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HMS Neptune remember loss of Wartime

21 December 2016
Personnel at HM Naval Base Clyde gathered in prayer and reflection recently to commemorate the anniversary of the sinking of the Wartime HMS Neptune.

A memorial to the tragedy can be found at the site’s main mast and on Monday, December 19, sailors and marines took a moment to remember those who lost their lives.

At 11am personnel across the Naval Base observed a minute’s silence, and afterwards, Royal Navy Chaplain Reverend Richard Rowe read the prayer of the Royal Navy to the assembled sailors and marines.

On December 19, 1941, the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Neptune struck a mine while leading a squadron – known as “Force K” – in the Medettereanean off Tripoli.  

Another ship in the squadron – HMS Kandahar – tried to rescue Neptune but also hit a mine.

Attempting to reverse out of the uncharted minefield HMS Neptune hit two more mines and shortly after drifted into a fourth and sank. 

Only a few of the 767 crew survived the sinking, clinging desperately to a life raft.  Five days later, on Christmas Eve, an Italian ship found the raft.

In those few days many of the initial survivors had perished, succumbing to their wounds or dying from hypothermia.  Only one sailor survived – 20-year-old Able Seaman Norman Walton.   

Today’s HMS Neptune is the shore establishment at HM Naval Base Clyde, responsible for providing support and facilities to the 6,500 personnel based at the military site.  

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