Memorial for boy sailors who died for their country

TRIBUTE The Royal Naval Boy Seamen Memorial at Portsmouth Cathedral.  Picture: Mick Young
TRIBUTE The Royal Naval Boy Seamen Memorial at Portsmouth Cathedral. Picture: Mick Young
HMS Illustrious leaves Portsmouth for the last time
Picture: Shaun Roster

RETRO: Watch the last voyage of HMS Illustrious from Portsmouth

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EMOTIONS ran high as a new memorial was dedicated to hundreds of boy sailors who died in World War Two.

The plaque at Portsmouth Anglican Cathedral pays tribute to 534 youngsters who were sent to war aged 16 and never made it home.

SERVICE Standard bearers form a guard of honour.

SERVICE Standard bearers form a guard of honour.

For almost 70 years, their sacrifice received scant recognition – until former boy sailor Jim Reed raised £8,000 and campaigned for a lasting tribute to his fallen comrades.

The 89-year-old said he was brought to tears when the plaque was dedicated by the Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral, the Very Reverend David Brindley.

Hundreds of veterans from several naval associations turned out with standard bearers to pay their respects.

Mr Reed, who joined the Royal Navy aged 15 and served with HMS Iron Duke and HMS Glasgow, said: ‘It went remarkably well. There were about 350 people there from all over the country. It was a good service and then afterwards we had the dedication.

‘It was an excellent do and service and there was a strong naval presence there.

‘It was very emotional. People were crying and so was I. It felt like a huge relief to finally have something to honour those boys who died so young for their country.

‘Everybody said it should have been done years ago.’

Along with the plaque, Mr Reed has produced a book of remembrance with all the names of boy sailors who were killed in action. He said: ‘I hope lots of people go and see it.’