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On 5th November 2010, a memorial service to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the sinking of HMS Jervis Bay by the German Heavy Cruiser Admiral Scheer off Nova Scotia during World War II was held at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham.
The Jervis Bay was built in 1922 by Vickers at Barrow for the Aberdeen & Commonwealth Line service between London and Australia.
She was requisitioned for naval service on the 25 August 1939 and commissioned as the armed merchant cruiser HMS Jervis Bay. In October 1940 she was the sole escort for Convoy HX84 sailing from Halifax, NS for Liverpool with 38 other merchant vessels.
On the afternoon of the 5th November 1940 the convoy was travelling at a speed of nine knots when the German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was sighted. The Jervis Bay under the command of Captain Fagan went to action stations, hoisting the signal “prepare to scatter” for the convoy before turning his ship head on to meet the Admiral Scheer.
The battle was a hopeless task against the might of the Admiral Scheer and was all over in less than thirty minutes. However, HMS Jervis Bay had performed her duty of protecting the convoy and thirty one merchant ships reached the UK. The Jervis Bay sank with flying colours, but a total of 34 officers including the Captain, and 156 men lost their lives.
Sixty five survivors were picked up by the Swedish merchant ship Stureholm, one of the convoy vessels. As the Jervis Bay was consigned to the Chatham Station many of the officers and crew came from the Medway Towns, hence the importance of the 70th anniversary memorial service at the Historic Dockyard at Chatham.
Capt Fagan was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.
Read the rest of this article with additional pictures in Sea Breezes Magazine - May 2011 Issue
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