PLANS for a memorial to the sinking in Portland Harbour of HMS Foylebank may have run into trouble.

Dorset Council’s design and conservation team say they are unable to support the proposed memorial at Priory Corner.

They say it would be better placed closer to the Commonwealth War Graves where the seamen who died in the action were laid to rest.

The stone monument, featuring a seat and a plinth, is currently being considered for planning permission for open grassland close to the beacon and opposite the Portland Heights Hotel and stone circle.

Dorset Council is being asked to agree the application from the Island and Royal Manor of Portland Court Leet, which is supported by Portland Town Council.

In their objection the Dorset Council conservation officer says: “Whereas the principle of the memorial is wholly supported the proposed location is not. Apart from the fact that the site marked on the plan is not level ground this part of the island is awash with memorials and various “attractions” and it is considered that this is becoming saturated.

“It is considered that the most appropriate location for the memorial is within or adjacent to the current Commonwealth War Graves site which in fact overlooks the very harbour and location of the “action” where HMS Foylebank was attacked. This is surely the correct place and by the very graves of the seamen and overlooking the site of the attack.”

The formal response also argues that the site would be more easily accessed from the coastal path and although in an area of the island less frequented, it may attract more visitors to this part of the island: “The war graves provide a fascinating record of military presence on the island and may be the spark needed to raise that profile.”

There has also been a comment from Natural England concerned about the loss of rare grassland if the monument were put in place at Priory Corner, but falls short of an objection: “The application is for a development on Portland Heights Site of Nature Conservation Interest for its priority habitat species rich calcareous grassland. Natural England recognise that the area to be lost in meters squared is likely to be small but it is of a high grade valuable habitat of which we have a limited resource.”

The proposal for the hilltop memorial would have seats facing where Foylebank was at anchor in Portland Harbour when she was attacked by German dive bombers on July 4th 1940.

One of the seamen, 23 year old Leading Seaman Jack Foreman Mantle, despite his injuries, remained at his post on the Starboard 2 Pounder Pom-Pom Gun. When the ship’s power failed he continued to operate the gun by hand and did not stop firing until he collapsed and died. He was later, posthumously, awarded the Victoria Cross.

He and his other shipmates were laid to rest at the Portland Royal Naval Cemetery on the southern slopes above Portland Harbour.

The application expected to be decided by a council officer under delegated powers. The deadline for comments on the application passed earlier this week.

Portland councillor Paul Kimber said: “I will ultimately stand by the town council on this.

“This area of Portland has a lot of sadness, and memories of people’s nearest and dearest who are on the memorials.

“Foylebank is a part of this island. I used to take relatives of Foylebank out on a Saturday morning to put a reef where it had sunk.

“Dorset Council really should be listening to what we want.”