MoD search for hero’s family

PUBLISHED: 12:54 04 December 2014

The benches being returned to harbour

The benches being returned to harbour

Archant

A special medal, bestowed to loved ones of the fallen, could belong to the family of a Falklands hero from Exmouth.

And now a Ministry of Defence volunteer needs the public’s help to trace the family.

Ray Poole has been charged by the MoD with tracking down the families of hundreds of fallen servicemen so he can present them with the Elizabeth Cross.

He has found the next-of-kin of nearly all of the 250 servicemen who died.

But he needs the help of the public to help trace the remaining few, including the family of a John Dobson, so the medal can go to its rightful home.

His only lead so far is that in 2011 two wooden memorial benches were rescued floating in the sea off Exmouth.

A report in the Journal said that the two benches, thought to have been dislodged by storms, had either come from Exmouth or from somewhere from further up the Exe Estuary.

Both benches were brought ashore by members of the Exe Sailing Club, and one of them had the name of John Dobson.

The Elizabeth Cross and Memorial Scroll are granted to the next of kin of all UK Armed Forces personnel who have died on operations or as a result of an act of terrorism, in national recognition of their loss and sacrifice since 1948.

For three years Mr Poole, 73, from Pembrokeshire, has travelled the length and breadth of the country to award the medals to the next of kin.

But he is stumped with the case of John Dobson, a bosun in the Merchant Navy, who died in 1982 when the SS Atlantic Conveyor he was serving on was attacked by Argentine forces.

The civilian Steam Ship Atlantic Conveyor was converted from a tired ocean-going container ship into a vessel capable of launching Harrier vertical take-off ‘jump jets’, fighters and heavy lift helicopters.

On May 25, 1982, after successfully transporting her jets to the front line of the Falklands war, the Conveyor was hit by Exocet missiles.

Twelve of ship’s gallant crew, including Bosun Dobson were killed – the ship was the first British civilian merchant ship to be sunk by enemy action since World War Two.

Mr Poole said: “Of the 258 Elizabeth Crosses allocated to former servicemen and members of the merchant navy, there are only five where I haven’t been able to trace the next of kin – and one of them is that of Mr Dobson.”

The bench was collected and Mr Poole added: “Other than the story in the Journal, I have no other leads.”

If you can help, contact the Journal on 01392 888508.

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