MP backs the call for a new HMS Havant

HMS HAVANT arriving in Dover with troops evacuated from Dunkirk
HMS HAVANT arriving in Dover with troops evacuated from Dunkirk
Picture: Malcolm Wells

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SHE valiantly brought back 2,432 French and British troops in the famous evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War.

But HMS Havant was sunk by a diving bomb attack on June 1, 1940 – with the loss of eight crew and at least 25 soldiers on board.

Now there is a bid to get another warship named HMS Havant.

Local MP David Willetts wrote to the Ministry of Defence, asking if a future naval vessel can be named after the town.

It came after a letter from former soldier Ronald Russell, who lives in Gordon Road, Waterlooville, but used to live in Havant.

He told The News: ‘There should be something – not to glorify war but to commemorate HMS Havant and honour those poor boys who were killed on board.

‘They keep on building these warships and naming them after all these people. Why not HMS Havant?’

Mr Willetts said he ‘strongly supported’ the idea of a new HMS Havant and said it could be ‘a source of great pride for the borough of Havant with its close links with Portsmouth’.

But the ministry’s response, from Mark Francois, minister for the armed forces, said it was not possible.

His letter stated: ‘HMS Havant has had a very honourable history but, because of the number of requests for civic affiliations, the Royal Navy no longer names its ships or submarines after places.

‘This allows for new vessels to have more than one affiliation, which the Royal Navy sees as an important tradition and one it takes great pride in.’

Mr Russell said: ‘Their response, although explanatory, is not sufficient.

‘To me they are building all these warships. Why can’t they make one HMS Havant as a memorial to the original HMS Havant?’

A tribute does exist in Havant, however.

There is a window on the north side of St Faith’s Church commemorating the valiant service of HMS Havant.

On June 1 each year, Havant’s Royal British Legion held a memorial service to honour those who served in her.

The last one was held in 2010 to mark the 70th anniversary of the evacuation of Dunkirk.

The RBL produced a special edition to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the loss of HMS Havant.