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British warship flag returned to veteran's family after 29 years on display at Milford Tennis and Squash Club

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A FLAG from a sunken First World War British battleship which was displayed for 29 years at Milford Tennis and Squash Club has been reunited with the family of the veteran who first donated it.

The white ensign from HMS Warrior was donated by the late Commander John Ouvry DSO, who served as a midshipman on the Royal Navy’s HMS Tiger during the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

Later in life he became an enthusiastic member of the Milford Country Club, and for many years at the annual LTA junior tennis tournament he would raise HMS Warrior’s the flag – still with its blood stains and bullet holes – on the club’s mast.

Club chairman Alan Gordon and president John Richards reunite the flag with Commander John Ouvry's son, David
Club chairman Alan Gordon and president John Richards reunite the flag with Commander John Ouvry's son, David

The last time it was raised was at the 1992 tournament when it was damaged by a storm. Commander Ouvry died shortly afterwards at the age of 96.

The flag was then presented to the country club, now known as Milford Tennis and Squash Club, in 1993 where it remained on display.

Newly appointed president John Richards felt the time was right to return the flag to the Ouvry family so they could decide what should happen to the historic relic.

With the help of Milford Historical Society, the Ouvry family were traced and son David accepted the flag at a short ceremony.

A spokesperson for the club told the A&T the family were “surprised” to hear from them but added: “They were delighted to receive the flag.”

It is thought the family intend to pass the flag to the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth, where it could be put on public display.

The Battle of Jutland was a major sea confrontation in which 6,000 seamen lost their lives and 14 British warships were sunk.

Although it is not known exactly how Commander Ouvry obtained the large flag – of which only the top left corner remains intact – HMS Tiger was thought to have been close by when HMS Warrior was destroyed.

Commander Ouvry was later awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for his work to neutralise the detonator of a magnetic mine dropped in the Thames estuary during the Second World War. He retired to Milford in 1959.

He was later to turn down the offer to exchange his DSO for a George Cross, the highest civil decoration of the UK.

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