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  1. On 26th September 1943, HMS Intrepid, along with the Greek Navay Ship Queen Olga, were sunk by German bombers at Port Lakki on the island of Leros in the Greek Dodecanese Islands. The Italians had just surrendered the island to the British and the Germasn were determined to take it back, and did so in a short but bloody battle. Intrepid was my father's ship.

    Six weeks later, I was born and given my father's name, I presume because my mother assumed he had been killed. But the Old Man turned up three months later, having escaped the island with the help of the Greek Resistance, a Free French destroyer, and, I guess, the Royal Navy's secretive Levant Squadron. So, I became Frederic Gladwyn Thompson Junior, and remained 'Junior' for the next 45 years!

    As my 80th birthday was therefore in November this year, I decided to visit Leros and attend the 80th Anniversary Commeroration of both sinkings. This is a big event for the Greek Navy as the Queen Olga blew up and was lost with all hands whereas Intrepid took 24 hours to sink and apart from those killed by the bomb explosion, the rest of the crew escaped.

    The visit was a moving and spiritual three days as I met three other 'sons of Intrepid' whose fathers had also survived, plus one grandson whose grandfather had been killed. We were united only by the sinking of Intrepid and had all decided individually to attend the commemoration and remember the event and those who were lost. That was the spiritual bit.

    Leros is a small and beautiful island off the main tourist track. I got there by flying on a tourist flight to Rhodes and taking the Rhodes-Piraeus ferry which calls in at Leros, in itself an enjoyable 5 hour cruise. At Port Lakki, there is a rather beautiful memorial to Intrepid, and over the hill at Agia Marina, there is a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery where a touching British service of remembrance was held. In Lakki, a larger service was conducted by the Greek Navy.

    By an astonishing coincidence, the Captain of Intrepid, Commander Charles Arthur de Winton Kitcat Royal Navy, who was severely wounded, was the godfather to my captain in HMS Revenge 35 years later. The coincidence is even greater. My captain's father had been Kitcat's Engineer Officer, and I was the Engineer Officer of Revenge. 

    One day, I hope to return to Leros.

    IMG_1535 2IMG_1648 2IMG_1635 2Leros Intrepid memorial by nightLeros Panteli harbourLeros Panteli village 2Leros from the castle