Thursday, August 11, 2011

Recommended By The Enemy

German submarine U-468 is caught on the surface by an Allied B24 bomber. It is August 11th., 1943, in the Atlantic Ocean, 340km SW of Dakar, capital of what’s now Senegal.
Oberleutant Klemens Schamong orders his crew to open fire: 20mm cannon shells rip into the B24 Liberator as it manoeuvres for its attack run. The bomber catches fire and the Germans think it will turn away, but piloting the Liberator is a very determined 29-year-old Flying Officer Lloyd Allan Trigg from Northland (an experienced RNZAF pilot attached to 200 Squadron RAF). Despite many more direct hits, he flies his dieing B24 straight at the submarine, dropping six depth charges from just 16m before plunging into the ocean. All seven aboard, four of them NZers, are killed...
Two of the bombs exploded beside the U-boat, which sank within minutes. Only 20 of the 46 crew escaped, and 13 were quickly killed by sharks and barracuda. In a twist of fate, after half an hour in the ocean, the remaining seven found the Liberator's rubber dinghy floating nearby. When an Allied aircraft spotted them the next day, the dinghy was being circled by very large sharks...
Schamong told his captors the U-boat crew saw their cannon shells hitting the blazing Liberator, but the courageous pilot did not give up as they hoped he would, continuing through the deadly fusillade until his depth charges could be dropped.
The 26-year-old submarine commander (who held an Iron Cross, 1st class) said that, in Germany, such a gallant fighter as Trigg would be
decorated with the highest medal...
Allied Command took the recommendation to heart. Solely on the evidence of Schamong and another officer among the survivors, Trigg was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. He was the only Allied serviceman in either world war to be recommended for a Victoria Cross by the enemy, and it was the first VC awarded to an airman for sinking an enemy submarine.
[Later in the 1960s, his widow - struggling to bring up two children - sold Trigg’s Victoria Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross to buy a house. The medals went overseas, and in 1998 fetched a then world record price of $421,000 at a London auction.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your claim this was the only VC awarded on the recommendation of the enemy overlooks Lt Cdr GP Roope who whilst captain of the HMS Glowworm in April 1940 died in action against the German heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. The German Admiral on the Hipper formally recommended Roope for the VC.