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Albert Riddle

Boy seaman

HMS Prince of Wales

 

Early in March this year the P and 0 flagship, Aurora, with some 1800 passengers, mostly from Australia and the British Isles was sailing South towards Singapore approaching the official graves of the two Capital ships, when Ron Dobson, North West Area President, met with Steve Burgoine, Captain of the Aurora, and put forward certain proposals for a Re­membrance ceremony as the Cruise liner passed close to the official War Graves. Captain Burgoine was fully supportive, and after saying that he wanted to be personally involved he requested the Cruise Director to meet with interested parties and make arrangements. 

Details of the arrangements were published in the Ships daily newspaper, and at noon on Monday 12th March, Andrew Hall, Navigation Officer, in his noon report gave further details and explained to all passengers details of the sinkings 60 years earlier. That evening at 6pm , hundreds of passengers crowded along the rails at the rear of the upper decks looking down on the gathered assembly on the open deck 8. The service was conducted by the Presbyterian Minister, Paul Juby.

Albert Riddle, 16 year old boy sailor aboard the Prince of Wales when it sank, described the last few hours before the ships disappeared.

The congregation joined in with The 23rd Psalm and lead musician, Daniel Hammerton played The Last Post. The full ship’s orchestra played for the singing of ‘The Sailors Hymn’ Eternal Father, strong to save and at the invitation of Ron Dobson, the Master of the Aurora called for everyone to stand whilst he recited ‘The Kohima Epitaph’-words that were relayed through the entire ship. With the ship on its way to Southampton, still some 7,000 miles away, and many passengers never having heard the Epitaph before, this was possibly one of those occasions which truly had meaning and left a lump in even the hardest of men’s throats - When you go home, tell them of us and say.. 

Ron Dobson 

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