|Ernest Herbert Pitcher [1888-1946]|
|On 8 August 1917
in the Bay of Biscay, Atlantic, Petty Officer Pitcher was the 4-inch gun
layer on HMS Dunraven (one of the 'Q' or 'mystery' ships) when she was
shelled by an enemy submarine. He and the rest of the crew waited while
the battle went on overhead and all around them. When the magazine below
them caught fire they took up cartridges and held them on their knees to
prevent the heat of the deck igniting them and when the magazine finally
blew up they were all blown into the air.
The following particulars are given in the London Gazette of 30th October, 1917 : "P.O. Pitcher was selected by the crew of a gun of one of H.M. Ships to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant dated 29th January, 1856." The action fought by this ship has been described as the greatest action of any "Q" boat against a submarine, fought by a ship's company of heroes."
Pitcher retired from the Royal Nay in 1927 but rejoined again at the outbreak of war in 1939 and was to serve throughout the Second World War until his death on Sunday, 10th February 1946 at the age of 57. In addition to the Victoria Cross, Ernest was also the holder of the Distinguished Service Medal and the French Croix de Guerre and Medaille Militaire.
Born in Mullion, Cornwall, 31 December 1888, Ernest was the son of George and Sarah Pitcher and husband of Lily Ethel Louisa Pitcher, of Swanage where he is buried in the Northbrook Cemetery.