HMS Marne and the prize bugle.
Recently a Mr Towers contacted Keighley and District Local History Society enquiring about an historical event in 1946. His father Able Seaman J. D. Towers had been a member of the Royal Navy in WWII and had served on HMS Marne. During one of her operations in the Mediteranean while escorting larger elements of the Mediterranean fleet she stopped a light German craft called which members of the crew boarded as a prize. Various souvenirs would have been taken, two of which were a bugle and a flag; these were deposited in the wardroom of Marne. Upon completion of his father's service in 1945/6 he decided to come North bringing the two items with him. He presented the bugle to Keighley Sea Cadets and the flag was given to the Mayor of Keighley Borough Council.
History Society member and Men of Worth Project Director Ian Walkden saw the story on the K&DLHS Facebook group, so he decided to investigate further.
Ian has good contacts with the Keighley branch of the Sea Cadets through his organisation of cadets to read out the names of the fallen on Remembrance Day so he arranged to visit them as soon as it was possible and asked if he could see their band instruments. On opening the cupboard, the first item out was a quite battered bugle with a legend engraved on it 'Captured by HMS Marne from a German ship off the island of Kos December 1944'.
The Officer commanding the cadets, PO Terry Joyce and Ian had a discussion about this and thought it would be a good gesture to offer the bugle to the Towers family. Ian then contacted the Towers family and offered them the bugle which they were delighted about. Ian then posted it off to them and they were thrilled to see this part of their family's history.
HMS Marne history.
Below is a short description of HMS Marne which is a short extract from www.navalhistory.net. Please click on the link for a far more comprehensive history of her life and operations. We include this extract for the sake of clarity and discussion.
HMS Marne (G 35) was an M-Class destroyer which was completed on 2nd December 1941 at a cost of £457,512, excluding items such as armament and communications outfits supplied by the Admiralty. After a successful WARSHIP WEEK National Savings campaign in March 1942 this destroyer was adopted by the civil community of Keighley, in the West Riding of Yorkshire. She was the 2nd Royal Navy ship to bear this name, after a destroyer built in 1915 to commemorate the Battle of the Marne and sold in 1920.
HMS Marne operations in 1944:
11th: Rejoined Flotilla at Alexandria and resumed operational service in Eastern Mediterranean.
Deployed for support of operations to re-occupy islands in eastern Mediterranean and intercept craft evacuating enemy personnel.
5th: Carried out bombardment of Rhodes with HM Cruiser ARETHUSA, HMS MUSKETEER and HMS METEOR of Flotilla.
16th: During interception patrol captured craft off Symi and took enemy occupants prisoner. (this is likely to be the event which resulted in the taking of the prize bugle and flag)
Information sources and acknowledgements:
Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd) and Gordon Smith of www.navalhistory.net
T.S. Dolphin, which is the home of Keighley Sea Cadets.
Keighley and District Local History Society
We are very grateful to all of those mentioned for their help with this story.