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Wartime legend HMS Exeter (68) found off Java


Lantern Swinger
Wartime naval legend HMS Exeter found off Java
By Jasper Copping
Last Updated: 1:21AM BST 18/05/2008

The wreck of one of the Second World War's most famous warships has been found by deep sea explorers, 66 years after it was lost in battle.

The cruiser HMS Exeter, best known for its valiant role in the Battle of the River Plate when it hunted down the pride of the German navy, the Admiral Graf Spee, was located by divers searching the Java Sea.

The British vessel was sunk on March 1, 1942, when, with two escorts, the destroyer HMS Encounter and the American destroyer Pope, it was intercepted by nine Japanese warships.

All three Allied ships were lost in the action. The wreck of Encounter, which had passed up a chance to escape by turning back in a brave but futile attempt to protect Exeter, has also now been located.

The two warships were found in Indonesian waters, at a depth of about 200ft, 90 miles north of Bawean Island, and 60 miles from the sinking position given by Exeter's captain, Oliver Gordon, in a book written after the war.

Exeter's discovery follows a six-year search and means the last of the Second World War's most celebrated warships sunk in the conflict has now been located.

Examinations of the wreck have provided historians with vital new insights into the ship's final battle, one of the war's least known naval encounters. ...

full story - Sunday Telegraph

Wikipedia - HMS Exeter (68)


War Hero
Book Reviewer
One of my last COs in the 60s had been briefly a Mid in Exeter - I say briefly as he had been transferred after PoW, his original ship in which he was on the Bismarck chase, was sunk. He spent the rest of the war in Changi but we never asked him about that. I do hope this grave will not now be scavenged by souvenir hunters.

For the story, try 'The Battle of the Java Sea', David Thomas, pub. Andre Deutsch 1968, Pan paperback 1971.


War Hero
Really great to see that they have finally located her. This is one ship with an immense reputation!! Sadly there always seems to be a risk of "grave robbing" as some people have no respect at all.

They attached a Royal Navy ensign to Exeter's port torpedo tube in memory of crew lost either in the battle or during captivity :thumright: , before being taken home for eventual presentation either to the current HMS Exeter or to the HMS Exeter Survivors Association.

The Ministry of Defence has been informed and is working with Indonesian officials on protection of the sites.

Fred Aindow, 88, of Preston, was a 21-year-old able seaman in charge of a gun turret on Exeter when it sank. "We were firing until the last moment," he said. "I think we were the last to stop. Then it was over the side and I hung on to an oar for an hour until I was picked up. The next three years were sheer hell."

"It's great news that they've found Exeter. I'd like to dive down myself and get my shoes from my locker that I had only just bought."
As one who sailed on Exeter on her last voyage from UK - you get mixed
emotions about this discovery.
Good that her resting place is known, but worried that the location and depth permit the unholy to get there and plunder.

War Graves should be internationally respected and protected as such.
Maybe that's asking too much in this mixed up world.

May their souls rest in peace.


Hello ,

I joined this site in order to see if I could find out more about my great uncle Victor Albert Horwell.

He served on the Exeter when she went down,

he was in the sea for a couple of days (with a broken foot/leg) before being picked up.

He was held by the Japanese as a POW but he managed to survive the rest of the war.

I did meet hima few times when I was a kid,
as Victor had to come up to London and visit the hospital for tropical diseases.

He had tests and have his blood changed,
his health was never the same from being in the POW Camp.

I have a few old photos of him as a kid in navy uniform marching on Empire day,

and a few more of him in his Naval uniform on his wartime wedding.

I dont know how to find out what other ships he sailed on,
and if there is any survivors associations.

Maybe and it is a big maybe but someone from one the ships he sailed on might still be alive and remember him all help welcome .
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