Man who found the Mary Rose to be honoured

Fundraiser Henry Yelf sits at the computer with an image of Alexander McKee, finder of the Mary Rose. An effort is underway to pay for a bust mf McKee to go into the Mary Rose Museum.
Fundraiser Henry Yelf sits at the computer with an image of Alexander McKee, finder of the Mary Rose. An effort is underway to pay for a bust mf McKee to go into the Mary Rose Museum.

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THE Mary Rose Museum houses the remains of Henry VIII’s famous flagship and 19,000 artefacts salvaged from its wreck.

But one thing that’s missing is a proper tribute to the man who made it all possible.

Military historian and diver Alexander McKee found the remains of Mary Rose in 1971 after a six-year search.

Now a campaign is under way to have a bronze bust of Mr McKee, who died in 1992, added to the museum.

Fundraiser Henry Yelf, of Longparish, said £5,000 of the £6,500 needed for the bust had already been raised since the campaign started in June.

Mr Yelf said: ‘Without him the ship would still be under the mud.

‘We’re not trying to take anything away from the people that came after but I felt that he should receive more recognition.’

Mr McKee started searching for shipwrecks in the Solent in 1965 with members of the British Sub Aqua Club’s Southsea branch. Few people thought he stood a chance of finding the Mary Rose, which sank in 1545.

Mr Yelf said: ‘They called it McKee’s ghost ship and his team called themselves Mad Mac’s marauder.

‘He was a stubborn man and once he got an idea in his head he would pursue it to the end.’

The search progressed with the discovery of an old chart indicating the site of the wreck and a sonar sweep that found signs of a ship under the mud.

He added: ‘Two years later he found a cannon and that proved the ship was the Mary Rose.’

Mr Yelf said tensions arose between Mr McKee and marine archaeologists who worked on the salvage effort and he was sidelined.

‘It was only thanks to the insistence of Prince Charles that he was invited to join VIPs on the salvage ship, Tog Mor, in 1982 to watch Mary Rose resurface.’

Mr McKee was awarded with an OBE for finding the ship.

THERE will be a fundraising lecture for the bust of Alexander McKee at the D-Day Museum in Southsea on Friday, November 15 at 7pm.

The lecture will tell the story of the search for the Mary Rose. Afterwards attendees are welcome to tour the D-Day Museum.

Organiser Henry Yelf said a sculptor was already working on a model for the bust and the museum’s directors had decided where to place it when done.

Tickets are £10. To reserve a place, contact Mr Yelf on (01264) 720790 or email henry.yelf@sky.com.

Mr McKee’s son Alex said: ‘This bust will also recognise the efforts of all those amateur divers who helped him.’