'Mass grave' of Second World War personnel will be excavated

HMS Dasher, which sank off the coast of Ardrossan in North Ayrshire, in March 1943.
HMS Dasher: The carrier exploded and sank off the coast of Ardrossan.

A possible mass grave containing hundreds of bodies of Second World War personnel will be searched by archaeologists.

The site in Ardrossan Cemetery, North Ayrshire, will be searched next week in relation to the sinking of HMS Dasher off the coast of the town on March 27, 1943.

In what was one of the UK’s worst maritime disasters, 379 people died with only 16 being given recorded burials following what campaigners John and Noreen Steele believe was a cover up by the British Admiralty.

Guard Archaeology will carry out the work next week following the long-running campaign by the Steeles, who believe vessel exploded because of design faults in the process of converting it into an aircraft carrier.

Experts will remove the top soil in the plot before investigating the site, where Mr Steele believes several bodies of those who died in the disaster were buried.

Glasgow University’s Archaeology Department previously used radar technology on the site and found that it could not be ruled out that there were "numerous bodies" without coffins buried in a deep pit.