Denis Vaughan 



Royal Navy

Died On:
4 July 1940


Sprague Surcouf

Denis Sprague was born in Edinburgh on 5 November 1902, the son of Dr Alfred Ernest and Ella Sprague, and joined the Royal Navy in September 1920.  Having served in the Battleships HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH and HMS IRON DUKE and after promotion to Sub Lieutenant, he joined submarines in July 1925.

Sprague was then appointed to HMS K26 and, after promotion to Lieutenant, he joined H23 as First Lieutenant in November 1926. In April 1930, he was appointed as First Lieutenant of HMS PHOENIX in build, which on commissioning in November 1930, was sent to the Far East China station.

After returning home and completing the Commanding Officers’ Qualifying Course, Sprague took command of HMS H28 in August 1932. He was promoted Lieutenant Commander in December 1933 and joined the Aircraft Carrier HMS EAGLE for his ‘Big Ship’ time. This was followed by an appointment to command HMS RORQUAL in September 1936.

He was promoted to Commander in June 1939 and, in December 1939, he took command of HMS THAMES. On 3 July 1940, Sprague was leading a party of sailors and marines detailed to take control of the Free French Submarine SURCOUF at Devonport. This did not go to plan and, in the shooting which followed, Sprague was wounded and died the next day.  Lieutenant Griffiths (q.v.) was also fatally injured.

Denis Sprague was the husband of Rosemary Sprague (nee Northcroft) of Alverstoke, Hampshire.  He was buried at the Plymouth (Weston Mill) Cemetery in Section C Cons. Grave No. 3716.


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