IT was rescued from the bottom of the sea and brought to Scotland to serve as a memorial to sailors who gave their lives in the Second World War. But now a hunt has been launched to find the missing ship’s bell of HMS Vimiera after it was lost during the relocation of a naval base.

The battleship sank in January 1942 when it struck a mine in the Thames Estuary, causing the death of 93 crewmen, including about 20 Scots.

Its bell was rescued by salvagers and bought at auction by Rodger Hicks, a former captain of the vessel, who presented it to the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve base HMS Graham in Govan, Glasgow, in remembrance of those who died.

But it has now gone missing after HMS Graham was relocated to HMS Dal Riada in Greenock, and members of the association dedicated to it and its sister warships are appealing for help tracking it down again.

HMS Vimiera was a First World War battleship, one of 69 V & W destroyers, which later saw action in the 1940s.

Retired naval officer Frank Donald, of the V and W Destroyer Association, said : “We have contacted HMS Dalriada and they have found around four different bells, but none is from HMS Vimiera. Somebody may have taken it for a souvenir, or for safekeeping. It may be in a pub somewhere.”

The battleship was one of those sent to fight in the desperate Battle of Boulonge in 1940, where the Royal Navy struggled to evacuate the Welsh Guards of the British Expeditionary Force and other soldiers in the days leading up to Dunkirk.

The ship sailed into the harbour under heavy fire from German troops ashore and the Luftwaffe above, and was able to evacuate 1,400 men despite suffering heavy damage. During the same battle Mr Donald’s father, Lieutenant Commander Colin Donald, was shot by a sniper as he stood on the bridge of HMS Vemy, sister ship to HMS Vimiera.