SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans
THOMAS GOULD (2250-1992)
Royal Navy, Submarine Service HMS THRASHER Victoria Cross
On 16 February 1942 north of Crete, in the Mediterranean, HMS THRASHER, after attacking and sinking a supply ship, was itself attacked. THRASHER was subjected to a three-hour depth charge attack and aerial bombing.
Later, after surfacing, two unexploded bombs were discovered in the gun-casing. Petty officer GOULD and Lieutenant Roberts removed the first one without too much difficulty, but the second bomb had penetrated the side plating of the gun emplacement and then the deck casing above the pressure hull. Roberts and GOULD entered the confined space (which was no more than 2 ft high in places) and lying flat, wormed past deck supports, battery ventilators, and drop bollards. The GOULD officer then lay on his back with the 150 lb bomb in his arms while Roberts dragged him along by the shoulders.
“It was then a matter of the two of us, lying horizontally, pushing and pulling the bomb back through the casing. It was pitch black and the bomb was making this horrible ticking noise while the submarine was being buffeted by the waves”
Meanwhile, THRASHER was surfaced, stationary, and close inshore to enemy waters. If the submarine was forced to crash dive, both men would drown. It was fifty minutes before they got the bomb clear, wrapped it in sacking, and dropped it over the side.
The Victoria Cross is Great Britain’s highest award.