This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
HISTORY DARTMOUTH WORLD WAR TWO HEROES


Capt Robert Franks T


OBE, DSC, DSO


here can be few men to have featured so strikingly in many of


the Second World War’s most iconic and bloody episodes as Capt Robert Franks. His distinguished service was


riddled with moments in which he showed calm and nerve under huge odds and under great pressure. Born in 1912, Robert Franks joined


Robert Franks


the Navy at the age of 13 when he arrived in Dartmouth to train at the Britannia Royal Naval College. After passing out of BRNC, he joined HMS Shropshire under training as a Midshipman on the Far East Station. Robert spent the next few years


“Robert fell onto his backside and escaped unhurt. He held onto his nerve despite the shock and fear he must have felt and took charge and organised the rescue of the remaining crew. For his efforts he was awarded an OBE”


training on various vessels, seemingly enjoying himself immensely. In 1937 he joined the HMS Gipsy, a new destroyer as 1st Lieutenant. In 1939, under the command of Captain Nigel Crossley Gipsy was stationed in Harwich to patrol the North Sea after war had been declared. On November 23, a German plane was spotted, dropping things attached to parachutes into the harbour at Harwich. No one thought to follow up this information with a search. That evening Gipsy followed another Naval ship, hms Griffin, out of harbour. The Gipsy was unlucky enough to strike the magnetic mine which the German plane had dropped, breaching her hull, killing 32 men on


Gipsy in Harwich Harbour 1939


board. Robert was on the bridge with his Captain when the mine struck, and they were both thrown in the air. Capt Crossley fell onto his head, and died from his injuries, Robert fell onto his backside and escaped unhurt. He held onto his nerve despite the shock and fear he must have felt and took charge and organised the rescue of the remaining crew. For his efforts he was awarded an OBE “For outstanding initiative and resource on the occasion of the loss of his ship.” After this, he became engaged to his childhood sweetheart, Jane Tozer. Jane was the daughter of his godfather: a colleague of Robert’s Lloyd’s Underwriter father. They were married in February 1940. He next became the commanding officer on hms scimitar, a destroyer he had previously served on. He was the youngest man in command of a destroyer in the Navy at the time at the tender age of 28. He was involved in the movement of the British Expeditionary Force to France, and then the much more urgent operation to rescue troops at Dunkirk – the ‘Miracle’ of the little ships as it has become known. Scimitar was tasked, as all boats involved in the evacuation were, to bring back as many troops as possible. In his memoirs, Robert says he felt the ship was ‘quite full’ when 70


BY PHIL sCOBLe


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76  |  Page 77  |  Page 78  |  Page 79  |  Page 80  |  Page 81  |  Page 82  |  Page 83  |  Page 84  |  Page 85  |  Page 86  |  Page 87  |  Page 88  |  Page 89  |  Page 90  |  Page 91  |  Page 92  |  Page 93  |  Page 94  |  Page 95  |  Page 96  |  Page 97  |  Page 98  |  Page 99  |  Page 100  |  Page 101  |  Page 102  |  Page 103  |  Page 104  |  Page 105  |  Page 106  |  Page 107  |  Page 108  |  Page 109  |  Page 110  |  Page 111  |  Page 112  |  Page 113  |  Page 114  |  Page 115  |  Page 116