, some of which are highlighted in this documentary, reveal in detail the key features of the wreck.”

Constructed in 1914, HMS Royal Oak saw combat at the Battle of Jutland during the First World War and in peacetime served as part of the Atlantic, Home and Mediterranean fleets.

While still in service, she was considered obsolete and was anchored off the Orkney coast on October 14, 1939.

However, she remained home to some 1234 sailors at the time of the daring German attack and took just 13 minutes to sink. Of those who lost their lives, more than 100 were teenage boys.

Today, the site is a designated war grave. Special permission was granted by the Secretary of State for Defence to a team led by Emily Turton and Ben Wade of the Orcadian dive boat Huskyan to document the last resting place of those who perished.


To view the film, visit