OBITUARY: Gordon Jardine, survivor of sunken ship

Gordon Jardine survived when his ship HMS Repulse was sunk during World War Two
Gordon Jardine survived when his ship HMS Repulse was sunk during World War Two

Gordon Jardine signed up for the armed forces while still in his mid-teens.

The Royal Navy veteran narrowly survived World War Two, and remained in the military long after the conflict ended.

He was born on January 6, 1924, in Ballydown, Banbridge, the son of Albert and Mary-Jane.

Albert had wanted to join the Royal Navy, but his own father had forbidden it.

Instead, when he had children, he encouraged them to enlist.

Gordon joined up aged 15. His papers show his role was initially listed simply as “Boy II”.

However, he went on to serve as a gunner – something he was keen on, since it meant he would be above deck rather than in the bowels of the ship.

It was a fortuitous choice.

He had been serving onboard HMS Repulse when it was attacked by the Japanese in 1941,

His daughter Janet said he was one of four gunners, and could feel a bullet whizz through his hair as the aircraft raked the ship.

The other three gunners were killed. The ship itself was sunk in the attack, with the loss of more than 500 men.

Being above deck, rather than confined below, Gordon was able to escape overboard and was later rescued.

He continued to serve throughout the war, and then opted to remain in the force until 1964.

After that, he became a caretaker at Abercorn Primary School.

He had lived at Riley Street, Banbridge, until moving to Bannview care home about one-and-a-half years ago.

He developed a chest infection, and at age 91 he “just couldn’t fight it”, said Janet.

He died on March 6 at home. His funeral was on March 8 at Ballydown Presbyterian Church. He was buried at the churchyard.

Members of Banbridge Royal British Legion laid wreaths at his grave.

He is survived by daughters Janet Toman (and her husband Joe) and Linda Finnigan, nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, plus brothers Isaac and Jim, and sisters Nora and Vivian. His wife Margaret had predeceased him.