HMS Argyll honours Egyptian naval dead in Alexandria

A wreath of red poppies rests on the most hallowed site in the Egyptian Navy – the Tomb of the Unknown Sailor.

The crew of HMS Argyll and Britain’s Defence Attaché in Cairo Col Ed Sandry paid their respects at the impressive memorial overlooking Al Mina'ash Sharqiyah, the eastern harbour in Alexandria.

The monument, built to honour Egyptian sailors who fought in the Greek War of Independence 200 years ago, remembers all the sons of Egypt who have died at sea in the service of their country.

Plymouth-based HMS Argyll provided a ceremonial guard for the wreath-laying ceremony at the busy waterfront memorial, before a moment of sombre reflection in memory of the fallen of the Egyptian Navy.

The ceremony was simple yet powerful, with the ceremonial guards from Argyll and the Egyptian Navy facing one another to flank the route of Col Sandry, senior Egyptian Navy officers and Argyll’s Commanding Officer of HMS Argyll, Commander Toby Shaughnessy.

Marching up to the monument, the party laid a wreath of poppies, before writing in the book of condolences.

The loss of a sailor is always a tragedy regardless of where or whom they serve, and Argyll was keen to show her respects

Lieutenant Commander David Tetchner

“The loss of a sailor is always a tragedy regardless of where or whom they serve, and Argyll was keen to show her respects,” said Lieutenant Commander David Tetchner, the frigate’s Weapon Engineer Officer.”

“Every sailor has family back home and shipmates they serve with who would be devastated by their loss, making this moment of tribute highly pertinent to all.”

Despite having a little practice time and not being acclimatised to the beating Egyptian sun – 31˚C – HMS Argyll’s Guard of Honour were excellent, said Lieutenant Andrew Lawe who led them.

“They all recognised the importance of the event, forming bonds with the Egyptian Navy and members of the public who had turned out to watch,” he added.

“Standing opposite the Egyptian Guard Officer and talking with him, I recognised that we aren’t at all different and face the same dangers in a hostile sea.

“I felt incredibly proud to represent the UK and of the guard for their professionalism under difficult circumstances. We were well supported by Petty Officer Richard Peplow and his gunnery team, who trained the guard on Argyll’s flight deck and helped us on the day.”

Alexandria formed the last port of call west of Suez for Argyll which is now conducting Maritime Security Operations in the Middle East before she continues on to the Far East for the Pacific element of her nine-month deployment.