Anniversary chance for a special service

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YOUR readers have been very, very good with their responses, but can they go that extra mile and do something really ‘special, memorable and sympathetic’?

Were they or any relatives serving on HMS Collingwood when Hitler’s men tried to sink it?

In a recent letter I asked those who had served at any time, in any capacity, at HMS Collingwood, the massive shore establishment at Fareham just outside Portsmouth, to get in touch if they wanted to be reunited with old shipmates.

I have received some wonderful stories of their experiences, but something else more dramatic has emerged.

In the early hours of June 18, 1943, just one bomb dropped onto one of the accommodation huts and killed over 30 sailors.

These sailors, all volunteers were mainly 17 and 18-year-olds.

They had only been in the Royal Navy for just over a fortnight and were still under training. No photos of them in uniform.

Two sisters of those killed saw my appeal and have come forward seeking more information.

Following this interest, I have now tracked down service details of all them.

They came from all over the country and I am hoping that readers and those who had relatives killed or they themselves served at HMS Collingwood at that time, will come forward and contribute information ready for the 70th anniversary on Tuesday, June 18.

Thanks to the kind permission of the commodore of HMS Collingwood, I have arranged for a memorial service is to be held in the chapel and a visit to the spot where the bomb dropped with a short service there.

Wreaths may be laid at the tree planted in their memory.

Be they sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, it doesn’t matter, the HMS Collingwood Association, with HMS Collingwood, will make this something special, and 70 years seems a good opportunity before it is too late.

Send the details of the one you have lost, or your story if you were there at the time, to Mike Crowe, Chairman HMS Collingwood Association, 7 Heath Road, Sandown, Isle of Wight. PO36 8PG or e-mail mike.crowe1@btinternet.com

I also look forward to hearing from anybody who has served at HMS Collingwood at any time, in any capacity, or who would like to ‘swing the lamp’ at one of our reunions or even join one of our other organised visits into HMS Collingwood, to see how it is today.

MIKE CROWE

Sandown

Isle of Wight