December 2013: HMS NEPTUNE Memorial Service
World War II Tragedy of HMS NEPTUNE Remembered
On the 15th of December at a well-attended Annual Remembrance Service at the Wellington Naval Reserve HQ HMNZS OLPHERT, Serving and Former Members of the RNZN, Naval Reserve and RNZNVR Association, Sea Cadet Units and Families came together to remember the tragic loss of the Cruiser HMS NEPTUNE on 19 December 1941.
NEPTUNE ran into an uncharted Italian minefield in the Mediterranean off Tripoli. At 2.10 am a mine exploded off her starboard bow. Three more mines went off before the Cruiser sank with the loss of 764 officers and men, including 150 New Zealanders. The reason for 150 New Zealanders being aboard NEPTUNE was she had been intended to join the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy in the Pacific theatre of the War.
Right: Members of the Serving and former Members of RNZN and RNZNVR including Veterans and Families pay their respects.
Just one man, Royal Navy Able Seaman Norman Walton was rescued by an Italian torpedo boat, after 5 days in the water. He was to spend 18 months in Italian prisoner of war camps before being released in 1943. In 1991 Norman was able to visit New Zealand and participate in NEPTUNE Remembrance Services including Wellington at that time.
We will remember their sacrifice.
For Further information on HMS NEPTUNE, the Neptune Association Website is: http://www.hmsneptune.com
Photos provided by Ms Joanne Ross
For further Information contact:
LTCDR Michael Stephens RNZNVR
PRO HMNZS OLPHERT
Above: CDR James Routledge, Mr Gary King, HMNZS OLPHERT Commanding Officer LTCDR Ian Wells and Chaplin Jennifer-Betham Lang with the embroidered Crest of HMS NEPTUNE presented by Ms Joanne Ross.
Above: LTCDR Wells reads the Lesson at the Service.