It was a particularly sobering experience to lay a wreath over the grave of 834 sailors, more so brought home knowing that my Great Great Uncle was in command of the vessel at the time she was sunk

Lieutenant Duncan Napier, Commanding Officer of HMS Example

Whilst at Lyness, students also got the opportunity to learn more about the naval history of Scapa flows and also to see some of the naval memorabilia from ships of the time and were impressed at the sheer scale of propellers and weapons that were on display, particularly when comparing the scale to HMS Example.

Officer Cadet Jack Perry said, “All the students involved came away with renewed respect for the bravery and sacrifice of those who fought and we are glad that we have been able to show that respect by laying a wreath at the cemetery.”

Leaving Lyness, HMS Example sailed on to the wreck of HMS Royal Oak where another wreath was laid over the site.

During the ceremony, the Commanding Officer (CO) Lieutenant Duncan Napier read out a poem, probably written by a family member of a sailor who lost their life aboard the ship, which once again brought home to the students how extensive the impact of the Great War was not just on the people who fought, but their families and loved-ones as well.

A wreath was then laid over the site of the wreck - this was particularly poignant for the CO due to his family connections to the Captain of HMS Royal Oak when she was sunk, Captain William Benn RN.

Lt Napier said, “ It was a particularly sobering experience to lay a wreath over the grave of 834 sailors, more so brought home knowing that my Great Great Uncle was in command of the vessel at the time she was sunk, it seems fitting that I should lay a wreath from my first command over the wreck of one of the vessels he commanded, remembering and paying respects to those that went down with the ship”

The day was a change of pace, and whilst sobering in many regards, it provided all the students on board with a taste of another side of life in the Royal Navy, a chance to pay respects to the sacrifice of sailors of the past, and an opportunity to interact with a part of Naval history that none of them would have probably seen without the opportunity that the URNU provided.