At this time of year when we pay tribute those who gave their lives in service of their country, it seems appropriate to focus here on just a few examples of the sacrifice made by the men of the Royal Navy.
LOM Paul McCann and OM Anthony Huntrod, HMS Tireless, March 2007
Both sailors were killed when a faulty oxygen generator candle exploded while the submarine was operating under ice near the North Pole. This tragic accident illustrates the inherent dangers present for all who serve at sea which can happen without warning even when not in action against an enemy.
AB Iain Boldy & AB Matthew Stuart, Falklands War, May 1982, HMS Argonaut
On 21 May 1982 HMS Argonaut was part of the escort for the amphibious vessels during the amphibious landing at San Carlos Water. Argonaut was attacked twice by Argentine aircraft and on the second attack 2 bombs hit the ship, fortunately they did not explode but went deep into the ship and killed these 2 young sailors who were later buried at sea. The Royal Navy’s escort ships suffered the majority of the Argentine air attacks, thus protecting the vulnerable landing ships and ensuring that British forces got ashore successfully to liberate the islands.
HMS Gladiolus, North Atlantic, October 1941
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous campaign of the second world war. As an island nation Britain was (and still is) highly dependent on imported goods arriving by sea. The unglamorous, often forgotten Atlantic naval struggle was key to allied victory. To protect them from the submarine menace, the convoys that crossed the Atlantic had to be escorted by the destroyers, corvettes, frigates and sloops of the Royal Navy throughout the war.
Often in terrible weather, the sailors had to endure the dangers as well as cold, wet and cramped conditions in small ships that had been built hastily during the war. HMS Gladiolus was a ‘Flower class’ corvette, amongst the smallest and most basic of the escort vessels. This gallant little ship and her crew of 65 officers and men disappeared without trace in October 1941, probably sunk by German U-boat U553.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.