HMS Alfriston’s name game

Minesweeper HMS Alfriston anchored in Gibraltar.
Minesweeper HMS Alfriston anchored in Gibraltar.

Continuing the theme of Sussex place names associated with the Royal Navy let’s look at HMS Alfriston.

She was a coastal minesweeper of the “Ton” class and all such vessels had names ending in “ton”. However, to confuse matters, it seems that though HMS Alfriston began life in 1954 with that name, she didn’t keep it for long but became HMS Warsash upon joining a Minesweeping Squadron based at Southampton. Later she moved to Belfast and was re-named HMS Kilmorey. It wasn’t until March 1976 that she once more became HMS Alfriston and saw service in Gibraltar and Lisbon before being broken up for scrap in 1988.

As an aside, just two men from the village of Alfriston lost their lives serving in the Royal Navy in the Great War. Frank Russell died when HMS Good Hope was sunk on 1st November 1914 during the Battle of Coronel off the coast of Chile. His death was avenged just seven weeks later when the same German cruiser squadron that had triumphed at Coronel attempted a raid on the British base at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands. This time the Germans were unlucky and ran into a large fleet of Royal Navy reinforcements. In the subsequent decisive engagement six of the eight German ships were sunk with no loss to the British. The second Alfriston inhabitant, Petty Officer Walter Stickley was killed in action on 31st May 1916 at the Battle of Jutland in the North Sea when his ship HMS Black Prince went down. Not a single man survived from the crew of 857. Earlier in the war the ship had seen distinguished service in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

There appear to have been no naval casualties from the village in World War II.