Sunday, March 09, 2008
Able Seaman John Hague was just 19-years-old when his ship, HMS Hunter, was sunk off the Norwegian coast by the German navy in 1940. He managed to leap into the icy waters before the destroyer slipped below the surface, taking more than 100 sailors down with it into the deep. German sailors pulled him into a boat and took him to the shore after the Battle of Narvik. But he managed to escape and sail home to his sweetheart before the Second World War came to an end. Every day since then, he has thought about his friends who were dragged down to the bottom of the ocean. But today his mind has been put at rest because a Norwegian ship has finally found HMS Hunter's wreck. It was discovered beneath 1,000ft of water this week by a vessel taking part in a joint operation with Royal Navy and Dutch navy allies. Great-grandfather Mr Hague, now 87, said: "I feel smashing. It's as if a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. "After all these years, I know now where my mates are." HMS Hunter was one of five destroyers that had sailed north to attack ships taking part in the German invasion of Norway when it was sunk at 5.30am on April 10, 1940.
HMS Hunter (H35)Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee, commanding the operation from another ship, HMS Hardy, was killed and posthumously awarded the first VC of the war. The Ministry of Defence has announced that the wreck of HMS Hunter was discovered by a Norwegian minesweeper ship called Hnoms Tyr using an echo sounder. Its identity on the seabed was confirmed using remote-controlled underwater equipment. A wreath-laying ceremony was being held with ships sailing in line past the site of the sunken vessel as a tribute to those who lost their lives. Mr Hague, who lives in Urmston, earned a British Empire Medal for the way he and other survivors sailed home in a commandeered boat. He went on to marry his beloved, May, and they had four children. He said: "It means so much to me to know that HMS Hunter has been found. "What happened that day in 1940 has had a huge impact on me. "I'll sit there quietly at the same time the wreaths are being laid and think about my friends that died." Major General Garry Robinson, commander of the UK amphibious force taking part in this week's operation, said: "Finding HMS Hunter was a poignant moment. "Being able to pay our respects along with our Norwegian and Dutch allies is particularly fitting to those who lost their lives." What do you think? Have your say. Wreckage of HMS Hunter found by a Norwegian minehunter