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Visit remembers those killed at Raleigh during the Plymouth Blitz

6 April 2017
The son of a sailor, who survived the bombing of HMS Raleigh on 28 April 1941, has travelled from Canada to honour his father and remember the men who lost their lives that day.

John Andrew, his wife Katherine Latimer and British cousin Maria Stapleton, asked to visit HMS Raleigh as part of their week-long trip to the UK. 

They were given a tour of the training base in Cornwall and were then taken to Horson cemetery in Torpoint, where the men who died on 28 April are buried in official war graves. 

A short Service of Remembrance was conducted by Royal Navy Chaplain The Reverend Ralph Barber. 

I wanted to come to Raleigh to honour my father and I know that he felt very deeply about his experiences during the war.

Mr John Andrew

In total 44 sailors and 21 Royal Engineers died that night when a German bomb hit the air-raid shelter they were in. 

A total 123 tonnes of explosives were dropped on Plymouth that night alone during one of the heaviest attacks of the Plymouth Blitz.

Mr Andrew’s father, also named John, narrowly escaped the bombing.  Mr Andrew said:  “My father was extremely fortunate on that night as he was on watch-duty at the time and not with his colleagues in the shelter. 

“He took part in the internment of the casualties and his older sister recalls that when he came home on leave shortly thereafter, he was a very changed young man.

“I wanted to come to Raleigh to honour my father and I know that he felt very deeply about his experiences during the war.

“My father had a very long and happy life.  I think in the words of the Act of Remembrance he did get to grow old and have a life, which unfortunately a lot of people of that time did not. 

“He always felt a warmth and gratitude to the many people he served with who were not as fortunate as he was.”

Originally from Glasgow Mr Andrew senior joined the Royal Navy in 1941 and was assigned to HMS Raleigh as an Ordinary Seaman. 

He celebrated his 20th birthday during his training and later trained as an Officer at HMS King Alfred near Brighton. 

In December 1941 he was serving with 4 Commando Forces and was operating the landing craft for the of raids on Norway Mr Andrew continued with the Commando Forces until the raid on Dieppe, in France, and was then posted to sea serving on  Corvettes. 

In July 1943 he was posted to the North West Atlantic Station Collingwood. 

Mr Andrew junior said:  “His mother thought that it would be a very cold place in the North West Atlantic, but he arrived in Collingwood, Ontario, in the middle of July in his great-coat and it was 92 degrees.

“During his time there he met a young lady on vacation from university.  A romance blossomed, which continued for the rest of life.”

Mr Andrew senior was posted to patrol duties in the English Channel in 1944 and continued his Naval service until his discharge in July 1946.

He then went on to study at the London University of Economics and was offered an Ajax scholarship to study at McGill University in Canada. 

Mr Andrew spent the rest of his life in Canada with his Canadian wife, initially settling in Montreal.  He died on 15 March 2013.

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