Gerard Broadmead Roope
|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|
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 that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces. Being a 35-year-old Royal Navy commanding officer, his action was the first awarded a VC in the Second World War (although the award was gazetted after the hostilities), and he is one of very few to have the award justified, in part, by a recommendation and supporting evidence provided by the enemy.
Gallantry in action
On 8 April 1940, in the Norwegian Sea, 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 as a last gesture of defiance. 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 was drowned in the course of assisting 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 while engaging a vastly superior warship.
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.
- "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
- ROOPE, Gerald Broadmead at VICTORIA CROSS RESEARCH
- Holders of the Victoria Cross lost or buried at sea at www.victoriacross.org.uk
- British VCs of World War 2 (John Laffin, 1997)
- Monuments to Courage (David Harvey, 1999)
- The Register of the Victoria Cross (This England, 1997)
- Bravest of the Brave (John Glansfield, 2005)