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Skipper Thomas Crisp VC, DSC, RNR

Photograph of the Lowestoft trawler "I'll Try", later known as "Nelson" (1300/72/42/216)

Photograph of the Lowestoft trawler “I’ll Try”, later known as “Nelson” (1300/72/42/216)

The ‘I’ll Try’ was a ‘Q ship’, one of the armed fishing smacks used in WW1, which was skippered by Tom Crisp.  In January 1917 they sank a submarine for which Crisp received the Distinguished Service Cross medal and the crew shared a reward of £1,000.  The smack was renamed the ‘Nelson’.  On 15 August 1917, alongside the ‘Ethel and Millie’, the ‘Nelson’ was attacked by a German mine-laying submarine UC63.  In the ensuing battle Tom Crisp, skipper of the ‘Nelson’ was badly injured and refused to be assisted into the waiting lifeboat, telling the Mate, his son Tom, that he was finished and would go down with his boat.  Thomas Crisp was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery.  The ‘Ethel and Millie’ went down with all hands.  The rest of the crew of the ‘Nelson’ escaped and thanks to the efforts of their carrier pigeon, ‘Red Cock’ were later found by a search vessel.

‘Red Cock’ continued to work as a carrier pigeon and when he died his body was mounted and placed in the Lowestoft town museum.  He was later sent to the Natural History Museum in London.

Photograph of 'Red Cock', the carrier pigeon on the 'Nelson LT 459'(LOWMS:1999:389)

Photograph of ‘Red Cock’, the carrier pigeon on the ‘Nelson LT 459’ (LOWMS:1999:389)