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15 October 2014
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The sinking of H.M.S. Pylades

by threecountiesaction

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Archive List > Royal Navy

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Mr.Stan Parker
Location of story: 
Normandy, France
Background to story: 
Royal Navy
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
18 August 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Three Counties Action on behalf of Stan Parker and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site’s terms and conditions.

My name is Stan Parker,

At the age of 18 (Feb 1943), I joined the ‘Royal navy’ and after my training went to America to pic up a new minesweeper and returned to England as a Crew Member of ‘HMS Pylades’.

We arrived off Normandy (France) on 14 June 1944. Our duty was to sweep for mines.

On Saturday the 8 July 1944 at 6.50am the ship was under weigh. I was ordered to the radar shack to prepare the set for use. It started operating but an explosion on the stern put it out of action.

The explosion stopped the ship and it listed badly to port and 10 minutes later, we were struck by a second explosion after which we started to sink rapidly. The bow’s lifted sharply. The Captain then ordered ‘Prepare to abandon ship’, within minutes he ordered ‘Abandon ship’ and the crew that was left jumped into the sea.

We swam around for quite sometime until we were picked out of the sea by the crew of HMS Cockatrice, another minesweeper. As we left HMS Cockatrice, a young seaman gave me a poem that he had put together in the short time we were onboard. HMS Cockatrice then took us to another ship the ‘Southern Prince’ after feeding us they put us ashore so we could find a landing craft to take us back to Portsmouth. We arrived at Portsmouth at midnight Saturday 8 July 1944.

The divers who found the wreck of HMS Pylades, without any doubt confirmed that it was hit by 2 German ‘Neger’ Human Torpedoes. We lost eleven men.

In the poem (below) the ‘Cato’ and ‘Magic’ were sister ships to the Pylades.

No marble tombstone will mark the place
No cross above their grave
Three small dots on the pilots chart
Three buoys to ride the waves

There down below in a watery grave
Their going so sudden, so tragic
But we that are left remember their name
The Pylades, The Cato, The Magic

Mourn for those who in freedoms cause
With their young lives have paid
Weep not for pals below these marks
That a hidden foe once made

For they are not dead whose spirit lives
With their young lives have paid
We will not forget they died for us
We will remember them

When the day of judgement claims each soul
And each stand before the throne
There will be sinner, saint all standing there
Each soul to stand alone

Our pals will march in pride
For the greatest judge of all will know
T’was for freedoms cause they dies
Pylades, Cato, magic we salute you as we pass
As you your duty nobly done
May we is all we ask

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