Event to mark 75 years since ship went down

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A tribute is being planned to mark the 75th anniversary of the bombing and sinking of the SS Barnhill which can still be seen on the beach near Sovereign Harbour at low tide.

The vessel was bombed late in the evening of March 20 1940 by a lone German Heinkel bomber off Beachy Head setting it on fire, killing five of its crew members.

The badly-damaged 5,439 ton British Merchant ship drifted out of control along the coast past Eastbourne seafront watched by hundreds of horrified residents, eventually running aground where it now rests.

What is left of it can be seen at low tide on the beach close to the North Harbour and opposite Macquarie Quay.

To commemorate the 75th anniversary, pay tribute to the victims of the attack, and those who were involved in the rescue of the survivors, the Barnhill Project Group will hold an unveiling and dedication of a new Interpretation Board concerning the bombing and sinking of the vessel, on Friday March 27.

The information board will be unveiled on the beach adjacent to the wreck.

Eastbourne’s lifeboat at the time, The Jane Holland, was launched on the night of the bombing to help the stricken ship and took 28 men ashore.

It made its way back to the ship in heavy seas to rescue the captain.

Two members of the Eastbourne boat – Alec Huggett and Thomas Allchorn – were put aboard the burning ship by the Newhaven tug, Foremost, and made their way forward, protecting themselves from the flames .

The captain was lowered aboard and taken ashore where he was rushed to hospital.

The Jane Holland returned to the blazing ship carrying members of the Fire Brigade to fight the fire but by that time it had drifted to Langney.