Published:
September 22, 2015
Seafront plaques to be unveiled in Burnham to mark wartime link

Two plaques are set to be unveiled on Burnham-On-Sea's seafront this Saturday (September 26th) to mark 75 years since America gave Britain 50 destroyers to fight Hitler’s German navy - one of which was named HMS Burnham.

All 50 of the destroyers, which were called 'Gift Horses', were renamed to link towns in the USA with towns in England. And HMS Burnham linked Burnham, Illinois in America with Burnham-On-Sea in the UK.

The plaques marking the occasion will be formally unveiled at 1pm on the North Esplanade by Captain Michael Garrick of the USA Navy and Burnham resident Neville Jones OBE, followed by a reception at the Princess Theatre.

Seven of the destroyers were torpedoed and one was mined, but HMS Burnham spent the better part of four years escorting convoys across the Atlantic.

In 1942, HMS Burnham was formally adopted by Burnham-On-Sea and woollen comforts were gratefully received by the crew onboard the ship from time to time. In 1944 a contingent of the ship's company visited the town and were well entertained.

Burnham war veteran Neville Jones has spent many months researching their history and overseeing the design of the plaques.

He told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "There are no records in the National Memorial Arboretum or any monument to these ships which played such a vital role in the Atlantic convoys which is why I have suggested these plaques are introduced."

"In 1944 Burnham (despite wartime rationing) gave a tremendous reception to the officers and crew of HMS Burnham on Trafalgar Day. In 1981 under Admiral Sir Mark Pizey, the link was re-established and the ex-crew and their families visited for 20 years."

 


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