FORMER sailors have marked the 75th anniversary of a wartime naval disaster by paying tribute to the servicemen who lost their lives.

Members of the V and W Destroyer Association laid a wreath at the Clyde Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve War Memorial in Govan in memory of the crew of the HMS Vimiera.

The war ship, which was once based at Rosyth, sank on 9 January 1942 when it struck a mine in the Thames Estuary, causing the death of 93 servicemen, among them 20 Scots.

The Association was set up to remember and record the exploits of of the V and W class destroyers and has launched a hunt for artefacts that came from the ship.

It is trying to track down its ships' bell, which rescued by salvagers and eventually displayed at HMS Dal Riada in Greenock, but has so far drawn a blank.

Association member Frank Donald, a Retired Lieutenant Commander, said: "It has been lost since HMS Dal Riada closed, and from our last appeal to the public we believe it was sold by Phillips auctioneers in 1993.

"After that the trial goes cold. This is just conjecture, but I think it may have been bought by a bellfounder - a person who casts bells - and reconditioned or for some other use. But we are hoping to find out more, if anyone knows anything."

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

Mr Donald has a personal connection to the V and W class of destroyers. His father Lieutenant Commander Colin Donald, was shot and killed by a sniper onboard the HMS Vimiera's sister ship HMS Vemy during the Battle of Boulonge in 1940.

Both ships were deployed during the desperate fight, which saw the the Royal Navy struggled to evacuate the Welsh Guards of the British Expeditionary Force and other soldiers in the days leading up to Dunkirk.

Both ships sailed into the harbour under heavy fire from German troops ashore and the Luftwaffe above, and HMS Vimiera was able to evacuate 1,400 men despite suffering heavy damage.

He said: "The sinking of the Vimiera caused a great loss of life. When the ship split in half many of the crew were in the front section changing clothes as they got ready to go ashore, and they were totally unprepared."

He urged anyone with information on the missing bell or who had a relative who served on a V and W destroyer to contact the association through its website.