The rare Second World War Arctic Seas Submariners Sub-on-Sub sinking of the U-987 off Narvik immediate Distinguished Service Medal awarded to Acting Leading Signaller W.E. Pearce, Royal Navy. Pearce was decorated for his services in the submarine Satyr on the occasion of the destruction of the U-987 off Narvik on 15th June 1944. This incident became one of the classic sub-on-sub engagements of the war.
Distinguished Service Medal, GVI 1st type bust, officially engraved naming; (A/LDG. SIG. W.E. PEARCE. D/JX.163773), housed in its presentation case.
William Edward Pearce came from St. Helens, Lancashire, and saw service during the Second World War as an Acting Leading Signaller (No.D/JX.153773) with the Royal Navy as a member of the Submarine Service, and was decorated for his services in the submarine Satyr on the occasion of the destruction of the U-987 off Narvik on 15th June 1944. The Satyr, commanded by Lieutenant T. S. Weston, D.S.C., R.N., had already completed seven operational patrols off Norway prior to this classic sub-on-sub encounter, when she fired a full bow salvo of six torpedoes, two of which found their mark. There were no German survivors - the U-987s captain was 28 year old Hilmar Karl Schreyer, onetime an enlisted Quarter-Master on Gunther Krechs highly successful U-558. This was the 10th War Patrol of Satyr. The patrol report would read: 0907 hours - In position 68 °00'N, 05 °02'E sighted a u-boat bearing 107 °, range 4500 yards. Started attack. 0915 hours - In position 68 °01'N, 05 °08'E fired 6 torpedoes from 3000 yards. Nearly two minutes after firing two almost simultaneous explosions were heard. These were two torpedoes that prematured. 2 Minutes and 20 seconds after firing another two explosions were heard and two hits were observed on the target. The first hit was just abaft the stem and the other underneath the conning tower. Two great columns of water rose up and both the bown and the stern of the u-boat lifted out of the water, and she appeared to break in half. The stern sank back almost immediately while the bow remained at an angle of about 60 degrees bow up for a few seconds giving many people in the control room time to see it through the periscope. Breaking up noises were clearly heard. No survivors were seen. The following narrative of the action formed part of the subsequent recommendation process for Honours and Awards: H.M. Submarine Satyr was on patrol in an area North of the Faroe Islands on 15 June 1944 when a U-Boat was sighted in poor visibility and an attack started; but, observing that the range was opening, Lieutenant T. S. Weston, R.N., the Commanding Officer, decided to surface and endeavour to close. On surfacing the visibility cleared and it was obviously hopeless to continue the chase without being observed. Lieutenant Weston rightly appreciated that the U-Boat was on passage and that others might pass close enough for attack. At 1907 another U-Boat was sighted at some four miles, being astern of Satyr at the time of sighting, the latter being on the U-Boats port bow. Whilst Satyr was turning to attack the U-Boat altered course away, necessitating a further alteration of course and a burst of speed to decrease the range. Lieutenant Weston decided to anticipate any further zigs on the part of the enemy by firing as soon as practicable and eight minutes after the original sighting a salvo of six torpedoes was fired. As the fifth torpedo left the tube the enemy was observed to be altering course and Lieutenant Weston withheld firing his last torpedo for a few seconds. Two torpedoes exploded prematurely but 25 seconds later two torpedoes were seen to hit the target, one just abaft the bow and the other below the conning tower, and the U-Boat appeared to break in half. There was sufficient time before she sank for several persons to see the bows sticking out of the water, through Satyrs periscope. This well executed attack carried out in a short period on a zig-zagging target certainly resulted in the destruction of a German U-Boat and is in accordance with the general efficiency now expected of H.M. Submarine Satyr under the able command of Lieutenant Weston. Weston was duly awarded the Distinguished Service Order, his Number One the Distinguished Service Cross, and four crew members, including Pearce, the Distinguished Service Medal, his award being announced in the London Gazette for 15th August 1944 for undaunted courage, skill and devotion to duty in successful patrols in H.M. Submarines. Four other ratings were awarded a Mentioned in Despatches. Pearce is identified in the well known photograph of the crew of Satyr with the Jolly Roger flag displaying the U for U-Boat destruction symbol.