An extremely rare and full length example of a Royal Navy Sailor’s Cap Tally (Ribbon) to H.M.S. Royal Oak and purportedly obtained from the direct family of one of the survivors from the sinking of the Battleship in 1939.
Overall condition is very good, the gold wire script now toned with age, the ribbon without damage.
On 14 October 1939, Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland, when she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-47. Of Royal Oak's complement of 1,234 men and boys, 835 were killed that night or died later of their wounds. The loss of the outdated ship—the first of five Royal Navy battleships and battlecruisers sunk in the Second World War—did little to affect the numerical superiority enjoyed by the British navy and its Allies, but it had a considerable effect on wartime morale. The raid made an immediate celebrity and war hero of the U-boat commander, Günther Prien, who became the first German submarine officer to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Before the sinking of Royal Oak, the Royal Navy had considered the naval base at Scapa Flow impregnable to submarine attack, but U-47's raid demonstrated that the German navy was capable of bringing the war to British home waters. The shock resulted in rapid changes to dockland security and the construction of the Churchill Barriers around Scapa Flow, with the added advantage of being topped by roads running between the islands.
The wreck of Royal Oak, a designated war grave, lies almost upside down in 100 feet (30 m) of water with her hull 16 feet (4.9 m) beneath the surface. In an annual ceremony marking the loss of the ship, Royal Navy divers place a White Ensign underwater at her stern. Unauthorised divers are prohibited from approaching the wreck under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
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