Collection of Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira, W0544, 1931.565
Victoria Cross awarded to Lieutenant Commander William Edward Sanders, Royal Naval Reserve, 1917, WW1
“In recognition of his conspicuous gallantry, consummate coolness and skill in command of His Majesty’s ships in action.” London Gazette, 22 June 1917.
William Edward Sanders was born in Auckland. He was commissioned as Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserves in April 1916. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander, given command of a patrol vessel, and saw much anti-submarine service. He was awarded the VC (Victoria Cross) in May 1917, the DSO. (Distinguished Service Order) in June 1917, and was killed in action on 14 August 1917.
Son of Edward Helman Cooke Sanders and Emma Jane Sanders, of Russell, Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Born in Auckland, William Edward Sanders initially went to sea on coastal ships around New Zealand. When war broke out he went to England and joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a Sub-Lieutenant in April 1916. He served on "Q-ships" which looked like inoffensive sailing vessels but were heavily armed with hidden guns. Their task was to lure German submarines to the surface. On 12 February 1917, Sanders commanded HMS "Prize", which in a successful action in April 1917 destroyed a German Submarine. After the battle he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and awarded the Victoria Cross. Two months later he was involved in another action for which he won a DSO (Distinguished Service Order). On August 14, 1917 the "Prize" was torpedoed and sunk by a German Submarine (U-boat 48). All were lost.
Full account of the action from London Gazette,
20 November 1918:
“Admiralty. 20 November, 1918. With reference to the announcements of the award of the Victoria Cross to Naval Officers and men for services in action with enemy submarines, the following are the accounts of the actions for which these awards were made.
Action of H.M.S. “Prize” on the 30 April, 1917. H.M.S. “Prize,” a topsail schooner of 200 tons, under command of Lieutenant William Edward Sanders, R.N.R., sighted an enemy submarine on the 30th April, 1917. The enemy opened fire at three miles range and approaching slowly astern.
The “panic party,” in charge of Skipper William Henry Brewer R.N.R. (Trawler Section), immediately abandoned ship. Ship’s head was put into the wind, and the guns’ crews concealed themselves by lying face downwards on the deck. The enemy continued deliberately shelling the schooner, inflicting severe damage and wounding a number of men. For 20 minutes she continued to approach, firing as she came, but at length, apparently satisfied that no one remained on board, she drew out on the schooner’s quarter 70 yards away. The white ensign was immediately hoisted, the screens dropped, and all guns opened fire. A shell struck the foremost gun of the submarine, blowing it to atoms and annihilating the crew.
Another shot demolished the conning tower, and at the same time a Lewis gun raked the survivors off the submarine’s deck. She sank four minutes after the commencement of the action in clouds of smoke, the glare of an internal fire being visible through the rents in her hull. The captain of the submarine, a warrant officer and one man were picked up and brought on board the “Prize,” which was then herself sinking fast. Captors and prisoners however succeeded in plugging the shot holes and keeping the water under with the pumps. The “Prize” then set sail for land, 120 miles distant. They were finally picked up two days later by a motor-launch and towed the remaining five miles into harbour. T(he award of the Victoria Cross to Acting Lieutenant William Edward Sanders was announced in the London Gazette No. 30147 dated 22nd June, 1917.)”
28 July 1914 – 11 November 1918
30 April 1917
30 April 1917
- height : 41mm
(41mm x 36mm)
- width : 36mm
Revised Nomenclature for Museum Cataloging (Primary Title)
A Revised and Expanded Version of Robert G. Chenhall's
System for Classifying Man-Made Objects. (Other Title) Robert Chenhall
Nashville/Tennessee/USA (Place of Publication) (nomenclature)
29 May 2012
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