Guernsey

HMS Affray memorial unveiled in Alderney

  • 16 April 2012
  • From the section Guernsey
HMS Affray memorial
The 50 crew, 21 officers on training and 4 Royal Marines on board all perished

A memorial has been unveiled in Alderney to remember the crew of a Royal Navy submarine that sank near the Hurd Deep in 1951.

Relatives, residents and former submariners gathered at Braye Harbour to honour the 75 sailors who died in the tragedy aboard HMS Affray.

The submarine was lost on a training exercise in circumstances that have never been fully explained.

A wreath was also laid at the spot where the submarine sank.

HMS Affray left Portsmouth on 16 April 1951 and submerged about 30 miles south of the Isle of Wight at 21:15 BST, but failed to resurface when it was due to at 08:30 BST.

A search and rescue operation was launched, which involved 26 ships and submarines and every available aircraft, but the submarine was not found for two months - when it was located 7.5 miles north west of Alderney.

The Royal Navy's official inquiry concluded HMS Affray sank because the snort mast, the tube through which the diesel engine "breathed" while the submarine was at periscope depth, snapped because of metal fatigue.

The remembrance events were organised by Martin Allen whose father Herbert was a member of the crew, but had been transferred the day before the submarine sailed.

'Victory for the relatives'

Mr Allen had hoped his father would unveil the memorial, but he passed away in January.

He said: "Those crew members have been waiting 61 years, they've not had proper recognition, they've never had a dedicated memorial to their name, and the relatives have never been allowed to Hurd Deep to lay a wreath on the graves of their loved ones.

"It's a victory for the relatives and for the memory of the crew members.

The memorial looks out on the Hurd Deep where HMS Affray, an official war grave, still lies

"History has not been very kind, there was a lot of controversy about how it happened, accusations of sabotage, Russian spies, it hit a ship, it hit a mine.

"It's nice now we can put all this to bed, the men have got the memorial they deserve."

June Tower, widow of Lt John Treleaven who died on HMS Affray, said: "It was the end of a long wait and it was about time."

Kevin Cook, son of Leading Seaman George Cook and webmaster of the HMS Affray website, said: "There has never been a proper way of recognising it and it is wonderful.

"We've had memorial services in Portsmouth, Gosport and so on, but actually being here so close to Affray and having this monument looking out towards where Affray is lying meant more than anything."

Capt John Egdell, captain of submarines at Devonport, said: "We still don't really know what happened to this submarine... but you could see by the expression on the faces of many of the families they felt this was a fitting memorial to their loved ones."

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