A MEMORIAL to the sinking in Portland Harbour of HMS Foylebank is to go ahead – after clarification about its location.

Dorset Council’s design and conservation team initially said they were unable to support the proposed memorial at Priory Corner.

But during the application process the location was ‘clarified’ according to a council report, which now describes the site as being on flat, open ground, close to Yeates Road. A roped walkway will now direct visitors to the monument from the nearest access point.

The stone memorial, featuring a seat and a plinth, will be no more than 650mm tall with a plaque to commemorate the lost sailors. Access will be from Yeates Road via a roped off walkway which will discourage visitors from walking elsewhere. A notice will direct visitors to the island’s Commonwealth war graves where the sailors were buried.

Dorset Council has now approved the application from the Island and Royal Manor of Portland Court Leet. It was supported by Portland town council which owns the land where it will be placed.

The initial proposal had also led to concerns from Natural England about the risk to rare grassland - a view shared by Dorset Wildlife Trust.

“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,” said a letter to the council.

Part of the approval will now include a scrubland management plan which will see the removal from the area of non-native invasive cotoneaster plants.

The Foylebank was at anchor in Portland Harbour when attacked by German dive bombers on July 4, 1940. One of the sailors, 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.