The crew of a ship – whether a commercial vessel or warship are like a family. Whatever their individual traits and differences the changing, unforgiving sea and weather ensures that they work closely together. When they are paid off or the ship decommissioned this family with all its characters, friendships and tensions is split up. It can be a painful experience. How much greater then is the pain when a ship is lost at sea and men die. There will never be a chance to meet shipmates at reunions or informal gatherings in pubs and clubs. They may be gone but the memory remains alive – the faces creased with laughter, the shared experiences, the “Run Ashore” and little kindnesses like a hot drink produced during a long lonely watch. There were 233 men on the Royal Navy sloop HMS Egret that was sunk on April 27, 1943. Only 35 survived and for them there was the memory of a tight knit crew they would never see again. Many of the survivors were rescued by the already bomb damaged Canadian destroyer HMCS Athabascan. It was difficult work in dangerous waters – but sailors never shirk from rescuing fellow mariners. Of the 198 men who perished when HMS Egret was sunk there were wives and families who would have memories too but whose worlds like the ship would be torn apart.
We at Spirit of Remembrance are privileged to have organised the family of Norman Smith who served aboard HMS Egret to Vigo in Spain - the closest place on land to the last resting place of the Egret –to honour their memory and their service in the defence of freedom.
The Telegraph (UK) Weekend section beautifully written piece 6th October 2012 (click on image)
Here are some of the first images of the commemoration tour which featured in a local Vigo newspapers.
Phyllis with her grandson (left) and with her husband Norman (right)
|Drawing by Simon Attack which was presented to Phyllis on the 27th August 2012|
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