22 April 2007

Victoria Cross: L. A. Trigg


Flying Officer, Royal New Zealand Air Force; 200 Squadron, Royal Air Force

Born: 5 June 1914, Houhora, New Zealand

Citation: Flying Officer Trigg had rendered outstanding service on convoy escort and anti-submarine duties. He had completed 46 operational sorties and had invariably displayed skill and courage of a very high order.
One day in August, 1943, Flying Officer Trigg undertook, as captain and pilot, a patrol in a Liberator although he had not previously made any operational sorties in that type of aircraft. After searching for 8 hours, a surfaced U-boat was sighted.
Flying Officer Trigg immediately prepared to attack. During the approach the aircraft received many hits from the submarine's anti-aircraft guns and burst into flames, which quickly enveloped the tail.
The moment was critical. Flying Officer Trigg could have broken off the engagement and made a forced landing in the sea. But if he continued the attack the aircraft would present a "no deflection" target to deadly accurate anti-aircraft fire, and every second spent in the air would increase the extent and intensity of the flames and diminish his chances of survival.
There could have been no hesitation or doubt in his mind. He maintained his course in spite of the already precarious condition of his aircraft and executed a masterly attack. Skimming over the U-boat at less than 50 feet, with anti-aircraft fire entering his opened bomb doors, Flying Officer Trigg dropped his bombs on and around the U-boat where they exploded with devastating effect. A short distance further on the Liberator dived into the sea with her gallant captain and crew.
The U-boat sank within 20 minutes and some of the crew were picked up later in a rubber dinghy that had broken loose from the Liberator.
The Battle of the Atlantic has yielded many fine stories of air attacks on underwater craft, but Flying Officer Trigg's exploit stands out as an epic of grim determination and high courage. His was the path of duty that leads to glory.

(London Gazette Issue 36230 dated 2 Nov 1943, published 29 Oct 1943.)

Note: Since Trigg's aircrew were all killed, there were no friendly witnesses to this action. There were seven survivors from the submarine (U-468), however, including its CO, Oblt z S Klemens Schamong, and Trigg's award was based on their testimony. His was the only Victoria Cross awarded to an Allied serviceman in either World War I or II solely on the recommendation by the enemy.

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