The Scapa Flow Landscape Partnership Scheme


Stanger Battery, Flotta

During WWI and WWII Hoxa Sound was the main entrance to Scapa Flow. Stanger Head would have seen the transit of thousands of Royal Navy ships, as well as the interned German High Seas Fleet passing through in 1918.

The WWI gun battery initially comprised four 12-pounder guns, replaced in early 1915 with four 4 inch Quick Firing guns. They were joined in 1916 by two 6 inch QFs, part of a big consignment sent from the United States the previous year. The battery worked closely with the Hoxa Battery across the Sound in South Ronaldsay. Together they guarded the anti-shipping Hoxa boom (wooden boxes chained together, opened and closed for friendly vessels by a  converted drifter) and later steel anti-submarine nets. On 28 October 1918, hydrophones being monitored at Stanger detected German U-boat  U116. The seabed minefield was detonated, destroying the submarine and killing all on board. U116 had the distinction of being the last submarine sunk in WWI, and the only one destroyed by a shore-controlled minefield. The gun battery was dismantled after 1918 and its guns scrapped as a condition of the Treaty of Versailles. Today, two overgrown 4 inch emplacements and a concrete magazine can still be seen.

Stanger rose to prominence again in 1938, when the British government, mindful of German military expansion, took the decision to build two gun batteries in Orkney. The sites chosen, at Ness in Stromness and Stanger, were ready-to-fire by the start of WWII. Here, the two 6-inch breech loading Mk VII guns were set in their permanent emplacements in 1940, along with a 4.7 inch gun mounted temporarily nearby (later moved to Innan Neb).  Stanger Battery provided close defence of Hoxa and Switha Sound, and also supported the Royal Navy's Examination Service based at the Port War Signal Station. The Navy monitored all shipping coming in and out of Scapa Flow as well as controlling the Switha and Cantick minefields.

The WWII battery was manned until February 1945, then placed in 'Care and Maintenance' before its final abandonment in 1950. One of the 6-inch emplacements survives along with the Battery Observation Post, although both were damaged by subsequent quarrying operations. The surrounding area boasts a variety of brick and concrete buildings including stands for water tanks and the imposing Port War Signal Station.