Lieutenant Commander John Howell-Price

Ranks Held Lieutenant, Lieutenant Commander
Birth Date 1886-09-16
Birth Place Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
Death Date 1937-11-13
Death Place United Kingdom: England, Merseyside, Liverpool
Final Rank Lieutenant Commander
  • Royal Australian Navy
  • Royal Naval Reserve
Conflict/Operation First World War, 1914-1918

John Howell-Price was born on 16 September 1886 at Five Dock, Sydney, to parents Isabel nee Winchcombe and John Howell-Price.

At the age of 14 John Howell-Price left his family to go work at sea. He served an apprenticeship as a merchant-navy officer on the clippers Neotsfield and Yalloroi before obtaining a master mariner's certificate. He joined the Royal Naval Reserve as a temporary sub-lieutenant on 24 March 1915 and was serving as an acting lieutenant on the armed merchant cruiser H.M.S. Alcantara when she met the German raider S.M.S. Greif in the North Sea on 29 February 1916. Both ships were sunk during the battle, and the survivors nearly froze to death in open boats before they were rescued. For his part in the engagement John was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

By May of 1916 John Howell-Price had transferred to the submarine service and was promoted to temporary lieutenant on 24 July 1917. In 1918 he was chosen to be the second-in-command and navigator of the old British submarine C3. On the night of the 23 of April 1918 the C3 was filled with explosives and was to be blown up under the viaduct connecting the mole to the shore at Zeebrugge, Belgium, a German occupied naval base. Hidden by fog, the submarine struck the viaduct, the bows of the vessel wedging between in the girders of the structure shortly after midnight. After lighting the fuse, the crew escaped the submarine on a motor dinghy. The submarine blew up shortly thereafter destroying approximately 120 feet of the viaduct. For his part in this action John was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.
In March 1919, John transferred to the Royal Australian Navy. He returned to Australia in command of the submarine J3, a British submarine to be presented to the Australian government. He continued to serve in the Royal Australian navy unit. He was appointed a Lieutenant in His Majesty’s fleet in January of 1921. Soon after, John left the Royal Australian Navy and re-joined the merchant navy as a master with the Federal Steam Navigation Co. Ltd, making several trips to Australia.

John married Margaret Hannah Williams of Liverpool, England in 1918 and they had one daughter, Olwen. John Howell Price died in Liverpool, England on 13 November 1937.


Date of birth 16 September 1886
Date of death 13 November 1937