Survivors attend ship tragedy memorial service

Dunedin picture taken from a copy of Illustrated News around 1940 ''Bill Gill''Pictures supplied from Michael Gill  [mailto:michael.w.gill@ntlworld.com]

Dunedin picture taken from a copy of Illustrated News around 1940 ''Bill Gill''Pictures supplied from Michael Gill [mailto:michael.w.gill@ntlworld.com]

Isabelle Phillips had her haircut for the Little Princess charity Picture: Keith Woodland

Isabelle donates her hair to a good cause

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A REMEMBRANCE memorial has been held this afternoon to mark 70 years to the day since a Royal Navy warship was sunk by a German U-boat in the South Atlantic.

HMS Dunedin was torpedoed 900 miles west of Freetown, South Africa, on November 24, 1941. Of the 486 men on board, only 67 survived after the 250 initial survivors spent a harrowing four days drifting at sea aboard life rafts.

The last three remaining survivors of the wartime tragedy attended a reunion service at the Royal Naval War Memorial on Southsea Common this afternoon, along with 50 relatives of the ship’s company.

Veteran Royal Marine Bill Gill, 90, said: ‘I like to pay my respects to the crew. They were good men and many lost their lives.’

The warship was torpedoed around 1.20pm on November 24, 1941. Around 250 sailors escaped the sinking ship and were able to board rafts.

But they then spent four harrowing days drifting at sea before being rescued by an American merchant ship.

During the four days at sea, the men were attacked by sharks, piranha fish, and stung by poisonous Portuguese Man of War jellyfish.

By the time they were picked up by the US freighter Nishmaha, there were only 72 sailors left alive. A further five of them then died on the way to safety in Trinidad because of their injuries.

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