William John 




Royal Navy

Died On:
20 January 1942


William White was the son of Harry and Alice Maud Evelyn White, of Epsom, Surrey.

Billy served in HMS PEMBROKE, HMS RAMILLES, HMS AJAX, including seeing action in the Battle of the River Plate, and finally in HMS TRIUMPH.

On 25 October 1941 TRIUMPH came under heavy attack from three Italian destroyers in the Gulf of Athens. Over 90 minutes, 70 depth charges were dropped on her. The worst part was the first 18 minutes, when the destroyers had a better idea of where she was. During this attack Billy manned the boat’s ASDIC kit, in passive mode, and he could clearly hear the movements of the three attackers. He coolly kept the CO informed of their movements, allowing Sammy Woods to keep depth charge attacks at a survivable distance. The CO commended Billy in his report after the patrol: “…he kept me fully informed of the movements of counter-attacking destroyers with great coolness and efficiency“.

He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal (London Gazette of 20 January 1942) “for courage, skill and resolution in successful submarine patrols“, and a further Bar to the DSM (London Gazette of 5 May 1942) “for daring, enterprise and devotion to duty in successful patrols in HM Submarines“.

Billy died when HMS TRIUMPH was lost with all hands having apparently struck a mine in the Aegean Sea.  He is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial, Panel 59, Column 3.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The maximum upload file size: 16 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, text, archive, code, other. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here