The Times, 7 December 2001

The death, aged 86, has been announced on the 6th December 2001 of Petty Officer Thomas Gould, Royal Navy, who earned his Victoria Cross on HM Submarine 'Thrasher' in the eastern Mediterranian in 1942 for his part in dislodging two unexploded bombs which threatened the boat's survival after it had been attacked by German aircraft off Crete.

On 16 February 1942 HMS Thrasher attacked and sank a heavily escorted German supply ship only a mile from the Cretan shore. Thrasher was immediately subjected to depth-charge attack by the German escort vessels and aerial bombing by the Luftwaffe. The submarine escaped by diving, but when she resurfaced after dark, it was discovered that two unexploded bombs were lodged aboard her.

For the award of the Victoria Cross

[ London Gazette, 9 June 1942 ], Sea of Crete, Mediterranean, 16 February 1942, Petty Officer Thomas William Gould & Lieutenant Peter Roberts, Royal Navy ( HM Submarine 'Thrasher' ).

On 16th February 1942, in daylight, H.M. Submarine 'Thrasher' attacked and sank a heavily escorted supply ship. She was at once attacked by depth charges and was bombed by aircraft. The presence of two unexploded bombs in the gun casing was discovered when after dark the submarine surfaced and began to roll.

Lieutenant Roberts and Petty Officer Gould volunteered to remove the bombs, - which were of a type unknown to them. The danger in dealing with the second bomb was very great. To reach it they had to go through the casing which was so low that they had to lie at full length to move in it. Through this narrow space, in complete darkness, they pushed and dragged the bomb for a distance of some 20 feet until it could be lowered over the side. Every time the bomb was moved there was a loud twanging noise as of a broken spring which added nothing to their peace of mind.

This deed was the more gallant as H.M.S. Thrasher's presence was known to the enemy: she was close to the enemy coast, and in waters where his patrols were known to be active day and night. There was a very great chance, and they knew it, that the submarine might have to crash-dive while they were in the casing. Had this happened they must have been drowned.

Thomas Gould was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace in March 1943. And Peter Roberts by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on the 4th July 1942.

The action by Lieutenant Roberts and Petty Officer Gould not only saved their submarine from a situation of great peril but allowed her to continue her operational patrol. Both men were awarded the Victoria Cross for their coolness and gallantry in close proximity to the enemy.

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Petty Officer Thomas Gould,
Royal Navy ( HM Submarine 'Thrasher' )

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1939-45 Star
  • Atlantic Star
  • Africa Star + clasp "North Africa 1942-43"
  • War Medal + MiD Oakleaf
  • Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal ( 1953 )
  • Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal ( 1977 )

VC Deaths

Go to VC UK flag Home Page

Iain Stewart, 7 December 2001