The last survivor of an infamous World War Two naval battle who overcame crippling sea-sickness to shoot down Nazi aircraft has died aged 98.

Bill Wedge - who was born in Carshalton - served as a signalman onboard HMS Worcester in the battle dubbed the ‘Channel Dash’ in 1942 which was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the war.

German battleships the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and the cruiser Prinz Eugen attempted to race back through the Channel to get to a less exposed port in northern Germany.

The RAF and Royal Navy raced to intercept them by sending a flotilla of destroyers and escort vessels into the Channel along with 32 torpedo boats and 450 aircraft.

The three large German ships were escorted by destroyers and torpedo boats, with a sizeable Luftwaffe presence in the air.

HMS Worcester sustained heavy damage and, of the 120 crew on board, 23 men were killed and 45 wounded.

The Channel Dash was considered at the time to be a British failure as the German ships all made it through the channel and safely to port.

Bill incredibly escaped unharmed from the battle and went onto serve in the Atlantic convoys.

His relatives confirmed he died peacefully at his home in Worcester on January 7 next to his beloved wife of 74 years, Jackie, 94.

John Francis Wedge was born in 1921 and inherited the name “Bill” from his father who was known as Bosun Bill in the Merchant Navy.

His son-in-law Ron Crompton, 71 and a grandfather-of-four, said: “He was a very friendly man, very polite and very much a family person.

“He was very modest himself and always said the real heroes were the pilots.

“He was badly seasick when he first joined the Navy Volunteer force in 1938 and very scared, but you just had to get on with it in those days.

“He was very romantic and wrote poetry during and after the war which was published in anthologies.

“He wrote about the experience of being in convoy, seeing ships sink and about losing his best friend Ralph Walker, a pilot shot down over Malta during the war.

“There were more light-hearted ones when he was on leave.”

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Bill joined Barclays bank in 1938 and the Naval Volunteer force the same year aged 17.

Ron, who is married to Bill’s eldest daughter, said: “He knew war was coming and that he was going to be called up when he was 18, so he joined up to get prepared and have the choice of where he was going to be.

“But his father was also a seaman and Bill did want to join the Navy.”

Bill spent time on minesweepers in the Thames, seeing the Dunkirk evacuation and the bombing of London.

He was then sent to HMS Worcester, where he served in the Channel Dash as Sub Lieutenant and signalman.

Ron, a retired management consultant from Richmond, added: “On HMS Worcester he was in charge of the pom poms, anti-aircraft guns.

“His role on the destroyer was trying to shoot down enemy aircraft.

“I don’t think many of the crew made it into their nineties.

“HMS Worcester suffered the worst in the battle, but other destroyers were also heavily damaged and out of action until they were repaired.

“Quite a lot of aircraft were shot down as well.

“Bill didn’t get a medal but was recognised at the 75th anniversary of the battle in 2017.”

HMS Worcester lost 23 men killed and 45 wounded of a crew of 120 in the Channel Dash.

In an account of the battle, Bill wrote in his diary: “We crashed our way at full speed through a choppy sea under low cloud, with little said.

“Aircraft appeared through the clouds now and then, mainly British and some apparently of the opinion that we were German.

“‘Enemy in Sight’, battle ensigns hoisted, and a tense silence at the pom-poms which had earlier been in action against threatening aircraft.

“Dark shapes in the misty distance and our 4.7s began firing and the flotilla attacked.

“As I recollect, ‘Worcester’ was centre ship of the five and thus the main target of the enemy.

“We were already being hit but it was a relief at least to be turning away. However we continued to be straddled and hit and quite shortly were lying stopped.

“The shelling ceased. In the silence no-one appeared to move.

“From the pom-poms it seemed inconceivable that anyone on the bridge could still be alive, given the battering that the structure had taken.

“It had been a long, very cold and uncomfortable night on the pom-poms, and throughout the ship.”

After the battle Bill was in the Atlantic convoy and then the Western English Channel.

He met his wife when he pulled into Devonport where she was serving in the Wrens, the

women’s Navy.

Ron said: “They took it up again when he pulled into shore again six months later.

“They spent a couple of days together and then shared a train back to south-east London, where their parents lived a few miles apart.

“He proposed on the train and they got married after the war in 1946.”

As well as Jackie, Bill leaves behind three children, seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.