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Last Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005, 14:07 GMT 15:07 UK
War grave fight 'evidence found'
Hastings beach and pier
The SS Storaa sank 10 miles off the Hastings coast in 1943
Divers fighting to have a wreck off the Sussex coast recognised as an official war grave believe they have found evidence to strengthen their case.

The SS Storaa was torpedoed 10 miles off Hastings in November 1943, carrying steel to a weapons factory in Cardiff.

The Ministry of Defence said it cannot be recognised as such because it was not in military service when it sank.

But on a recent dive, caterpillar tracks were found which divers insisted must have come from military vehicles.

The MoD ruled that the SS Storaa was incapable of designation as a war grave under the 1986 Protection of Military Remains Act.

But campaign leader, Dr Peter Marsden, said: "This is about whether or not this vehicle was in military service and whether she was carrying military cargo.

Underwater image of the SS Storaa
Divers say caterpillar tracks show the ship was used by the military

"Here we've got caterpillar tracks which surely must be from a military vehicle."

The two daughters of James Varndell, one of 21 men who died on the ship, started the campaign for a judicial review.

Rosemary Fogg, 73, and Valerie Ledgard, 65, were aged 12 and four when their father died.

The sisters, from Worthing, West Sussex, claimed it was wrong of the MoD to take the decision.

But John Short, from Hastings Sub Aqua Association who was sold the wreck for 150 in 1985, said the MoD has no right to turn it into a war grave because he now has legal ownership.

The evidence found by the divers will be heard at a two-day judicial review, starting on 26 October.

War grave legal fight can proceed
07 Apr 05 |  Southern Counties

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