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Memorial to be laid for Lowestoft’s hero fisherman whose crew took down U-boat

PUBLISHED: 12:25 16 August 2017 | UPDATED: 12:25 16 August 2017

Thomas Crisp VC. Picture: JOHN HOLMES

Thomas Crisp VC. Picture: JOHN HOLMES

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A Suffolk war hero is to be honoured with a memorial in his seaside hometown – 100 years after he died defending his boat and saving the lives of his crew.

Victoria Cross given to Thomas Crisp. Picture: BILL DARNELL Victoria Cross given to Thomas Crisp. Picture: BILL DARNELL

Thomas Crisp’s experience as a fisherman in Lowestoft – and knowledge of local seas – proved vital to the First World War effort when he joined the Royal Naval Reserve in 1916.

The locally born skipper commanded a fishing smack, called I’ll Try, that was converted into a decoy boat – secretly armed with guns under tarpaulin.

Acting as bait, Crisp and his crew sunk a U-boat in January 1917 – an act for which he received a Distinguished Service Medal.

That August, the renamed Nelson was hit several times by enemy fire. Despite being badly wounded, Crisp continued to give his crew orders to abandon ship and save themselves. Among them was his own son, who would receive his father’s Victoria Cross medal, posthumously awarded for bravery and self-sacrifice.

A century on, the Suffolk war hero will be honoured by the laying of a commemorative stone in his hometown, as stones are laid in the birth places of all Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War.

Waveney District Council, with Sentinel Leisure Trust and the Royal Navy, will be holding a celebration event on Sunday, from 11.15am at the Lowestoft Naval Memorial, in Belle Vue Park.

Stephen Ardley, Waveney’s deputy leader and 22 year service veteran, said: “100 years after his death, we are honoured to be able to lay a commemorative stone to recognise the bravery of Thomas Crisp. The stone will enable younger generations and visitors to learn more about this inspirational Lowestoft hero and ensure his bravery is not forgotten.”

On behalf of the First Sea Lord and the Naval Service, Commodore David Elford (Naval Regional Commander for Eastern England), said: “Despite huge social and economic change over the past 100 years, certain things have remained the same. For example, maritime trade remains the lifeblood of our country, and this was especially true during the First World War.

“In addition, although today’s Naval Service is a fraction of the size it was a century ago, it continues to be made up of a rich mixture of individuals from diverse backgrounds – both regulars and, like Skipper Thomas Crisp, reserves.”

Lowestoft’s other locally born Victoria Cross recipient in the First World War, Claud Castleton, was recognised with a stone-laying at Royal Plain last year.

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