Teen hero of secret midget sub missions dies, aged 87
A FORMER naval officer involved in secret wartime missions as a midget submarine navigator has died at the age of 87.
Lieutenant-Commander Keith Hornby Priestnall joined the Royal Navy at 17 and took part in the missions to disable German warships in the Second World War.
And last year he was given a prestigious award for dedicating 60 years to helping run a group of Sea Cadets in Burton.
Lieutenant-Commander Hornby Priestnall, of Ashbourne, signed up for the Royal Navy in 1942. A year later he was drafted in as part of the crew of a midget submarine.
Bissell's 8910E Aroma Pro is the ultimate in home cleaning giving you a machine that provides outstanding results when not just cleaning carpets but stairs and upholstery too.
Terms: Limited Stock Offer . FREE Delivery to most UK postcodes.
Contact: 01664 491439
Valid until: Tuesday, May 28 2013
In this capacity, Lieutenant-Commander Hornby Priestnall was part of a crew of three in the small submersible, which went into enemy waters, targeting German ships.
In a previous interview with the Derby Telegraph, he explained what the role entailed.
He said: "We only did one mission in Norway. We got up close – I was the navigator – and a diver would get out and plant a bomb on the ship itself, then we would get clear. Five hours later, the bomb would explode."
After leaving the Navy in 1948, he joined the volunteer staff at the Burton Sea Cadets. In 1950, he was made Commanding Officer of the group and, for the 25 years he held the post, the branch was awarded the Efficiency Burgee – the highest rating awarded by the Sea Cadets Corps when an annual branch inspection is carried out.
For his work with the cadets, he was last year awarded with the Captain's Medal, given to him by the Marine Society And Sea Cadets Headquarters, in London.
Throughout his life he was also heavily associated with the brewing trade in Burton, having formed his own company making beer mats.
His health had deteriorated over the last year and he died on February 16.
A statement on the Burton Sea Cadets' website written in honour of Lieutenant-Commander Hornby Priestnall's death reads: "He dedicated many years to the unit and we intend to maintain the high standards he always achieved in his honour. He was a true gentleman and will be sorely missed."
His funeral will be held on March 27 at St Modwen's Church, Burton.