• Si Biggs

HMS Vanguard Explosion

Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines


Location: Scapa Flow


Period/ Conflict: World War I


Year: 1917


Date/s: 9 July 1917


Shortly before midnight on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, Vanguard suffered a series of magazine explosions. She sank almost instantly, killing 843 of the 845 men aboard. The wreck was heavily salvaged after the war, but was eventually protected as a war grave in 1984.


Aboard HMS Vanguard were a total of 92 Marines - 15 RM Bandsmen 36 RM Artillery 41 RM Light Infantry


The ship anchored in the northern part of Scapa Flow at about 18:30 on 9 July 1917 after having spent the afternoon practising the routine for abandoning ship.


There is no record of anyone detecting anything amiss until the first explosion at 23:20. Vanguard sank almost instantly, with only three of the crew surviving, one of whom died soon afterwards.


A total of 843 men were lost, including two Australian stokers from the light cruiser HMAS Sydney who were serving time in the battleship's brig. Another casualty was Captain Kyōsuke Eto, a military observer from the Imperial Japanese Navy, which was allied with the Royal Navy at the time through the Anglo-Japanese Alliance.


The bodies of 17 of the 22 men recovered after the explosion, plus that of Lieutenant Commander Alan Duke, who died after being rescued, were buried at the Royal Naval Cemetery at Lyness, not far from the site of the explosion.


The others are commemorated on the Chatham, Plymouth and Portsmouth Naval Memorials.


Crew Image: @vanguard1917 Searching for a photograph of every casualty killed in the HMS Vanguard 1917 explosion.

Read More/ Web Link: @vanguard1917

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