27 October 2017

Grave of Second World War sailor who escaped imprisonment identified nearly 75 years after his death

A rededication service for a sailor who escaped captivity before being arrested and killed was held at the CWGC’s Cassino War Cemetery in Italy, this week.

 

Leading Telegraphist Victor James Crosby DSM, of the Royal Navy, was killed in December 1943, at the age of 34, after being arrested by the German Army Police.

The service on Wednesday, conducted by Monsignor Andrew McFadden RN, Honorary Chaplain to The Queen, was attended by Victor’s son Ken and granddaughter Liane, who travelled from their home in Portsmouth. A contingent of sailors from HMS Vengeance also travelled from Scotland to attend the rededication. 

Victor James Crosby was born in Portsmouth on 21 September 1909. He enlisted in September 1927 on his 18th birthday, initially for a period of 12 years.

Victor was believed lost when his submarine HM Saracen was sunk off Bastia on 14 August 1943, but he survived. He was later captured by the Italians, interned, but escaped at the armistice between Italy and the Allies. He was sheltered by an Italian family, but given away and during an attempt to arrest him was shot by the German Army Police and wounded. He was later killed by the same group that arrested him.

He was buried near Arrino and Fontana Liri and a spot known locally as Santo Spirito. Leading Telegraphist Crosby was initially buried as an unknown soldier, however research led to a prisoner of war file at The National Archives in London which aided the successful identification of his grave.

The service was organised by the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre, and the Commission provided the headstone.    

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