VICTORIA CROSS WAR HEROES #8 RICHARD STANNARD

The Victoria Cross is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of an enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Richard Stannard was awarded the VC on 3 September 1940 by King George VI at Buckingham Palace for his command of the armed trawler HMS Arab at Namsos, Norway. This is his story.


I was born on 21 August 1902 in Blyth, Northumberland, I was the eldest of five, my parents were George and Elizabeth. We were living in Cowpen Quay, Blyth, when my father’s ship, Mount Oswald was lost on a voyage from USA in 1912. Then I was educated at the Royal Naval Merchant School for orphans of merchant seamen in Berkshire.
 
In 1918 I went to sea as an apprentice and ten year later joined the Orient Line and was appointed sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve. A few year later they promoted me to Lieutenant. In 1928 at West Ham, East London I married Phyllis May, we had two daughters.
 
I was awarded a VC because of the events between 28 April and 2 May 1940. I was in command of the armed trawler HMS Arab at Namsos, Norway. The vessel was subjected to 31 bombing attacks, during one of them Namsos jetty was hit and set on fire, so I ran Arab’s bows against the wharf and for two hours tried to extinguish the fire. I succeeded in saving part of the jetty which was invaluable in the evacuation of Namsos.
 
Then I established an armed camp under the shelter of a cliff where off duty seamen could rest with safety. When another trawler was hit and about to blow up, I and two others boarded Arab and moved her 100 yards to safety. We were leaving the fjord when Arab was attacked by a German bomber who ordered me to steer east or be sunk.
 
I kept on course, and held my fire till the enemy was within 800 yards and then shot the aircraft down. With a damaged rudder, propeller and cracked main engine castings, I sailed back to England.

Richard was also captain of the destroyer Vimy which with the Beverly, sank U18 in the Atlantic 1943. He was also promoted to Commander in 1947 and Captain in 1952. In 1947, he re-joined the Orient Line and in 1955 was appointed Marine Superintendent in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

He became Marine Superintendent of the P&O Orient Lines of Australia in 1960, and until 1973, served on the Council of the Royal Humane Society of New South Wales.

Richard Stannard died on 22 July 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales, and was cremated at the Rookwood Crematorium, Sydney.

Research:. Commonwealth War Graves

Comprehensive Guide to Victoria Cross.

Gary Alikivi  May 2021