71st Anniversary of the explosion of RFA Bedenham at Gun Wharf, Gibraltar
On 27 April 1951 the naval armaments vessel RFA Bedenham, while unloading at Gun Wharf, Gibraltar was sunk when a lighter alongside of her exploded. This caused the ship to explode and also sink. There was heavy loss of life and vast damage through out the City.
To mark the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the explosion the Gibraltar Government has issued a press release on 26 April 2021 which advised –
“A wreath laying ceremony will take place at the Bedenham Memorial, Queensway Quay, on Tuesday 27 April 2021 at 11.00am to mark the 70th anniversary of the explosion of the RFA Bedenham. In attendance will be the Deputy Chief Minister, The Hon Dr Joseph Garcia MP, His Worship the Mayor, Mr John Gonçalves MBE GMD, and the heads of the Airport and Gibraltar Fire and Rescue Services.
In the morning of the same day in 1951, whilst the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship was berthed at Gun Wharf, depth charges were being unloaded into a lighter when one of them ignited. This caused a fire which spread to the Bedenham, triggering a violent explosion on the ship which subsequently sank.
Thirteen people were killed in the explosion, including Chief Fire Officer Albert Alexander Indoe and Sub Officer George Campbell Henderson, of the Dockyard Fire Service, who were posthumously awarded gallantry medals for their bravery in attempting to extinguish the fire. A wreath will also be laid in their honour on behalf of the Civil Defence Association (UK). In addition to the human casualties many of Gibraltar’s buildings suffered substantial damage, including The Convent and Gibraltar’s two Cathedrals”
27 April 2021 the wreath laying ceremony took place …
The Deputy Chief Minister, The Hon Dr Joseph Garcia MP
approaching to lay his wreath
The 60th anniversary of this terrible incident had previously been remembered on the 27 April 2011 at the memorial erected close to where the vessel sank and many of the lives were lost.
The Mayor of Gibraltar, Anthony Lombard, whose maternal grandfather was a
victim of the explosion, approaches the memorial to lay his wreath
The Memorial and the wreaths laid to commemorate those who were killed
A message from H.M. the Queen was read to those at the memorial
Two of those killed were Sub Officer George Henderson and Chief Fire Officer Albert Indoe both from the Dockyard Fire Brigade. Sub Officer Henderson was subsequently awarded posthumously the George Cross in recognition of his gallantry while Chief Fire Officer Albert Indoe was also recognized by the posthumous award of the King’s Police and Fire Services Medal for Gallantry.
Chief Fire Officer Albert Indoe KPFSM and Sub Officer George Henderson GC
Both Henderson and Indoe were buried in North Front Cemetery, Gibraltar but neither of their graves recorded details of their gallantry awards. This omission 70 years ago has now been corrected by the Civil Defence Association.
The gathering at the graves at North Front Cemetery
Wreaths being laid on the graves
The new plaque on Sub Officer George Henderson GC’s grave
(Colour images above by John Bugeja)
The new plaque on Chief Fire Officer Albert Alexander Indoe KPFSM’s grave
(the one image above by Terry Hissey)