The Battle of Otranto Straits has reached the centenary and is where we acknowledge the brave fishermen and the boats in the two world wars. The Battle of Otranto which is known as the Jutland of the mediterranean where a squadron of Austrian light cruisers with a destroyer (Borrea) dispatched to smash a fixed barrier composed of lightly armed drifters who were mainly fishermen. The drifters were manning a line of anti-submarine nets which were stopping the Austrian submarines breaking out into the Med and disrupting the UK’s supply lines from the Middle and Far East. The drifter crews rather than falling back or abandoning their boats as instructed by the Austrians largely held position and a number tried to shoot it out with the Austrians. Their losses were inevitably heavy. 17 drifters were sunk and many others seriously damaged. The bravery of the men was acknowledged through to Joseph Watt of Gardenstown, skipper of the Broch drifter Gowanlea, winning the Victoria Cross and his gunner also a fishermen, a DSM for continuing to try to fire his gun after a direct hit on him and his gun and to his severe injury.

We pray for all those who lost their lives with the ultimate sacrifice during the world wars