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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 October 2005, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
Fight for war grave goes to court
Rosemary Fogg and Valerie Ledgard
This summer, the sisters visited the spot where their father died
Campaigners who want a merchant navy ship torpedoed in World War II recognised as an official war grave are to have their case heard in court.

The SS Storaa sank 10 miles off Hastings, East Sussex in November 1943, but the Ministry of Defence (MoD) ruled it did not qualify as a war grave.

Worthing sisters Rosemary Fogg, 73, and Valerie Ledgard, 65, are fighting the decision in the High Court.

The two-day judicial review begins in London on Wednesday.

Military service

The sisters' father, James Varndell, was one of 21 men who died on the ship, which was carrying steel to a weapons factory in Cardiff.

They say the MoD's decision, that the ship was not in military service and so could not be designated a war grave, was wrong.

The campaigners argue that the ship was armed, sailing in convoy and had already beaten one German attack before it was hit.

Divers on the wreck say caterpillar tracks have been found that must have come from military vehicles.

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

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