Wednesday, 17 Jul 2024

Lest we forget: crew’s tribute to 840 heroes

Engineering Technician James Patterson cast 84 symbols from last weekend’s Remembrance Day from the deck of patrol boat HMS Spey.

Next to him was Lt Cmdr Rebecca Deakin RN, who committed two origami flowers with the crests of both ships that sank in the South China Sea in December 1941.

Battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle-cruiser HMS Repulse were struck during a Japanese air attack 80 miles east of Kuantan, Malaysia, during the opening moves of the Battle for Singapore.

Eighty-two years later HMS Spey paused over the wrecks – both internationally recognised war graves – to allow her 50-strong crew to honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice for King and Country.

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Bridget Macnae, HMS Spey’s executive officer, called it “an absolute honour”, adding: “We also pause to remember the friends and families of those that perished and give thought to those who survived the tragedy and lived on with the difficult memories of the loss throughout their lives.

“The Royal Navy will honour their memory for ever more.”

Leading Hand Andrew MacClean, who researched the tragedy for the crew, said: “We are all very conscious that we have the opportunity to pay our respects to our fellow servicemen so far from home.”

HMS Prince of Wales lies at 233ft while HMS Repulse is at 183ft.

They were overwhelmed by enemy aircraft during a battle lasting barely two hours.

Today’s HMS Prince of Wales – Britain’s biggest warship – carries the bell from her predecessor, recovered from the wreck by Royal Navy divers 20 years ago.

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