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Heloise Warner with the bell of the USS Osprey Heloise Warner, Acting Receiver of Wreck, with the bell of the USS Osprey. Photo courtesy Maritime & Coastguard Agency

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Bell from US WW2 Ship Sunk off English Coast to be returned to America

The USS Osprey sank near the Isle of Wight the night before the D-Day Landings in June 1944. Now, its surviving bell is being returned home to the United States

Published on September 10, 2019

The surviving bell of an American World War Two ship is being returned to the United States after more than 70 years away from home.

On June 5 1944, on the eve of Operation Overlord, the D-Day Landings on Normandy, the USS Osprey Raven-class minesweeper of the United States Navy hit a mine and sank just south of the Isle of Wight at around 5pm, with the tragic loss of 6 men. Those 6 men are thought to be Lieutenant Van Hamilton, seaman 2nd class John Medvic, fireman 1st class Walter O’Bryan, quartermaster 2nd class Emery Parichy, motor machinist’s mate 2nd class Joseph Vanasky, Jr and motor machinist’s mate 3rd class Cleo Whitschell.

Although the ship was lost, earlier this year the bell of the USS Osprey was mysteriously seen in images online. After an investigation by US authorities and the UK's Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the bell was anonymously handed in to the receiver of wreck. The role of the receiver of wreck is to look after cases relating to the voluntary salvage of wreck material across the UK - meaning this story is an important reminder that, given the many wrecks of US vessels around the UK from the first half of the 1900s, salvaged material needs to be presented to the receiver of wreck at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Discussing the bell, Heloise Warner, the Acting Receiver of Wreck based at the Maritime & Coastguard Agency in Southampton, explained that "We need to remember that whilst this bell is an important artefact and historically significant in terms of Operation Overlord, it also represents the tragedy of loss. It will be a symbolic moment when the bell is returned to US soil."

The return of the bell to the US now offers the chance for the American Navy and those families and descendents of those lost in the incident to pay tribute to the ultimate sacrifice made by those six American sailors ahead of one of the most important military operations of the Second World War.

If you find materials from wrecks in the UK, find out more about the process of delivering them to the receiver of wreck via the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website.

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