The Bells of Scapa Flow | Scapaflow 1919 - The Big Scuttle
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The Bells of Scapa Flow

Over the last few years, I have tried to locate as many of the bells salvaged from Scapa Flow. Originally, the idea was to bring the bells back on June 21 2019 to be rung again over the Flow. While that proved to be too expensive, one will come back on the day. Where I could I have made sound recordings.

Looking for the bells became a journey. Along the way, I made many new friends and discovered some wonderful stories. Here are some of them.

SMS KÖNIG ALBERT 

Originally the bell of the SMS König Albert was rumoured to be in a Scottish house. It was. Until it came south with Robert McCrone’s youngest grand-daughter, Helena.

König Albert_McCroneKönig Albert

The ship’s bell now hangs in her garden in Somerset.


SMS BADEN

Baden_IWM


SMS BAYERN

Schiffsglocke des Linienschiffs "SMS Bayern"© Bayerisches Armeemuseum

The Bayern‘s bell is to be found in the collections of the Bavarian Military Museum (Bayerisches Armeemuseum).


SMS CÖLN

Coln

When the Lyness visitor centre re-opens in 2020, one of the artefacts you’ll be able to see is the bell from the light cruiser, SMS Cöln. Sadly. the bell has been damaged so much that the only sound you get is a dull thud.


SMS DERFFLINGER

SMS_Derfflinger_ship's_bell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2017, I visited the small Hebredian island of Eriskay, on the west coast of Scotland. Eriskay is a magical place. It’s where Bonnie Prince Charlie stepped back on to Scottish soil in July 1745. The photos online did not match the magic. The ship’s bell hangs outside on a scaffolding-like rig.

I met with the new parish priest, Father Ross, who had invited me to come and visit. Together, we stood outside trying to coax some chimes out of the bell. It turned out to be a lost cause. The bell was both damaged and the wind was howling. The journey, however, wan’t. The church looks out on the skerries where the SS Politician had foundered, spilling its precious cargo of whisky. Compton McKenzie turned the tale into the wonderful saga, Whisky Galore.

 

IMG_8833

Derfflinger_bellI think the search will continue. One web article reported that at least one of Derfflinger‘s bells was handed back to the Federal German Navy (FGN) on 30 August 1965. The photograph (below) presents a bell that looks to be in beautiful condition.


SMS DRESDEN

Dresden

The bell is now in the collection of the Stromness Museum on Orkney, sitting beside the broken bell of the former Fleet flagship, the SMS Friedrich der Große.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SMS KRONPRINZ WILHELM

SMS Kronprinz started life as that and only became SMS Kronprinz Wilhelm in March 1918.

Courtesy of Dr. Innes McCartney.

Courtesy of Dr. Innes McCartney.

SMS EMDEN

Von Reuter’s flagship’s bell from the Emden is stored at the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. It would be wonderful if this was the bell that could be rung on the Flow in 2019.

Emden

SMS FRIEDRICH DER GROßE

There are two bells from the former fleet flagship, Friedrich der Große. One, heavily damaged, is at the small museum in Stromness. How it got there, no one quite know. It was found and brought up from the Flowby local diver, John Thornton, who originally gave it to the local hotel.

Friedrich der Grosse

SMS GROßE KURFÜRST

I tracked SMS Große Kurfürst‘s bell an auction that was held at the church hall of St.Andrew’s United Reform church in Southampton in 2014. But I could not get any further; the buyer remained a mystery.

Sold at Atlantic Crossing Auction in Southampton (2014?)

It turned out that the National Museum of the Royal Navy had been the purchaser. In 2018, when the  bell emerged from storage to be included in the Jutland 36 Hours exhibition for its last few months, I was very kindly allowed to record its chime.

Große Kurfurst_2_NMRNIMG_6614

SMS HINDENBURG

One of Hindenburg‘s bells was presented to the FGN in 1959, on 28 May.

SMS KAISER

There was evidence that the bell from SMS Kaiser had survived the scuttle.

Kaiser_KLA

Some photos of the bell being restored were posted online.

Ball_Kaiser in restoration

The bell is now displayed at Peter Tamm’s museum, the International Maritime Museum in Hamburg.

SMS KARLSRUHE

The bell still eludes discovery. It was supposedly brought up by an RAF dive team on 16 June 1974 and a report of the expedition still exists.

SMS NÜRNBERG

Nurnberg

Nürnberg‘s bell, along with that of the second Emden and one of Hindenburg‘s bells, is kept at the Imperial War Museum’s Duxford storage site.

SMS PRINZREGENT LUITPOLD

xxxx

SMS SEYDLITZ

Seydlitz bell

Each May 31st, the Seydlitz bell is rung in the courtyard of Laboe at what used to be the Submarine Memorial and is now the memorial to all lost at sea. Here, with von der Tann‘s bell, it is looked after by the German Naval Association.

SMS VON DER TANN

von der tann bell