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  • Christina Drummond

Commander John Wallace Linton VC, DSO, DSC, Royal Navy

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1943, Commander John Wallace Linton VC, DSO, DSC, died when HMS Turbulent sank near the harbour of Maddelina, Italy. In February of that year, HMS Turbulent sailed from Algiers for a patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Her movements were known until the 12th of March after which no further messages were received, and she did not return on the 23rd when expected, which is why that date is generally used as the day of her loss. As she has never been recovered, it is not known if she fell victim to an attack or a mine.

Commander Linton had joined the Royal Navy on leaving school and served on HMS Dauntless in the Mediterranean, and joined Submarines in 1927 being appointed to HMS Dolphin and promoted to sub-lieutenant. By 1936 he had been promoted to lieutenant-commander. In 1940 he was commander of the submarine Pandora which had been operating in the Far East, he took her to Malta where she was destroyed by the Luftwaffe in 1942. In 1941 he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for For courage and determination in sinking two Italian supply ships. In 1942 he was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order for courage and skill in successful submarine patrols in HMS Turbulent.

For his war service he was awarded the posthumous Victoria Cross “for valour in command of HM Submarines” – the VC citation tells the story: "From the outbreak of War until H.M.S. Turbulent’s last patrol Commander Linton was constantly in command of submarines, and during that time inflicted great damage on the Enemy. He sank one Cruiser, one Destroyer, one U-boat, twenty-eight Supply Ships, some 100,000 tons in all, and destroyed three trains by gun-fire. In his last year he spent two hundred and fifty-four days at sea, submerged for nearly half the time, and his ship was hunted thirteen times and had two hundred and fifty depth charges, aimed at her. His many and brilliant successes were due to his constant activity and skill, and the daring which never failed him when there was an Enemy to be attacked. On one occasion, for instance, in H.M.S. Turbulent, he sighted a convoy of two Merchantmen and two Destroyers in mist and moonlight. He worked round ahead of the convoy and dived to attack it as it passed through the moon’s rays. On bringing his sights to bear he found himself right ahead of a Destroyer. Yet he held his course till the Destroyer was almost on top of him, and, when his sights came on the convoy, he fired. His great courage and determination were rewarded. He sank one Merchantman and one Destroyer outright, and set the other Merchantman on fire so that she blew up. His career has been one of conspicuous gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.” Commander Linton’s body was not recovered. His name appears on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial in Hampshire, and his Victoria Cross is on display in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, London. A JD Wetherspoon's public house was renamed in his honour in his hometown.

John, from Newport, was 37 years old.

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