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Navy Lt Cdr was awarded VC for "courage and determination"

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Fraser was awarded the VC for his 'courage and determination'

The bravery of a Royal Navy officer from Wirral is being remembered with the naming of part of a waterfront, the "Ian Fraser Way".

Lieutenant Commander Fraser carried out a deadly mission through the mine-infested Singapore harbour, displaying "courage and determination" in a raid on the Japanese cruiser, Takao.

World War II was entering its final stages but the crew of the XE3 midget submarine had been given the task of destroying the cruiser which was bombarding Allied forces heading for Singapore.

Lt Cdr Fraser headed the underwater craft silently towards the dockyard.

"Tich" Fraser and his crew, Sub-Lieutenant Smith, Artificer Charles Reed and frogman diver Leading Seaman Mick Magennis, sweltered in the 85 degree Fahrenheit heat inside the confined sub as they prepared their attack.

The 10,000-ton Takao lay 40 miles ahead through waters littered with minefields and patrolled by Japanese naval and aerial forces.

Lt Cdr Fraser and his crew onboard a midget submarine
Lt Cdr Fraser and his crew onboard the midget submarine

Lt Cdr Fraser managed to follow a Japanese trawler into the channel as it plotted its own route through the minefields.

Nine hours after submerging and going without sleep for 19 hours the Takao was now in sight. Ld Smn Magennis prepared his frogman's suit as Lt Cdr Fraser navigated the submarine beneath the cruiser.

Speaking in an interview with the BBC in 2005, three years before his death, Lt Cdr Fraser said: "The idea was for my X-craft to get underneath the Takao and for my diver, Leading Seaman Magennis, to get out and to place limpet mines along the bottom which would blow up and then the cruiser would sink."

The Takao was anchored with her stern 100 yards from the Singapore side in water that was only 11ft deep.

She was resting across a 500ft depression in the seabed and Lt Cdr Fraser had to somehow get his submarine, undetected beneath the cruiser.

"Believe me it was no fun because the water was so very shallow," he said. "I couldn't get right underneath it because the top of the submarine was against the cruiser and the bottom of it was in the sea bed."

The Takao
The 10,000-ton Takao was to be used as a floating gun-battery

The first attempt failed. The waters were too shallow and the XE3 was forced to retreat. After waiting and reassessing the situation, they tried again an hour later.

This time he managed to slip under the cruiser and frogman Magennis entered the waters and began attaching the limpet mines to the cruiser.

Lt Cdr Fraser said: "He had to scrape the hull of the Takao clean which was blooming hard work, and then he had to pull the magnets from the chargers and stick them to the bottom.

"Port side to the X-Craft we had four tonnes of high explosives called Amatol and this had to be released as one big charge right under the centre. The tide was going down. The cruiser had come a little lower in the water and we had one hell of a job."

After half an hour the XE3 came out from under the Takao, only to face a second and potentially more dangerous obstacle.

"The container for the limpet mines hadn't released itself. There was no way we could make it back out to sea with this weight stuck to our side.

"Leading Seaman Magennis immediately said: 'I will go out and do it, sir' and he got out, released it and it fell away from the side. The job was done and eventually we came home."

Lt Cdr Fraser and Magennis were both awarded the Victoria Cross for their July 1945 mission. The award is the highest for valour in the face of the enemy.

For his role in sinking the U-301 and several Axis ships on the west coast of Corsica on Sahib in January 1943, Lt Cdr Fraser was also awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC).

Now his bravery has also been honoured two years after his death with the naming of part of the promenade in New Brighton as Ian Fraser Way.




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