Mrs Peter Hutton Fellover St Breward nr Bodmin!
There is a memorial brass to Peter Coats Hutton over the church door inside St Breward’s Church.
Peter Coats Hutton’s naval career
Peter Coats Hutton was born 2 November 1902 and entered the Royal Navy 15 September 1916. After completing training as a naval cadet he was appointed temporarily on 15 January 1921 as a Midshipman to the cruiser ORION and then in March 1921 to the cruiser RALEIGH.
HMS RALEIGH was later wrecked on the shores of Newfoundland and “in recognition of services in saving life on occasion of wreck of HMS RALEIGH” Hutton was awarded the R.H.S Silver Medal & Certificate and the Stanhope Gold Medal for 1922.*
Subsequent appointments included the battleships ROYAL SOVEREIGN and REVENGE.
Hutton obtained First Class passes in all his specialist courses: Seamanship, Navigation and Pilotage, Engineering, Gunnery and Torpedo, for which he was awarded a £10 prize.
On 5 January 1927 his resignation from the Royal Navy was accepted. Married with two sons, either he was a victim of the Geddes Axe or he recognised that there was little future in a navy being drastically reduced in size. The family moved to St Breward and Hutton took over Tor Down quarry.
On 11 May1927 he was “Granted permission to join Special Constabulary on clear understanding that Admiralty would have first claim on his services in event of Emergency.”
On 15 December 1932 he was promoted a Lieutenant Commander (Emergency) and recalled to the service on the Emergency List on 26 May 1939.
During the evacuation of Crete in April 1941 Lieutenant Commander Hutton was flown out from England to take command of ‘A’ lighters in the Mediterranean. Described thus for security reasons, ‘A’ lighters were tank landing craft, but they were sadly ill-equipped for war. None of them was fitted with wireless and their anti-aircraft armament was either non-existent or very weak. With their shallow draught and high slab-sided bows they were bitches to handle in harbour and uncomfortable at sea, only in calm weather able to maintain their maximum speed of ten knots. Their twin 500hp petrol engines made a noise which would alert the enemy from miles away. These craft were sent to Suda Bay where they arrived on 21st April.
Subsequent operations described in Greek Tragedy ’41 by Anthony Heckstall-Smith and Vice Admiral Baillie-Grohman (published by Blond in 1961) relate the evacuation of the 58,000 Imperial troops from Crete under attack by the Luftwaffe.
On 25th April Hutton went aboard A.15 with the intention of reaching Monemvasia on the Greek mainland in order to assist in the evacuation of ‘X’ beach where 4,320 were embarked. A.15 never reached Monemvasia. Somewhere between Suda Bay and the Greek coast she was sunk with the loss of all hands.
“The loss of Hutton was a tragic blow to his squadron of ‘A’ lighters for he was a splendid leader and was sadly missed……”
*Although not an official award, the medal can be worn on the right chest in uniform by members of the British armed forces.
Information courtesy of St Lawrence House Museum, Launceston