William Charles Williams (15/09/1880 – 25/04/1915) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the landings at Gallipoli in 1915.
The Citation reads:
“On 25 April 1915 during the landing on V Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey, Williams, with three other men (George Leslie Drewry, Wilfred St. Aubyn Malleson and George McKenzie Samson) was assisting the commander (Edward Unwin) of their ship, HMS River Clyde (previously the SS River Clyde) at the work of securing the lighters. He held on to a rope for over an hour, standing chest deep in the sea, under continuous enemy fire. He was eventually dangerously wounded and later killed by a shell whilst his rescue was being effected by the commander who described him as the bravest sailor he had ever met.”
His body was lost in the carnage of Gallipoli, and he is Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial panel 8 column 1
Gerard Broadmead Roope (13/03/1905 – 08/04/1940) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions while commanding HMS Glowworm in 1940, in the Norwegian Sea. The recommendation for the award and supporting evidence was provided by the enemy.
“The late Lieutenamt-Commandar Gerard Broadmead ROOPE, Royal Navy
On the 8th April, 1940, H.M.S. Glowworm was proceeding alone in heavy weather towards a rendezvous in West Fjord, when she met and engaged two enemy destroyers, scoring at least one hit on them. The enemy broke off the action and headed North, to lead the Glowworm on to his supporting forces. The Commanding Officer, whilst correctly appreciating the intentions of the enemy, at once gave chase. The German heavy cruiser, Admiral “Hipper, was sighted closing the Glowworm at high speed and an enemy report was sent which was received by H.M.S. Renown. Because of the heavy sea, the Glowworm could not shadow the enemy and the Commanding Officer therefore decided to attack with torpedoes and then to close in order to inflict as much damage as possible. Five torpedoes were fired and later the remaining five, but without success. The Glowworm was badly hit; one gun was out of action and her speed was much reduced, but with the other three guns still firing she closed and rammed the Admiral’ Hipper. As the Glowworm drew away, she opened fire again and scored one hit at a range of 400 yards. The Glowworm, badly stove in forward and riddled with enemy fire, heeled over to starboard, and the Commanding Officer gave the order to abandon her. Shortly afterwards she capsized and sank. The Admiral Hipper hove to for at least an hour picking up survivors but the loss of life was heavy, only 31 out of the Glowworm’s complement of 149 being saved. Full information concerning this action has only recently been received and the VICTORIA CROSS is bestowed in recognition of the great valour of the Commanding Officer who, after fighting off a superior force of destroyers, sought out and reported a powerful enemy unit, and then fought his ship to the end against overwhelming odds, finally ramming the enemy with supreme coolness and skill.”
His body was lost at sea and he is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial panel 36 column 3.
Alfred Edward Sephton (19/04/1911 – 19/05/1941), was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Second World War On 18 May 1941 in the Mediterranean, south of Crete,while serving with HMS Coventry when she went to the assistance of a hospital ship which was being attacked by German dive-bombers.
“The late Petty Officer Alfred Edward Sephton, P/JX.I3082I, H.M.S. Coventry.
Petty Officer Sephton was Director Layer when H.M.S. Coventry was attacked by aircraft, whose fire grievously wounded him. In mortal pain and faint from loss of blood he stood fast doing his duty without fault until the Enemy was driven off. Thereafter until his death his valiant and cheerful spirit gave heart to the wounded. His high example inspired his shipmates and will live in their memory.”
His body was not brought ashore for burial and presumably was buried at sea. He is Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial, panel 46 column 2
“The late Acting Captain Frederick Thornton Peters, D.S.O., D.S.C., Royal Navy, For valour in taking H.M.S. Walney, in an enterprise of desperate hazard, into the harbour of Oran on the 8th November, 1942. Captain Peters led his force through the boom towards the jetty in the face of point-blank fire from shore batteries, a Destroyer and a Cruiser. Blinded in one eye, he alone of the seventeen Officers and Men on the bridge survived. The Walney reached the jetty disabled and ablaze, and went down with her colours flying”
On 8 November 1942 Captain Peters, commanding in Walney, led his force through the boom towards the jetty in the face of point-blank fire from shore batteries, the sloop La Surprise, and the destroyer Epervier. Blinded in one eye, he alone of 11 officers and men on the bridge survived. Besides him, 13 ratings survived Walney sinking. The destroyer reached the jetty disabled and ablaze and went down with her colours flying. Captain Peters and a handful of men managed to reach the shore, where they were taken prisoner. Hartland came under fire from the French destroyer Typhon and blew up with the loss of half her crew. The survivors, like those of Walney, were taken prisoner as they reached shore.”
The survivors were released on 10 November 1942 when the French garrison surrendered. While coming back to Britain, Captain Peters was killed when the Sunderland he was on crash landed in Plymouth Sound in thick fog on 13 November 1942. His body was not recovered.
He is Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial, panel 61 column 3
“For most conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty as Commanding Officer of H.M. Submarine “E 14” on the 28th of January, 1918.
“E 14” left Mudros on the 27th of January under instructions to force the Narrows and attack the “Goeben”] which was reported aground off Nagara Point after being damaged during her sortie from the Dardanelles. The latter vessel was not found and “E 14” turned back. At about 8.45 a.m. on 28 January a torpedo was fired from “E 14” at an enemy ship; 11 seconds after the torpedo left the tube a heavy explosion took place, caused all lights to go out, and sprang the fore hatch. Leaking badly the boat was blown to 15 feet, and at once a heavy fire came from the forts, but the hull was not hit. “E 14” then dived and proceeded on her way out.
Soon afterwards the boat became out of control, and as the air supply was nearly exhausted, Lieutenant-Commander White decided to run the risk of proceeding on the surface. Heavy fire was immediately opened from both sides, and, after running the gauntlet for half-an-hour, being steered from below, “E 14″ was so badly damaged that Lieutenant-Commander White turned towards the shore in order to give the crew a chance of being saved. He remained on deck the whole time himself until he was killed by a shell.”
While on a quick trip to Portsmouth I found the Naval Memorial at Southsea quite by accident but did not have a lot of time to really photograph it better than I could in the short time I had. It is a daunting memorial, the plaques on it seem to be endless, and there are 24599 names on it.The loss of a single ship could involve the loss of hundreds of men at a time, and there are no physical graves for most on this memorial.
The Memorial is on the Southsea Common overlooking the promenade, and can be seen from a long distance. Ships pass it on their way to the naval dockyard and it is an imposing site. There are similar memorials at Chatham (18627 names) and Plymouth (23210 names).
Google Earth co-ordinates are: 50.782507°, -1.095661°