Parade pays tribute to the crew of Northampton’s adopted warship

Northampton Sea Cadets honoured the crew of the HMS Laforey during a service in Market Place yesterday, before a parade took place around the town. Pictures by Anthony  Johnson.
Northampton Sea Cadets honoured the crew of the HMS Laforey during a service in Market Place yesterday, before a parade took place around the town. Pictures by Anthony Johnson.
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More than 130 Sea Cadets paid tribute to those who lost their lives onboard HMS Laforey yesterday during the yearly parade through Northampton town centre.

Ahead of the launch of HMS Laforey in 1941, the town raised more than £750,000 to fund the building of the ship - the equivalent of around £20 million in today’s money.

She saw all of her active service in the Mediterranean and was involved in operation pedestal, protecting the vital convoys to Malta.

Sadly, following a lengthy chase, she was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat on March 30, 1944. The ship quickly sank and of her 258 crew, only 69 survived.

As of today there is only one survivor, Stan Brow, still alive.

The first wreath was laid in 1944 and a service has been held every year since to commemorate those who lost their lives.

Organiser of this year’s parade Lieutenant Commander Chris Read, the district officer for Northampton Sea Cadets, said it is important the town remembers its incredible fundraising efforts to sponsor the ship back in the early 40s - as well as the sacrifice made by the crew onboard.

He said: “You have got to remember that back in the Second World War England was in a dire straits, getting supplies not only to the UK but to the war effort abroad was absolutely vital.

“The Navy needed a fleet of Destroyers and Northampton raised the money to support that.

“Raising that amount back then is extraordinary and the population would have been a third of the size.

“The town maintained the link with the crew, sending them letters, parcels and musical instruments.

“Part of what we do every year is just to keep that memory alive.”

The cadets were saluted by mayor of Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Penelope Flavell (Con, Rushmills) in Market Square, before embarking on parade around the town centre. Wreaths were laid at the Guildhall in memory of the brave HMS Lafore crew.