Early Day Motion in Parliament commemorates sacrifice of Enigma war heroes at centre of campaign

Three war heroes Enigma Communications managing director Phil Shanahan campaigned to bring to public attention have now been recognised in Parliament.

Colin Grazier and his two comrades were commemorated in an Early Day Motion presented on the 75th anniversary of the WW2 mission they took part in.

More than 60 MPs signed the motion, proposed by Dr Julian Lewis MP, chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, in tribute to Grazier and his colleagues, Tony Fasson and Tommy Brown.

Headed 75th anniversary of the seizure of Enigma documents from the U-559, it states:

“That this House salutes the extraordinary courage of the three crew members of HMS Petard who, on 30 October 1942, boarded the sinking German submarine U-559 in circumstances of extreme peril; recognises that the Enigma material they retrieved proved vital in saving countless Allied ships and lives; deeply regrets that two of them were drowned when the submarine foundered and the third did not survive the war; and believes that the example and self-sacrifice of Lieutenant Anthony Fasson GC, Able Seaman Colin Grazier GC and Canteen Assistant Tommy Brown GM must never be forgotten.”

MPs across all parties registered their support by signing the motion.

Dr Lewis also paid tribute to the men during a parliamentary debate on the evening of the anniversary, saying: “By their sacrifice and bravery, thousands upon thousands of allied lives were saved.”

Fasson, 29, from Jedburgh in Scotland and 22-year-old Grazier, from Tamworth, captured vital codebooks from the U-559 after the Petard had bombarded it with depth charges in the Mediterranean. The material seized enabled Bletchley Park’s brilliant codebreakers, including Alan Turing, to break the German’s four-rotor Enigma naval cipher after a 10-month intelligence blackout.

This helped the Allies to win the Battle of the Atlantic, a victory Churchill described as crucial to the outcome of the entire war. Brown, who was just 16 and had helped pass on the codebooks to the Petard crew, died in a house fire in 1944.

Phil Shanahan pictured at new interpretation panel erected at memorial to Enigma heroes, with David Hunter, senior regeneration officer at Tamworth Borough Council, and Tamworth councillor Steven Claymore.
Phil Shanahan (centre) is pictured at a new interpretation panel erected at the memorial to the Enigma heroes, with David Hunter, senior regeneration officer at Tamworth Borough Council, (left) and Tamworth councillor Steven Claymore (right).

Phil launched a campaign in 1998, while working as a newspaper editor, to honour Grazier, Fasson and Brown. It culminated in the unveiling of the three-anchors monument in St Editha’s Square, Tamworth.

To celebrate the landmark in the story an updated version of his book The Real Enigma Heroes has been released, along with an ebook, both featuring a special anniversary cover. The book includes eyewitness accounts of the incident and charts the fight to bring the men to public attention.

Phil said: “It’s marvellous to see these brave men being recognised by Parliament.

“Julian Lewis has been an excellent supporter of this story for many years now and introduced my book at the Bletchley Park launch when he was shadow defence minister. I’m delighted he sponsored this Early Day Motion.”

On the anniversary, Phil also helped unveil a new storyboard at the monument which contains details of the action. The interpretation panel was erected by Tamworth Borough Council as a result of a generous donation from a member of the public who has supported the campaign from the outset.

*The Real Enigma Heroes is published by The History Press, price £16.99 (ebook £9.99).





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