This is a cap tally for an enlisted sailor who served aboard the battleship S.M.S. Rheinland, part of the four-ship Nassau Class. This class came into use immediately after the Deutschland Class and represented the beginning of Germany’s modern battleships. She was commissioned in 1910 and scrapped in 1921. She also served at the Battle of Jutland (Skagerrakschlacht) in 1916, where she suffered one hit. The Kaiserliche Marine had other more modern battleships than this vessel, which were sent to be turned over to the British at Scapa Flow. Once they arrived in England, however, their German crews scuttled the ships rather than turn them over to the British.
The commander of the interned ships at Scapa Flow was Konteradmiral Ludwig von Reuter. [Admiral Franz von Hipper and Admiral Reinhard Scheer had refused to participate. Indeed, they were overjoyed when they later received news of the scuttling]. Von Reuter had a difficult situation, since morale among the defeated German sailors was very low. They were still in a fractious mood following their mutiny during WW I’s late stages. [The fleet had been ordered to sail from Kiel to fight the British, but the sailors had refused and mutinied]. The crews on the interned ships were less than happy with their food, recreation, and so on. Finally, on 21 June 1919, von Reuter gave the order to scuttle the fleet. The ships raised the Imperial German battle ensign for the final time (an action that had been prohibited once the fleet reached Scapa Flow). Next, the bulk of the fleet, which included battleships, battle cruisers, cruisers, and destroyers, was scuttled. Some of the ships were refloated in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Others were raised for scrap during the same time frame. Several ships remain at the bottom to this day, where scuba divers enjoy diving among the wrecks.
The black silk cap tally measures 41″ in length. The vessel’s name, S.M.S. Rheinland, is embossed in silver at the front. The cap tally is in very fine condition.