HMS Sickle to be commemorated in Epping

Warship's crew to be remembered

HMS Sickle

HMS Sickle's Jolly Roger flag

First published in News
Last updated
East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter - Epping Forest

A memorial plaque, remembrance service and exhibition will be provided to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the sinking of a warship which residents of the district helped build.

Epping Town Council, in conjunction with the Royal British Legion and the Epping Forest District Museum, have organised the events to be held on June 18, in memory of the crew of HMS Sickle.

HMS Sickle was adopted by Epping and Harlow during a warship week running from March 21 to 28, 1942, which was organised to raise money to build a ship for the war effort.

The towns surpassed the required £175,000 by February 11 by which time they had amassed £176.

HMS Sickle was launched in August 17, 1942, and commissioned in December but only named in February of the following year.

Sickle’s first assignment began on January 11, 1943, covering convoy JVV52 off north Norway and ended without incident at Lerwick on January 31.

On May 15, 1943, the Sickle engaged an enemy ship near Cape Ferrat south of Nice, France.

Sickle fired four torpedoes at it, one of which hit and sunk the vessel and another which hit a cliff on the shore directly below a casino.

This event resulted in James Ralph Drummond, the Lieutenant on HMS Sickle, being dubbed ‘The man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo’.

An ace of spades was also added to the ship’s Jolly Roger flag which is flown by Royal Navy submarines returning from a successful trip.

The submarine was part of many more missions but is thought to have sunk on or around June 16, 1944, after hitting a mine in the Antikithera Channel in the Mediterranean with all 49 crew members aboard losing their lives.

A fortunate crew member was leading seaman R Brown who was unable to be on the craft at the time of its sinking due to injury.

He wrote the following letter to the Mayor of Epping: “I feel it is my duty to convey to you all the thanks of my deceased shipmates and myself for the gifts of cigarettes which you so generously sent us.

“A finer and happier crew would have been hard to find.

“The intrepid Lt Drummond and his fellow officers were well liked by us all.

“So in honour of all the boys of the Sickle and my humble self, I say thanks to you all again.”

For more information visit the Epping Town Council blog or read, Epping historian, John Duffel’s article here.

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