WW2 submarine tragedy remembered at its namesake iconic site

Topic: Fighting armsSubmarine Service Storyline: Submarine Service

Britain’s most iconic ancient site was the fitting setting for an 80th anniversary service to a lost WW2 submarine.

HMS Stonehenge vanished on only her second patrol some time in mid-March 1944 in the Bay of Bengal.

All 50 souls aboard were lost – neither their fate, nor their boat’s have ever been determined. Most likely, the submarine struck a mine or suffered mechanical failure in waters between the Nicobar Islands and Sumatra.

HMS Stonehenge was officially listed as lost on March 22 1944 – less than three weeks after an official war photographer had captured crew on camera preparing for their fateful last mission.

Eight decades later, national veterans’ charity Alabaré organised a memorial service in conjunction with English Heritage at the prehistoric monument in Wiltshire which gave the ill-starred sub her name.

Ten RN veterans joined representatives of the Submarines Association, Royal Naval Association and serving personnel from Navy HQ in Portsmouth gathered around the ancient stones with Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire Sarah Rose Troughton for a commemorative service led by the Rt Reverend Stephen Lake, Bishop of Salisbury.

Local sea shanty choir The Navy Larks sang Crossing the Bar and Sea Cadets read the names of all 50 men those with HMS Stonehenge.

“I spent my early and later years in the Royal Navy working with submariners. I have the utmost respect for them; the conditions in which they lived were far from ideal and they undertook very challenging missions,” said Commodore Richard Lord, a retired Naval Officer and ambassador for Alabaré.

“The service brough home the tragedy of one such mission in World War 2 and the sacrifice the ship’s company of His Majesty’s Submarine Stonehenge had made. Their loss must have been so tragic for the families and all who knew them.

“Thank you to everyone who have contributed to such a memorable service which brought together veterans, serving personnel, civilians and cadets. It reminded us so powerfully of their valour and we will remember them.”

Alabaré helps veterans from across the UK who are vulnerable and homeless, providing safe accommodation and a pathway of support to help them progress to a brighter future.