Veteran Stories:
Ian Inglis

Navy

  • Lieutenant Ian Inglis, Royal Navy, early 1950s.

    Ian Inglis
  • Ian Inglis' medals, from left to right: Distinguished Service Cross, 1939-1945 Star, Atlantic Star, Arctic Star, Africa Star, Burma Star, Defence Medal, War Medal (1939-1945), Canadian Forces Decoration.

    Ian Inglis
  • A copy of the speech given by General Dwight D. Eisenhower to the soldiers prior to D-Day, 6 June 1944.

    Ian Inglis
  • Newspaper account detailing the capture of the German explosive motorboat on 3 August 1944. Mr. Inglis is not mentioned for his actions, and the credit goes to the Intelligence officer for capturing the vessel.

    Ian Inglis
  • A letter from Ian Inglis' commander, Lieutenant Chris Cookson to Naval Commander Support Squadron commending Ian Inglis' actions in capturing a German explosive motorboat on 3 August 1944, and criticizes the newspaper for publishing an inaccurate account of the event (previous artefact).

    Ian Inglis
  • A letter from the Royal Navy Admiralty on Ian Inglis' award of the Distinguished Service Cross, 17 March 1945.

    Ian Inglis
  • Letter from King George VI on Ian Inglis' award of the Distinguished Service Cross.

    Ian Inglis
  • Ian Inglis in Ottawa, Ontario, August 2012.

    Ian Inglis
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"He said, “Do you think there’s be a war Ian?” And on the other platform was a troop train loaded with troops. And I just said – pointed over and I said, “What do you think?” That was the last time I saw him."

Transcript

I remember when I was leaving in 1938 and it was the time of the – when the Germans invaded Poland [September 1939] I think and my friend Hashi, whose name was actually Hans Joachim Geipel, who I was staying with, he came to the station in Berlin [Germany] and it was the last time I ever saw him. He said, “Do you think there’s be a war Ian?” And on the other platform was a troop train loaded with troops. And I just said – pointed over and I said, “What do you think?” That was the last time I saw him.

So I applied under the Y Scheme [Royal Navy program to train potential naval officers but with no guarantee of commission] to join the [Royal] Navy and I was accepted. And I got this telephone message. It was at the house saying I was to report to HMS Ganges where I did new entry training.

About the 2nd of June [1944], we were given orders to go over and do a sweep of the Normandy coast from about half a mile out. And we were – I mean we could see the ship – the buildings of the shore and we’re making a chart, actually for the pipeline under the ocean which was a gasoline line and they ran all the way from Galway across the [English] Channel. Anyway, I was doing this and we had Peter Scott [Sir Peter Scott, British conservationist and ornithologist] and his over-armed motor gun boat [small high speed vessel equipped with a variety of guns]. It was meant to be our escort in case the E-boats [Schnellboot, German motor torpedo boat] came out. Well when you sighted the enemy during the war you made a plain text message. You didn’t code it or anything. And suddenly we hear Peter Scott saying, “Enemy in sight, so-and so,” which was our position. Only one thing to do. We had recognition lights. We switched those lights on. We fired off our various pistols with the signals of the day and then he apologized.

One day we were doing patrol and suddenly these small boats with a sort of fender around them in white, came down. And these were explosive motorboats [small vessel loaded with explosives, pilot steers vessel on collision course with enemy ships and ejects when close to target, upon impact vessel sinks and onboard warhead explodes]. Well we managed to stop one of them and capture it and I went on board. The crew abandoned ship, a small crew and we picked them up. All but one who couldn’t swim, which was a mistake because he drowned. So here I was aboard a highly explosive motorboat. It was a human torpedo if you can believe it. The Japanese did these as well. The guy sat on a torpedo with a little helmet on. And I think we sent a few depth charges [weapon used to destroy target by the shock of exploding in close proximity to target] to sort of keep the peace. And the other boat with the explosive motorboat, smashed against a large landing ship tank which had been converted for gunnery for anti-aircraft. And it smashed into the side and we heard over the radio, “Ha, ha, ha.” It sank, didn’t go off. Uh-uh, it had a delayed fuse, and at least 12 fellows got blown into the middle of next week. Anyway, on this little escapade, we’d taken aboard for some reason or other this intelligence officer. He decided to award himself a Distinguished Service Cross. I’m not quite sure why but he did. And then when my commanding officer Chris Cookson heard about this, he fired off a signal to the admiral saying that it was – was it lieutenant at that time? I don’t know … Ian Inglis who had actually done this. And so then came a message saying that I was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

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