GENERATIONS of children visiting Bexhill Museum will be able to learn of an historic link between the town and Holland.
Bexhill aimed at raising £120,000 to buy a corvette during its Warship Week in 1942. Despite the fact that its war-time population shrank to 5,000, it raised a staggering £223,373 – enough to build the hull of a destroyer.
Bexhill’s sponsored vessel, HMS Scourge, won 1943-45 battle honours escorting Arctic convoys to Russia and for its part in the 1944 Normandy campaign.
She was sold to the Royal Netherlands Navy in 1945 and was renamed Evertsen.
Harm de Joong served on Evertsen from 1948-1951 as a Leading Seaman, seeing action in the Korean War.
He rescued Evertsen’s plaque when it was decommissioned in 1963 and presented it to Bexhill in 1993.
On Wednesday June 5th, Harm, 85, formally presented a painting he’d had commissioned of his old ship, pictured in Korean waters. Rather than be stored out of public view in the Town Hall, the painting is focal point of a display in Bexhill Museum together with the ship’s plaque, shield and photographs.
Journalist Jorrit Brenninkmeijer of the Dutch Radio One station was present to do a documentary on the ceremony, also attended by Rother councillors and Bexhill Royal Naval Association veterans.
Town Mayor Cllr Frances Winterborn said: ?We feel very honoured that Harm has given us this picture and every time that children come in here Harm’s story will be told again and again.?
Cllr Stuart Wood, whose late wife was Dutch, helped translate as Harm explained how Evertsen was diverted at such short notice to bitterly cold Korean waters that the crew were still in tropical clothing.
Museum chairman presented Harm with a copy of former Rother officer David Dyer’s book on town plate and regalia. RNA branch chairman Eric Woodhouse gave Harm a copy of his history of HMS Scourge in RN service.