Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Alrewas


 






I didn't expect to be moved but I was.

I didn't expect to shed a tear standing in front of the tiny seat in a Bofors gun, but I couldn't help myself.





The gun is called Bofors after a small town in Sweden where it was made, and was attached to ships - in this case during WW2.

Alrewas is full of monuments to the dead of war, to all the men, women and children who lost their lives when they shouldn't have done, and is there simply as a place to visit and remember them.

What was chilling was the enormity of the site. I was struck by the thousands and thousands of names on the Armed Forces Memorial, (above and right) which lists those killed since WW2, and even more chillingly, the amount of space left blank to be filled in at a later date.

Being an aboretum the site is surrounded by trees planted in memory, and in a few year's time they will be huge and provide shelter and silence.

I went because my family have discovered an uncle who died in 1942, when the petrol tanker he was on, the Narragansett, was sunk by torpedo fire. The link takes you to a blog where the full story is explained, but the sentence below is the one that made me cry when I looked at the gun. It is a record of what the UBoat captain said about the attack.

(The ship was a merchant ship carrying petrol back to the UK from the USA, and was torpedoed repeatedly before catching fire and sinking, and it would appear that my uncle - who was a gunner in the Royal Navy and who's job it was to defend the cargo ship - went down fighting.)

"He notes that on the afterdeck there are deck guns and also machine gun fire coming from the ship. Since he does not note any lifeboats leaving the tanker presumably they Allied merchant sailors and gunners decided to stick it out on their ship and fight it out or flee"




What a ghastly experience it must have been. The ship, carrying petrol and on fire, holed by several torpedoes and sinking. No help at hand or chance of rescue and no life boats. You can't jump ship as the petrol floating on the sea is bubbling with flames around you, so you go down fighting.




Stanley Dennis Gregory

Died 23rd March 1942 aged 20 years.

Rest In Peace.




























2 comments:

  1. Very touching post. The sculptures you show - well just no words for how they bring to life the true meaning of war. And chilling yes, that blank expanse waiting for more names to record.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly so IB. It was a most sobering day really.

      Delete

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