By David Knox
Border Telegraph – 6 November 2017
A Borders war hero and his two comrades have been commemorated in Parliament on the 75th anniversary of their World War II mission. Tony Fasson was killed in action retrieving vital documents that helped turn the tide of the war.
Last week 48 MPs signed the motion, proposed by Dr Julian Lewis MP, chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, in tribute to Fasson and his colleagues, Colin Grazier 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 October 30, 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. They included Scottish National Party MPs Stephen Gethins, Carol Monaghan, Philippa Whitford, David Linden and John McNally. Also among the signatories were Scottish Conservative MPs Bill Grant and Stephen Kerr, and Christine Jardine, from the Liberal Democrats.
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, and 22-year-old Grazier, from Tamworth in Staffordshire, 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 codebreakers, including Alan Turing, to break the German's four-rotor Enigma naval cipher. This helped the Allies 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 fire at his North Shields home in 1944. Phil Shanahan, former deputy editor of the Tamworth Herald, launched a campaign which was to last for years in 1998 to honour Fasson, Grazier and Brown. It culminated in the unveiling of the three-anchors monument in St Editha's Square, Tamworth in honour of all three men.
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 is packed with eyewitness accounts of the incident and charts the fight to bring the men to public attention. Phil said:
"Scotland can take great pride in what Tony Fasson and his comrades achieved and it's marvellous to see them being recognised by Parliament on such a special landmark in this remarkable story.
"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."
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, who grew up in the Borders, recently called for a separate memorial to Fasson in Scotland. The Real Enigma Heroes is published by The History Press, price £16.99 (ebook £9.99). For more information on the story visit http://enigmacommunications.co.uk/enigma-book