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Submariners in annual tribute to tragic HMS Affray

By Pony Moore

OVER seventy members from both the Gosport and Portsmouth Submariners Association joined together at the Affray Memorial on Sunday morning (April 14); where they paid their annual tributes to 75 servicemen who passed away as the Royal Navy submarine sank off the coast seventy-three years ago in 1951.

Attendees included the Gosport Branch President Captain Chris Groves and his Portsmouth counterpart Paul Jevons; whilst Gosport Branch Chairman Steve Thorpe and Mayor Martin Pepper also made contributions throughout. Other members of the contingent included Mayoress Suzanne Pepper, HMS Collingwood Chaplain Rev. Mark Noakes, and the wife of Captain Chris Groves.

Descendants of Affray personnel and local residents also attended the service, which started at 11am with the flying of the Gosport and Portsmouth Submariner’s Association standards from the Gosport waterfront. Parade Marshall and Gosport Branch Vice Chairman Pony Moore was then given an opportunity to offer the story of HMS Affray to those in attendance.

The submarine left the HMS Dolphin submarine base on the evening of April 15 as part of a training exercise, which was entitled “Spring Train” and due to take place in the Western Approaches. It submerged thirty miles south of the Isle of Wight at 9:15pm but contact was lost between midnight and 8:30am on April 16 with no routine signals received.

Extensive searches for the submarine continued for two months before the wreckage was located on June 14 by HMS Lock Irish. It was found lying in the Hurd Deep approximately seventeen miles northwest of the Island of Alderney and was identified by HMS Affray by a team of investigating divers from HMS Reclaim with sadly no survivors on board.

Prayers were then given by the Chaplain of Collingwood before wreaths were laid on behalf of the Gosport Submariner’s Association (Captain Chris Groves) and “We Remember Submariners” (Steve Thorpe). Family wreaths were laid by Mrs Jill Lavens whose father was sadly lost in the disaster.

Overall it was a poignant and moving service that received positive feedback from those in attendance; whilst further highlighting the perils faced by submariners all over the world in an unforgiving theatre of operations. Once concluded everybody was invited to Gosport Masonic Hall by the Vice Chairman for a buffet and drinks reception; which was very well received.

Anybody wanting to join the Gosport branch of the Submariners Association are asked to contact Ron Gordon by emailing: However all members must either be former or current submariners.

PICTURED BY PONY MOORE: Attendances gather around memorial on Sunday and pay tribute to those who died on April 16, 1951 on the seventy-third anniversary of submarine disaster.