HMS Montrose Press Release:
HMS MONTROSE REMEMBERS EXETER AND ENCOUNTER
Whilst sailing through the Java Sea on her global deployment, HMS Montrose paused, late in the evening, to remember those who lost their lives in HM Ships Exeter and Encounter, when they were sunk during the 2nd Battle of the Java Sea in March 1942.
A service of remembrance was conducted on the Flight Deck of the Devonport-based Type 23, where she stopped in the water over the wreck of HMS Exeter. The service, led by the Executive Warrant Officer, Stephen Witty culminated with the Binyon Words being spoken by the Commanding Officer Commander Conor O’Neill. During the subsequent two minutes silence poppies were scattered over the site of the wreck by the Commanding Officer, and one of Montrose’s youngest sailors, Able Seaman Guto Thomas. The silence was concluded by the Executive Officer Lieutenant Commander Paul Meacher recanting the Kohima Epitaph.
During the service, Sub Lieutenant Ivill read a brief history of the two ships, detailing their past and how they came to rest in the Java Sea.
HMS Exeter was a heavy cruiser built for the Royal Navy during the late 1920s. When World War II began in September 1939, the cruiser was assigned to patrol South American waters. Exeter was one of three British cruisers that fought the German pocket battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee, later that year in the Battle of the River Plate. She was severely damaged during the battle, and she was in the shipyard for over a year. She was transferred to the Far East in 1941 and assigned to escorting convoys from and to Singapore during the Malayan Campaign. The culmination of this was her engagement in the Battle of the Java Sea as the Allies attempted to intercept several Japanese invasion convoys. Exeter was crippled early in the battle, and withdrew. Two days later, she was intercepted and sunk by Japanese ships at the beginning of March in the Second Battle of the Java Sea.
HMS Encounter was an E-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the early 1930s. She was assigned to convoy escort and anti-submarine patrol duties in the Western Approaches when World War II began in September 1939, sharing the Atlantic Battle Honour with HMS Montrose. She participated in the Norwegian Campaign before joining Force H in mid-1940 and was present during the Battles of Dakar and Cape Spartivento later that year. The ship was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in 1941 where she escorted convoys to Malta. Late in 1941, the ship was transferred to the Eastern Fleet at Singapore and spent several months in early 1942 on convoy escort duties. Encounter participated in the Battle of the Java Sea, and was sunk a few days later in the Second Battle of the Java Sea on 1 March approximately 40 miles from the site of HMS Exeter’s sinking.
Most of the crews of both ships survived the sinkings and were rescued, though around a quarter of them died in captivity. Both wrecks were discovered in early 2007 and were declared war graves, but by 2016 their remains had largely been destroyed by illegal salvagers.
Words from Alan Leslie, Chairman of the HMS Exeter Association were also read during the service; “As HMS Montrose lays upon the sea poppies, in remembrance of all who served aboard HMS Exeter on 1st March 1942, those poppies carry with it, the love of families and the deep respect and gratitude, of us all. We Will Remember Them! Semper Fidelis – Always Faithful”
Some sailors on HMS Montrose have previously served in the most recent HMS Exeter, a Type 42 Destroyer, whose battle honours include the Falklands and first Gulf War. Lieutenant Commander Dave Barnes whose first ship was HMS Exeter said “Whilst serving in HMS Montrose, whose predecessor too served in the Second World War, sharing a Battle Honour with HMS Encounter for the 1939 Atlantic Campaign, and with HMS Exeter being a former ship of mine, it was particularly poignant to remember and pay our respects to those who lost their lives this evening”.
The President of the HMS Exeter Association, Vice Admiral Paul Bennett, thanked HMS Montrose for paying tribute over the wreck. He said “The poppy laying was a very important event in memory of so
me extraordinarily brave men that had fought well and for which the families of those lost would be extremely grateful. We will remember them.”
Listen to 100 year old Exeter/Java Sea/Macassar veteran, Lloyd Seaward's interview with the Beeb, when he came over to the UK from his home in Canada for the Exeter Reunion weekend:
HMS EXETER PT 1 (2).mp3
HMS EXETER PT 2 (2).mp3
Exeter Assoc radio chat.mp3
Michael Husselbee was interviewed on Thursday 26th October by BBC Radio Devon to talk about his experiences during the Falklands Campaign as part of the radio station's coverage of the poppy appeal that is launched locally at The Royal William Yard, Plymouth, Devon.
HMS Exeter who sank during WW2 on 1st April 1942 saw 54 men suffer loss of life. It was deemed a war grave site in Indonesia, however, was never officially awarded war grave status. Dutch divers were planning to put plaques on the vessels, of the Dutch ship that was also sunk in the vicinity of HMS Exeter, where they found the ships had vanished. In November 2016 news broke on main steam media channels of the ship being scavenged and desecrated.
Plymouth MP Luke Pollard began the petition to see that we rebury the remains of the sailors, providing them a new and protected site.
The HMS Exeter Association would like to to support this petition, which is coming to a close soon on the 28th August 2018. We urgently ask that you to support this cause and help it reach the 10,000 signatures required for the petition to be presented to Parliament.
Please share and help us get the exposure and signatures required.
Full details of the petition and the story of the desecration are contained in the link below.
News of the WW2 Exeter has emerged, the ship has been salvaged from it's resting place, deep within the Indonesian Sea. BBC Spotlight presenter Scott Bingham, contacted the Association and interviewed Mick Huselbee and Jessica Davis, Secretary at the Royal Naval Memorial on Plymouth's Hoe.
Details of the story in the Exeter Express & Echo, Click Here
Please note that the dates of "Exeter Remembered" are incorrect in the below article....4th March not 1st this year.
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