100 years since Navy battle for Kiwi VC

  • 30/04/2017
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard/ New Zealand Prime Minister John Key XXX at XXX on February 9, 2013 in Queenstown, New Zealand. The annual talks are held over two days, with the economy and Asia-pacific defence matters as key items on the agenda.

It is 100 years since Lieutenant Commander William Sanders fought a battle that led him to become the only New Zealander to be awarded the Victoria Cross for valour in a naval action.

On April 30, 1917 as commander of armed merchant vessel HMS Prize he led an attack on German submarine U-93.

The U-boat commander opened fire on what appeared to be a sitting duck, but Sanders held his fire for 20 minutes and fired only when the U-boat was less than the length of a football field away, Navy Today reports in its latest issue.

The London Gazette of June 22 of that year announced he had been awarded the Victoria Cross.

The Prize was blown up by another U-boat on August 13 and there were no survivors. Sanders did not live to receive his decorations.

Sanders was born in Auckland in 1883 and in 1899 joined the coastal steamer Kapanui as a cabin boy.

At the outbreak of World War I he volunteered for the Navy but was not accepted.

In April 1916 he was in London and volunteered for naval service and was commissioned a sub lieutenant in the RNR.