Eleven thousand lives lost at sea in World War Two have been remembered at a special ceremony in Kent. The event has been held at Chatham's Historic Dockyard to mark the seventieth anniversary of the gun ship HMS Cavalier. Andrea Thomas has this report
HMS Cavalier was launched on 7th April 1944 as one of 96 emergency destroyers ordered for the war effort between 1940 and 1942. When she paid off in Chatham in 1972, HMS Cavalier was the Royal Navy’s last surviving Second World War destroyer.
Today the ship is on display and open to visitors at The Historic Dockyard Chatham to mark her 70th anniversary since her launch.
Nearly 30,000 lives were lost in Royal Navy destroyers sunk during the Second World War.
It resulted in the loss of 142 Royal Navy destroyers in total. Since then time has taken its own toll and now just one destroyer remains, HMS Cavalier, a warship that once boasted proudly of being the fastest in the Fleet.
It came as a bolt from the blue. The devastating news that Chatham Dockyard was to close after 400 years in operation. The Navy was pulling out and thousands of workers would lose their jobs.
It was a dark day for the people of Medway, but slowly, bit by bit, the town and the dockyard fought back, turning the site into a vibrant business community and visitor attraction. Now, 30 years on, the future is still bright.
Andrea Thomas has been speaking to Philip Lewing, a former engineer at the dockyard, Brian Jenkins, president of the Chatham Dockyard Historical Society and Bill Ferris, Chief Executive of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.
The historic dockyard in Chatham's received a grant of £4.5m from the lottery fund. It's to support their £8.75m Command of the Ocean's project to create world class galleries and visitor facilities at the tourist attraction.
– Bill Ferris OBE, Chief Executive of Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust
Command of the Oceans is arguably the most significant single project undertaken by the Trust in pursuit of its own educational charitable purposes since the "Wooden Walls" gallery opened in the late 1980s. The news that the wonderful Heritage Lottery Fund has again supported us, alongside a number of long standing funding partners* - including the Homes and Communities Agency - is testament to the ever increasing significance of our work here, the significance of the place and the outstanding creativity of our team."