20 June 2017

The old wooden cross marker over the grave of Admiral Sir Victor Crutchley VC, KCB, DSC, Royal Navy, in St Mary's Churchyard, Powerstock in Dorset, has been replaced with a slate type headstone bearing his name and that of his wife Joan Elizabeth.

Crutchley's grave:
before and after

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 28 August 1918 ], Ostend Harbour, Belgium, 22 April 1918 & 9-10 May 1918, Lieutenant Victor Alexander Charles Crutchley, Royal Navy ( HMS 'Vindictive' ).

This officer was in 'Brilliant' in the unsuccessful attempt to block Ostend on the night of 22nd / 23rd April 1918, and at once volunteered for a further effort. Crutchley acted as 1st Lieutenant of HMS 'Vindictive' and worked with untiring energy fitting out that ship for further service.

On the night of 9th / 10th May 1918, after his commanding officer had been killed and the second in command severely wounded, Lieutenant Crutchley took command of 'Vindictive' and did his utmost by manoeuvring the engines to place that ship in an effective position. He displayed great bravery both in the 'Vindictive' and in 'ML254', which rescued the crew after the charges had been blown and the former vessel sunk between the piers of Ostend harbour, and did not himself leave the 'Vindictive' until he had made a thorough search with an electric torch for survivors under a very heavy fire.

Lieutenant Crutchley took command of 'ML254' when the commanding officer sank exhausted from his wounds, the second in command having been killed. The vessel was full of wounded and very seriously damaged by shell fire, the fore part being flooded. With indomitable energy and by dint of baling with buckets and shifting weight aft, Lieutenant Crutchley and the unwounded kept her afloat, but the leaks could not be kept under, and she was in a sinking condition, with her forecastle nearly awash when picked up by HMS 'Warwick'.

The bearing of this very gallant officer and fine seaman throughout these operations off the Belgian coast was altogether admirable and an inspiring example to all thrown in contact with him.

Victor Crutchley was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 11th September 1918.

For the award of the Disinguished Service Cross ( DSC )

[ London Gazette, 23 July 1918 ], Ostend Harbour, 22 April 1918, Lieutenant Victor Alexander Charles Crutchley, Royal Navy ( HMS 'Brilliant' )

Showed great coolness under heavy fire, and set a fine example to his men. He at once volunteered on hearing that another operation was in contemplation.

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Admiral Sir Victor Crutchley,
Royal Navy ( HMS 'Vindictive' )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Knight Commander, Order of the Bath ( KCB )
  • Distinguished Service Cross ( DSC )
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Atlantic Star
  • Pacific Star
  • Defence Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • Australia Service Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • King George V Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1935 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )
  • Commander, Order of Polonia Restituta ( Poland )
  • Chief Commander, Legion of Merit ( USA )
  • Croix de Guerre ( France )


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Iain Stewart, 20 June 2017