Time for a sea story from World War II, an account of a remarkable event told by CDR—Commander, for you army pukes, O5—Salamander. A couple of excerpts ...
As the destroyer HMS Glowworm emerged from the squall she came face-to-face with the 14,000 ton German Heavy Cruiser, Admiral Von Hipper armed with eight 8 inch and twelve 4 inch guns ...After a brief description of the unequal battle in which the Glowworm goes down in a final all-out lunge while heavily damaged and on fire:
You want class? Need 'professionalism' defined? I present to you two men, LCDR Roope and CAPT Heye.
Out of a crew of 149, only 31 survived, the only officer being Lt Robert Ramsey. The prisoners were treated well by the Germans who congratulated them on a good fight, and Captain Heye told the men that their Captain was a brave man.
Later, Heye sent a message through the International Red Cross recommending Lt Cdr Roope for the Victoria Cross, the only time in British history that a VC has been recommended by the enemy.The action took place in heavy seas off the coast of Norway in early 1941. Hipper was damaged and Glowworm lost. Glowworm was an old-school 'greyhound' destroyer, small, fast, lightly armed with four 120 mm main guns, reliant on speed and her torpedoes to engage capital ships, but as part of a set-piece battle, not a one-on-one.
During the battle the Hipper's gunnery was what you'd expect from the Kriegsmarine, all but unerring. The first shells fired hit Glowworm decisively, yet she fought on.
Several photographs were taken by Hipper during the engagement, so astounding was the ferocity and courage of Glowworm. And yes, LCDR Roope was posthumously awarded the VC. What better recommendation could a man have than his counterpart in battle?
Captain Heye survived the war, Hipper did not.