War at Sea

  • 1st December 2011 − 14th October 2012 | Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The First World War

The First World War is usually remembered through the images of trench warfare on the Western Front. Yet this was also the age of the great Dreadnought battleships, and fears about the German High Seas Fleet in the North Sea lay at the heart of British-German rivalry.

Scotland, with its huge naval bases at Scapa Flow, Rosyth and Invergordon, was key to the defence of Britain and the naval battles of the First World War. On the icy waters of the North Sea the two greatest navies that the world had ever seen fought for supremacy.

The surrender of the German fleet took place in the Forth, within sight of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. That event of 1918 was as important as the signing of the Versailles Treaty in marking the defeat of Imperial Germany’s ambitions to be a world power.

Next: The Firth of Forth