Gerard Broadmead Roope

Last updated

Gerard Broadmead Roope
Gerard Broadmead Roope.jpg
Born13 March 1905
Taunton, Somerset
Died8 April 1940 (aged 35)
Norwegian Sea
Allegiance Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service1927 - 1940
Rank Lieutenant-Commander
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.

Victoria Cross highest military decoration awarded for valour in armed forces of various Commonwealth countries

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.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

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.

Commonwealth of Nations Intergovernmental organisation

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.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

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.

Gallantry in action

HMS Glowworm on fire after battling Admiral Hipper, 8 April 1940 Glowworm in flames.jpg
HMS Glowworm on fire after battling Admiral Hipper, 8 April 1940

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. [1] 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 <i>Glowworm</i> (H92) G-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in the mid-1930s

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.

German cruiser <i>Admiral Hipper</i> Admiral Hipper-class cruiser

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).

Home Fleet fleet of the Royal Navy

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 medal

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) [2]

The award was presented to his widow on 12 February 1946. [3] This Victoria Cross is currently in private ownership and is not on public display. [4]

Literary reference

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.

See also

Lloyd Trigg Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Flying Officer Lloyd Allan Trigg VC DFC, of Houhora, New Zealand, was a pilot in the RNZAF during World War II. He was a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy for British and Commonwealth armed forces, and received the award for pressing home an attack on a German U-boat in August 1943. He was killed in the action. His award is unique, as it was awarded on evidence solely provided by the enemy, for an action in which there were no surviving Allied witnesses to corroborate his gallantry.

<i>Kriegsmarine</i> 1935–1945 naval warfare branch of Germanys armed forces

The Kriegsmarine was the navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It superseded the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire (1871–1918) and the inter-war Reichsmarine (1919–1935) of the Weimar Republic. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches, along with the Heer (Army) and the Luftwaffe of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces from 1933 to 1945.

Related Research Articles

USS <i>Walke</i> (DD-416)

USS Walke (DD-416) was a World War II-era Sims-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy, named after Rear Admiral Henry A. Walke USN (1809–1896). Walke operated with the Neutrality Patrol in the Caribbean before World War II and fought in the Pacific Theater during the war before being sunk in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

USS <i>Hoel</i> (DD-533) destroyer

USS Hoel (DD-533) was a World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy, named after Lieutenant Commander William R. Hoel.

USS <i>Johnston</i> (DD-557)

USS Johnston (DD-557) was a World War II-era Fletcher-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy. She was the first Navy ship named after Lieutenant John V. Johnston. The ship was most famous for her bold action in the Battle off Samar. The small "tincan" destroyer, armed with nothing larger than 5-inch (127 mm) guns and torpedoes, would lead the attack of a handful of light ships which had inadvertently been left unprotected in the path of a massive Japanese fleet led by battleships and cruisers. The sacrifices of Johnston and her little escort carrier task unit "Taffy 3" helped stop Admiral Kurita's Center Force from attacking vulnerable U.S. landing forces, and eventually inflicted greater losses to the Japanese attackers than they suffered.

Second Battle of Heligoland Bight battle

The Second Battle of Heligoland Bight, also called the Action in the Helgoland Bight was an inconclusive naval engagement fought between British and German squadrons on 17 November 1917 during the First World War.

Geoffrey Saxton White Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Geoffrey Saxton White VC was an English Royal Navy officer and recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Robert Sherbrooke Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Rear-Admiral Robert St Vincent Sherbrooke, was a senior officer in the Royal Navy and an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Victor Crutchley Royal Navy admiral and recipient of the Victoria Cross

Admiral Sir Victor Alexander Charles Crutchley was a senior Royal Navy officer during the Second World War and a First World War recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Eugene Esmonde World War II Victoria Cross winner

Lieutenant Commander Eugene Kingsmill Esmonde, was a distinguished British pilot who was a posthumous recipient of the Victoria Cross (VC), the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy awarded to members of Commonwealth forces. Esmonde earned this award while in command of a British Fleet Air Arm torpedo bomber squadron in the Second World War.

Loftus Jones Recipient of the Victoria Cross

Commander Loftus William Jones VC was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Eric Gascoigne Robinson Royal Navy admiral and First World War Victoria Cross recipient

Rear Admiral Eric Gascoigne Robinson was a Royal Navy officer and an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. He earned his award by going ashore and single-handedly destroying a Turkish naval gun battery while a lieutenant commander with the fleet stationed off the Dardanelles during the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War.

Ramming technique used in air, sea, and land combat; hitting a target by running oneself into the target

In warfare, ramming is a technique used in air, sea, and land combat. The term originated from battering ram, a siege weapon used to bring down fortifications by hitting it with the force of the ram's momentum, and ultimately from male sheep. Thus, in warfare, ramming refers to hitting a target by running oneself into the target.

Hellmuth Heye German politician

Hellmuth Guido Alexander Heye was a German admiral in World War II and politician in post-war Germany. He was a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross of Nazi Germany.

Battle of Cape Passero (1940)

The Battle of Cape Passero (1940), was a Second World War naval engagement between the British light cruiser HMS Ajax and seven torpedo boats and destroyers of the Italian Regia Marina, southeast of Sicily, in the early hours of 12 October 1940. It took place in the aftermath of a British supply operation to Malta.

Coastal Motor Boat

During the First World War, following a suggestion from three junior officers of the Harwich destroyer force that small motor boats carrying a torpedo might be capable of travelling over the protective minefields and attacking ships of the Imperial German Navy at anchor in their bases, the Admiralty gave tentative approval to the idea and, in the summer of 1915, produced a Staff Requirement requesting designs for a Coastal Motor Boat for service in the North Sea.

HMS Petard was an Admiralty M-class destroyer destroyer built by Denny for the Royal Navy, commenced 5 July 1915 and launched on 24 March 1916. She saw service during the First World War. Postwar, she was sold for breaking up on 9 May 1921.

Franz von Hipper German Imperial Navy admiral

Franz Ritter von Hipper was an admiral in the German Imperial Navy. Franz von Hipper joined the German Navy in 1881 as an officer cadet. He commanded several torpedo boat units and served as watch officer aboard several warships, as well as Kaiser Wilhelm II's yacht SMY Hohenzollern. Hipper commanded several cruisers in the reconnaissance forces before being appointed commander of the I Scouting Group in October 1913. He held this position until 1918, when he succeeded Admiral Reinhard Scheer as commander of the High Seas Fleet.

Günther Lütjens German admiral

Johann Günther Lütjens was a German Admiral whose military service spanned more than thirty years and two world wars. Lütjens is best known for his actions during World War II and his command of the battleship Bismarck during its foray into the Atlantic Ocean in 1941. In its aftermath, the episode entered into naval legend.

Carlo Cattaneo (admiral) Naval officer

Carlo Cattaneo was an Italian admiral during World War II. He was killed in the Battle of Cape Matapan.


  1. "The Hipper picked up 31 survivors. Lieutenant Commander Roope was seen helping survivors to put on their lifejackets. After being thrown a rope from the Hipper, he was unable to hold on and was drowned".From digest of VC citation cited at Victoria Cross Research
  2. "No. 37170". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 July 1945. p. 3557.
  4. Holders of the Victoria Cross lost or buried at sea at