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Fareham sailor recreates family photo

16 February 2016
A Fareham sailor has posed on a bench in front of one of the world’s most famous historic sites – just as her soldier father did exactly 70 years ago.

The participation of HMS Defender in India’s International Fleet Review allowed Warrant Officer Lianne Evans, who works in the destroyer’s weapon engineer department, to recreate a treasured family moment.

There may be a few more trees now – and considerably more tourists – but otherwise the view of the Taj Mahal, the 17th Century mausoleum built by a moghul emperor as he mourned the death of his wife, has changed little over seven decades.

Glaswegian James ‘Wee Jimmy’ Rice served in the Army Corps of Signals in World War 2 and the immediate aftermath. His stint in the military included a five-year spell in India – and the obligatory visit to the iconic building on the outskirts of Agra in 1946 when he was aged about 22.

I feel so lucky to have visited such a magical place.

Warrant Officer Lianne Evans

‘Wee Jimmy’ left the Army long before Lianne came into this world, but she remembered the black and white photo from her childhood.

With Defender spending five days in and around the east coast port of Visakhapatnam alongside nearly 100 other warships from India and dozens of other nations, there was time for some of the crew from the Portsmouth-based destroyer to explore the sub-continent – in Lianne’s case making the 1,500-mile round trip to Agra.

“I feel so lucky to have visited such a magical place,” said the mother-of-two from Fareham, “Knowing that my father was here all those years ago made it a very special moment indeed – and one that my family at home will love.”

Defender has now resumed maritime security patrols of the Indian Ocean having most recently supported French and American air strikes against the forces of Daesh in the Middle East as part of the carrier task groups of the FS Charles de Gaulle and USS Harry S Truman.

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