DCSIMG

HMS Flotta items given to crew family 70 years on

The boat sank near the Buchan Ness lighthouse, seen here in 1955. Picture: TSPL

The boat sank near the Buchan Ness lighthouse, seen here in 1955. Picture: TSPL

  • by ANNA GAULT
 

THE daughter of a Royal Navy engineer who died when his warship sank off the Scottish coast over seventy years ago has been united with items recovered from the sunken ship.

The HMS Flotta ran aground at Boddam, Aberdeenshire on 29 October 1941. The crew stayed on board and tried to refloat the 164ft vessel, but after nine days she drifted away and disappeared under the water, about three miles from the Buchan Ness lighthouse.

A lifeboat crew from nearby Peterhead were able to rescue nine men, but five of the crew died.

Now the team of local divers who discovered the wreck in May 2007 have given some of the items recovered from it to the daughter of one of the men who died.

The five-man Buchan Divers unit said they had been contacted by the family of chief engineer George Clifford “Cliff” Barnett, who died in the tragedy.

IT consultant Jim Burke, who led the sub-aqua group, said Mr Barnett’s daughter, Dorothy - who lives in Western Australia - got in touch through the team’s website.

Mr Burke said yesterday: “Dorothy was not born until March 1942 and has little to remember her father by other than letters and pictures.

“We were able to give her some information about the vessel and her father’s final resting place.

“We were also able to send her the maker’s plate which we retrieved to enable identification when we first found her.”

‘Can’t believe it’

Dorothy has thanked the divers for their help.

She said: “I still can’t believe that I have actually held something that Dad would have seen regularly,”

Mr Burke said HMS Flotta was “virtually intact” and sitting upright about 200ft below the surface.

A gun on the ship’s bow was dragged up by fishing boat nets during the 1860s and donated to Peterhead’s Arbuthnot Museum.

HMS Flotta was less than a year old when she foundered on 6 November 1941, nine days after running aground. She was built in Selby, north Yorkshire, and was used as a minesweeper by the Royal Navy.

The other crewmen who died in the tragedy were Thomas Bewick, Bernard Quinn, Neville Sadd and William Thomas.

Divers

One of the Buchan Divers’ most celebrated finds came two years ago with the discovery of an elusive German submarine.

The U-1206 was scuttled following an accident in 1945, just days before the end of World War II, and its final location was a mystery.

It is believed that the submarine was forced to surface because of troubles with a toilet, and was then spotted by Allied aircraft.

It is thought a crewman accidentally opened the wrong valve to flush the loo, flooding the submarine’s batteries and producing deadly chlorine gas.

Under attack, Captain Karl Schliitt ordered the U-boat to be scuttled. The crew took to life rafts and 37 were captured. Three men drowned.

The Buchan Divers group uncovered the long-lost Nazi submarine over 80 metres beneath the North Sea off Collieston in 2012.

The U-boat’s loss remains one of the strangest naval accidents of World War II and featured in a sketch on the BBC’s Horrible Histories children’s show.

 

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