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Corporal Hunter

Corporal Hunter (1)Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter RM Thomas Hunter was born in Aldershot, Hampshire where his father Ramsey was a regular soldier. The family moved to Stenhouse, Edinburgh where Thomas grew up, and on the outbreak of war, he joined the local Home Guard for one and half years until being called up on 8 May 1942. He enlisted in the Royal Marines as a 'Hostilities Only' Marine on 23 June that year. Having completed his Commando training he joined 43 RM Commando, and on 9 January 1944, disembarked at Castellano in Italy. On 25 January 1945, he was promoted Temporary Corporal in ‘C’ Troop.

On 3 April 1945 in the Battle of Lake Comacchio, 43 RM Commando’s objective was the Valleta Canal, although not in immediate sight when ‘C’ troop began its advance. Most of the houses south of the canal had been demolished and the scrub-land cut to afford the German defenders a clear field of fire. However, the advance seemed to have taken some of the Germans by surprise as the Marines pressed through the confusion, firing at those who engaged them, and ignoring those who raised their hands to surrender.

Armed with a Bren gun, Hunter had led his troop to within four hundred yards of the canal when he realised the enemy held the ruined houses ahead and would soon engage his troop out in the open. Charging alone over two hundred yards, he cleared the defences and attracted the fire of enemy positions on the north bank of the canal whilst his troop advanced for cover. He was eventually hit and killed while engaging pill-boxes as his troop re-grouped. There was no doubt that Corporal Hunter offered himself as a target in order to save his Troop, and only the speed of his movement prevented him being hit earlier. Throughout the operation his magnificent courage, leadership and cheerfulness had been an inspiration to his comrades. For this action he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross (VC). At twenty-one, he was the youngest Royal Marine to earn the medal.

Thomas Hunter is buried at the Argenta Gap War Cemetery in Italy. King George VI presented his parents with his Victoria Cross on 26 September 1945, at a private investiture in the Palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh.

Thomas’s sister and nephew donated the medals to the Royal Marines Museum, in September 1974.