Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter RM - Victoria Cross
Updated: Apr 6
Unit/ Formation: Victoria Cross
Period/ Conflict: World War II
Date/s: 9 April 1945
Hunter was 21 years old, and a temporary corporal in 43 (RM) Commando
during the Spring 1945 offensive in Italy during the Second World War, he was Posthumously awarded the VC for his actions during Operation Roast.
Thomas Peck Hunter (1923-1945) was born in Aldershot,
Hampshire on 6th October 1923, one of five children of Ramsey and Mary Hunter (a former soldier and civil servant), who moved to Edinburgh shortly after his birth. Hunter attended Tynecastle High School (where the poet Wilfred Owen had taught during recuperation in 1917) and Stenhouse School before becoming an apprentice stationer in Edinburgh. At the outbreak of the war he served in the Home Guard and was called up on 8th May 1942 for military service. He enlisted as a hostilities–only (HO) marine on 23rd June 1942. He was promoted L/Cpl on 6th October 1943 and Temporary Cpl on 25th January 1945.
On 3rd April 1945, during Operation Roast, and the Battle of Lake Comacchio, Corporal Hunter of "C" Troop was in charge of a Bren group of the leading sub-section of the Commando. Having advanced to within 400 yards of the canal, he observed the enemy were holding a group of houses South of the canal.
Realising that his Troop behind him were in the open, as the country there was completely devoid of cover, and that the enemy would cause heavy casualties as soon as they opened fire, Corporal Hunter seized the Bren gun and charged alone across two hundred yards of open ground. Three Spandaus from the houses, and at least six from the North bank of the canal opened fire and at the same time the enemy mortars started to fire at the Troop.
Corporal Hunter attracted most of the fire, and so determined was his charge and his firing f
rom the hip that the enemy in the houses became demoralised. Showing complete disregard for the intense enemy fire, he ran through the houses, changing magazines as he ran, and alone cleared the houses. Six Germans surrendered to him and the remainder fled across a footbridge onto the North bank of the canal. The Troop dashing up behind Corporal Hunter now became the target for all the Spandaus on the North of the canal.
Again, offering himself as a target, he lay in full view of the enemy on
a heap of rubble and fired at the concrete pillboxes on the other side. He again drew most of the fire, but by now the greater part of the Troop had made for the safety of the houses. During this period he shouted encouragement to the remainder, and called only for more Bren magazines with which he could engage the Spandaus. Firing with great accuracy up to the last, Corporal Hunter was finally hit in the head by a burst of Spandau fire and killed instantly.
Hunter was buried in Argenta Gap War Cemetery. King George VI presented his parents with his Victoria Cross on 26th September 1945, at a private investiture in the Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh. Thomas’ sister and nephew donated his medals to the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Hampshire in 1974 where they were displayed.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL MARINES MUSEUM
BURIAL PLACE: ARGENTA GAP WAR CEMETERY, EMILIA-ROMAGNA, ITALY.