Peter Charles McConnell 


DSC MiD Croix de Guerre

Royal Navy

Died On:
20 July 1941


Peter Banister was born on 3 September 1917, the eldest son of Charles and Phyllis Banister. He attended West Downs Preparatory School in Winchester and in 1931 joined the Britannia Royal Naval College at Dartmouth as a 13-year-old Cadet. He passed out from Dartmouth in 1934 and joined the battleship HMS BARHAM in the Mediterranean as a Midshipman.

Five years later, having passed his submarine course, he was appointed to HMS SALMON. In April 1940 he went as Liaison Officer to the French submarine ORPHÉE, which sank a U-boat whilst he was aboard. For this he was awarded the Croix de Guerre. He then went, briefly, as Third Hand to HMS CLYDE. This submarine hit the German pocket battleship GNEISENAU with a torpedo on 20 June 1940. Peter then served in HMS CACHALOT as Third Hand from July to November 1940 during which time she sank two U-Boats. For this he was Mentioned in Despatches.

In November 1940 he joined HMS H32 as First Lieutenant and then attended the First Lieutenants’ course at Rothesay. On completion he was appointed in January 1941 as First Lieutenant of the new submarine HMS UMPIRE, then building at Chatham. As soon as she was completed in July UMPIRE sailed for trials and training to the Clyde. Four days before the submarine set sail, Peter received the Distinguished Service Cross from King George VI at Buckingham Palace “For good services in HM submarines in recent successful patrols and operations against the enemy”.

HMS UMPIRE joined a northbound convoy on the 19 July 1941. That night the submarine was accidentally rammed and sunk by Peter Hendricks, a Dutch escort of a southbound convoy, ending up on the bottom in 60 feet of water.

Peter took charge of an escape via the conning tower of four men, including himself.  He successfully reached the surface but then disappeared and was not among those rescued.

He left a widow, Rosemary (née Whittow), whom he had married in March 1940, and a daughter, Carol, who was born after his death.

Peter Banister is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Panel 5, Column 1, and on his brother’s gravestone in Brockenhurst Churchyard.


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