Sailors honour those killed in the defence of island in war

Portsmouth churches back military pledge

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NAVY sailors and Royal Marines from a Portsmouth warship have paid tribute to the brave men who died trying to defend the island of Crete 76 years ago.

Thirty crew of HMS Duncan joined a service to honour the 27 sailors and marines buried at the Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery in Souda Bay, Crete.

The Royal Navy’s Mediterranean fleet took a mauling in the Second World War battle, spread over a fortnight in late May and early June 1941, as Hitler sought to add the Greek island to his long list of conquests.

More than 2,300 British and Commonwealth sailors were killed or reported missing, while 450 sailors and marines were wounded.

Half a dozen destroyers and four cruisers ended up at the bottom of the Mediterranean, while an aircraft carrier, two battleships and seven other British vessels were also badly damaged.

Duncan’s captain, Commander Eleanor Stack, joined Commodore James Morley – commander of the Nato taskforce Duncan is part of – in laying wreaths.

It comes as the Type 45 destroyer comes to the end of her stint in charge of the Nato group in the Mediterranean. Her role will be taken over by HMS Diamond.