Under a blue sky on a still afternoon at the Royal Naval Memorial, Southsea, sixty-seven members of the Dunedin Society remembered the men of HMS Dunedin in a service led by Reverend Ian Rutherford, RN, eighty years after Dunedin’s loss in the South Atlantic. You can find the Order of Service here and a gallery of photos here. Later, we hope to post video footage too.
Starting at 1.00 pm, the service took place during the precise moments HMS Dunedin was tracked and sunk by a U-boat eighty years previously. On that day, 24th November 1941, and the four days that followed, four hundred-and-nineteen men lost their lives while only sixty-seven survived.
Later in the Royal Maritime Club, just down the street from the Historic Naval Dockyard in Portsmouth, around fifty members of the Dunedin Society gathered for lunch followed by a presentation on the history of HMS Dunedin, in the Club’s Nelson Lounge. Stuart Gill and Daniel Morgan talked to the group about HMS Dunedin, focussing on the last few months of her life from her final departure from the shores of England in April 1941 to her tragic end on 24th November. Stuart and Daniel described how Dunedin’s movements in her final months were determined almost entirely by the intelligence gleaned from the breaking of the Germans’ Enigma code, including how this led to Dunedin’s capturing of the German tanker, Lothringen, on 15th June. Daniel gave an expert account of the activities of the German Kriegsmarine and, specifically, U-124, the U-boat which sank Dunedin. Stuart talked about the sinking from the perspective of HMS Dunedin and the dreadful events that followed the torpedo attack and then described the extraordinary rescue of the survivors by SS Nishmaha, a passing American merchant ship, on 27th November.
We also had a brief discussion of the future of the Dunedin Society. We were all heartened by the enduring nature of the Society and that it continued to attract new members, many of whom we were delighted to see at the reunion. The Society would continue to hold commemorative gatherings at the Royal Naval Memorial, Southsea, on 24th November each year and that we would likely plan a summer meeting in 2022 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire where the HMS Dunedin memorial plinth and tree can be found. We will let Society members know more about this in the coming months.
Daniel made a very important announcement about the Dunedin Society’s recently formed relationship with the USS Indianapolis CA-35 Legacy Organisation, who represent friends and relatives of the men of USS Indianapolis sunk in similar circumstances to those of HMS Dunedin, by a Japanese submarine in 1945. In honour of the men of HMS Dunedin, the USS Indianapolis CA-35 Legacy Organisation laid a commemorative wreath at their own memorial in Indiana. In this touching ceremony the Organisation announced they were sending the Dunedin Society a United States flag flown over their memorial. You can learn more about the USS Indianapolis CA-35 Legacy Organisation here and you can see photos of the wreath at the USS Indianapolis memorial here. We thank them profusely for their thoughts and actions and we look forward to our continuing relationship.
Finally, the Dunedin Society paid tribute to Mrs Anne Randall for her extraordinary work in the last twenty years in preserving the memory of the men of HMS Dunedin. On behalf of the Society, Stuart presented Anne with a framed and inscribed photograph of HMS Dunedin leaving Grand Harbour, Malta (where Anne herself worked for several years).
Anne deserves our heartfelt thanks and love for all she has done for the Dunedin Society.