Map of the Gardens & tree list,
The Upper Gardens are an area of paths, trees and lawns, with the Children’s Play Area, and a great place for a picnic.
The Lower Gardens are an area of flower beds, the Wild Life Area, the Lily pond, arbours and paths.
HMS Kite Memorial: At the start of the second World War when Britain stood alone and our armed forces had been run down too far for safety, all towns and cities through out the country were asked to sponsor ships and aircraft. Braintree raised the money (£150,000 in National Savings Bonds) to build a “Black Swan” Class Escort Sloop of 1475 tonnes. She was built by Cammell Laird at Birkenhead and was completed on 1st March 1943. She had a distinguished career in the Battle of the Atlantic, taking part in the sinking of 4 German U boats. She supported the D day landings of the Allied armies on the coast of Normandy on 6th June 1944. She then went back to escorting convoys across the Atlantic, and on 21 August 1944 she was escorting convoy JW59 off Jan Mayen Island in the Greenland Sea, when her foxes (a device ships towed astern to confuse torpedoes, became entangled. The ship stopped to disentangle them, and was a sitting target for U344, who fired two torpedoes at her. The ship broke in two and sank in 90 seconds. All but sixteen of her 226 man were drowned in the freezing arctic seas, Of the sixteen rescued by HMS Keppel, another escort of that convoy, 7 died soon after rescue, leaving just 9 survivors.
60 years to the day after the sinking, Lionel Irish, the last survivor from the ship from Stratford-upon-Avon unveiled the polished granite stone we see today, with the names of those who died that day.
As a post script to the loss of HMS Kite, the next day a pilot with fine name of Gordon Bennett flying a Fairey Swordfish dive bomber from The aircraft carrier HMS Vindex, saw a u boat (U344) on the surface, torpedoed and sank her.
John Ray Garden