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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 19:17 GMT 20:17 UK
WWII wreck gets war grave status
Underwater image of the SS Storaa
Divers will now be prohibited from touching or entering the wreck
Two sisters from Sussex have finally won the right for the wreck of their father's World War II ship to be classed as an official war grave.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has agreed to grant the SS Storaa, which was torpedoed off the Hastings coast in 1943, full military protection.

Rosemary Fogg and Valerie Ledgard, from Worthing, won a court case and then an appeal in 2006 to protect the vessel.

But the MoD had been taking advice about the ownership of the wreck.

The women are the daughters of Petty Officer James Varndell, who died with 21 others when the merchant ship SS Storaa was torpedoed during WWII.

'Look not touch'

They argued in court that the ship should be classed as a war grave because it was on military duties when it sank.

James Varndell with his wife and daughters
James Varndell's daughters led the war grave campaign

Mrs Ledgard welcomed the decision, saying: "It's not a complete forgotten scene, someone will actually write down properly that the SS Storaa is a war grave."

Derek Twigg, Under Secretary of State for Defence, said: "Following the ruling by the Court of Appeal in October last year... the MoD reconsidered its stance regarding the designation of SS Storaa as a war grave.

"We have now agreed to designate the wreck as a protected place under the act.

"The wreck will be protected from unauthorised interference by divers who will only be allowed to dive on a 'look but don't touch or enter' basis once designated, any physical interference with the wreck would require prior licensing by MoD."

The SS Storaa was attacked by German E-boats as it transported steel in convoy to a weapons factory in Cardiff.

Sisters hail war grave decision
20 Nov 06 |  Southern Counties
Law Lords may hear war grave plea
20 Oct 06 |  Southern Counties
Court victory over WWII war grave
05 Oct 06 |  Southern Counties
Appeal over WWII war grave ruling
18 Jul 06 |  Southern Counties
No verdict in war grave ship case
27 Oct 05 |  Southern Counties
Fight for war grave goes to court
26 Oct 05 |  Southern Counties

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