Bertie’s Ashes are committed to the deep

In the early afternoon of 23rd July 2011 fifteen Dunedin Society members gathered in the stern of a small boat on Plymouth Sound to remember Bertie Jeffreys, as his ashes were committed to the deep, and to pay tribute to all the lost men of HMS Dunedin who sailed from Plymouth for the last time in April 1941. Chief among the members were two of our living survivors, Bill Gill and Jim Davis, who had sailed in Dunedin on that last voyage and who had endured the days adrift on rafts in the aftermath of the sinking in November that year.

Wreath July 2011

The wreath, ready to be laid overboard

The service to remember Able Seaman Bertie Jeffreys, who had survived the sinking, was led by the Reverend Brian Gerry and culminated in the committal of his ashes over the side and into the Sound.

Bill Gill, President of the Dunedin Society, and survivor of the sinking, led the tribute to the lost men of Dunedin. After a few words in remembrance of his and Jim Davis’s lost comrades, he laid a wreath over the side and onto the surface of the water. The sea glistened in the summer sun and the wreath bobbed on the gentle swell as the tide delicately tugged the wreath out to sea. The group looked out solemnly from the stern and watched as the wreath made its way slowly in the direction that Dunedin had taken seventy years earlier on her fateful last voyage from England.

Wreath July 22

Bill Gill lays the wreath overboard

Wreath July 23

The wreath slowly moves out to sea

In a few moments the wreath had disappeared from view and the members of the group turned their attention from the sea to each other. It had been a poignant and beautiful event for the Dunedin Society.

Special thanks go to Lt-Cmdr Broadway for the planning and execution of such a memorable day.