70th Anniversary commemoration of HMS Aldenham

A 70th Anniversary commemoration took place on Sunday December 14 to remember the lives lost during the sinking of HMS Aldenham.

Every year, on the Sunday nearest to December 14, a memorial service is held in the Aldenham village church of St John the Baptist, attended by both serving and veteran naval servicemen alike.

As this year is the 70th anniversary of the sinking and is likely to be one of the last times that many of the survivors will be able to attend, a strong Royal Navy presence honoured the sacrifice made by those who lost their lives.

The commanding officer of HMS Wildfire, Commander Stephanie Shinner said: “This was a particularly special occasion for me having grown up attending St John the Baptist Church, Aldenham, where my mother still worships and sings in the choir and where I married my husband, Patrick, 30 years ago this month after we met on joining the Royal Navy Reserves. 

"It was therefore, a great pleasure to take part but especially to do so standing alongside both veterans and the young men and women serving today.”

As well as HMS Wildfire, the naval service was represented by four other naval Units, including, the Maritime Warfare School and Victory Squadron at HMS Collingwood, the London University Royal Naval Unit (LURNU) and the band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Portsmouth.

HMS Aldenham, one of 86 World War 2 Royal Navy Hunt Class destroyers, was struck by a mine whilst on service in the Adriatic on December 14th, 1944. 126 crewmen lost their lives and only 63 men were rescued; HMS Aldenham lies on the seabed where she sank and is a War Grave.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Commodore Tim Hennessey, represented Her Majesty the Queen and the local community was represented by the Hertsmere Mayor.

Leading Airman Matthew Ready, 26, who is based at HMS Collingwood, which provides training to officers and ratings alike, said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be involved in this poignant 70th anniversary commemoration service, remembering those that so bravely gave their all for us.”

Officer Cadet David Cochrane, 21, who attends Imperial College University and who is a member of the LURNU, said: “Honouring those who made the supreme sacrifice reminds us to be humble for what we have in the present”.