Unique sketches of HMS Royal Oak construction by

Edward O’Gara 1888-1954

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Born in Plymouth, Edward O’Gara joined the navy as a boy in 1902 as a Shipwright Apprentice. Little is known about his career except that he served in Minesweepers throughout the First World War. After that war he served on a number of vessels, including HMS Centaur in 1922, based in Malta, and HMS Royal Sovereign in 1926. He returned to Plymouth Dockyard in 1936, responsible for the Mechanical Training Establishment. He retired in 1938, but again worked in Plymouth Dockyard in a clerical capacity during the Second World War.

He left a bound book of detailed technical drawings and notes on the construction of HMS Royal Oak, which runs to 96 pages. A page of notes detailing the construction and specification accompanies many of the drawing. The drawings cover areas such as the rudders, sections through the ship, the plating specifications, ventilation arrangements, designs for targets and derricks, and specifications for the boats carried by Royal Oak. Most of the drawings are to a very high standard, and water-coloured.

It is not known what connection he had with HMS Royal Oak. Edward O’Gara was known to be at sea when the Royal Oak was built in 1914-16, so it is unlikely he would have been involved in the construction. The drawings do not look like original blue-prints, so seem to indicate they are copies, perhaps as an exercise, or perhaps because he served as a shipwright on the Royal Oak after the war. His surviving children, however, have no recollection of this.

Steve Dooley

Click on the images below for a larger version of some of these fascinating working drawings

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