Widow unveils HMS Affray memorial in Gosport

The HMS Affray memorial ceremony
The HMS Affray memorial ceremony
Daniel Gibbs

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A MEMORIAL to the last British submarine lost at sea was unveiled by an Emsworth widow this morning.

Mary Henry, 86, removed the white ensign covering the granite memorial to HMS Affray in The Esplanade, Millennium Walkway in Gosport, revealing a bronze plaque listing the 75 names of those lost when the submarine sank in 1951.

Amongst those names is Ms Henry’s husband, the first lieutenant of the submarine, Lieutenant Derek Foster, who was aged 25 when the crew perished.

One of only three remaining widows, Ms Henry said: ‘It’s something I have waited 62 years for and I’m very grateful to all who have arranged it and made it possible.

‘It’s something that still haunts me for all those days, no matter what.

‘It is most definitely the best place (to have the memorial).’

Dozens of former submariners and families came to see the unveiling of the memorial, which overlooks trot one and two of HMS Dolphin, which Affray sailed from on April 16 1951 on a training exercise.

She submerged 30 miles south of the Isle of Wight but failed to report later, sparking a huge search involving 26 ships.

But she was later found sunk 7.5 miles off the coast of Alderney in the Channel Islands with all 71 sailors and four Royal Marines dead.

The memorial is similar to one unveiled in Alderney last year and both were organised by the Affray Submarine Memorial Trust.

This morning’s service was led by Martin Allen, the trust’s secretary, whose father Herbert served aboard the submarine but left Affray before she sank.

Initial investigations revealed the submarine’s snort mast – a snorkel which allows a submarine to take air from the surface while submerged – had broken.

But a number of those at the ceremony questioned this official report into the sinking.