Midget Submarine Commander
The Life of Godfrey Place VC
Date of publication: November 2012
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Of all the acts of gallantry in World War II few were as audacious as the attack by midget submarines on the pride of the German fleet, the battleship Tirpitz, lying in her heavily fortified lair deep in a Norwegian fjord. Lieutenant Godfrey Place was in command of submarine X7 in September 1943 and travelled over 1000 miles, negotiating minefields and anti-submarine nets to place four tons of high explosive accurately under the hull of the Tirpitz. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1944, at the age of 22.
Taken prisoner he was repatriated to England at the end of the war, and continued to serve in the Royal Navy for 25 years, flying with 801 squadron in the Korean War, and serving on aircraft carriers at Suez, Nigeria and the withdrawal from Aden. On his retirement in 1970 he had the distinction of being the last serving naval officer to hold the Victoria Cross.
This overdue biography details Godfrey Place VC’s eventful life, from a childhood spent partly in East Africa to being the hugely respected Chairman of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association for over 20 years. Thanks to the author’s extensive access to previously unpublished material, including Place’s own recollections of the attack, there is unlikely to be a better or more thrilling account of the attack on the Tirpitz.