Respects paid to lost HMS Affray heroes

TRIBUTE Rear Admiral Anthony Whetstone lays a wreath at the Submarine Museum Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (111362-5)
TRIBUTE Rear Admiral Anthony Whetstone lays a wreath at the Submarine Museum Picture: Ian Hargreaves (111362-5)

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THE crew of a submarine which was lost 60 years ago have been remembered in a moving ceremony.

HMS Affray vanished after leaving HMS Dolphin for a training exercise on April 16, 1951.

When there was no contact the following day, a search mission began but it was not until June 14, 1951 that the sunken submarine was discovered near Alderney, in the English Channel.

The Gosport-based Submariners Association organised the service on the 60th anniversary of the sinking of the tragedy, at The Royal Navy Submarine Museum, on Saturday.

Family members of those lost – who included 20 engineer officers and four Royal Marines – gathered for a moving service and wreath-laying ceremony.

Georgina Gander’s father George Leakey went down on HMS Affray.

She travelled down from Middlesex with her grandchildren for the service.

She said: ‘My father was just 22 when he died and my mother was pregnant with me at the time.

‘My mother never talked about him although I knew who he was and that I’d been named after him.

‘I wanted to tell my daughter and grandchildren about him so I found out as much as I could.

‘It is terribly sad and I still find it very difficult now to talk about it without getting upset. I’m so glad to have been able to come here.’

Retired Vice Admiral Sir Tom Blackburn’s father, Captain John Blackburn, also died in the tragedy.

He said: ‘It was a most moving and distinguished service. I hope other families got as much out of it as we have.’

The Gosport Silver Band provided the music and a Royal Marines bugler played the Last Post and Reveille.

While the wreaths were being laid members of the Submariners Association read out the names of those who lost their lives.