Orkney, Scotland: Scapa Flow and WWII – Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide – Travel Bite

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Rick Steves, America’s most respected authority on European travel, writes European travel guidebooks, and hosts travel shows on public television and public radio.

Orkney’s Ark of scattered Islands forms One of the world’s largest natural Harbors it s called scapa flow In the 10th Century Vikings sheltered Their warships here and a thousand years Later in the 20th century so did the British EPA flow was a critical base for Britain’s royal Navy [Music] Back during World War One to prevent German U-boats from sneaking between the Little islands that defined this Harbor Dozens of old ships were intentionally Sunk to block the gaps You can still see many of these block Ships breaking the surface today But they didn’t really do the job as Britain learned tragically at the start Of World War II in 1939 a few weeks After the start of the second world war A German U-Boat slipped through a Position just like this into scapa flow And torpedoed a British Battleship and Anger Over 800 men were lost As a result of this the British sent Tens of thousands of troops here to Orkney to fortify the island with gun Batteries and ships and airfields and it Became known locally as Fortress orkney Britain built barriers to make the Harbor safe for more surprise attacks Winston Churchill visited and decided to

Connect the islands by building Causeways out of concrete blocks [Music] Today tourists drive along these Churchill barriers as they explore the Island Orkney’s most Charming wartime site is Its Italian Chapel Italian prisoners of War helped to build The Churchill barriers they were given These two prefab Quonset Huts and during Their free time they were allowed to Scavenge whatever wartime scraps they Could find to decorate them they built a Beautiful little catholic Chapel that Reminded them of their Homeland inside You can see the creative work of those Italian prisoners light fixtures made From ration tins candle holders Fashioned from brass shell casings and Painted windows with the illusion of Radiant stained glass Above the altar Mary holds the baby Jesus who holds an olive branch a kind Of prayer for peace The chapel was completed in 1944 just Two months before the Italians who built It were free to go home

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