Guernsey

GUERNSEY

 

COMMEMORATION

 

Annually a commemoration and memorial service is held to honour the memory of sailors and marinesl who died following a tragic incident in World War II.

 

HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne were sunk as a result of enemy action at sea on 23 October 1943 taking part in 'Operation Tunnel' off the north coast of Brittany near Les Sept Isles which lie south of the Channel islands.

 

Intelligence had indicated that German forces were intending to dispatch an important convoy and that it would keep close to the coast of Brittany and Normandy thus avoiding the open seas of the English Channel. A number of Royal Navy ships including Charybdis and Limbourne were dispatched from Plymouth to search and disrupt the convoy.

 

In the event, the German convoy was protected by a force of ships and had the benefit offered by an excellent radar system along the Brittany coast. Charybdis and Limbourne were hit by torpedo fire and sank in the early hours of the morning.

 

107 men from the crew of Charybdis were rescued, 464 lost their lives. A further 40 crew from the Limbourne were also lost.

 

Some days later the bodies of 21 Royal Navy and Royal Marines were washed up on the Guernsey coast. Some were washed up in Jersey and many more on the Brittany Coast. In Guernsey the German occupying forces decided to bury the bodies with full military honours at Le Foulon Cemetery, St Peter Port.

 

Islanders took the opportunity to demonstrate their respect for the men who had died, and their loyalty to their Sovereign, by attending the funeral. Over 5,000 out of the 20,000 islanders who had remained in Guernsey during the war travelled on foot or bicycle to Le Foulon. They brought with them more than a thousand wreaths, many with messages of support for the British forces. The funeral service strengthened the morale of the islanders who, by this time, had endured over three years of German Occupation with little chance to show their commitment to King and Country.

 

Survivors and their families visit Guernsey annually to participate in the Charybdis and Limbourne Memorial Weekend which typically is scheduled for a weekend in September. On the Sunday afternoon a memorial service is held at Le Foulon Cemetery under the auspices of the Guernsey Association of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. It is held in the immediate vicinity of the group of graves where the bodies of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel were interred. It is attended by His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor, the Bailiff, the Chairman of the Guernsey Association of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, the Dean and other leading churchmen and the Commanding Officer of any visiting guard ship. Frequently a band of the Royal Marines travels to Guernsey for the inter-denominational service.

 

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