Bomb victims honoured 70 years later

Wally Tooze (89) from Cosham, attended the service after reading an article in The News. Wally lost his friend Ramsey Donald Dowdeswell in the bombing.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131701-8777)
Wally Tooze (89) from Cosham, attended the service after reading an article in The News. Wally lost his friend Ramsey Donald Dowdeswell in the bombing.''Picture: Sarah Standing (131701-8777)
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A MEMORIAL service has been held to honour young sailors who were killed in a bombing 70 years ago.

HMS Collingwood, in Fareham, held the commemorative event to mark the anniversary of the bombing of the base in 1943, when more than 30 sailors lost their lives.

Survivors and relatives attended a service of remembrance in the chapel and then visited the exact site where the bomb hit.

Many relatives only discovered the fate of their loved ones recently through the research work of the HMS Collingwood Association.

The sailors were so new to the Royal Navy, they had not been formerly photographed which made identification difficult.

Chairman of the HMS Collingwood Association Mike Crowe put an appeal in The News.

Wally Tooze, from Cosham, read the article and got in touch. He discovered that he had lost his best friend Ramsey Donald Dowdeswell to that fateful bomb.

Wally, 88, said: ‘For 70 years I have been waiting to find out what happened. I now know. He went away looking forward to his post. He went away telling me that he thought he would look good in bell bottoms, sadly he never got to wear them.’

Wally had been told that his friend had died in Portsmouth and when he moved to area he took up the search.

He said: ‘I had searched everywhere, it’s only when I read the article by chance and worked out the dates that the penny dropped.’

The men were mainly 17 and 18-year-olds and had only been in the Royal Navy for a fortnight.

Gladys Heath, 83, had travelled from Windsor with her family to pay her respects to her brother Sydney Heath. She said: ‘I never ever thought we would find out. All these years have passed by, it breaks your heart.

‘We always talked about him. We were the rough and he was gentle. He was special. Now at last we can say a proper farewell.’

Mike said: ‘We should remember not only the sacrifice made by the dead and the wounded, who were mainly young volunteers, but also that of the families who have lived with the memory for so long.’