HMS Dasher Memorial Book

Another object featured in our New and Unusual exhibition comes in to the category of favourite objects. It’s a memorial book with all the names of the crew who perished when HMS Dasher sank in 1943.

HMS Dasher was a British Royal Navy aircraft carrier of the Avenger Class. She served in World War II.

She was built by the Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Chester, Pennsylvania, and was originally named Rio de Janiero, initially intended for passengers and cargo service. She was converted to an aircraft carrier, and commissioned into the Royal Navy in 1942.

Dasher sailed to the Clyde in March 1943 and, having had her flight deck lengthened by 42 feet, she escorted one convoy of planes successfully but, on 27 March 1943, she suffered a major internal explosion and sank beneath the waves between Ardrossan and Arran.

379 of her 528 man crew lost their lives that night. There are memorials in both Ardrossan and Brodick.

The memorial book is a favourite object of Louise, who looks after our collections and exhibitions. The book is beautiful, the amount of hours, dedication, talent and care that must have gone in to creating this book is admirable.

The book has been here since before Louise started working with the North Ayrshire collections. For a lot of years after she started in the museum, on the Saturday closest to the anniversary of the sinking of the Dasher, museum staff would bring out the memorial book and the piece of the Dasher’s flight deck from their stores, and relatives of the crew who were lost visited and found their loved one’s name in the book before they went off to board the ferry to Arran to mark the Dasher’s resting place with a wreath.

So many moments of quiet mourning, peaceful remembrance and solace have been found through this beautiful object. It has brought comfort to people and the names of the lost crew will not be lost or forgotten, and that’s why it’s a favourite. It was humbling to watch people have that tangible interaction with the past, and we are proud to have this special, meaningful object in our collection.

Read all about our latest exhibition, ‘New and Unusual‘ on our exhibition page HERE.

We are open 9:30am – 1pm & 2pm – 4:30pm, Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday each week (and the last Saturday of every month).

You can plan your visit to North Ayrshire Heritage Centre on our visit page, HERE.