Personal info

  • Name: Geoffrey Heneage DRUMMOND
  • D.O.B: 25th January, 1886
  • D.O.A: 10th May, 1918
  • D.O.D: 21st April, 1941
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant Commander, HM Motor Launch 254, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 2
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The Second Ostend Raid, Belgium 9-10 May 1918

9-10 May1918

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The First World War 1918 

After the unsuccessful attempt to block the Ostend exit to the German naval base at Bruges as part of the Zeebrugge Raid on 22-23 April 1918, a second attempt was made on 9-10 May 1918. HMS Vindictive under Commander A E Godsal was accompanied by HMS Sappho. Sappho developed engine trouble and had to return to base, but Godsal succeeded in sailing Vindictive into the harbour of Ostend, where he was killed by a shell which hit the bridge and also badly wounded the navigation officer, Lieutenant Sir John Alleyne. Lieutenant V A C Crutchley assumed command and tried to manoeuvre Vindictive to block the channel but the ship was already aground and could not be moved. Crutchley nevertheless set the charges and ordered his crew to abandon ship. Two motor launches, ML 254 and ML 276, had been detailed to evacuate the crew. The closer, ML 254, commanded by Lieutenant G H Drummond, had already been hit by a shell before it reached Vindictive. Despite having two bullet wounds in his forearm and shrapnel in his left thigh and by his collar bone, Drummond reached Vindictive and took off two officers and 38 men before the ship blew up. However while heading out to sea he collapsed, and it was Crutchley who assumed command and kept ML 254 afloat long enough for the survivors to be rescued by HMS Warwick. As ML 254 left Ostend harbour, she collided with ML 276, commanded by Lieutenant Commander R R L Bourke, which was heading in, but by good luck neither launch was further damaged by the mishap. ML 276 searched for ten minutes near Vindictive under very heavy fire to make sure that everybody had got away. Just as he was leaving, Bourke heard the shouts of Lieutenant Alleyne and two sailors, all very badly wounded, who were clinging to an upturned boat. Bourke succeeded in rescuing all three men before heading for the open sea. ML 276 had been hit fifty-five times in all by German fire before a monitor took her in tow. Despite the gallantry shown by the participants in the raid the canal exit at Ostend was only partly blocked.

Citation

 Volunteered for rescue work in command of M.L. 254. Following “Vindictive” to Ostend, when off the piers a shell burst on board, killing Lieutenant Gordon Ross and Deckhand J. Thomas, wounding the coxswain, and also severely wounding Lieutenant Drummond in three places. Notwithstanding his wounds he remained on the bridge, navigated his vessel, which was already seriously damaged by shell fire, into Ostend harbour, placed her alongside “Vindictive,” and took off two officers and thirty-eight men – some of whom were killed and many wounded while embarking. When informed that there was no one alive left on board he backed his vessel out clear of the piers before sinking exhausted from his wounds. When H.M.S. “Warwick” fell in with M.L. 254 off Ostend half an hour later the latter was in a sinking condition. It was due to the indomitable courage of this very gallant officer that the majority of the crew of the “Vindictive” were rescued. 

Second Supplement to The London Gazette of 27 August 1918. 28 August 1918, Numb. 30870, p. 10084

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