After many a visit to the skatepark in Barrow-in-Furness (and a walk with Bramble along Channelside) I began to wonder just how many people simply walk or drive past the Jimmy Freel Memorial without realising the significance of this stunning sculpture.
James Michael Freel, born at Hindpool in Barrow-in-Furness on 13 December 1919, joined the Royal Navy on 9 June 1936 and became Barrow's most decorated war hero of World War II.
After serving as a gunner on the battleships Revenge, Royal Sovereigh and Rodney, he volunteered in May 1942 for 'Special Hazardous Missions' and trained as a 'Charioteer Diver' (a.k.a 'Human Torpedo'), assigned to the 10th Submarine Flotilla in Malta to prepare for Operation Principal (targetting enemy ships in Palermo, Sicily).
On 29 December 1942, Freel and Sub-Lieutenant R.G Dove RNVR, with Chariot No.XVI, embarked on submarine Trooper to attack ships in Palermo harbour where they sank the Troopship Viminale. After they made their way ashore they were taken prisioners and sent to P.O.W camps in mainland Italy.
On 9 September 1943 (after 9 months as a Prisoner of War), Freel escaped and fought with the local Partisans until December 1943, when he rejoined the Allied Forces and was repatriated to the UK.
On 18 April 1944, James Freel wsa gazetted for the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal, for his 'courage, determination and devotion to duty.'
He saw further action in the Far East and on 29 June 1945, he was also mentioned in despatches for 'bravery, coolness of action and devotion to duty' in the rescue of survivors from a burning tanker near Japan.
Chris Brammall Ltd were honoured to be chosen to design this important memorial which you can enjoy as part of the Channelside walk. Built in mild-steel with a bronze paint finish.
Next time your passing please do take the time to have a closer look.