Born: 25th August 1910, Harwich, Essex.

Died: 29th April 1940; age: 29 – at sea.

Residence: 9b, Abbots Court, Radipole, Weymouth, Dorsetshire.


Rank: Lieutenant.

Regiment: Royal Navy, H.M. Submarine ‘Unity’


Medals Awarded: George Cross – The London Gazette of 16th August 1940, announced the award to this officer of the Empire Gallantry Medal “for gallantry in H.M. Submarines.” By the terms of the institution of the George Cross on the 24th September 1940, the award of the George Cross was exchanged for that of the Empire Gallantry Medal. Reported in the London Gazette – 1st January 1941 – New Year’s Honours List for gallantry when sunk in collision.


Memorial Reference:

Panel 37, Column 1.

Portsmouth Naval Memorial,



Relatives Notified & Address: Son of (Captain) William Augustus John Low & Annie Cook Low; husband of Margery Russell Low, Third Officer, W.R.N.S., of Mayfield, Dundee.




1911   Fernlea House, Fernlea Road, Harwich, Essex.


John was 7 months old and living with his parents.

William Augustus John Low, 33, a Trinity Pilot – Trinity House, born Plaistow, Essex.

Annie Cook Low (nee Snowball), 31, born Newcastle on Tyne, Harwich, Essex.

1 servant.


John was educated at Ipswich School


In 1936, Freebridge Lynn, Norfolk, John married Margery Russell Walling, born April 1910, East Sheen, Surrey.


Probate to Margery Russell Low – widow.


John is also remembered on the Ipswich School Chapel war memorial.


H.M.S. ‘Unity’ 29th April 1940


H.M.S. ‘Unity’ was a U-class submarine, ordered 5th November 1936. She was built by Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness, laid down 19th February 1937, launched 16th February 1938 and commissioned 5th October 1938, She served in the home waters in the North Sea.

On the 29th April 1940, at 17:30 hrs, H.M.S. ‘Unity’ sailed from Blyth to patrol off  Norway. At the same time a Norwegian Freighter, S.S. Atle Jarl was on her way from Scotland to the Tyne. Visibility was down to 91m, H.M.S. ‘Unity’ spotted the other ship 46m away, on a collision course off the River Tyne entrance. There was time to shut the bulkhead doors and order the engines astern before the S.S. ‘Atle Jarl’ rammed. Commander – Lt. Francis John Brooks, RN gave the order to abandon the submarine. She sank 5 minutes after the accidental surface collision.

After the order to abandon the submarine was given, two members of her crew, Lieutenant John Low and Able Seaman Henry Miller remained behind in the flooded control room and calmly assisted all the other members of the crew to escape, but perished themselves. Later two other crew members of the 29 crew that had escaped drowned.

Reported in the London Gazette – 1st January 1941 – New Year’s Honours List for gallantry when sunk in collision. Their Empire Gallantry Medal was later upgraded in September 1940, to the George Cross. The next-of-kin of both men were presented the medal by the King at an investiture at Buckingham Palace.

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