Who's Who - Norman Holbrook

Norman Holbrook Norman Douglas Holbrook (1888-1976) became the first member of the Royal Navy to be awarded the Victoria Cross for an action in the Dardanelles in December 1914.

Holbrook, in command of the British submarine B.11, was in the Dardanelles Straits on 13 December 1914.  The B.11 was an old, obsolete craft built nine years earlier.

In spite of swirling, difficult currents in the Dardanelles Straits Holbrook took the B.11 underneath some five rows of Turkish mines and torpedoed the Turkish battleship Messudiyeh, itself guarding the minefield.  Attacked by gunfire and chased by torpedo boats Holbrook nevertheless guided the B.11 (by now submerged for some nine hours) to safety.

B.11 thus became the first submarine to sink an enemy warship in waters theoretically safe from attack.  For this achievement Holbrook was awarded the Victoria Cross: the Royal Navy's first such recipient, and the first awarded to a submariner.

Holbrook, who was subsequently promoted to Commander, died in 1976.

'Kitchener's Army' comprised Men recruited into the British Army a result of Lord Kitchener's appeal for volunteers.

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