IT was once one of Germany’s most famous military decorations – now a prized trophy aboard Portsmouth minehunter HMS Hurworth, 70 years after the ship’s predecessor shot down its holder’s bomber.
In 1943, the previous Hurworth – a destroyer – shot down a Luftwaffe Junkers 88 dive-bomber over Sicily during the month-long battle to oust Axis forces from the Mediterranean island.
An Iron Cross medal was recovered from the pilot by the ship’s company and donated to the Hurworth Hunt, the destroyer’s namesake – and then forgotten about for 70 years.
That was until it was rediscovered and donated to today’s ship as sailors visited Hurworth village.
It’s thought the destroyer – which sank in October 1943 when she struck a mine in the Aegean, killing 134 men – was the only Royal Navy vessel to ‘win’ the Iron Cross.
Lieutenant Commander Eleanor Stack, the commanding officer of Hurworth, said it was ‘a real honour, and a fitting tribute to the memory of the men of HMS Hurworth who died in 1943.’