Ian Brodrick Tetley

Lieutenant, Royal Navy, HMS Neptune.

Died At Sea on the 19th December 1941 aged 26.

Ian was the only son of Michael & Dorothy Tetley who lived at the Priory, Stevenage. He was commissioned into the Royal Navy on the 2nd April 1940 and joined the crew of HMS Neptune in June of that year. On the night of 19 December 1941, Force K, a cruiser raiding squadron consisting of HMS Neptune, HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope, set out from Malta and were steaming in line ahead some 20 miles north of Tripoli.

HMS Kandahar, HMS Lance, HMS Lively and HMS Havock were acting as a screen as the squadron headed on a southerly course. They were expecting to intercept a German and Italian convoy but, instead, ran into a minefield. HMS Neptune, in the lead, was at once disabled by the first explosion. Immediately afterwards both HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope also struck mines. HMS Aurora was holed and HMS Penelope suffered only minor damage, but they both managed to get clear of the minefield. The surprise achieved by this minefield, laid so far from the coast and in a depth of 100 fathoms of water and hitherto considered too deep for mining, was complete and devastating.

HMS Neptune, immobilised, severely damaged, and drifting helplessly in the minefield made preparations to be taken in tow by the destroyer leader, HMS Kandahar. As the little destroyer edged in towards the stricken Neptune a mine detonated her aft magazine and Kandahar lost about 100ft of her stern and 60 men perished.

HMS Neptune now ordered the other destroyers to stay clear and as the force was very close to the enemy coastline and there was a likelihood of air attacks. Despite strenuous efforts to reach her they were forced to abandon the stricken ship. HMS Neptune shortly rolled over and sank.

HMS Kandahar, after many anxious hours, drifted clear of the minefield and twenty-four hours later HMS Jaguar rescued 8 officers and 157 ratings.

There was no sign of HMS Neptune or her company but it later transpired that 16 men, including the Captain, had survived on a raft. The raft was found four days later by two Italian torpedo boats but with only one man was alive, Leading Seaman Walton. 765 officers and men perished.  Ian Tetley has no known grave and his name is recorded on the Plymouth Naval Memorial. (Panel 44. Column 3.) 


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