TRIBUTES have been paid to 840 sailors who lost their lives when their ships were sunk by the Japanese 75 years ago.
HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were destroyed on December 10, 1941, by land based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The Portsmouth ships were hit off the east coast of Malaya near Kuantan during the Second World War, as part of the battle in the Pacific.
Portchester man Robert Sawyer saw both the ships as a young boy while living in Singapore during the Second World War.
The 81-year-old said: ‘Everyone was euphoric that Winston Churchill had sent the ships out to protect and save Malaya and tackle the Japanese. It was an amazing sight. I think I might have been the last person to see both the ships together before they were sunk.
‘They had no air cover and were like sitting ducks to the bombers and torpedo bombers – they were sacrificed.’
Mr Sawyer joined the navy exactly 10 years after the sinking of the ships, retiring as a Petty Officer (Electrician).
The Prince of Wales lost 327 men while 513 were killed on Repulse.
Mr Sawyer added: ‘The men on those ships were so brave. We should never forget them.’