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Charybdis survivor braves a return to the water

Charybdis survivor braves a return to the water

Wednesday 25 January 2023

Charybdis survivor braves a return to the water

Wednesday 25 January 2023

One of the two surviving members of the Charybdis tragedy who is still alive has swum for the first time since his ship sank in the Channel during the Second World War.

Now 97 years old, veteran Roger Roberts is living in a care home in Northamptonshire.

With the support of the staff he was able to swim in the pool at his local leisure centre - 80 years after he was left traumatised by the sinkings of the Charybdis and Limbourne, killing hundreds of men, many of whom are buried in Guernsey.


Pictured: Mr Roberts was one of 107 survivors when the Charybdis sank.

Mr Roberts told his local news outlet, Northants Live, how he was just 17 when the Charybdis was bombed and sunk. He was left stranded in the middle of the sea and was among those rescued but it left him too traumatised to swim again.

He told Northants Live: “I enjoyed the swimming lesson, but it was a lot at effort for someone of my age. I have to say though, the water was a lot warmer than it was all those years ago in the English Channel. 

“There was ice in the water, and it was freezing. I was lucky. I was a good swimmer. We went into the water and had about two hours in the water trying to find planks of wood. 

“We managed to scramble onto the planks and there were 60 men holding onto it. It was very hard. I managed to come out in one piece from the incident, but a lot didn’t.

“You had to look after yourself as well as your friends and we all put our arms around each other and eventually we were rescued.”


Pictured: A funeral service was held for the men who were washed up on Guernsey's coast.

Of the 464 lives lost when the Charybdis went down, and the 40 lives lost through the sinking of the Limbourne, 21 are buried at Le Foulon Cemetery.

Their bodies had washed up and were recovered from the sea by members of the public who had stayed in Guernsey during the Occupation.

The German occupying forces allowed the British bodies to be buried with full military honours but they were astounded when five thousand people - a quarter of the island's population at the time - came to pay their respects.

A ceremony is held annually to honour those who drowned and the survivors of the double tragedy.

Pictured top: Mr Roberts interview with Northants Live can be read in full HERE.

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