BOY sailors who were killed serving in Royal Navy ships during the Second World War will be remembered with a plaque at Portsmouth Cathedral.
The tribute to 534 boys who were killed in action is the idea of 89-year-old war veteran Jim Reed who signed up to the navy in 1937 aged just 15.
Mr Reed researched the names of boys killed aboard navy ships during the war and approached Portsmouth Cathedral in Old Portsmouth with a view to laying a plaque in their memory.
He has paid £8,000 for the memorial out of his own pocket and is looking for donations.
‘It’s been in my mind for many years,’ said Mr Reed, who lives in Hedge End.
‘For most of my life I’ve thought about those young boys who were killed in the Second World War by enemy action aged 16 and 17 years old.
‘I’ve been tracing them and I’ve come up with 534 boys who were killed. One ship which stands out is the Royal Oak on which 125 boys were killed when she was torpedoed at Scapa Flow at the beginning of the war.’
A further 71 boys were among 1,415 sailors who died aboard HMS Hood when it was sunk by the Bismarck in May 1941.
Mr Reed said: ‘Quite a lot of people don’t know about how many boys were killed at sea in the war. It was hushed up at the time so the morale of the British public would not be broken.
‘This memorial will show these boys have not been forgotten.’
The 3ft plaque will be unveiled in the south west corner of Portsmouth Cathedral early next year. It will be accompanied by a book of remembrance containing information from Mr Reed’s research on the boys who died.
The Dean of Portsmouth Cathedral, the Very Reverend David Brindley, said: ‘We’ve got a lot of naval memorials in the cathedral and we are known as the cathedral of the sea. We’ve got memorials for various ships and sailors so in that context it makes sense for us to have this as well because there is not a memorial anywhere in memory of boy sailors.’
Mr Reed has set up a fund to pay for the memorial plaque.
To donate send a cheque payable to RN Boys Memorial Fund to 10 Cheltenham Gardens, Hedge End, Hampshire, SO30 2UR.