Captain Edward Fegen, Royal Navy, commanding the armed merchantman HMS Jervis Bay.
Jervis Bay was a converted merchant ship, armed with a few WW1-era guns. On 5th November 1940, it was the sole escort protecting a convoy of 37 ships carrying supplies to Britain across the Atlantic. Britain was facing Germany alone at that time, and was desperately short of food, fuel and weapons, so every ship which brought supplies across from the US and Canada was vitally important.
The convoy came under attack from the German pocket battleship 'Admiral Scheer', a fast and powerful vessel carrying six 11-inch guns.
Captain Fegen ordered the ships of the convey to make a run for it, then attacked the 'Scheer' head-on. Massively outgunned and with no chance of destroying it, they somehow kept the Germans occupied for three hours, allowing the convoy ships to get some distance from them.
Finally, with the captain dead and the ship sinking, on fire, and with all guns out of action, the order was given to abandon ship. A number of survivors were later picked up by other ships. The Scheer then went after the merchant vessels from the convoy and managed to sink several of them, but 31 managed to get away entirely due to the actions of Fegen and his crew.
For his actions that day, the captain was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.