Battleship bombing veteran Robert Aitken, of Melton, dies at 91

Robert Aitkin in the navy during the Second World War

Robert Aitkin in the navy during the Second World War

One of the last surviving members of a Royal Navy unit involved in the bombing of the German warship Tirpitz in the Second World War has died.

Robert Aitkin

Robert Aitkin - Credit: Archant

Robert Aitken, 91, of Melton, passed away on October 22, after suffering from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mr Aitken joined the navy in 1941 and was involved in the mission that saw midget submarines bomb the Tirpitz. Mr Aitken, part of the crew of sub X7, had to climb out of his submarine to cut through protective wire obstructing the way, before returning to lay charges beneath the German battleship. However Mr Aitken’s sub began to sink and he only just managed to escape before losing consciousness. His two colleagues did not get out.

Mr Aitken was captured and brought aboard the Tirpitz as the bombs he had helped to plant went off beneath them. He spent the remaining years of the conflict as a prisoner of war.

His daughter, Nicola Mayhew, 56, said: “We are so proud of him and his grandchildren really just love the story.”

Robert Aitkin in the navy during the Second World War

Robert Aitkin in the navy during the Second World War


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Chris Mayhew, 58, Mr Aitken’s son-in-law, added: “He did the job he was told to do and lived to tell the tale.”

After the war, Mr Aitken joined R Hunt & Company, the family business in agricultural engineering and also had a career in accounting. He spent the last three years of his life in a care home in Kesgrave.

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Daughter Karen Lyth, 53, said: “It’s not been very nice for him for the last three years, and it’s been awful to see that.” Mr Aitkin is survived by his four children, James, Jane, Nicola and Karen, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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