Garrow, Ian Peter
He was the third son of Duncan Garrow and Rhoeta Margaret Katherine Garrow (daughter of David Norton), and entered Major J.W. Parr’s House in January 1934. He was brother of Alan Duncan Garrow (G 1923-28) and Donald Hugh Garrow (G 1932-36). He was appointed a Prefect, was an excellent actor and was twice “Mentioned” in English Speech. He had a distinguished career as a games player. He was in Commoner VI in 1937-38 and Captain in 1938, and was in Lords in the same years, showing marked promise as a bowler. His obituary appeared in Wisden:
“GARROW, SUB LIEUT. IAN PETER, D.S.C., R.N.V.R., who, reported missing, was presumed killed in November 1942, played in the Winchester XI, 1937-38. A useful batsman and bowler, with life off the pitch, he scarcely fulfilled expectations.”
But the game at which he promised to be first-class was golf, at which he played for England twice in the Boys’ International in 1937 and 1938.
In October 1939 he went up to Trinity College, Oxford for a few months, before joining the Fleet Air Arm. He was commissioned in May 1941 as a fighter pilot, flying a Sea Hurricane I from HMS Avenger, a 12,850 ton auxiliary aircraft carrier, seeing action as escort to a convoy to north Russia.
She was equipped with twelve Sea Hurricanes, and three Swordfish from 825 Squadron. They engaged U-boats, flying boats, Junkers 88 bombers and Heinkel 111 bombers. In all thirteen merchant ships were lost, but the convoy claimed forty two German aircraft destroyed. During this busy period, on September 14th 1942, Garrow was awarded the DSC: “for great courage, skill and devotion to duty whilst escorting His Majesty’s Convoy to Russia.”
Returning to Scapa Flow at the beginning of October 1942, HMS Avenger was ordered to North Africa to take part in the landings planned for 8th November. There was heavy fighting against the Vichy French airborne forces, and on the last day of the landings, Avenger’s diesel engines stopped, and she went into Algiers for repairs. After the repairs were completed, she left Algiers for Gibraltar, leaving there on 12th November to return home to the Clyde.
At three in the morning of 15th November 1942, HMS Avenger was picked up by U-Boat U155, commanded by Kapitanleutnant Piening, just south of Cape St Vincent. The previous day she had torpedoed the troopship HMS Warwick Castle, which sank within an hour with the loss of nearly 100 crew.
Piening fired two torpedoes at Avenger, one of which hit the bomb room, which astonishingly, ran across the middle of the ship from one side to the other and lay above the oil fuel tanks. It contained about thirty 500 pound bombs, seventy 250 pound bombs, 120 40 pound bombs, and 100 depth charges. Not surprisingly, the explosion blew out the centre section of the ship. Her bow and stern sections rose high in the air. One report stated that “an inclination of about 30° up towards the stern and…shortly after this the angle jumped to 60°….the propeller above water”.
HMS Avenger sank quickly: a report stated that “she disappeared entirely within three minutes of the explosion. It may have been even less than two minutes.”
Only twelve men were rescued; Garrow was not among them. Although a search for survivors continued until after daybreak, no more were found.
The wreck is located in the North Atlantic, forty-five nautical miles south of Cape Santa Maria, Portugal.
Garrow, aged twenty-two, went down with his ship and is commemorated in Bay 4, Panel 1 of the Lee-on-Solent Memorial.
- Surname: Garrow
- Forenames or initials: Ian Peter
- House: G
- Years in School: 1934-1938
- Rank: Sub-Lieutenant
- Regiment: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
- Date of Birth: 1st November 1920
- Date of Death: 15th November 1942
- How Died: Killed in Action
- Location in War Cloister: Inner A2
- Decoration: DSC
- Burial Site: Commemorated on the Lee on Solent Memorial, Panel 1, Bay 4