Your memories: ‘The submarine was lost with all hands on board’

Share this article
Have your say

FORMER city telegraph boy Colin Campbell remembers very well the day in 1951 that 75 Royal Navy seamen lost their lives in the sinking of HMS Affray, off the southern English coast.

“The tragedy happened on April 16 which I remember very clearly, not only because of the tragic event. I was 17 at the time and was working as a telegraph boy in the GPO at Waterloo Place,” he says.

“Whilst we waited to be sent out with telegrams, there was one lad, also a telegraph boy, a little bit younger than me, who was in a very distressed state and the inspector was trying his best to help him calm down. Shortly afterwards we found out that his brother was on the submarine that went down. The submarine was lost with all hands on board.”

It was by coincidence last week that Mr Campbell, 79, who now lives in Hampshire, played with the Royal Marine Association Concert Band at the HMS Affray memorial unveiling in Gosport, the home base of the ship.

“After I came out of the Forces, I continued my job in the GPO as a postman delivering in the Trinity area. Eventually, I left to become a professional musician, which took me all over the world, playing on the Maiden Voyage of the QE2 in May 1969 and, later that year, leading the orchestra in the Queens Room of the QE2. Although I’ve retired, I’ve continued to play and joined the newly formed Royal Marine Association Concert Band, which consists of 85 per cent of ex-serving Royal 
Marine musicians.

“I’ve been all over the world so found it a real coincidence to be playing at this event and it made me wonder what happened to this boy and whether he is still in Edinburgh.”

• If you have memories of times past in the Lothians or photographs of places which have changed or disappeared, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at, or at the Edinburgh Evening News, 108 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh EH8 8AS or on 0131 620 8748