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Barfleur pays respects to the SS Léopoldville

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Last Tuesday the Barfleur welcomed an American World War 2 veteran, Mr John Waller, and his family for the sailing from Poole to Cherbourg.

They were on board to retrace Mr. Waller’s wartime footsteps:  on Christmas Eve 1944 he was one of 2,000 American soldiers on board the troopship SS Léopoldville crossing the English Channel from Southampton to Cherbourg. In the middle of that night just 5½ miles from Cherbourg the Léopoldville was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine U-486. 763 American soldiers were killed and the bodies of 493 were never recovered.

As Barfleur approached the coast of Cherbourg Commandant Roignant invited the family on to the bridge, and skilfully manoeuvred his ship alongside the wreck site and into the lee of the wind, to allow Mr. Waller to pay his respects and to lay a wreath into the sea.

Also on board to record the story was BBC South transport correspondent Paul Clifton – and his report is due to be shown on BBC South Today tonight at 18:30 on BBC1.

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