- Hampshire, A. Cecil
- Ship histories and stories, WWII operations
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 2001 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
One Nazi pilot, cocksure that the tiny British warships could not escape, circled her signalling with a hand lamp. “Steer east or be sunk”, ordered the winking light peremptorily. Stannard was icily furious. “Hold your fire until I give the word,” he told his gunners. Then, as the Arab forged onwards, he watched the bomber carefully. After orbiting round to see if his order was being obeyed, the German pilot lined himself up and came in to the attack.
The needle of his altimeter spun round as he went into the dive. 1500 feet – 1200 feet – 1000 feet – 800 feet. And then Stannard roared the one word, “Fire!” Instantly jets of tracer spat from the Arab’s guns, to converge on the oil-streaked fuselage of the diving bomber. Impaled on the fiery spear of shell and bullets, the Junkers suddenly gushed smoke and reeled away like a stricken bird. Then it crashed into the fjord and disintegrated.
A few days later HM Trawler Arab berthed safely in an English port.
In the London gazette of the 16 August 1940, Lieutenant Richard Been Stannard RNR was cited as having been awarded the Victoria Cross, “for outstanding valour and signal devotion to duty at Namsos”. It was the second naval VC of the war. At the same time Sub-Lieutenant Ernest Lees, of the Royal Australian Naval Volunteer Reserve, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross; Engineman James Nicholson and Seaman Hassock was Mentioned in Despatches, “For daring, resource and devotion to duty”. “The Arab’s Second Hand, David George Spindler of the RNR” was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.
Extract from “Lilliput Fleet” by A. Cecil Hampshire (New English Library Ltd)