After the Armistice, the German High Seas Fleet was assembled under British control at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands pending disposition of the ships as war prizes. One hundred years ago today, by secret order from the ranking German officer on the scene, Konteradmiral Ludwig von Reuter (1869-1943), seventy-four of them were scuttled. Read the full story here.
The Royal Navy was caught completely by surprise and failed to prevent the total loss of fifty-one ships. Their attempts to stop the sinkings led to the death of nine Germans, including the captain of the battleship SMS Markgraf, and the wounding of several others. These are counted as the last German casualties of World War 1.
Most of the wrecks were salvaged for scrap in later years, but four that still lie partly intact on the sea bed are presently being offered for sale on e-Bay by a prospective salvager who bought them in 1981. He was subsequently blocked by the British government which has placed the sites under historic protection, so you can own a piece of history but you can’t do anything with it.