Quorn sailors pay homage to their Normandy forebears

From one Quorn to another. Minewarfare specialist AB Conor Brown places a wreath at the foot of the grave of Yeoman of Signals Henry George Kernutt, killed at the age of 23 when HMS Quorn was lost 70 years ago.

Four sailors from the Portsmouth minehunter made the short Channel crossing to Normandy to pay their respects to those killed on the previous ship to be named after the Leicestershire hunt.

In June 1944 the wartime destroyer was assigned to the covering force safeguarding the invasion of Normandy from U-boat and surface attack.

Two months later, Quorn was still on station and, even though the fighting had moved inland, supplies of ammunition, food and spare parts still flowed to the front through the beaches of Normandy.

On August 3, Quorn was attacked by one of the Nazis’ new kamikaze weapons – either a Linsen (a motor boat packed with explosives) or a Neger one-man submarine carrying an 18in torpedo – as part of a massed assault by the Germans on the invasion fleet.

It was deeply moving to visit the graves of men who served on the previous Quorn

Minewarfare specialist AB Conor Brown

Quorn’s starboard side was torn apart and within two minutes, the destroyer broke in two and sank; 16 crew were eventually rescued (some spent eight hours in the water) out of a ship’s company of 146.

The bodies of 11 of the 130 men killed were eventually washed up on French shores and subsequently laid to rest in three Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries at La Crotoy – near the mouth of the Somme, 100 miles from the wreck site – and Tilly-Sur-Seulles and Douvres-la-Délivrande in Normandy.

The coxswain of today’s Quorn, PO(D) Paul Hawkshaw, led the group – PO(CS) Antonio Hole, ET(ME) Vinnicombe and AB Brown – as they visited the three graveyards to pay their respects, laying a wreath at the foot of the headstone to each man.

“It is unusual to find sailors in graves – most were lost at sea – so this made it hit home,” said PO Hole.

AB Brown added “It was deeply moving to visit the graves of men who served on the previous Quorn.”

They are readying their ship for a major revamp in Portsmouth – undergoing the upgrade the entire Hunt class is receiving.

The ship’s company will transfer to HMS Hurworth where they’ll train for a deployment to the Gulf early in 2017.