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Tom Crisp, VC, DSC

The southern spine road in Lowestoft is named after Tom Crisp, one of our two local VC winners, and many are probably familiar with the action in which he won it. Less familiar is the previous action in which he won the Distinguished Service Cross.

Most people who have read anything of the naval war in WW1 will be aware of the concept of 'Q' ships.

German U-boats tended not always to use torpedoes from an underwater firing position as they more often than not did in WW2 as torpedoes were less reliable but they would often surface and sink Allied merchant vessels by gunfire. To counter this tactic 'Q' ships, heavily armed merchant vessels with their armament hidden, would patrol the merchant shipping routes waiting for a submarine to surface and then try and sink it first.

Tom Crisp, a successful skipper with the Lowestoft fishing company Chambers was recruited into the Royal Naval Reserve as part of the crew of a sailing 'Q' fishing vessel after submarines started attacking the fishing fleets. By the summer of 1916 he was in command of the armed Lowestoft trawler 'I'll try'. 'Q' trawlers would fish as usual but be ready to cut their nets and open fire on any surfacing U-boat.

In early 1917 'I'll try', in company with a similar armed trawler 'Boy Alfred', was at sea when they encountered the enemy as described in the following cuttings. The original publication from which the pictorial account of Tom Crisp's DSC action was clipped is unknown neither is it known whether or not it is strictly factually correct but it is included for interest.



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