Call For Closer Links To Navy As Islands Commemorate The Battle Of The Atlantic

The White Ensign is lowered. Photo by Robin Mawer.

The White Ensign is lowered. Photo by Robin Mawer.


Islanders and visitors have paid tribute to the men and women, both British and German, who lost their lives during the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest and fiercest conflict of the Second World War.

650 people attended the ceremonial sunset service at the Star Castle on Saturday evening to remember the 30,000 sailors who died during the conflict.

After words from islands’ chaplain, Canon Paul Miller, the crowd heard an address from former and current serving Navy personnel including Commander Mike Smith of HMS Somerset and Richard Larne, who helped arranged the event.

Smudge Smith read a roll call of the names of the 26 islanders who died in service during the war, then the White ensign, flying from the castle ramparts, was lowered to the accompaniment of buglers.

Commodore Jamie Miller compared the Star Castle, a place of protection and security commissioned by Queen Elizabeth in 1593, with the Royal Navy frigate, which was visible off the St Mary’s shore.

From Radio Scilly

commodore jamie miller

Commodore Jamie Miller talks about closer links with Scilly

He also paid tribute to islanders Eric Hayden and Stanley Phillips who are both survivors of the Atlantic and Arctic convoys.

Eric operated antisubmarine and aerial radar on HMS Loch Achray. He says the work was dangerous because the ship was launching depth charges at the U-boats, but he says he didn’t think about that at the time and just got on with the tasks he was given.

He feels it’s important now to mark this anniversary.

Stanley spent a year working a four hours on, four hours off shift pattern during his service as a boiler engineer, and he remembers the extreme cold on deck.

Commodore Miller has been keen to arrange naval visits to the islands and he says he’d be delighted if the Council was to formalize a relationship between Scilly and the Royal Navy.

HMS Somerset’s sister vessel, HMS Iron Duke, has recently been affiliated to Jersey.

Jamie says the islands must have thousands of links to the Navy stretching back over time.

A partnership can have benefits for both sides, he says, because it gives the men and women serving on the vessel a link back to the UK by exchanging news and letters. And it could also mean Scilly being eligible for a share of £30m community covenant funding for projects that encourage a relationship with the service.

Jamie says he’d like to develop contacts between Scilly and the Royal Navy ahead of more commemorations next year, such as 100 years since the outbreak of World War One and the 350th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Marines.