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The Victoria Cross

  • Stuka
    Stuka
  • Jack Mantle VC
    Jack Mantle VC

Leading Seaman Jack Mantel was posthumously awarded a VC in Portland Harbour at the beginning of the serious Blitz on 4 July 1940. He was a member of a gun crew aboard the auxiliary anti-aircraft ship HMS Foylebank, a converted merchantman taken up from trade. At 0835 hours, radar spotted twenty enemy aircraft approaching from the south. Minutes later, the Stuka dive-bombers swept around the Verne Heights of Portland and attacked the dangerous anti-aircraft ship.

The first bombs knocked out the ship's electrical system and the gun crews were forced to work their eight 4-inch guns and a pair of four barrel pom-poms manually. They continued to fight, despite twenty-two bomb hits on the ship.

Leading Seaman Jack Mantel was grievously wounded during the enemy attacks and several others members of his gun crew had been killed but he continued to operate his pom-pom 'until, as the last enemy plane departed, he fell from his post'. The ship was on fire and eventually sank the following day. This was the first Royal Navy VC of the war and the only award for valour in Home Waters.