This is an odd one....

Hello all,

This is my first post on this forum, and probably a rather unusual one at that!

My partner's father died the other day and in his will he states that he'd like his ashes scattered at sea.

He was a Petty Officer on HMS Capel which was torpedoed and sunk off Cherbourg on the 26th December 1944, he should have been aboard at the time but had, I understand, swapped leave or something at the last moment. Either way, he was haunted the rest of his life by the knowledge that he should have been on her when she sank. (My partner said that as a family they never celebrated Christmas, he couldn't bear it).

So, he wanted his ashes scattered at the site of the sinking ( 49.50N, 01.41W). Do you think there is any possibility whatever that the Royal Navy may be prepared to do this from one of their vessels in the course of it's normal routine, were it to be passing that position?

Is there any point in asking, and if so who should my partner approach with the request?

Many thanks in advance for any advice!



War Hero
The RN used to do this in the 80s, don't know if they still do. A padre would go out in a PAS boat and do the honours. In fact I am rather hoping that this service has been retained.
What a terrific tale,,,, made me drip a tear into my keyboard.

I'm sure it is feasable and sure that somebody with some balls in here will be able to PM you and make the wish come true.

All the best,

Sam the Man :thumright:


War Hero
It certainly is possible (I recall scattering ashes from an ex-SAS chap in the Med in '02). Contact the Veterens Agency in the first instance who should be able to put you in contact with the right person.
Actually you can probably go through your own local Padre/Priest to make the initial inquiries, they will know the chain to go through and or the people to talk to, they are all of the same so to speak.

It's in my will and they better turn to when it's actually the reserve vessels here in Halifax are used for that function most times as they are readily available.

Best ceremony was a former Sub Sqdn Commander who while sailing past Sqdn HQ in the dockyard had it in his will to have all of us stand by the jetty in dress of the day (usually meant anything you happened to be wearing at the time hehe) and he bought us all a round.(Tot)..nice sendoff... :thumright:

Good Luck

The Chaplaincies at the RN bases organise commital of ashes at Portsmouth, Plymouth and Faslane.

The FLEET chaplaincy may be able to advise you whether it can be done in other areas:

Naval Chaplaincy Service
MP 1.2 Leach Building, Whale Island

Tel - 023 9262 5055
E-mail: [email protected]

The RN Association may also be able to give you some pointers regarding commitals - RNA LINK

ps - These details are available at the RN Community site, so I don't think I'm breaching any PERSEC.
Thank you all for your input, all very much appreciated.

It seems that it is possible for the Chaplaincy service to either scatter ashes on land at either Portsmouth, Plymouth or Faslane. They can also carry out the ceremony at sea at any of the above bases, but I got the impression that they just go out into the harbour, rather than going to the position of a particular sinking which is a bit of a shame, but then I suppose they do have rather more important things to be doing!!

Thanks again.

Definately can be done. We organised it for one of our members last year through the Chaplaincy at Nelson Barracks, Pompey.

When you contact the chaplaincy, mention the wishes of a particular location. They might well be able to get in touch with the Planners who can look up if/when there will be a ship/boat sailing past the location. If it is convenient, something might be possbile (provided the relevant Command allows it). Might be worth writing a letter to the chaplaincy and see where it gets you.


Lantern Swinger
There may be a way of using a cross channel ferry which is heading to Cherbourg, short diversion quick sevice, good PR for them.

Here in Liverpool the Mersey Ferry is used by Father John the local RNA Padre to consign the ashes of ex matelots. usually the Saturday before Remembrance Day.

Just a thought

Hi, I just came across your post during an Internet search and joined the forum so I could reply. My uncle, Robert Spencer was a petty officer telegraphist on HMS Capel. As a child I remember my now long deceased dad telling me he had a brother called Robert (Bob) who died during the war when HMS Capel was torpedoed by a U boat and sank with all hands. That was all he had to say on the matter, probably because that was all the family was told. Quite recently I began to look for details of the sinking and dicovered the link between SS Leopoldville, HMS Affleck, HMS Capel and U-486 and the tragic events that unfolded off Cherbourg over Christmas 1944 and was surprised to discover that the whole story had been distorted and shrouded in secrecy for over 50 years. Well I thought that uncle Bob and all the other boys deserved far more recognition for their heroism and sacrifice but I was at a loss as to what I could do. So what I've done is to buy a small but fast fishing boat and I have enrolled on a basic navigation and seamanship course that will be immediately followed up step by step with more advanced stuff, the aim being to go out to the wreck and lower a memorial item over the side on the 73rd aniversary of the sinking of HMS Capel on boxing day 2017 (weather permitting). Anyway, what I wanted to say was if your still out there and haven't yet scattered the ashes you can come with me if you like.
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