A service took place in the sunshine at Freshwater West today (Saturday) to remember those who died in the beach’s 1943 landing craft tragedy.

April 25, 1943 saw two landing craft and a rescue boat sink with the loss of all lives in Freshwater Bay.

The two landing craft, with 73 sailors and Royal Marines, were en route between Harland and Wolff's shipyard in Belfast and Falmouth.

A fault in their design meant that they got into trouble as a gale blew up off Freshwater West.

The West Wales War Memorial Project (WWWMP) reports: “They reached the entrance to Fishguard Harbour, but were refused permission to enter, and so headed southwards towards Milford Haven and safety.

“However, as they rounded St. Ann's Head, the conditions worsened, and the vessels began taking on water faster that the pumps could handle, and so they radioed for help.”

Angle lifeboat was unable to be tasked to the incident and it was a further six hours before St Davids lifeboat was called to assist them. By the time they had travelled two and a half hours to reach the vessels it was dark and nothing could be done.

The first landing craft sank on April 25.

The old fishery protection vessel HMS Rosemary launched her lifeboat to try and help the remaining landing craft. However, the lifeboat overturned in the rough seas and all six crew onboard were lost.

Soon after the second landing craft also sank with all onboard lost.

“Some of the bodies were washed ashore in Freshwater Bay in the coming days, and were buried in various cemeteries, many at Milford,” says the WWWMP. “Several bodies were never found, and the site has been classed as a war grave.”

The 79 sailors were remembered at a service at the Freshwater West memorial today, Saturday, April 21.