Welcome to the website for all Exeter's

The HMS Exeter Association is FREE to join and encompasses members from all ships named Exeter. You might be a veteran, a family member or a descendant from WW2, the River Plate or just have a general interest in the ships history. If you fall into one of the above categories, this is the Association for you!

Our website content relies on You our members, help us to make it informative and varied by sending us your stories and pictures.

Aims of the HMS Exeter Association:

To bring together any individual who has served on-board HMS Exeter at any time.
To promote social activities, mutual support and joint aid among our members.
To establish annual reunions and encourage attendance of members from all eras of the ship’s history.

HMS Exeter crest 68

Honorary President of the Association:

Rear Admiral Paul Bennett CB OBE

I was fortunate enough to command the Type 42 HMS Exeter in 99-00.  We deployed to the Middle East and operated hard.  However, it is not the operations that stick in my mind, but the ship's company, who to a man and woman, were first class. 

It is for that reason, primarily, that I am delighted to be a member of the HMS Exeter Association the opportunity to stay in touch with those who served with me, but also with a lot of like-minded people from other years, united by the fond memory of their time in HMS Exeter. 

There is, however, a second, equally important, reason for being a member - to remember the fallen. 

What makes the Exeter Association far more than a social club is its determination to remember three extraordinary moments in history in which HMS Exeter fought with great distinction, but in doing so we lost shipmates to enemy action.  Although, sadly, very few World War 2 veterans are still alive, we share with the few and with many family and friends the stories of extraordinary bravery in the Battle of the River Plate and of those who were sunk in the Java Sea and subsequently endured over 3 years interred as POWs in Macassar. And then, closer to today, the ship's company of the Type 42 Exeter who was an integral part of the fight to retake the Falklands in 1982. 

Thank you to the Association for creating the opportunities for it members to both meet and remember ship mates and family members past and present - all members of one great Exeter family.

The Chairman’s Welcome Address:

Alan Leslie

When I began to consider how to write a welcome address, which truly related the sense of what it means and feels, to be a part of the HMS Exeter Association, it occurred to me, that a good place to start, is with my own experience.

I had the huge honour, of playing but a tiny role, as part of the Ship’s company of HMS Exeter, the Type 42 Destroyer, through 1981 & ’82, until the October, when I left the Royal Navy. I had minimal contact with anything Naval, until my wife & I attended the first gathering of the newly created HMS Exeter Association, in 2016.

The warmth of the welcome we received was amazing and totally unexpected. It was just like coming home, to your own people. We had a wonderful time, and met many, many lovely people, from both the crew I was part of, later crews and so many family members of the sailors from the WW2 Cruiser. Senior Naval Officers honoured us with their support and presence. We remembered and paid our respects, to both the crew from 1942, when the ship was sunk, in the Java Sea, with many rescued, but imprisoned by the Japanese and also to their family members, who suffered, then and beyond. After the ceremony and Remembrance Service, the Reunion began.  The party was long and traditional. It was certainly, a weekend to remember.

As we headed home, I commented to my wife, that the people we had met, many for the first time, were all my kind of people. People, I choose to associate with; warm, wonderful and good people.

The founding organisers of the Association had done a magnificent job.  

We repeated the full Ceremonial parade and Service in 2017, as that was the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Java Sea and also, the 35th Anniversary of the Falklands War. We were joined by Officers and some crew, from the Type 45 Destroyer, HMS Defender, which currently is the adopted Warship of the City of Exeter. That party was even longer and more fun, than 2016. The Defender crew reminded many, of our younger selves and happy times gone by. They were a great credit, to the Navy. Our bond and unity, as an Association, bringing together people, respecting and honouring the past, embracing the present and building the future, grows stronger with every passing day. Ceremonial Parades will now only be occasional, but reunions will be regular, with respect continuing to be paid, to the people of the past.

More and more people are joining the Association, including some from around the world. More people are getting involved and making it their own. The evolution is truly heartening and our core values, of people, remembering, respecting, uniting and celebrating a free life, continue to build our future. Those values, people fought for and suffered, to preserve. We are living proof, those values endure.

That, to me, is what the HMS Exeter Association is all about; people, values, warmth and an eternal bond of unity.

On behalf of the committee, I invite anyone with a link to HMS Exeter, to fill in our membership form and join us. It’s completely free and there are no obligations, just friendship & respect.

Hope to see you soon.

Alan Leslie

Chairman, HMS Exeter Association

Exeter Reunion, White Ensign Club, Exeter

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