Gerard Broadmead Roope
|Born||13 March 1905|
|Died||8 April 1940 (aged 35)|
|Years of service||1927 - 1940|
|Commands held||HMS Glowworm|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Awards|| Victoria Cross |
War Medal (Norway)
Lieutenant-Commander Gerard Broadmead Roope VC RN (13 March 1905 – 8 April 1940) was a posthumous British recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest and most prestigious award of the British honours system. It is awarded for gallantry "in the presence of the enemy" to members of the British Armed Forces. It may be awarded posthumously. It was previously awarded to Commonwealth countries, most of which have established their own honours systems and no longer recommend British honours. It may be awarded to a person of any military rank in any service and to civilians under military command although no civilian has received the award since 1879. Since the first awards were presented by Queen Victoria in 1857, two-thirds of all awards have been personally presented by the British monarch. These investitures are usually held at Buckingham Palace.
The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth, is a unique political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.
A 35-year-old Royal Navy officer, his action was the earliest awarded a Victoria Cross in the Second World War (although the award was gazetted after hostilities ended) and is one of very few to have the award justified, in part, from a recommendation and supporting evidence provided by the enemy.
The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.
On 8 April 1940, in the Norwegian Sea, the destroyer HMS Glowworm (1,345 tons), commanded by Lt-Cdr Roope, engaged two enemy destroyers while heading alone to Norway's West Fjord. After one of the enemy ships was hit, they both broke off and retreated to the north. Though aware that the enemy destroyers were attempting to draw him towards German capital ships, he gave chase. Glowworm soon spotted the German cruiser Admiral Hipper (14,000 tons). He alerted the Home Fleet before turning to engage the cruiser. Glowworm fired ten torpedoes but scored no hits and was soon battered by enemy rounds and set on fire. With only three guns still firing, Roope successfully rammed the cruiser, gouging open several holes in her hull and destroying her forward starboard torpedo mounting. Glowworm then fired one more salvo, scoring a hit, before she capsized and sank. Of the crew of 149, one officer and 30 men survived and were chivalrously picked up by the Admiral Hipper. Lt-Cdr Roope drowned in the course of assisting the rescue of survivors.The extensive damage she had sustained forced the Admiral Hipper to return to port for repairs. The Admiral Hipper's commander, Kapitän zur See Heye, wrote to the British authorities via the Red Cross, recommending award of the VC for his opponent's courage in engaging a vastly superior warship.
HMS Glowworm was a G-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s. During the Spanish Civil War the ship spent part of 1936 and 1937 in Spanish waters, enforcing the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides of the conflict. Glowworm was transferred from the Mediterranean Fleet shortly after the beginning of World War II to the British Isles, to escort shipping in local waters. In March 1940, she was transferred to the Home Fleet, just in time to participate in the opening stages of the Norwegian Campaign. On 8 April 1940 Glowworm encountered German destroyers transporting troops to invade Norway in Operation Weserübung. The destroyers attempted to disengage while calling for help from the heavy cruiser Admiral Hipper. Glowworm was heavily damaged by Admiral Hipper, but still attempted to torpedo the German ship. In a last attempt the captain of the Glowworm ordered the crew to ram the German ship, which broke the bow off Glowworm, and she sank shortly afterwards.
Admiral Hipper, the first of five ships of her class, was the lead ship of the Admiral Hipper class of heavy cruisers which served with Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine during World War II. The ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1935 and launched February 1937; Admiral Hipper entered service shortly before the outbreak of war, in April 1939. The ship was named after Admiral Franz von Hipper, commander of the German battlecruiser squadron during the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and later commander-in-chief of the German High Seas Fleet. She was armed with a main battery of eight 20.3 cm (8.0 in) guns and, although nominally under the 10,000-long-ton (10,000 t) limit set by the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, actually displaced over 16,000 long tons (16,000 t).
The Home Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy that operated in the United Kingdom's territorial waters from 1902 with intervals until 1967. Before the First World War, it consisted of the four Port Guard ships. During the First World War, it comprised some of the older ships of the Royal Navy. During the Second World War, it was the Royal Navy's main battle force in European waters.
The citation reads:
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS for valour to:—
The late Lieutenant-Commander 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.— Supplement to London Gazette , 6 July 1945 (dated 10 July 1945)
The award was presented to his widow on 12 February 1946.This Victoria Cross is currently in private ownership and is not on public display.
The novel Battle of the April Storm, by Larry Forrester, is based upon the action between Glowworm and Hipper. The characters are fictional, including the Glowworm's captain, but the story depicts an "unlucky" ship that is redeemed by an heroic final action and, at the end, the fellowship between mariners, even enemies.
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