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Commander John Wallace Linton

John Linton was born in Newport in Monmouthshire on 15th Oct 1905 and he was the son of Edward Maples Linton and Margaret Gertrude Linton. On leaving School he joined the Royal Navy. After service in the Cruiser HMS Dauntless in the Mediterranean and then his Lieutenant's Courses at Greenwich and Portsmouth he joined Submarines on 25th July 1927 when he was appointed to HMS Dolphin 'for the Submarine Course'. He was appointed to the Submarine Tender HMS Ross (Experimental Half Flotilla) at Portsmouth 'for Submarine L22 as 3rd Hand' on 21st Nov 1927. This was followed by an appointment to HMS Dolphin (5th Submarine Flotilla) 'for Submarine HMS Oberon as 3rd Hand' on 15th Apr 1928). He returned to the Submarine Tender HMS Ross and the Experimental Half Flotilla on 12th Aug 1929 'for Submarine H43 as First Lieutenant'. John Linton was sent to the Far East on 16th Jan 1932 when he was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Medway (4th Submarine Flotilla) at Hong Kong initially 'for Submarines' and then 'for Submarine HMS Oswald as First Lieutenant'.

On his return home from the Far East John Linton was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Alecto (attached to the 5th Submarine Flotilla) at Portsmouth 'for the Commanding Officers Qualifying Course' on 31st Dec 1934.

On successful completion of the 'Perisher' he was appointed to HMS Dolphin (5th Submarine Flotilla 'for Submarine L21 in Command' on 3rd May 1935 and this was followed by 'Submarine HMS Snapper in Command' on 15th August 1935. He returned to General Service for his 'Big Ship' time in the Battle Ship HMS Iron Duke on 11th May 196. Two years later returned to the Far East on 15th Oct 1938 with an appointment to HMS Medway 'for Submarine HMS Pandora in Command'. After the outbreak of WWII HMS Pandora was transferred to the Mediterranean and was based with the 8th Submarine Flotilla at Gibraltar. John Linton was awarded the DSC - see London Gazette dated 6th May 1941 for the sinking of two Italian supply ships.

He returned home on 1st Aug 1941 with an appointment to HMS Dolphin (5th Submarine Flotilla) 'for Submarines' and on 15th Aug 1941 'for Submarine HMS Turbulent - standing by whilst completing' at the Vickers Armstrong Shipyard at Barrow in Furness 'and in Command on Commissioning'. HMS Turbulent was completed on 2nd Dec 1941 and, after 'Commissioning' and 'Work Up' the Submarine was sent to the Mediterranean to join the 1st Submarine Flotilla based on HMS Medway - now based at Alexandria in Egypt. On 29th May 1942 John Linton was awarded the DSO - see London Gazette dated 15th Sep 1942 for the sinking of the Italian Destroyer Emanuele Pessagno on 29th May 1942.

On 23rd Feb 1943 HMS Turbulent sailed from Algiers for a patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Turbulent did not respond to any further messages and did not return when expected on 23rd March. It is thought that Turbulent fell victim to a mine off La Maddalena, Sardinia.

John Linton was awarded the Victoria Cross on 25th May 1943. Unusually the award was not for any one specific incident but for sustained effort.

The citation read as follows:

Commander Linton has been in command of submarines throughout the War. He has been responsible for the destruction of 1 cruiser, 1 destroyer, 20 merchant vessels, 6 schooners and 2 trains. A total of 81,000 tons of enemy shipping sunk. From 1st Jan 1942 to 1st Jan 1943 he spent 254 days at sea, including 2,970 hours diving. During this period he was hunted 13 times and had 250 depth charges dropped on him.

His career has been one of conspicuous gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy.

On Saturday 6th of July 2013 a Blue Plaque was unveiled by the Submariners Association President, Admiral Sir James Perowne KBE, at St Joseph's Convent in Newport Gwent. The building is the birthplace of Commander John Wallace (Tubby) Linton VC, DSO, DSC.

Commander Linton's Victoria Cross and his other medals are on display in the Ashcroft Gallery in the Imperial War Museum in London.


As a very sad postscript to the story of 'Tubby' Linton his son (Sub Lieutenant William Linton) also joined the Royal Navy and volunteered for Submarine Service. His 'Officer Training Class' was sent to sea in HMS Affray in 1951. HMS Affray, as we all know, was lost with all seventy five hands in the Hurd Deep in the English Channel in somewhat controversial circumstances overnight 16th/17th April 1951.



There are numerous faults with this piece.
Firstly the wreck has never been found and it is unilikely Turbulent was in the area.
Secondly the award was not posthumous. The award was Gazetted whilst the boat was still missing and Linton technically alive.
   Christopher Morgan-Jones Tue, 29 Nov 2016
I'm not sure that two comments count as numerous. The item does not claim that TURBULENT has been found. The boat had been ordered to patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea and failed to return on the due date. The VC was gazetted two months later and is reported as posthumous in all references I have read. In the absence of any claim by the Italians or Germans to have sunk the submarine it was presumed lost.
   Barrie Downer Fri, 2 Dec 2016
The piece would benefit from a study of La lotta anti-sommergibile published by the Italian Naval Historical Branch. The book describes an attack by Ardito against what was thought to be Turbulent in early March 1943.
As to the posthumous there is a piece in a contemporary RUSI journal stating that it could not be a posthumous award as the submarine had not been officially declared lost when it was announced.
   Christopher Morgan-Jones Wed, 29 Nov 2017
I was privileged to command TURBULENT's successor.

I note from the article that Linton's TURBULENT sailed from Algiers on 3 Feb 1943 and there was no further contact from her thereafter.

I have a letter from one of the crew, Stoker Joe Tunnell, to his mum and dad dated 23 Feb 1943 and so the date of 3 Feb must be incorrect.

   Captain D M Tall OBE RN Wed, 6 Dec 2017
Checking on the date for WWII TURBULENT sailing on her last patrol - the date should read 23rd February leaving from Algiers. Stoker Joe Tunnell's letter must have gone off with the last mail before sailing.
   Barrie Downer Sun, 4 Feb 2018

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