Royal Marines bugler Lance Corporal Nathan Crossley placed a small cross on the grave of a fellow member of the Royal Marines Corps for a Remembrance Service attended by a Royal Naval warship on exercise.
The grave is of Corporal George McKenna, killed in the Adriatic 68 years ago, one of 29 British servicemen at buried in the British Cemetery in Corfu town on the island of the same name where the crew of Plymouth-based warship HMS Bulwark paid their respects on Sunday (November 11).
The Royal Navy flagship visited the island ahead of exercises with the Albanians in the Adriatic, a group from the ship, led by the Commander United Kingdom Task Group, Commodore Paddy McAlpine, held a memorial service at the cemetery.
Prayers were led by HMS Bulwark’s chaplain Reverend Dave Roissetter and following the last post, sounded by L/Cpl Crossley, a minute’s silence was observed after which Commodore McAlpine laid a wreath at the Corfu Channel memorial.
Cdre McAlpine said: “It is important for us to pause and reflect on the courage and sacrifice of our fellow service personnel and to keep their memory alive. These men were some of the first British casualties of the Cold War and their story reminds us of the need in an uncertain world to be ready to follow their example of courageous service at sea as well as on the land.”
HMS Bulwark’s commanding officer Captain Andrew Burns added: “The ship’s visit to Corfu has presented an opportunity to commemorate our fallen at this time of remembrance.
“It is particularly appropriate that it should be an amphibious ship doing so, given the historic links between Corfu and the island’s World War 2 liberators, the Royal Marines.”
Dead from the 20th Century’s two terrible conflagrations, mostly WW2, are laid to rest in the graveyard, plus a dozen of the 44 men killed in an infamous post-war tragedy: the Corfu Channel incident.
Illegally-laid mines crippled two British warships as the Royal Navy sought to assert freedom of passage for allies between Albania and Corfu in October 1946. HM destroyers Volage and Saumarez struck mines; the entire bow of Volage was blown off, taking eight men to a watery grave as it sheared off. Twelve of the dead were subsequently buried in the British Cemetery, where a memorial to all those lost also stands.
HMS Bulwark is now due to take part in Exercise Albanian Lion with the host nation before further duties in the Mediterranean as part of the Cougar 2012 deployment by the nation’s response force task group.