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 Vice Admiral Sir John Roxburgh
 
On July 15 1943 Roxburgh was one of an outer ring of submarines defending Operation Husky, the Allied landings on Sicily, when he intercepted the Italian submarine Remo on the surface and fired a full salvo of torpedoes at 500 yards. United shuddered as Remo exploded; Roxburgh watched through his periscope as the Italian boat's stern reared high, its propellors spinning, before it sank. He recalled that he felt "no elation after such a rapid end to one's own kind, but a momentary awe".
Capitano di Corvetta Salvatore Vassallo, the rescued captain of Remo, proved an enthusiastic cook and a quiet but interested spectator during his nine days' imprisonment in United, during which Roxburgh carried out an unsuccessful attack on a fast-moving cruiser. Since Vassallo's wife was pregnant, he joined in celebrating the news of the birth of Roxburgh's daughter, announced by the codeword "Grommet"; if the baby had been a boy, the codeword was to have been "Toggle". The two captains became friends, though Roxburgh was careful to take his farewell of Vassallo in private.
In addition to the usual Jolly Roger, Roxburgh entered Malta flying a white flag showing a stork carrying a baby. His logbook recorded "A happy day, taken all in all", and Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham signalled congratulation at the "double event".

 News Articles:

THE TELEGRAPH Vice Admiral Sir John Roxburgh
Times of Malta
Photo

Vice-Admiral Sir John Roxburgh KCB CBE DSO DSC

John Roxburgh (Royal Navy officer)


Memorial

 

 Vice-Admiral Sir John Roxburgh, was one of the most effective and ebullient submarine commanders of the Second World War.

His youthful appearance dismayed United's crew when he took command in December 1942, aged 23; but they quickly discovered that he was "a cool customer". Over 10 days on his first patrol off Italy, Roxburgh saw 11 enemy merchant ships being escorted by air patrols, as well as by numerous destroyers and anti-submarine craft.

Vice-Admiral Sir John Roxburgh, KCB, CBE, DSO, DSC & Bar, died 13 April, 2004. He was aged 84.

John Charles Young Roxburgh was born 29 June, 1919, the only son of Sir (Thomas) James (Young) Roxburgh, Kt, CIE (1892-1974), Puisne Judge of the High Court, Calcutta, by his wife, the former Mona Heymerdinguer, and was educated at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth.

Career: Naval Cadet 1933; Midshipman 1937; Sub-Lieutenant 1939; Lieutenant 1941; Lieutenant-Commander 1949; Commander 1952; Captain 1958; Rear-Admiral 1967;

 Vice-Admiral 1970; Submarines from 1940; served in operations off Norway, in the Bay of Biscay and the Mediterranean, 1940-42; commanded HM Submarines H43, United and Tapir,1942-45 in operations in the Med and off Norway; HMS Vanguard 1948-50; HM Submarine Turpin,

1951-53; HMS Triumph 1955; HMS Ark Royal 1955-56; HMS Contest 1956-58; British Joint Services Mission, Washington 1958-60; in command of 3rd Submarine Squadron & HMS Adamant, 1960-61; Imperial Defence College 1962; Deputy Director of Defence Plans [Navy], Ministry of Defence, 1963-65; commanded HMS Eagle,

1965-67; Flag Officer, Sea Training 1967-69; Flag Officer Plymouth, 1969; Flag Officer Submarines & NATO Comdr Submarines, East Atlantic 1969-72; retired from the Navy 1972; Chairman, Grovebell Group, 1972-75; Member, Management Committee, The Freedom Association, 1978-85; President, Royal Navy Benevolent Trust, 1978-84; Member, Friends of
Hong Kong Committee 1986 (Chairman 1987-95); County Councillor for Surrey, 1977-81; &c.

Roxburgh was awarded the DSC in 1942 (Bar added 1945); DSO 1943; CBE 1967; CB 1969; KCB 1972.

He married in 1942, Philippa, third daughter of Major C.M. Hewlett, MC, by whom he had one son and one daughter.

 

 

 Vice Admiral Sir John Roxburgh, who was one of the best known submarine commanders in Malta in World War II, has just died in London aged 84.

 Roxburgh was just 23 when he was given command of the tiny submarine United in Malta in 1942. One of his first patrols involved the landing of a beach reconnaissance party on the Sicilian coast prior to the invasion of Sicily. Unfortunately the beach party got lost and could not be recovered by the submarine, but, undeterred, the party paddled the whole 75 miles back to Malta!
Roxburgh sank some 30,000 tons of shipping while operating from Malta, but his most momentous patrol was while operating off Tunisia on July 15, 1943. The submarine sighted a large Italian submarine on the surface and promptly sank it. Then, as United itself surfaced to recharge its batteries, it received a signal from Malta saying: "Grommet."

 This announced the birth of Roxburgh's daughter. Had he had a son, the signal would have read: "Toggle".
 As well as the customary Jolly Roger, signifying a successful patrol, United returned to Malta sporting a Stork flag!
Later in the war Roxburgh operated in Northern waters and became one of a very few submarine commanders to have sunk two enemy submarines, the second being a German U-boat in April, 1945.
 
 After the war Roxburgh commanded a destroyer, then served on the battleship Vanguard before assuming command, in 1965, of the Eagle, one of the largest ever Royal Navy aircraft carriers.
He served as Flag Officer, Submarines between 1969 and 1972, with command of more than 20 attack submarines, including six which were nuclear powered and armed.


 

   
 
 

 

 
 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   

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