The 21st October 1966 HMS Tiger was on a goodwill visit to Cardiff. Some miles away in the mining town of Aberfan children were going to school, it was the last day of school before half term. At 9:15 they had finished assembly and were in their classrooms about to start the first lesson of the day when they heard a terrible noise that sounded like an express train, the next thing everything went black, the school had been engulfed by a collapsing slag heap.
As soon as the news came through Tiger's captain volunteered a detachment from the ship's company to go and help in any way they could. They travelled by bus with a police escort and had to fight their way through heavy traffic of sightseers. On arrival the sight that met them was terrible. Miners were digging through tons of rubble and slag with their bare hands to rescue the children.
The Tiger crew stayed to help for two days but had to return to the ship as Tiger was under sailing orders.
116 Children and 28 adults died that day.
In 2016 Our Chairman Pete (Aussie) Austin took a small group of Association Members to Aberfan to attend the 50th anniversary of the disaster. They attended the televised church service in Merthyr Tydfil. The following day they attended the service at the graveside in Aberfan itself. The Photograph left shows the wreath, in the shape of an anchor, laid in the memorial garden on behalf of our Association.
Since 2016 Aussie, Mike Bagan & Walton (Wally) Nangle have attended the graveside service in Aberfan. This service is held at 9:15 on the 21st of October and they lay a wreath on behalf of our association.
Each year they travel from Merthyr Tydfil to Aberfan and back by Evan's Taxi's. Mr Evans the owner has always refused to accept any money from us quoting “You came to help us in our time of need we have no intention of charging you for returning to remember those who died”. So in 2019 we surprised him by presenting him with a ships plaque. If Visiting the area we can fully recommend Evan’s Taxis. Follow the link above for details.
Photo shows Mr Evans receiving his plaque from Chairman Pete (Aussie) Austin accompanied by Mick Bagan & Wally Nangle.
Aussie and other members of our Association have become very good friends with one of the survivors and her family, Gaynor Madgwick. Gaynor, her sister Belinda, Michelle and her mum Iris who always have a warm welcome for attendees after the service with tea and biscuits. Gaynor has written a book about the disaster and how it has affected her life. Gaynor and Michelle attended our reunion in 2019 where she gave a short talk and sold copies of her book.
To Obtain a copy of Gaynor’s Book “ABERFAN” Follow this link: Gaynor's Book
The memories of that day will forever be part of Tigers’ History and those who perished foremost in our hearts.