31/01/2018
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The Battle of May Island tragedy took place - On this day in history

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The so-called Battle of May Island took place on the night between 31 January and 1 February 1918. The ‘battle’ was a series of collisions between submarines, battleships and cruisers during a secret military exercise named Operation ECI in the Firth of Forth.

The crafts involved were on their way to Rosyth to take part in fleet exercises, during misty weather conditions. They included:

 

  • Three battleships with destroyers
  • Four battlecruisers with destroyers
  • Two cruisers
  • Two k-class submarines

 

270 Royal Navy servicemen were killed in the incident and although it took place during World War One, enemy forces were not involved. Because of wartime conditions, details of the accident were not released to the public, and some files relating to the tragedy were only released in the 1990s.

In 2002, a memorial cairn was erected at Anstruther harbour, opposite the Isle of May, to remember those lost.

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