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Esmonde, Eugene

Date of birth:
March 1st, 1909 (Thurgoland/Yorkshire, Great Britain)
Date of death:
February 12th, 1942 (Straits of Dover)
Buried on:
Commonwealth War Graves Woodlands Cemetery
Grave: 187 R.C..
Nationality:
Irish (1919-present, Republic)

Biography

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Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
H.M.S. Victorious (R38), Royal Navy
Awarded on:
September 16th, 1941
Citation (general):
"For gallantry, daring and skill in the operations in which the German Battleship Bismarck was destroyed."
Distinguished Service Order (DSO)
Period:
Second World War (1939-1945)
Rank:
Lieutenant Commander
Unit:
No. 825 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy
Awarded on:
March 3rd, 1942
Victoria Cross (VC)
Citation:
"On the morning of Thursday, 12th February, 1942, Lieutenant-Commander Esmonde, in command of a Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm, was told that the German Battle-Cruisers SCHARNHORST and GNEISENAU and the Cruiser PRINZ EUGEN, strongly escorted by some thirty surface craft, were entering the Straits of Dover, and that his Squadron must attack before they reached the sand-banks North East of Calais.
Lieutenant-Commander Esmonde knew well that his enterprise was desperate. Soon after noon he and his squadron of six Swordfish set course for the Enemy, and after ten minutes flight were attacked by a strong force of Enemy fighters. Touch was lost with his fighter escort; and in the action which followed all his aircraft were damaged. He flew on, cool and resolute, serenely challenging hopeless odds, to encounter the deadly fire of the Battle-Cruisers and their Escort, which shattered the port wing of his aircraft. Undismayed, he led his Squadron on, straight through this inferno of fire, in steady flight towards their target. Almost at once he was shot down; but his Squadron went on to launch a gallant attack, in which at least one torpedo is believed to have struck the German Battle-Cruisers, and from which not one of the six aircraft returned.
His high courage and splendid resolution will live in the traditions of the Royal Navy, and remain for many generations a fine and stirring memory."

Eugene Kingsmill Esmonde is buried at the Woodlands Cemetery, Cillingham, Great Britain.

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