Last naval VC passes away

Sad farewell to legendary Merseyside war hero who has died aged 87.
Sep 3 2008 by Ben Schofield, Liverpool Daily Post

LEGENDARY Merseyside war hero and Victoria Cross winner Ian Fraser has died. Lieutenant Commander Fraser, 87, who won Britain’s highest award for gallantry for a death-defying under-water raid on a Japanese ship during World War II, passed away at Arrowe Park Hospital, Wirral, on Monday after a three-week illness.

Lt Cmdr Fraser, from Wallasey, had been preparing to travel to London yesterday for the bi-annual VC’s reunion hosted by Prince Charles and attended by all living VC recipients.

His youngest daughter Nichola Mackay said: “He was still chipper right to the end. Still doing his quips and comments. We were all very proud of him. A lot of people who knew dad just liked to talk to him and he liked talking to them. He would receive books about the VC from all over the world to sign.”

Lt Cmdr Fraser joined the navy at 15 and trained on the Merchant Navy ship HMS Conway in the Mersey.

He was involved in the Dunkirk evacuation on the destroyer Montrose but after a spell on the Malcolm escorting ships across the Atlantic he volunteered for submarine service.

In 1943, he was awarded the Disting-uished Service Cross when his SAHIB submarine sank the U301 in the Medi-terranean. But it was in the cramped conditions of an XE3 type midget submarine that he distinguished himself in battle. He and his crew blew up the Japanese ship Takeo off the coast of Singapore, accomplishing the mission despite spending 24 hours in heavily mined waters and 50 min-utes trapped under the ship to which they had attached high explosives.

Bill Sargeant, chairman of the Noel Chavasse VC Memorial Association, had invited Lt Cmdr Fraser to unveil a memorial to the twice-decorated VC and other Liverpool VCs two weeks ago. But he had to cancel due to his declining health.

Mr Sargeant said: “He was one of nature’s bravest, but he was also self-effacing and modest.”

After the war Lt Cmdr Fraser join-ed a circus, re-enacting his submarine mission in a 20,000-gallon tank and set up a diving company in Liverpool.

Steve Maddox, chief executive of Wirral Council, said: “Lt Cmdr Ian Fraser VC was one of our greatest war heroes.”

Lt Cmdr Fraser is survived by his wife Melba and five of his six children

There will be an open service at New Brighton’s St James’s Church on Thursday, September 11, at 3pm.
Quite a story.


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