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Wed Oct 27, 2021

Dedication to HMS Burnham

Dedication to HMS Burnham unveiled on Burnham seafront

A plaque dedicated to the wartime destroyer HMS Burnham has been unveiled in Burnham-on-Sea.

The ship, along with forty nine other escort vessels, played a vital role in helping win the Battle of the Atlantic from 1940 to 1944.

Exactly sixty years ago, the crew of the vessel marched through the streets to cheering crowds. Hence, the day was marked on Thursday October 21st – Trafalgar Day 2004 – with a special cermony.

The Burnham and Highbridge Town Band played tunes with a nautical theme as VIPs (pictured) gathered at the spot on Burnham’s Esplanade where the new plaque is sited.

They included Mayor Cllr Louise Parkin, her chaplain Fr Peter Slocombe, deputies, past mayors and councillors. Former members of the crew of HMS Burnham were also present along with representatives from the Merchant Navy, HM Coastguard, Burnham-On-Sea RNLI, the BARB rescue hovercraft and the town cryer.

A single distress rocket was fired at exactly mid-day before Parade Marshall Hill called the assembly to order and the national anthem was sung. All ensigns and standards were dipped until the end of the music.

Burnham-On-Sea’s Mayor, Councillor Parkin, then made a brief speech, saying: “We are met this morning, exactly 60 years after this town showed its debt of honour to the brave officers and men of our adopted ship HMS Burnham, formerly USS Aulick. Now 60 years years on, on this special Trafalgar Day, just one year short of its significant 200th anniversar year, it is right, while members of her crew are still with us, that we record for posterity this town and this country’s great debt to those who faced the fury of the enemy in the perilous waters of the North Atlantic during the darkest days of the war, upon which the fate of civilisation depended.”

Councillor Neville Jones, a former mayor of Burnham, added: “We place this plaque into the safe custody of the Burnham and Highbridge Town Council.”

Mr Ron Giles, president of the former HMS Burnham Association, then unveiled the plaque and read the letters on it. Father Peter Slocombe dedicated the plaque with suitable prayers and the hymn External Father Strong To Save was sung by those present.

The Vicar of St Andrew’s Church read a prayer of remembrance and a cadet then laid a small wreath at the base of the plaque. The president of the Burnham Branch of the Royal British Legion recited the Ode to The Fallen and a second hymn – The Battle Hymn of the Republic – was sung to end the ceremony.

A lunch for those in attendance followed in The Princess, followed in the afternoon by a free showing of the classic film The Cruel Sea at Burnham’s cinema. A memorbillia display was also on show in the window of St Margaret’s Hospice in the High Street and a hospitality evening was held at The Institute in Regent Street, Burnham.

The history of the destroyer, HMS Burnham

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