On the 3rd of May in 1997 a memorial was unveiled to the crew of HMS Vandal, a Royal Navy submarine, which sunk off the coast of Lochranza, Arran on 24th February 1943 with the loss of 37 lives.

HMS Vandal

Built by Vickers-Armstrong of Barrow, HMS Vandal was commissioned on Saturday 20th February 1943 and was last seen on Wednesday 24th February 1943 leaving Lochranza bay to undergo several test manoeuvres including a 200-foot dive in the Arran trench off the coast of the small island of Inchmarnock which lies close to the Isle of Bute.  She was expected to return to base at Holy Loch that night.  It wasn’t until the following morning that it was discovered that HMS Vandal had failed to arrive.  An intensive three-day search was immediately instigated to locate the missing submarine.

A spotter plane reported a large oil slick about two miles off the north coast of Lochranza, but this report wasn’t taken seriously as the Royal Navy believed that HMS Vandal had sunk in the deep waters of the Arran trench.

For over 50 years the final resting place of HMS Vandal was unknown.  With the support of the Scottish branch of the Submarine Old Comrades Association, Sandy Young, a former private detective from Glasgow sifted through all of the evidence relating to the disappearance of HMS Vandal, including reports by several trawlers that their nets were being snagged by an object in the waters off the north coast of Arran.  His findings were confirmed by Royal Navy sonar probes.  In June 1994 HMS Hurworth was the first ship to locate the wreck of HMS Vandal lying 224 feet below the surface approximately 1½ miles north of Lochranza.  Her identity was later confirmed by HMS Sandown and HMS Walney.  Despite investigation the reason behind her sinking remains unknown. 

In June 1995 a ceremony was held to officially designate the wreck of the HMS Vandal a war grave.  Relatives of the crew and members of the Submarine Old Comrades Association sailed from Dunoon along with Rear Admiral Roger Lane-Nott, Flag Officer Submarines, to lay wreaths above the site of the wreck.

The HMS Vandal memorial was erected by the Submarine Old Comrades Association.  Built from black granite the memorial was created by stonemason Tommy Topham, a member of the association.  On top of the memorial in gold is HMS Vandal’s badge which takes the form of a dragon, and an inscription which reads “HMS/M Vandal sank 1½ miles north-west from here on 24th February 1943.  She and her crew lie there still.”  At the front of the memorial are the 37 names of her crew.

The memorial was unveiled on 3rd May 1997 by 74-year-old Larry Gaines who would have been onboard HMS Vandal when it sunk but was replaced at the last moment due to a severe earache.  Larry’s naval uniform and gear remains onboard the HMS Vandal.  The dedication was carried out by Rear Admiral James Perowne.  The HMS Vandal memorial sits close to the slipway of the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry to Kintyre at Lochranza, Arran.

The names of those lost onboard the HMS Vandal are:

Commanding Officer J.S Bridger, aged 26.

Lieutenant J. M. B. Portman, aged 21.

Lieutenant Mark Vincent Ebel

Sub Lieutenant J. H. Hickley, aged 22.

Allerton, Kenneth.           Able Seaman, aged 21.                   Service No. P/JX 157650

Allinson, Joseph W.         Able Seaman, aged 21.                   Service No. C/JX 156964

Andrews, William C.        Engine Room Artificer 4th Class, aged 22.  Service No. C/MX 92171

Aries, William R.               Able Seaman, aged 20.                   Service No. C/JX 159515

Berry, Walter W. P.         Leading Signalman.                         Service No. D/JX 151217

Bettany, Abraham.          Able Seaman.                                    Service No. D/JX 287881

Coffee, Joseph W.            Able Seaman, aged 22.                   Service No. C/SSX 30251

Coulthard, Robert G.       Telegraphist, aged 19.                    Service No. C/JX 166429

Cowlam, George V.         Petty Officer, aged 38.                    Service No. C/JX

Dodson, Thomas.             Leading Stoker.                                 Service No. P/KX 76011

Dowde, Thomas G.          Leading Stoker, aged 23.               Service No. C/KX 94284

Earles, Ronald S.               Leading Seaman, aged 23.            Service No. P/SSX 20868

Firth, James.                      Leading Telegraphist, aged 23.    Service No. D/JX 146758

Fox, Aubrey F.                   Leading Seaman, aged 23.            Service No. C/SSX 21369

Frappell, Leonard G.       Stoker 1st Class, aged 18.               Service No. C/KX 147941

Higgs, John W.                   Ordinary Seaman, aged 19.          Service No. P/JX 330618

Hinds, Alfred C.                 Chief Petty Officer, aged 36.        Service No. C/J 104901

Hutchinson, Joseph.       Able Seaman, aged 22.                   Service No. P/JX 153045

Jacobs, Leslie D.                Petty Officer Telegraphist             Service No. D/JX 145214

Jakins, Thomas.                 Stoker 1st Class.                                 Service No. P/KX 110871

Jones, Cyril E.                     Petty Officer Stoker, aged 27.      Service No. C/KX 85368

Menzies, Charles J.          Ordinary Seaman, aged 20.          Service No. D/JX 305275

Miller, Ernest F.                Able Seaman, aged 25.                   Service No. D/JX 212983

Moss, Stanley.                   Engine Room Artificer 4th Class, aged 21.  Service No. P/MX 79667

Oxley, George.                  Telegraphist, aged 43.                    Service No. D/JX 230037

Phillips, John H. R.            Petty Officer, aged 28.                    Service No. P/JX 146334

Revington, Frank.             Ordinary Seaman, aged 18.          Service No. P/JX 355125

Shepherd, Harold.           Able Seaman                                      Service No. C/JX 187092

Shepherd, Herbert W. J.  Engine Room Artificer 1st Class, aged 32.  Service no. D.M 37021

Stanton, William H.         Stoker 2nd Class.                                Service No. D/KX 136901

Stapleton, Ronald R.        Ordinary Seaman, aged 19.          Service No. P/JX 337763

Williams, William.             Able Seaman, aged 21.                   Service No. D/JX 291212

Wood, David J.                  Stoker 1st Class, aged 20.               Service No. D/KX 137365