The lives Prince Philip saved during the Second World War

Although Prince Philip has many more infamous moments, the Duke of Edinburgh saved the lives of two men during his naval career in World War II.

In January 1945, Prince Philip helped save the lives of two men while operating the ship ‘Whelp’, after their plane was hit by Japanese fighters.

The duke immediately activated search and rescue system and directed the vessel at full speed towards the spot where the bomber had gone down.

The two men struggled in vain to inflate their life raft, and after 20 minutes in the sea they saw the ‘Whelp’ approaching.

Prince Philip arranged clothes for them and made sure they were fed and watered, and was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour, by George II.

The heroic act only came to light in 2008, when a veteran called Harry Hargreaves spoke to BBC.

The story came together when the broadcaster launched a programme called ‘People’s War’ where members of the public share their experiences, as part of their celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

The BBC reported that Prince Philip was then reunited with the rescued men, who at the time, of course, had no idea that they were rescued by a man who would go on to become the consort to the Queen of England.

The duke had a successful career in the Royal Navy before the Queen ascended the throne in 1952, and he saw action in multiple theatres in World War II.

Prince Philip joined the Navy as a cadet in 1939 after leaving Gordonstoun School and in 1942, he became one of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy at the age of 21.

Although his active naval career ended in July 1951, Prince Philip was appointed Admiral of the Sea Cadet Corps, Colonel-in-Chief of the Army Cadet Force and Air Commodore-in-Chief of the Air Training Corps.

You can check out all of SWL’s Prince Philip coverage here.

Featured image credit: humberpike on Flickr

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Daniel Taggart
Daniel Taggart
9 April 2021 11:33 pm

I wonder which awards the rescuers were awarded?

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