THE DEATH HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED OF LIEUTENANT COMMANDER IAN FRASER VC DSC, ROYAL NAVAL RESERVE, COMMANDER OF HM MIDGET SUBMARINE XE-3.
2 September 2008



The death has been announced on Monday, 1st September 2008, in Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, Merseyside, of Ian Fraser VC, aged 87.

Lieutenant Commander Ian Fraser VC, DSC, Royal Naval Reserve, HM submarine service, was the last living Royal Navy recipient of the Victoria Cross, earned for heroic action in the Johore Strait, Singapore, towards the end of the Second World War.


[ London Gazette, 13 November 1945 ], Jahore Straits, Singapore, 31 July 1945, Lieutenant Ian Edward Fraser DSC, Royal Naval Reserve.

Lieutenant Fraser commanded His Majesty's Midget Submarine XE-3 in a successful attack on a Japanese heavy cruiser of the Atago class at her moorings in Johore Strait, Singapore, on 31st July 1945.

During the long approach up the Singapore Straits XE-3 deliberately left the believed safe channel and entered mined waters to avoid suspected hydrophone posts. The target was aground, or nearly aground, both fore and aft, and only under the Midship portion was there just sufficient water for XE-3 to place herself under the cruiser. For forty minutes XE-3 pushed her way along the seabed until finally Lieutenant Fraser managed to force her right under the centre of the cruiser. Here he placed the limpets and dropped his main side charge. Great difficulty was experienced in extricating the craft after the attack had been completed, but finally XE-3 was clear, and commenced her long return journey out to sea.

The courage and determination of Lieutenant Fraser are beyond all praise. Any man not possessed of his relentless determination to achieve his object in full, regardless of all consequences, would have dropped his side charge alongside the target instead of persisting until he had forced his submarine right under the cruiser. The approach and withdrawal entailed a passage of 80 miles through water which had been mined by both the enemy and ourselves, past hydrophone positions, over loops and controlled minefields, and through an anti-submarine boom.

( Lieutenant Fraser's other crew member in the midget submarine was Leading Seaman James Magennis, Royal Navy, who was also awarded the Victoria Cross ).

Ian Fraser and James Magennis were invested with their Victoria Crosses by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the 11th December 1945.


Ian Fraser's and James Magennis's Victoria Cross groups are included in the Lord Ashcroft VC Collection and are on display in the new Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London.



( select to enlarge )

Medal entitlement of Lieutenant Commander Ian Fraser,
Royal Naval Reserve ( HM Midget Submarine XE-3 )

  • Victoria Cross
  • Distinguished Service Cross ( DSC )
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Atlantic Star
  • Africa Star
  • Pacific Star
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal ( 2002 )
  • Royal Naval Reserve Decoration ( RD ) + 'Long Service' clasp
  • Officer, Legion of Merit ( USA )


( select to enlarge )

Medal entitlement of Leading Seaman James Magennis,
Royal Navy ( HM Midget Submarine XE-3 )

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Atlantic Star
  • Africa Star
  • Pacific Star
  • War Medal ( 1939-45 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )

VC Deaths

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Iain Stewart, 2 September 2008