Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Clement Agnew - Behind the name

The first name on the 1939-1945 names on the Armadale War Memorial is Clement Agnew. There is no rank or unit on the memorial but he is easy to find on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. He was a tragically young sixteen years old when he died. Surprisingly the boy from deepest West Lothian was a volunteer in the Royal Navy.

Initials: C W
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Boy 1st Class
Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Unit Text: H.M.S. Royal Oak
Age: 16
Date of Death: 14/10/1939
Service No: P/JX 159143
Additional information: Son of Clement and Susan Agnew, of Armadale, West Lothian.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 34, Column 1.

Boy Agnew was lost on the 'Royal Oak' when it was torpedoed in Scapa Flow by U-9. 833 other sailors were lost that night many of them teenage ratings like Clement Agnew. The tragedy was that the 'Royal Oak' had returned to Scapa Flow from the North Atlantic after a patrol which showed she was too old for active service. When she was sunk she was actually of little threat to the German Navy.

Her loss was a bitter blow to Britain and a propaganda coup for Germany. It also brought home the war to a small Lothians town.

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