Parade planned to remember victims of WWII battleship sinking

Posted 20th March 2024

A 150-strong parade of Northamptonshire District Sea Cadets and the 6F RAF Cadet Band will march through Northampton town centre on Sunday, 24th March at 11am to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the sinking of the HMS Laforey warship.

The Laforey parade, supported by Northampton Town Council, will step off from the Guildhall, following two loops of a route along St Giles’ Street, down Hazelwood Road and up Derngate, back to St Giles’ Square. At the end of the parade, cadets will salute local dignitaries, including Brigadier David Russell-Parsons, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire and the Mayor of Northampton.

HMS Laforey was adopted by the community of Northampton in 1941 during ‘Warship Week’, a Royal Navy fundraising initiative which saw towns and cities in Britain raise money towards building naval ships.  The town raised more than £750,000 to fund HMS Laforey and she was assigned to several operations in Mediterranean Sea, including escorting a relief convoy to Malta as part of Operation Halberd.

Local charities, churches and schools also provided the ship’s crew with gloves, socks and hats, while school children wrote them letters. When officers and men from the adopted ship visited the local community, a celebratory parade was organised in their honour.

Sadly, the ship sank on the 30th March 1944 after she was hit by torpedoes from a German U-boat, and only 65 of the 247 men on board survived.

The Mayor of Northampton, Cllr Stephen Hibbert, said: “Northampton’s Sea Cadet unit is named Laforey in honour of the town’s adopted battleship and it is important to acknowledge the community’s huge fundraising efforts in 1941- the thousands of pounds raised then is equivalent to almost £26.5 million in today’s money.

“The Laforey Parade has taken place in Northampton every year for at least 30 years, reminding us how connected the townspeople were to this ship and its crew during the Second World War. The parade also gives us another chance to remember and honour those men who gave their lives to protect our freedom.”

Formal proceedings begin in the Guildhall Courtyard at 10.15am, with a march of the guard and parade inspection taking place ahead of a service of remembrance at approximately 10.30am.

For more information, please visit the town council’s website.