Captain Warburton Lee Memorial
Commander of H.M.S. Hardy
Killed in Narvik Action
Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee, of H.M.S. Hardy, who was killed while gallantly leading the attack on German destroyers at Narvik on April 10th was the son of the late J. H. Warburton-Lee of Broad Oak, Whitewell, Whitchurch.
“For gallantry, enterprise and daring in command of the force engaged in the First Battle of Narvik, on 10th April, 1940. On being ordered to carry out an attack on Narvik, Captain Warburton-Lee learned that the enemy was holding the place in much greater force than had been thought. He signalled to the Admiralty that six German destroyers and one submarine were there, that the channel might be mined, and that he intended to attack at dawn. The Admiralty replied that he alone could judge whether to attack, and that whatever decision he made would have full support. Captain Warburton-Lee led his flotilla of five destroyers up the fjord in heavy snow-storms, arriving off Narvik just after daybreak. He took the enemy completely by surprise and made three successful attacks on warships and merchantmen in the harbour. As the flotilla withdrew, five enemy destroyers of superior gun power were encountered and engaged. The Captain was mortally wounded by a shell which hit the bridge of H.M.S. Hardy. His last signal was “Continue to engage the enemy”.
Captain Bernard Warburton-Lee, V.C. Courtesy of John Warburton-Lee
Giving a report on the naval action in the House of Commons, Mr Winston Churchill said From what we heard at the Admiralty late on Tuesday night we thought the operations so hazardous that at 1 o’clock in the morning we told the captain of the flotilla that he must be the sole judge of whether to attack or not and we would support him whatever he did and whatever happened. In these circumstances, Captain Warburton-Lee entered with five destroyers and attacked the enemy destroyers and such guns as they could have landed.
(Wrexham Leader, April 19th 1940)
Wrexham Branch of the Royal Naval Association
Wrexham branch members attend a memorial service every year in honour of Captain Warburton-Lee Wrexham’s Royal Navy VC at the family church at Whitewell in the parish of Wrexham, followed by a visit to his family home, below are some of the photographs from the occasions.