Scapa flow was a royal naval base during both the First and Second World Wars. Sailors began burying their shipmates at Lyness in 1915 and the cemetery remained in use until 1946.
The arrival of the Grand Fleet at Scapa from 1914 transformed Orkney into one of the world’s most important strategic locations. Historically, the home ports of the Royal Navy were in the south of England, but now a base from which to control the northern entrance to the North Sea was essential to counter the threat posed by Germany. The natural defences of the sheltered harbour were strengthened, and Scapa became a ‘city of ships’.
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