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Memorial to HMS Hermione has new resting place

Sandwell | News | Published:

Memories of a ship sunk in the Second World War were revived as a plaque commemorating the vessel found a new home in the Black Country.

Memories of a ship sunk in the Second World War were revived as a plaque commemorating the vessel found a new home in the Black Country.

HMS Hermione was involved in the chase of the German battleship Bismarck in 1941.

It was torpedoed in 1942. A plaque found in the vaults of Smethwick Council House that had been handed to the town after the war following a sponsorship campaign has been given a new home at Smethwick Heritage Centre. Veterans turned out for the official presentation yesterday.

Sandwell's mayor Councillor Pauline Hinton was joined by council leader Darren Cooper and ward councillor Roger Horton for the official handover as scores of dignitaries shared their stories about the cruiser that was sunk with the loss of 87 lives.

The ship's cat, Convoy, also died in the tragedy and became the first Royal Navy cat to be lost in action.

A survivor, Petty Officer Peter Robinson, recalled his time with the crew, which patrolled the Atlantic captained by Rear Admiral Nigel Oliver. Mr Robinson, aged 87, said: "Mine was only a short time on board but it was exciting — we would look out for blockade runners in the Atlantic.

"We chased the Bismarck. We took convoys through 'Bomb Alley' in Malta."

His recollection of the ship was, however, tinged with sadness, as it was during a convoy into Malta that HMS Hermione was torpedoed, on June 16, 1942.

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Grandfather-of-three Mr Robinson spent 45 minutes in the water. He was rescued by HMS Exmoor, a small destroyer, and taken to Egypt.

Steve Brotherton, secretary of the HMS Hermione Association, also holds fond memories of a later ship which took on the name HMS Hermione.

Mr Brotherton, an able seaman on an anti-submarine boat in 1968, said: "There's such comradeship that we still meet up all over the country now."

The commemorative plaque was given to the then borough of Smethwick by the surviving captain of HMS Hermione on September 14, 1945.

And veterans were pleased that the plaque had finally returned home.

Mr Brotherton added: "It's fitting it's here when the town's people raised about £1million to sponsor the warship."

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