THE story of gardener William Craven and his wife Elizabeth, a keen swimmer, provided real inspiration.

We asked you to suggest other local people who have lived extraordinary lives that should be written about and it's thanks to Looking Back regular Alvin Hopper that this week we bring you the story of Gerard Roope, of Weymouth.

His name is listed on Weymouth's War Memorial.

Lieutenant Commander Gerard Broadmead Roope, who was born in Taunton, was involved in a David and Goliath tale of heroism in the Second World War.

He is a Victoria Cross winner who received his award, posthumously, in 1945.

In April 1940 the Germans invaded Norway. Lt Cdr Roope was the Commanding Officer of a small British destroyer, HMS Glow-worm.

Glow-worm was proceeding alone off the coast of Bodo, Norway, on April 8, 1940, acting as a destroyer screen for for the battle cruiser HMS renown.

During a very heavy storm that day, one of the ship's men fell overboard.

Lt Cmdr Roope signalled the Renownk, asking for permission to recover the missing sailor, saying he would catch up with the screen of escorting destroyers later. He never did, because later that day his ship spotted another destroyer, Z11 Bernd Von Arnim, later joined by Z14 Paul Jacobi, both German ships that opened fire on the Glow-worm.

She returned fire and scored a hit on one of the enemy ships. But worse was to come.

Bringing up the rear was the German heavy cruiser K.M. Hipper, with eight inch guns - she tore huge holes in the tiny destroyer, with her shells killing many of the ship's crew. Not finished yet, Lt Cmdr Roope decided to ram his adversary, which he achieved, but it was the end for the Glow-worm.

Some men climbed onto her bow or dived into the stormy, freezing, oil covered water. As she slipped under, her siren which had been going all through the action, abruptly stopped, causing a momentary eerie silence.

Her depth charges blew up, killing yet more men. The Captain of the Hipper, Helmuth Heye, chivalrously stayed for more than an hour picking up survivors.

Heye positioned Hipper so that the sea's current would bring the drifting survivors to him. Everyone on deck, including the soldiers, helped to pull in the exhausted, oil-covered survivors. Many grabbed ropes but were too exhausted to hold on to them and slipped to their deaths.

Lt Cdr Roope was in the water helping his men to the ropes and to get life jackets on. Finally he took hold of a rope himself and was pulled some distance up the side of the ship. But with a combination of the huge waves and his exhaustion, he let go and slipped beneath the waves.

Shortly afterwards she capsized and sank; only 31 out of 149 sailors were saved.

After the war, the survivors returned with their story of that battle and the Hipper's Captain Heye surrendered his sword in May at Wilhemshaven.

Captain Heye sent a message through the International Red Cross, recommending Lt Cdr Roope for the Victoria Cross in recognition of his great valour. This was the only time in British history that the VC was recommended by the enemy. The King presented the VC to Lt Cdr Roope's wife on July 16, 1945.

Thanks to Alvin for shining the spotlight on this heroic Weymouth man.