HMS Foylebank grave, St George's, Portland - 2010
HMS Foylebank was a former merchant motor vessel converted into an AA gun escort (a sort of flak ship) which was dive-bombed by JU87 Stukas in Portland Harbour and sunk in 1940. I have been unable to trace George Walbridge in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's database which leads me to think he was either a civilian serving aboard the ship or was an islander who was living/working ashore and happened to be killed in the same attack. His name also appears on the Portland War Memorial but a careful reading of that shows it includes civilians including families.
"HMS Foylebank was a converted 5,500 ton merchant ship active during the Second World War. She was launched as the MV Andrew Weir in 1930 and requisitioned in September 1939. She was converted into an anti-aircraft ship, equipped with .5 inch machine guns, two quad 2-pounder pom-poms and four twin high angle 4-inch turrets. The Foylebank saw action in Portland Harbour next to the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England. She arrived in Portland on 9 June 1940 for a build-up to anti-aircraft duties commanded by Captain H.P. Weir.
On 4 July 1940 whilst the majority of her crew were at breakfast, unidentified aircraft were reported to the south. These were originally thought to be Allied aircraft returning to base but they turned out to be 26 Stuka dive bombers. These aircraft had the objective of disabling the Foylebank which was seen as a threat to their plans to destroy Britain's coastal shipping. In an eight-minute attack, two aircraft were shot down by the Foylebank but an estimated 22 bombs hit the ship and the ship listed to port, shrouded in smoke. She sank on 5 July 1940. 176 out of a total crew of 298 were killed. Many more were wounded. One of the ship's company, Jack Foreman Mantle, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in defending the ship from aircraft whilst mortally injured.
The Foylebank was later salvaged in two sections. The forward section was broken up at Falmouth in 1947, the aft section was broken up at Grays in Essex in 1952. Some fragments remain on the seabed and one piece has been recovered and presented to the Portland Museum."
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St.George's Church at Reforne on the Isle of Portland was a church which I previously visited on a superb evening in 2006 and those earlier pictures are also included in this set. Following on from my earlier 'grey day' pictures at Moreton Church in 2010, I drove-on to Portland and made my way back to the magnificent Georgian church and finally managed to view the interior which I had missed on the first visit. The weather was still very grey.
www.flickr.com/photos/barryslemmings/sets/72157594185254179/ to see the full set from both visits.