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Malta 2020 Reunion update - HMS Urge

posted 18 Jan 2020, 02:32 by Pat Scott   [ updated 18 Jan 2020, 06:00 ]
In addition to our programme announced this week, we have been in communication with Francis Dickinson, the grandson of HMS Urge's captain Lieutenant-Commander E.P. Tomkinson, regarding a possible memorial ceremony to commemorate HMS Urge as an official war grave, which will hopefully take place towards the end of our reunion visit this year.

One of the aims of the George Cross Island Association is "To honour the People of Malta, and those who fought on their behalf", another is "To facilitate the exchange of memories" and of course we encourage and promote the upholding of Maltese history, particularly from a military perspective during WWII. So with this in mind, I think we would all find the plight of HMS Urge of great interest and also wish to pay our respects to the families of her at this very poignant time.

On the 27th April 1942 HMS Urge, a U-class submarine, left Malta for Alexandria with 32 crew, 11 other naval personnel and a British war reporter aboard. She was declared missing after failing to reach her destination 10 days later. It was not known what had happened to HMS Urge until a discovery was made in the summer of 2019

The discovery came after Francis Dickinson approached the University of Malta who, through Professor Timmy Gambin, carried out exceptional work on the discovery of HMS Urge. Mr Dickinson together with Mr.Platon Alexiades, a naval researcher from Canada, whose work was essential to the discovery, were both part of the search team. Through their research on HMS Urge, they requested that the marine archaeology survey team search an area that had been heavily mined during the Nazi's two-and-a-half year siege of the island. A sonar image revealed a submarine-like shape at a depth of 130 metres. "The damage to the bow shows a very violent explosion ... indicating that the ship would have sunk very fast giving no chance to anybody to survive from this tragedy," said Professor Timothy Gambin. Besides the damage on the bow, the wreck is in absolutely fantastic condition. It is sitting upright on the seabed, very proud, in the direction that it was ordered to take on its way to Alexandria". 

The Ministry of Defence said it recognised the wreck site "as the last resting place of HMS Urge and those who lost their lives in service of their country" and is declared as an official war grave. A ceremony is expected to be held in April, to commemorate HMS Urge and her crew.

An interesting fact is that In 1941 there was a national "warship week" which raised money to meet the costs of providing military machinery and vehicles for the war. Bridgend contributed about £300,000 to the fund and the town adopted the submarine HMS Urge along with two other warships.

Any members of the George Cross Island Association who would like to be kept informed about the ceremony, please do contact me at info@georgecrossisland.org.uk and I will also keep the web site updated with any information I receive regarding this.  You can also find a wealth of information about HMS Urge and the discovery off Malta on the internet using any search engine.



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