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British Tars wearing their gas and flame masks

Date: 1918
Overall: 88 x 140 mm
Medium: Photographic image, Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Posters and postcards
Object Name: Postcard
Object No: 00000488

User Terms

    British seamen are shown crowded on a deck wearing gas masks as the German High Seas Fleet entered Firth of Forth, Scotland in 1918.
    SignificanceThis photograph reveals the Royal Navy's state of preparedness as units of the German High Seas Fleet arrive in the Firth of Forth in 1918 at the end of the First World War.
    HistoryAfter the signing of the Armistice in November 1918, which effectively ended the First World War, the allied Entente powers decided to intern the German High Sea Fleet at Scapa Flow, Scotland until its fate was decided at the Versailles Peace Conference. In charge of the German Fleet and remaining skeleton crew was Rear Admiral Ludwig von Reuter.

    74 German ships gradually arrived at Firth of Forth before being sent to Scapa Flow towards the end of November 1918. They were guarded by the Royal Navy under the command of Rear Admiral Sydney Fremantle.

    During the internment the German crews readied their ships for scuttling, the action to be decided based on the outcome of the Versailles negotiations. Britain was anxious to maintain the numerical superiority of the Royal Navy and many countries advocated the surrender of the entire German Fleet to be integrated into the victorious nation’s navies, an idea that was abhorrent to von Reuter.

    Von Reuter did not possess up to date information about the conference, however he realised the ships were unlikely to be returned to Germany. At 11am on 21st June 1919, when the RN guard ships were on a training exercise, the order was given for the ships to be scuttled. Fremantle was informed of the scuttling, quickly returned to Scapa Flow and attempted to limit the damage. The British towed several sinking ships to shore and beached them and tried to force the German crew to reverse the scuttling. 9 German crewmen were killed during the operation. Ultimately, 52 of the 74 ships were unable to be saved.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: British Tars wearing their gas and flame masks

    Primary title: British Jars wearing their gas and flame masks, at the German high seas fleet surrender November 21st 1918. They would not trust the Huns even at the last

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