Last honour for sea hero

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The Independent Online
A town in Australia 300 miles from the sea is spending pounds 500,000 to buy a decommissioned submarine to honour a British naval hero.

The widow of Commander Norman Holbrook VC is flying out from her home in West Sussex to New South Wales to officially unveil the 300ft-long monument in the town that bears her husband's name.

Commander Holbrook was just a 26-year-old Lieutenant on 13 December 1914 when he became the first submariner to gain a Victoria Cross after running the gauntlet of a huge minefield laid in the treacherous Dardanelles straits off the northern coast of Turkey.

Leading a crew of sixteen in a tiny outdated B11 class sub built in 1904, he launched a daring dawn raid on the heavily fortified coastline and sank a Turkish battleship before weaving between five separate rows of mines to make his escape.

Thousands of miles away the residents of Germanton, New South Wales, embarrassed by the name following the outbreak of war, decided to call their town after the dashing young officer as a tribute to his heroism.

Now, 83 years on, the people of Holbrook, situated half way between Sydney and Melbourne, have bought a submarine from the Australian navy which they are rebuilding in the town centre to honour their namesakes memory.

Cdr Holbrook's Austrian wife Gundula will travel to the town in June to officially unveil the tribute to her husband who died in 1976.

At her home in Stedham, Sussex she said yesterday: "My husband was extremely proud when he heard that the town had changed its name to Holbrook. He was always very modest but I think he was very touched and surprised to get such an honour."