WW2 survivors to attend memorial unveiling

PUBLISHED: 17:42 01 April 2008 | UPDATED: 21:26 31 May 2010

Original crew of HMS Lapwing

Original crew of HMS Lapwing

SURVIVORS from a Second World War ship - whose crest hangs in the town hall - will gather in Saffron Walden to attend the unveiling of a stone memorial at 3pm on Saturday. The remarkable relationship between Saffron Walden and the Royal Navy s HMS Lapwing

SURVIVORS from a Second World War ship - whose crest hangs in the town hall - will gather in Saffron Walden to attend the unveiling of a stone memorial at 3pm on Saturday.

The remarkable relationship between Saffron Walden and the Royal Navy's HMS Lapwing, which carried the town's coat of arms on her bridge, will be marked at a ceremony at The Close Garden, on the High Street, Saffron Walden.

Secretary of the HMS Lapwing Association Les Edwards said: "It's fantastic that four of the surviving crew members, as well as 30 relatives of the ship's crew, will be attending the unveiling."

The HMS Lapwing was sunk in Russian waters by enemy U-boats in March 20 1945, after a successful wartime career that saw her take part in the D-day landings.

"Many of the survivors were picked up by HMS Savage and HMS Allington Castle, who took enormous risk rescuing 61 of the Lapwing's crew from the icy waters," said Mr Edwards. "This reunion will see rescuer and rescued coming together for the first time in 63 years."

Saffron Walden's relationship with the ship was established in 1941 when the town was asked to raise money to build a convoy escort vessel, also known as a sloop, to protect vital supply routes.

People in the town raised £253,507 - more than double what they had been asked - an enormous amount considering the average wage was only £3 per week.

The Lapwing was built at Scott's Yard, on the Clyde in Scotland, and entered service on March 21 1944. The ship's crest was presented to the people of Saffron Walden and still hangs in the town hall today.

Founded three years ago by Mr Edwards, the HMS Lapwing Association first held a reunion in Saffron Walden in 2006. "Last time we came here we received a really warm welcome from the people in the town," said Mr Edwards.

"Over 200 people came to the service that was held at the war memorial. The survivors really appreciate the fact that Saffron Walden remembers the Lapwing.

"Anyone who would like to join us at the unveiling of the memorial on Saturday or at the 10am service at St Mary's Church, Saffron Walden, on Sunday would be very welcome."

The Lapwing was completing its ninth and final journey between Britain and Russia, protecting a convoy carrying war supplies in one direction and steel in the other, when it was hit by a torpedo.

The vessel sank in 12 minutes taking 158 officers and men with her. On Saturday Saffron Walden will remember the ship it helped to build.

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