Sudbury: Tribute to WWII gunboat with links to town

The official launch of the HMS Scarab memorial at Sudbury Museum and Heritage Centre.

The official launch of the HMS Scarab memorial at Sudbury Museum and Heritage Centre. - Credit: Archant

A TRIBUTE to a Second World War gunboat with links to Suffolk has been unveiled.

A painting of HMS Scarab in action in WWII is part of the memorial display at Sudbury Heritage Centr

A painting of HMS Scarab in action in WWII is part of the memorial display at Sudbury Heritage Centre - Credit: Archant

In February 1942 during National Warship Week, Sudbury Borough and Melford District councils as they were known then, joined forces to adopt HMS Scarab – a Royal Navy Insect Class gunboat that saw active service in the Mediterranean during the war.

The sponsorship was part of a Government wartime savings campaign, in which people were encouraged to invest in national savings schemes to help finance the war effort and reduce spending on goods that consumed vital raw materials. The local target was £75,000 but this was far exceeded with a total of £144,000 raised.

The Admiralty presented shields bearing Scarab’s insignia to both local authorities as a reward for their efforts, and these were recently rediscovered in the Sudbury Town Hall cellars. One of the artefacts has been passed on to Long Melford Heritage Centre. The parish of Chilton was also rewarded for its part in the fundraising with a certificate.

The 625-tonne shallow-draught river gunboat Scarab was used in the First World War and was nicknamed the ‘lucky ship’ because of the many near misses it encountered during both wars. One of Scarab’s finest moments was in August 1944 when the Allies landed a substantial force on the French Riviera and liberated two thirds of France in 30 days. Scarab was one of three ships that had earlier bombarded further along the coast, successfully convincing the Germans that this was the chosen area for landings.

Yesterday morning, a tribute to the ship co-ordinated by the Sudbury Museum Trust was launched at the town hall. This includes the Sudbury shield and a painting of HMS Scarab in action commissioned by New Zealander Russell Taylor, whose father Frank served on the boat. Mr Taylor has donated the original painting to the Town Council.

On a previous visit to Sudbury in 2010, he said: “The men of HMS Scarab always looked forward to getting into port because they knew there would be gifts and parcels waiting for them from the people of Sudbury.

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“It must have made such a difference to their lives to know that people back home were thinking about them.”

A display telling Scarab’s story, including Sudbury and Melford’s part in her history, is also featured in the tribute, which was developed my the Museum Trust’s secretary, local historian David Burnett.

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