10:01am Friday 25th April 2014
A CAMPAIGN has been launched for a permanent memorial to Halesowen’s adopted warship HMS Achates which tragically sunk during World War Two.
The destroyer went down, killing 113 of its crew, during the Battle of the Barents Sea on New Year’s Eve 1942 while escorting a Russian convoy.
Despite the close links Halesowen had with HMS Achates — townspeople paid for repairs and corresponded with its sailors — a memorial marking its demise was never sanctioned.
However, the Halesowen News has launched the Time to Remember campaign which aims to get a permanent reminder of the ship in the town.
Paul Walker, editor of the Halesowen News, said: “Now is the time to remember HMS Achates and all who sailed on her.
“This year is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War so it is the perfect time to mark the bravery of the ship’s crew, who had a distinguished war record.
“The fact that 113 made the ultimate sacrifice for King and Country and it was Halesowen’s adopted warship means the tragedy should be marked in the town.”
HMS Achates had a proud war record, including stints off North Africa, and joined the hunt for the Bismarck, which resulted in the giant German ship being sunk.
The Class A destroyer also successfully escorted Russian convoys on perilous missions through the Arctic Circle to help our Eastern allies.
However, HMS Achates’ luck ran out in the Battle of the Barents Sea, but its heroic work meant the convoy it was protecting escaped unscathed.
The Time to Remember campaign is also being backed by Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris.
He said: “The Arctic conveys were some of the most dangerous of the Second World War, with many thousands of young men braving horrific conditions to break Germany’s blockade of Russia and ensure that the Allied war effort could continue.
“We should all be proud of Halesowen’s links with HMS Achates."
He added: “I am delighted to support the Halesowen News’ campaign for a long-overdue memorial to mark the sacrifice made by those who served on her.”
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