Of all the acts of gallantry in World War II few were as audacious as the attack by midget submarines on the pride of the German fleet, the battleship Tirpitz, lying in her heavily fortified lair deep in a Norwegian fjord. Lieutenant Godfrey Place was in command of submarine X7 in September 1943 and travelled over 1000 miles, negotiating minefields and anti-submarine nets to place four tons of high explosive accurately under the hull of the Tirpitz. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross in 1944, at the age of 22.
Taken prisoner he was repatriated to England at the end of the war, and continued to serve in the Royal Navy for 25 years, flying with 801 squadron in the Korean War, and serving on aircraft carriers at Suez, Nigeria and the withdrawal from Aden. On his retirement in 1970 he had the distinction of being the last serving naval officer to hold the Victoria Cross.
This overdue biography details Godfrey Place VC's eventful life, from a childhood spent partly in East Africa to being the hugely respected Chairman of the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association for over 20 years. Thanks to the author's extensive access to previously unpublished material, including Place's own recollections of the attack, there is unlikely to be a better or more thrilling account of the attack on the Tirpitz.
An interesting tale of a very young hero who went on to spend 28 years in the service. The meat is in the Operation Source description and of Place's part in the challenges faced by... [read full review]The Northern Mariner/Le marin du nord
In Watkins’ preface to this biography of Godfrey Place it is revealed that it is a book written in surprise that there hadn’t previously been an account of such an accomplished naval officer. When one... [read full review]Southlondonbook.blogspot
In Watkins’ preface to this biography of Godfrey Place it is revealed that it is a book written in surprise that there hadn’t previously been an account of such an accomplished naval officer. When one... [read full review]southlondonbook.blogspot
This excellent biography of Basil Charles Godfrey Place VC charts the career of the subject, who saw action in submarines, surface ships and aircraft in a career that lasted 35 years and which ended with... [read full review]Newsletter of the Australian Naval Officers
This is an extremely well researched and eminently readable book. Paul Watkins was given access to the place family archives which he gratefully acknowledges. This, coupled with information from official records such as... [read full review]The Northern Times
Godfrey Place earned his Victoria Cross in one of the most audacious naval operations of the Second World War. The midget submarine sortie to sink or disable the German battleship Tirpitz in her Norwegian... [read full review]Journal of the Victoria Cross Society
Godfrey Place wrote his name into the history books with his attack on Tirpitz in September 1943. This action has been described many times but Paul Watkins has included in this biography Place’s own account... [read full review]Britain at War Magazine
Watkins displays great dexterity in using extensive research and has accessed primary sources as well as carrying out many interviews to product a very readable account of Place's varied life. In the words of... [read full review]Warships International Fleet Review
Tackling Tirpitz, just the start of the adventure.
A spellbinding new book recounts a breathtaking feat of wartime heroism, Steve Snelling examines the extraordinary role played by a young Norwich naval officer and... [read full review]Eastern Daily Press
This new book by Paul Watkins, quite surprisingly, turns out to be the first full biography of Godfrey Place and draws on previously unpublished Place family records. It traces his family background – his... [read full review]In Depth Newsletter
A new book charts the heroic actions of a 22-year-old naval officer who placed a mine beneath a German battleship during the Second World War.
ONE day in September 1943, in a Norwegian fjord,... [read full review]Grimsby Telegraph
Undersea combat during WWII was not limited to U-boats and fleet boats. After having three capital ships attacked by Italian Maiale midget subs, Britain got into the act. Churchill was concerned with the German battleship... [read full review]www.subsim.com
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About Paul Watkins
Paul Watkins is a veterinary surgeon with a lifelong interest in military history, especially naval history and the Victoria Cross. Having spent a career in research (including time spent working with the Royal Navy) during which he has written and/or contributed to numerous books and scientific publications, he has been fortunate to be able to research the life and career of Rear Admiral Godfrey Place VC. He lives in Sandford, Somerset.