Commander John Linton (1905-1943) was a submarine commander during the Second World War. He and the rest of his crew were declared missing, presumed dead after their submarine disappeared. John was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for his bravery and leadership over nearly four years of service.

John attended the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and became a naval officer. He volunteered for the submarine service in 1927.


Commander John Linton and Commander Edward Pizey


Commander John Linton and Commander Edward Pizey

Commander John Wallace Linton DSC VC, Commander of HMS Turbulent (right) and Commander Edward Fowle Pizey DSC, Commander of HMS Porpoise.

When the Second World War broke out, John was commanding HMS Pandora in the Far East. In 1940 he was sent to the Mediterranean. He led Pandora on 12 patrols, and received a Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for sinking two Italian supply ships in one attack in January 1941.

John left Pandora in May 1941 and brought into service a new T-class submarine, Turbulent. He later became Turbulent’s commanding officer. From February 1942, under his command, Turbulent destroyed a cruiser, a destroyer, a U-boat, and 28 other ships, and escaped 13 hunts and 250 depth charges.  

On 24 February 1943, Turbulent set out on a last patrol before a refit. It was John’s 21st wartime patrol and he was due to go home on leave.Turbulent was last seen around 12 March 1943. It is thought that the vessel hit a mine while on reconnaissance near Sardinia. In early May, John and his crew were announced missing, presumed killed. Their bodies and the submarine were never found.

After he was declared missing, John was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. Unusually, it was not for any one act, but for his sustained bravery during nearly four years of wartime command, and 21 submarine patrols.

You can see Commander John Linton’s VC in the Lord Ashcroft Gallery at IWM London.

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