Last survivors of HMS Charybdis reunite for memorial service

  • ITV News Central Reporter Lee Comley met Roger and John at the memorial

The two remaining survivors of HMS Charybdis met at the National Memorial Arboretum to mark 80 years since the boat was hit by German torpedo boats.

A total of 464 men lost their lives when the boat sank in the English Channel, 102 people survived - but now only two are left, including 97 year old Roger Roberts who lives in Kidderminster, and John Eskdale.

HMS Charybdis now lies at the bottom of the Channel.

In 1943 the boat was attacked by German torpedo boats - it now lies at the bottom of the Channel.

Many of the survivors had to wait for hours in the freezing water to be rescued, and for Roger and John those memories are still as fresh as ever.

L-R: Roger Roberts and John Eskdale. Credit: ITV News Central

"To bring people together to realise what the men did what they did in the war and it's unbelievable that you could live through a thing like that," Roger says.

He continued: "In the water up to your neck, treading water for hours. And it was literally frozen in the water, cold water-"

"Gulping oil," John adds.

"Freezing water," Roger continues: "And you just couldn't do nothing, just treading water and wait for somebody to come and pick you up."

"Ships come and go," John says, "but this one's not been forgotten."

Colin Hickling is from the HMS Charybdis and HMS Linbourne Association. Credit: ITV News Central

Also there to mark the anniversary were others who's relatives were lost in the German attack at sea, a day they say is important to mark and remember.

Colin Hickling, from the HMS Charybdis and HMS Linbourne Association said: "We've obviously had many survivors some years ago, and they've all sadly passed away. But so it is it's happy meeting people.

"It always bring back that that rawness, that sadness of those that I've known and also my uncle, who I didn't know."

Hayley Holgate is a bugler from the Royal Marines Band Plymouth - and has a family connection to the HMS Charybdis.

Hayley Holgate is a bugler from the Royal Marines Band Plymouth. Credit: ITV News Central

"So my great uncle fought and died on the Charybdis," she says: "That's my connection.

"It's such an honour and privilege to play here, especially to commemorate those who lost their lives. Really special day."

At 97-years-old, Roger is hoping to be back to mark the 81st anniversary next year with John.

As the last two survivors of an attack that killed so many friends and fellow sailors, they say it's important to honour their memory and pass on their experience to the next generation.

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