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Scuba dives at Scapa Flow led to my new book
Author: Lauren Rogers,, 09-09-2010
United Kingdom

A WORCESTER historian has published his first book on maritime history.

Dilip Sarkar, already well known for his books on the Battle of Britain and Spitfires, has written a book about the HMS Royal Oak, a British Royal Navy battleship that was infamously torpedoed at anchor just six weeks into the Second World War.

The ship sank in 10 minutes and 832 men - many of whom were boy sailors aged between 15 and 17 - died.

The wreck, about 30 metres underwater at Scapa Flow in Orkney, Scotland, is now a protected war grave.

Mr Sarkar's book, Hearts of Oak, tells the human story of the tragedy.

Talking about the inspiration behind it, Mr Sarkar said: "In 1999 I learned to scuba dive.

"By 2003, having gained some experience of diving wrecks around the British coast, and undertaken deep diver training, I joined the Harpers' expedition to dive the German High Seas Fleet wrecks at Scapa Flow - scuttled there after the end of the First World War.

"It was then that I became interested in HMS Royal Oak and I returned to dive Scapa's wrecks with the Harpers several times.

Mr Sarkar was, however, more interested in the story of the men who served on the Royal Oak.

"I was moved by the number of souls lost," he said.

"So I set out to trace relatives of some of those who died. In this way, through the pen pictures and photographs collated, their likeness would be preserved.

"These 30 or so casualties would also represent the crew as a whole."

Hearts of Oak, published by Amberley Publishing, is on sale at bookstores, including WH Smith, online and via the publisher at 01285 760030.

For more about the author, see