Lieutenant Norman Douglas Holbrook VC

Lt N.D. Holbrook VC

Lieutenant Norman Douglas Holbrook VC of the Royal Navy is a distinguished figure in military history, celebrated for his remarkable courage and service during World War I. This blog post provides an overview of his life and notable achievements, shedding light on his significant legacy.

Born on July 9, 1888, in Southsea, Hampshire, England, Norman Douglas Holbrook showed early promise and commitment. He embarked on his naval career as a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1902, where he exhibited qualities that would later define his military service.

Holbrook rapidly advanced through the ranks, becoming an accomplished submariner by the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

Lieutenant Holbrook’s defining moment occurred on December 13, 1914, during the Gallipoli Campaign in the Dardanelles. He commanded the British submarine HMS B11, tasked with navigating the perilous waters of the strait and disrupting Turkish naval operations.

Under heavy enemy fire from Turkish coastal artillery and warships, Holbrook exhibited exceptional poise and courage. He successfully fired a torpedo at the Ottoman battleship Messudieh, resulting in its sinking. This marked the first successful attack by a British submarine on an enemy warship in wartime.

In recognition of his bravery and leadership during this mission, Holbrook was awarded the Victoria Cross. His citation read, “For most conspicuous bravery. He dived his submarine into the Dardanelles under heavy fire and torpedoed and sank the Turkish battleship Messudiyeh on 13 December 1914.”

Lieutenant Norman Douglas Holbrook VC’s legacy serves as a tribute to the commitment of military personnel. His VC stands as a symbol of the sacrifices made by individuals in the line of duty.

Holbrook continued his naval career, eventually reaching the rank of Rear Admiral. He passed away in 1976, leaving behind a legacy that continues to inspire submariners and naval officers.

Lieutenant Norman Douglas Holbrook VC’s story is a testament to courage and service. His actions exemplify the dedication of those who serve their nation. Holbrook’s legacy remains an enduring example of bravery on the battlefield and a source of inspiration for future generations.

Holbrook’s crew were also decorated for their courageous efforts.

Holbrook’s First Lieutenant, Sydney Winn, gained the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) and the remainder of the crew were decorated with either the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) or the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM).

VC Medal

Victoria Cross

Extreme Bravery

The Victoria Cross (VC) is one of the highest awards British service personnel can receive. It is awarded in recognition of an act of extreme bravery in the presence of the enemy,

It is only equalled in status by the George Cross (GC) which is awarded for acts of conspicuous bravery not in the enemy's presence.