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Royal Navy and British Merchant Navy in World War 2

 

BRITISH and DOMINION NAVIES - THE GEORGE CROSS AT SEA, 1939-1945

and its equivalent predecessors, the ALBERT MEDAL in GOLD and EMPIRE GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

The original and inspiring official accounts from "The London Gazette" the British award that is second only to the Victoria Cross

 
 

 

 

Contents

 

The George Cross, Albert Medal, Empire Gallantry Medal

 

Awards of the George Cross, Albert Medal and Empire Gallantry Medal at Sea, 1939-45

 

Addendum, Albert Medal in Bronze at Sea

 

Royal Warrant for the Institution of the George Cross

 

Sources

 


 

I am grateful for all sources for their information on the George Cross and equivalent awards, and especially “The London Gazette” for providing the original and very authentic accounts and also the interesting formality of the original Royal Warrant for the George Cross.

 


 

     

THE GEORGE CROSS, ALBERT MEDAL, EMPIRE GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

    ALBERT MEDAL (AM)

    1866 - instituted in 1866 for saving life at sea,  named after Queen Victoria’s husband, two Classes, the 1st  in gold and 2nd in bronze (ribbon colours and sizes changed through its history).

    1877 - also granted for saving life on land.

    1917 – titles changed to Albert Medal in Gold (formerly 1st Class in gold) and the Albert Medal (formerly  2nd class bronze).

    1949 – Albert Medal in Gold replaced by George Cross. Albert Medal only awarded posthumously in Bronze.

    1971 – Albert Medal ceased and living recipients invited to exchange Albert Medal for George Cross.

 

   

    EMPIRE GALLANTRY MEDAL (EGM) the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Gallantry

    1922 – instituted in two Divisions, Civil and Military (ribbon colours changed through its short history).

    1940 – ceased to be awarded on the institution of George Cross. Living recipients had to exchange the EGM for the GC

 

 

 

                 

    GEORGE CROSS (GC)

    24 September 1940 – Instituted by King George VI (see Royal Warrant), together with the George Medal. Empire Gallantry Medal ceased to be awarded, but Albert Medal continued.

 

 
 

 
 

AWARDS of the GEORGE CROSS, ALBERT MEDAL and EMPIRE GALLANTRY MEDAL

 

Contents

(in date order – action or gazetted. Click name to go to entry) 

6 Sep 39, Radio Officer James Turner MN, SS Manaar

16 Oct 39, Cdr Richard Jolly RN, HMS Mohawk

14 Mar 40, Sub Lt Alexander Hodge RNVR, HMS Eagle

29 Apr 40, Lt John Niven Low RN and Able Seaman Henry Miller, HM S/M Unity

20 Sep 40, Sub Lt Richard Moore RNVR, HMS President

21 Sep 40, Lt Cdr Richard Ryan RN and CPO Reginald Ellingworth, HMS Vernon

27 Sep 40, 2nd Hand John Mitchell RNR,  Iceland

30 Sep 40, Sub Lt William Taylor RNVR, HMS Vernon

9 Oct 40, Lt Robert Selby Armitage RNVR, HMS Vernon

17 Oct 40, Sub Lt Jack Easton RNVR and Ordinary Seaman Bennett Southwell, HMS Vernon

28 Nov 40, Lt Harold Newgass RNVR, HMS President

1 Dec 40, Sub Lt Francis Brooke-Smith RNR, HMS Drake

1 Dec 40, Able Seaman Alfred Miles, HMS Saltash

20 Dec 40, Sub Lt Peter Danckwerts RNVR

21 Dec 40, Lt Geoffrey Turner RNVR, HMS Vernon

27 Dec 40, Sub Lt John Babington RNVR, HMS President

14 Jan 41, Sub Lt John Miller RNVR, HMS President and Able Seaman Stephen Tuckwell, HMS Vernon

29 Jan 41, Cadet David Hay RNR, SS Eurylochus

17 Apr 41, Lt Ernest Gidden RNVR, HMS President

   1 May 41, 2nd Officer Robert Finlayson MN and  Able Seaman Richard Hamilton MN

5 May 41, Ordinary Seaman Albert Howarth RN, HMS Foresight

20 Jun 41, Bombardier Henry Reed, 1 Maritime AA Regt, SS Cormount,

1 Sep 41, Lt Cdr William Hiscock RN, HMS St Angelo

22 Sep 41, Lt John Gibbons RNVR, CO, ML.144

15 Jan 42, Lt George Goodman RNVR, HMS Vernon and HMS Nile

   17 Mar 42, 3rd Engineer George Newbery MN

22 Mar 42, Lt Dennis Copperwheat RN, HMS Penelope

   16 Apr 42, Able Seaman Albert Shearing MN

1 Jun 42, Lt John Mould RANVR, HMS Vernon

8 Aug 42, Apprentice Donald Clarke MN, MT San Emiliano,

12 Aug 42, Capt Dudley Mason MN, Master, MT Ohio

12 Aug 42, PO Cook Charles Walker, destroyer, Malta convoy ‘Pedestal’

   12 Aug 42, Apprentice John Gregson MN

14 Sep 42, Chief Officer James Reeves MN, MT Atheltemplar

   27 Oct 42, Surgeon William Chisholm MN

30 Oct 42, Lt Francis Fasson RN, Able Seaman Colin Grazier, HMS Petard

25 Dec 42, Lt Hugh Syme RANVR, HMS Vernon

3 Jan 43, Boatswain William McCarthy RN, HMS Nile

10 Jan 43, Able Seaman Eynon Hawkins, SS British Dominion

26 Jan 43, Leading Seaman William Goad, HMS Ashanti

19 Mar 43, Chief Officer George Stronach MN, SS Ocean Voyager

30 Mar 43, 2nd Engineer Gordon Bastian MN, SS Empire Bowman

12 Jun 43, Lt Leon Goldsworthy RANVR, HMS Vernon

   3 Jul 43, Able Seaman David McRae MN

31 Aug 43, Lt John Bridge RNVR, HMS Elissa

13 Oct 43, Warrant Electrician Ernest Wooding RCNVR

23 Nov 43, Stoker Donald Dale, HMNZS Achilles

   12 Sep 44, Stoker 2nd Class Charles Pethebridge RANR

 

 

 


 

1939 

 

6 September 1939  Radio Officer James Turner MN, cargo ship SS Manaar, torpedoed and sunk by U.38 (Liebe) in North Atlantic, 120 miles off Capt St Vincent in 38.28N, 10.50W. Saved two men from the sea under fire. Awarded Empire Gallantry Medal, gazetted 13 October 1939.  

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the Award of the Medal of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry, to the undermentioned:

James Gordon Melville Turner, Radio‑Officer, S.S. "Manaar” (Messrs. T. & J. Brocklebank).

When the S.S. “Manaar" was attacked by an enemy submarine there was no summons to stop. About ten shots were fired before the ship was abandoned after twenty or thirty minutes. Three shells were fired, one of which took away the fore‑part of the wheelhouse and probably the wireless aerial. Rapid shrapnel followed. Some of the men in the boats were injured by gunfire.

The Radio‑Officer was inadvertently left behind in the ship with two members of the native crew, one severely wounded and the other injured. His shipmates called to him to come down and join them in the Master's boat, but he refused to leave the ship until the two other members of the crew could be rescued. He tried to lower a lifeboat, but the falls jammed and then suddenly ran out, so that the boat crashed into the water and filled. He carried the severely wounded Lascar to another boat, and was about to lower it when the boat was blown to pieces, with the wounded man inside. He then swam out to the waterlogged boat and pulled her alongside. The injured Lascar then went down the rope into the boat, which was cut adrift, and joined the Master's boat. All this was done under fire.’

 

 

16 October 1939 Cdr Richard Jolly RN, CO destroyer HMS Mohawk, ship was bombed and badly damaged by German aircraft off May Island in the Firth of Forth. Badly wounded but continued in command and died of his wounds. Posthumously awarded Empire Gallantry Medal, gazetted 23 December 1939. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the posthumous Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry, to the late:

Commander Richard Frank Jolly, R.N.

Commander Jolly's gallantry consisted of the bringing of his ship into harbour when he himself was mortally wounded. H.M.S. Mohawk had been attacked by an enemy aircraft and had suffered a large number of casualties. Commander Jolly, who was on the bridge, was severely wounded in the stomach but refused to leave the bridge or allow himself to be attended to; he continued to direct the Mohawk for a 35‑mile passage home which lasted 1 hour and 20 minutes. He was too weak for his orders to be heard, but these were repeated by his wounded Navigating Officer. He was repeatedly invited to go down to receive medical atten­tion but he refused saying "Leave me - go and look after the others". Having brought his ship into port, Commander Jolly rang off the main engines and immediately collapsed. He died some five hours after being landed.

 

 

1940

 

 

 

 

14 March 1940 Sub Lt Alexander Hodge RNVR, aircraft carrier HMS Eagle in the Bay of Bengal, bomb exploded in bomb room killing 13 and mortally wounding another.Played major part in rescue work. Awarded Empire Gallantry Medal, gazetted 02 August 1940. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

The Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry

Sub‑Lieutenant Alexander Mitchell Hodge, R.N.V.R.

H.M. Ship in which Sub‑Lieutenant Hodge was serving was badly damaged by an ex­plosion in a bomb‑room. The bomb‑room was in darkness, full of heat and fumes,and smoke rising to the main deck suggested fire below.

Sub‑Lieutenant Hodge had no knowledge of the behaviour of bombs in great heat or violent movement. When the explosion occurred he at once left the main deck and went into the bomb‑room. He examined this and was able to rescue and send up several badly injured men. . He found one of the wounded men crushed under two very heavy bombs, which could not be moved single‑handed. Obtaining help, he dragged the wounded man clear, and sent him up.

Sub‑lieutenant Hodge did not go on deck until he had satisfied himself that no one was left alive below.

Throughout he showed outstanding courage, enterprise and resource, without any thought for himself. He saved all the lives he could though, for all he knew, further fatal explosions might have occurred at any moment.

 

29 April 1940   Lt John Niven Low RN and Able Seaman Henry Miller, HM S/M Unity, sunk in collision with Norwegian SS Atle Jarle in the North Sea, off Blyth. Gave their lives to save others. Both posthumously awarded Empire Gallantry Medal, gazetted 16 August 1940. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the following posthumous Awards for gallantry in one of H.M. Submarines:

The Medal of the Military division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry.

The late Lieutenant John Niven Angus Low, Royal Navy, H.M. Submarines.

The late Able Seaman Henry James Miller, P/J.55387, H.M. Submarines.

 

 20 September 1940 Sub Lt Richard Moore RNVR, HMS President (London) Bomb and Mine Disposal B&MD. Described as having ‘no practical training’, he nevertheless disarmed mines ‘in an emergency’ during the Blitz, including a damaged one in Dagenham, Essex on this date. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 27 December 1940. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Temporary  Sub-Lieutenant (Sp) Richard Valentine Moore R.N.V.R.

 

 

21 September 1940  Lt Cdr Richard Ryan RN and CPO Reginald Ellingworth, HMS Vernon, Rendering Mines Safe team. Defused mines during the Blitz, both killed tackling a parachute mine in Dagenham, Essex on this date. Posthumously awarded George Cross, gazetted 20 December 1940. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS, for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty, to:

Lieutenant‑Commander Richard John Hammersley Ryan, Royal Navy.

Chief Petty Officer Reginald Vincent Ellingworth, P/J.26011.

 

27 September 1940  2nd Hand John Mitchell RNR. Dived into freezing water in an Icelandic harbour to save two men. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 29 April 1941

The London Gazette - His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

For gallantry in saving life at sea:

The Albert Medal.

Acting Second Hand John Henry Mitchell, LT/JX.173154, R.N.R.

On 27th September, 1940, Chief Engine­man Wedderburn fell into the sea. between two trawlers in harbour. He could not swim, and was soon unconscious. An unknown seaman, who jumped in to save him was soon in difficulties. Mitchell, hear­ing his shouts, clambered over a vessel to the quay, ran 100 yards, climbed across two other ships and jumped into the water. He seized Wedderburn, who was sinking, by the hair, and held up the other man until a rope was passed down from the trawler. This he secured with a bowline round the now helpless seaman, using one hand, while he supported both men and himself by gripping the rope with his teeth. The seaman was then hauled out of the water by the men in the trawler. Mitchell, although fully clad, and wearing sea boots, supported Wedderburn by treading water until a pilot ladder could be lowered. He made the rope fast round Wedderburn, and steadied him as he was hauled out. He had been in very cold water for 35 minutes, and was unconscious when rescued

.

 

30 September 1940  Sub Lt William Taylor RNVR, HMS Vernon, Rendering Mines Safe and Port Clearance. Defused mines in the Blitz, notably in September and October 1940, including a bomb at RAF Depot Uxbridge. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 14 January 1941. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty, to:

Probationary Temporary Sub‑Lieutenant William Horace Taylor, R.N.V.R.

 

 

9 October 1940   Lt Robert Selby Armitage RNVR, HMS Vernon, Bomb Disposal and Rendering Mines Safe. Defused mines in the Blitz, notably in September and October 1940, including a mine in Orpington Kent. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 27 December 1940. Also later received George Medal. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Temporary  Lieutenant Robert Selby Armitage R.N.V.R.

 

 

17 October 1940    Sub Lt Jack Easton RNVR and Ordinary Seaman Bennett Southwell, HMS Vernon, Bomb Disposal/Rendering Mines Safe team. During the Blitz, attended an unexploded bomb at Hoxton, East London which exploded badly injuring Lt Easton and killing OS Southwell. Both awarded George Cross, gazetted 23 January 1941. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Ordinary Seaman Bennett Southwell, P/JX.204557

 

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Probationary Temporary Sub-Lieutenant Jack Maynard Cholmondeley Easton, R.N.V.R.

 

 

28 November 1940 Lt Harold Newgass RNVR, HMS President, Rendering Mines Safe. Defused mines during the Blitz, on this date tackled mine which had fallen into a gas holder in Garston Gas Works Liverpool. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 4 March 1941. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Temporary Lieutenant Harold Reginald Newgass, R.N.V.R.

 

 

1 December 1940  Sub Lt Francis Brooke-Smith RNR, HMS Drake, Bomb Disposal. Bomb disposal during the Blitz, in December, dealt with bomb in particularly dangerous position in fire-float ‘Firefly’ on the Manchester Ship Canal. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 27 June 1941. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the Award of the GEORGE CROSS, for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty, to:

Sub‑Lieutenant Francis Haffey Brooke Smith, R.N.R.

 

 

1 December 1940     Able Seaman Alfred Miles, minesweeping sloop HMS Saltash. Lost his hand saving the life of a shipmate during a mooring accident in Grimsby Docks. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 29 April 1941. 

The London Gazette - His Majesty has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

For gallantry in saving life at sea:

The Albert Medal

Able Seaman Alfred Miles, P/ 23965.

On 1st December. 1940, when H.M.S. Saltash was passing from one dock basin to another, a wire was run out from the star­board bow to the weather corner of the gate so as to hold the bow up to the wind. The wire was taken to the windlass, but this was too slow, and men were picking up the slack by band, leaving some loose turns on the deck. As the ship drew level the order was passed to turn up. The wire was taken from the windlass to the bollards. Able Seaman Miles saw Able Seaman Thompson standing in a bight of wire and called out to him to get clear, but he failed to do so and the wire drew taut round his ankles. Miles knew that Thompson might be hauled through the bull­ring and that if he himself were caught in the wire he would be in the same danger; yet he tried to force the bight open with his hands. His right hand was jammed between the wire and Thompson's foot. He said nothing and still tried to free his shipmate. The hurt which caused the loss of his hand was not known till later. Thompson was dragged along the deck to the bull‑ring but way was taken off the ship just in time to save him.

 

 

20 December 1940   Sub Lt Peter Danckwerts RNVR, HMS President (London), Bomb Disposal and Rendering Mines Safe. Posted as Bomb Disposal Officer to the Port of London Authority and defused bombs and mines during the Blitz, often for long periods and at great risk. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 20 December 1940.

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS, for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty, to:

Sub‑Lieutenant Peter Victor Danckwerts, R.N.V.R. 

 

21 December 1940   Lt Geoffrey Turner RNVR, HMS Vernon, Rendering Mines Safe. Defused a whole series of parachute mines during the Blitz including one in Great Howard Street, Liverpool. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 27 June 1941. Also later received George Medal. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the Award of the GEORGE CROSS, for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty, to:

Lieutenant Geoffrey Gledhill Turner, R.N.V.R.

 

 

27 December 1940   Sub Lt John Babington RNVR, HMS President (London), Bomb Disposal and Rendering Mines Safe. Dealt with unexploded mines and bombs during the Blitz, in particular a bomb in Chatham Dockyard with a suspected anti-withdrawal device. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 27 December 1940. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Probationary Temporary  Sub-Lieutenant (Sp) John Herbert Babington R.N.V.R.

 

 

1941

 

 

 

14 January 1941    Sub Lt John Miller (or Duppa-Miller) RNVR, HMS President (London), Bomb Disposal, and Able Seaman Stephen Tuckwell, HMS Vernon, Bomb Disposal and Rendering Mines Safe. Bomb and mine disposal during the Blitz early in the winter of 1940, including a semi-submerged mine in Roding River which ran into Barking Creek, Essex. Both awarded George Cross, gazetted 14 January 1941 respectively. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty, to:

Probationary Temporary Sub‑Lieutenant John Bryan Peter Miller,

Able Seaman Stephen John Tuckwell, P/J.166122.

29 January 1941    Cadet David Hay RNR, SS Eurylochus, sunk by German raider raider Kormoran (Detmers) on this date in the Central Atlantic in 08.19N, 25.01W with the loss of 11 crew. Dived into shark-infested sea to save a shipmate. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 8 July 1941. 

The London Gazette – (From the ADMIRALTY, Whitehall, S.W.1)

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award for gallantry in rescuing a shipmate

The Albert Medal

Cadet David Hay.

Cadet Hay was serving in a Merchantman which was sunk by an enemy Raider. She was heavily shelled and machine-gunned, and many of her crew were killed. Two boats were got away, but the others were shot to pieces. Those of the crew who were left on board launched two rafts, and just before the ship went down they jumped in and swam for them. Cadet Hay reached a raft, but, although sharks were swimming all round him, he dived in again and rescued the Radio Officer. As he swam back to the raft his clothing was torn by a shark.

 

 

17 April 1941   Lt Ernest Gidden RNVR, HMS President (London), Rendering Mines Safe and Bomb & Mine Disposal during the Blitz. Dealt with particularly difficult mine on Hungerford Bridge, London. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 9 June 1942.

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Temporary Lieutenant Ernest Oliver Gidden, G.M., R.N.V.R.

 

05 May 1941   Ordinary Seaman Albert Howarth RN, destroyer HMS Foresight. The occasion was probably when Foresight assisted the mined SS Empire Song off Malta and was damaged in the resulting explosion. AB Howarth was one of a boat’s crew who was blown overboard, lost a foot, but saved another man in the water. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 2 September 1941. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following award:

The Albert Medal.

Ordinary Seaman Albert Howarth, D/JX. 229949, H.M.S. Foresight,

who was one of a boat's crew sent to board a burning and abandoned Merchantman. The Merchantman blew up as they drew near her, throwing the boat's crew into the water. Ordinary Seaman Howarth saw near him a Stoker who was badly shaken, so he held him up for ten minutes until a lifebelt was thrown to him. This he put round the Stoker, and before being hauled on board his ship, made sure that his shipmate was safe. When he himself reached the deck, after nearly half an hour in the water, it was seen that his right foot had been blown off.

 

 

 

 

31 May 1941   2nd Officer Robert Finlayson MN and Able Seaman Richard Hamilton MN, cargo ship MV Scottish Prince, in port. Died trying to save two men in a gas-filled tank. Both posthumously awarded Albert Medal gazetted 16 January 1942

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to make the posthumous award of the Decoration of the Albert Medal for Gallantry in Saving Life at Sea in recognition of the gallantry displayed by Second Officer Robert Allan Finlayson and Able Richard Hamilton in the following circumstances.

Their vessel was in port undergoing repairs and two members of the crew were engaged in removing plugs from the bulkhead of the port deep tank, when both suddenly collapsed, having been overcome by unsuspected gas which had generated from damaged cargo in the hold. The Second Officer, Mr. Robert Allan Finlayson, observing the occurrence and realis­ing the immediate need for assistance, promptly fastened his shirt around his nose and mouth and, with Able Seaman Richard Hamilton, entered the tank with a rope in an attempt to save the two men. This brave action on the part of Second Officer Finlayson and Able Seaman Hamilton unfortunately cost them their lives. Mr. Finlayson was just able to make the rope fast around the body of one of the men before he himself collapsed and died. Able Sea­man Hamilton, who had immediately followed him, did not reach the bottom of the tank but collapsed off the ladder when about half way down.

Although they must have known the very great risk they ran in entering the tank, Second Officer Finlayson and Able Seaman Hamilton completely disregarded their personal safety in their gallant endeavour to save the lives of their shipmates.

 

 

 

 

 

20 June 1941   Bombardier Henry Reed, No.2 Bty 1 Maritime AA Regt, Royal Artillery, SS Cormount, in convoy. Attacked by aircraft and E-boats, mortally wounded but carried out his duties. Posthumously awarded George Cross, gazetted 23 September 1941. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to: ‑

Henry Herbert Reed (deceased), Gunner.

The ship was attacked by enemy aircraft with cannon, machine‑guns and bombs. She replied at once with her defensive arma­ment and the men at the guns went on firing despite the hail of bullets and cannon shell.

Gunner Reed behaved with the utmost gallantry. He was badly wounded but when the Master asked how he was, he said that he would carry on. The Chief Officer was also badly wounded. Reed carried him from the bridge down two ladders to the deck below and placed him in shelter near a life­boat. Gunner Reed then died. It was after­wards found that his stomach had been ripped open by machine‑gun bullets.

By his gallant and utterly selfless action Gunner Reed saved the life of the Chief Officer.

 

 

1 September 1941    Lt Cdr William Hiscock RN, HMS St Angelo (Malta), Rendering Mines Safe. Defused a virtually unknown Italian ‘Torpedo Machine’ in St George's Bay, Malta in September 1941. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 16 June 1942. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Lieutenant (Acting Lieutenant‑Commander) William Ewart Hiscock, D.S.C., R.N. (retired) (to be dated 3rd February, 1942).

 

22 September 1941 Lt John Gibbons RNVR, CO, ML.144. Wounded when his ML was mined in the English Channel, but saved the life of a seaman in the sea. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 11 August 1942.

The London Gazette – (From the ADMIRALTY, Whitehall, S.W.1)

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

For great bravery and devotion to duty in trying to save life at sea.

The Albert Medal.

Temporary Lieutenant John Edward Gibbons, R.N.V.R.

When a Motor Launch was mined her Commanding Officer was wounded in the head and blown into the sea. He was rescued and went at once to save others. He saw a seaman some 100 yards away in the water, and swam to him through burn­ing fuel. His gallant action helped to save the man's life.

 

 

1942

 

 

 

15 January 1942    Lt George Goodman RNVR, HMS Vernon and HMS Nile (Alexandria), Rendering Mines Safe. Defused Italian circling torpedo on the beach, east of Alexandria. Awarded George Cross gazetted, 15 September 1942. 

The London Gazette - (from the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood, St James’s Palace, S.W.1)

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Temporary Lieutenant George Herbert Goodman, M.B.E., R.N.V.R.

 

 

17 March 1942   3rd Engineer George Newbery MN, MV Crista, cargo ship, torpedoed and damaged by U.83 (Kraus) on this date, north of the Libyan-Egyptian border. Attempted to save life at sea. Posthumously awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 29 September 1942. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to make the following award:

The Albert Medal (Posthumous)

George Walter Newbery, Esq. (deceased), Third Engineer Officer..

For gallantry in attempting to save life at sea.

 

 

 

 

22 March 1942   Lt Dennis Copperwheat RN, HMS Penelope. In charge of the scuttling of Norwegian merchantman Talabot, laden with ammunition and on fire following a bombing attack in Grand Harbour, Valetta, Malta. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 17 November 1942. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the Award of the GEORGE CROSS to.

Lieutenant Dennis Arthur Copperwheat, Royal Navy, H.M.S. Penelope.

For great bravery at Malta. During heavy air attacks on Valetta, Lieutenant Copper­wheat was sent in charge of a party of men from H.M.S. Penelope to scuttle a Merchant­man, laden with ammunition, which was burning in the harbour. Owing to the fires, it was impossible to place scuttling charges in the holds and they had to be slung over the side of the ship. As they worked. ammunition was exploding all round them from burn­ing stowages on deck. The ship lay 40 yards from the shore, to which the electric cables for firing the scuttling charges could only just reach. Lieutenant Copperwheat sent his working party to shelter, and stayed himself to fire the charges from a position where he was exposed to the full blast of the explosion, which lifted him bodily. But for his brave action the ship must have blown up, and grave damage would have been done to the harbour.

Moreover, much of the ammunition was saved and some very heavy bombs, part of the cargo, were soon afterwards dropped in Italy.

 

 

16 April 1942   Able Seaman Albert Shearing MN, SS Caspia, tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U.81 (Guggenberger) on this date 10 miles south of Beirut. Saved life at sea. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 5 January 1943. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to make the following award:‑

The Albert Medal:

Albert Shearing, Able Seaman

For great bravery in saving life at sea.

 

 

 

 

1 June 1942 Lt John Mould RANVR, HMS Vernon, ‘P’ Part 1571, Rendering Mines Safe, then underwater mine disposal.  Awarded George Cross for mine disposal from November 1941 to June 1942, mainly in the Mediterranean, gazetted 3 November 1942. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty to:

Lieutenant John Stuart Mould, G.M., R.A.N.V.R.

 

 

8 August 1942    Apprentice Donald Clarke MN, San Emiliano, motor tanker, torpedoed and sunk by U.155 (Piening) on this date in the central Atlantic, SE of Trinidad. Badly burned and showed great courage in helping to get a ship’s boat clear of the sinking tanker, died of his wounds. Posthumously awarded George Cross, gazetted 20 July 1943. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to:

Donald Owen Clarke (deceased), Apprentice, Merchant Navy.

The ship, sailing alone, was attacked by the enemy and hit by two torpedoes. Fire broke out immediately, flames sweeping the vessel from bridge to poop. Apprentice Clarke was trapped in the accommodation and was severely burned. Despite this he made his way on deck and was one of those who got into the only boat which left the ship. The painter of the boat was kept fast and the helm put over and, as the vessel still carried some way, the boat was towed clear of the burning ship’s side. When the painter was cast off the boat drifted back and it was clear to all on board that it would require a tremendous effort to pull it out of danger. Most of the occupants, however, were so badly burned that they were unable to help, but Apprentice Clarke took an oar and pulled heartily for two hours without a word of complaint. It was not until after the boat was clear that it was realized how badly he had been injured. His hands had to be cut away from the oar as the burnt flesh had stuck to it. He had pulled as well as anyone, although he was rowing with the bones of his hands. Later when lying at the bottom of the boat his thoughts were still with his shipmates and he sang to keep up their spirits. Next day he died, having shown the greatest fortitude.

By his supreme effort, undertaken without thought of self and in spite of terrible agony, Apprentice Clarke ensured the safety of his comrades in the boat. His great heroism and selfless devotion were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Merchant Navy.

 

 

12 August 1942 Capt Dudley Mason MN, Master, MT Ohio, the immortal tanker in Malta convoy ‘Pedestal’, attacked and severely damaged between the 12th and 16th. Kept afloat by Capt Mason and his crew and eventually reached Malta lashed to a destroyer. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 4 September 1942. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to

Captain Dudley William Mason, Master, s.s. ”Ohio”

During the passage to Malta of an important convoy Captain Mason's ship suffered most violent onslaught. She was a focus of attack throughout and was torpedoed early one night. Although gravely damaged, her engines were kept going and the Master made a magnificent passage by hand‑steering and without a compass. The ship’s gunners helped to bring down one of the attacking aircraft. The vessel was hit again before morning, but though she did not sink, her engine room was wrecked. She was then towed. The unwieldy condition of the vessel and persistent enemy attacks made progress slow, and it was uncertain whether she would remain afloat. All next day pro­gress somehow continued and the ship reached Malta after a further night at sea.

The violence of the enemy could not deter the Master from his purpose. Throughout he showed skill and courage of the highest order and it was due to his determination that, in spite of the most persistent enemy opposition, the vessel, with her valuable cargo, eventually reached Malta and was safely berthed.

(The award is dated 4th September, 1942.)

 

 

12 August 1942 PO Cook Charles Walker, serving in a destroyer in Malta convoy ‘Pedestal’. Dived from his ship to rescue a man in difficulties escaping from a bombed and blazing merchantman sometime between the 12th and 16th. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 15 December 1942. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

For great bravery in saving life at sea:

The Albert Medal.

Petty Officer Cook Charles Henry Walker, P/MX.49348.

During a convoy to Malta a vessel was hit by bombs in an air attack and burst into flames fore and aft. An escorting destroyer went very close, lowered her whaler and picked up survivors from the sea. Petty Officer Cook Walker seeing a man in diffi­culties dived over the destroyer's side and rescued him. The heat was intense and he, knew that his ship might have to turn away at any moment. Both rescued and rescuer were picked up.

 

12 August 1942 Apprentice John Gregson MN, MV Deucalion, sailing with Malta convoy ‘Pedestal’, torpedoed and sunk by enemy aircraft off Cani Rocks, Tunisia. Saved the life of a trapped member of the crew and towed him to safety. Awarded Albert Medal gazetted 2 February 1943. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to make the following award:

The Albert Medal.

John Sedgwick Gregson, Apprentice.

The ship was set on fire by the explosion of a torpedo during an attack by enemy aircraft. The flames spread rapidly and almost immediately orders were given to abandon ship. One of the ship’s gunners, however, was pinned under a raft. Apprentice Gregson immediately went to his assistance and help freed him. The gunner had sustained severe injuries and, as it was impossible to get him into a boat or on to a raft, he was dropped overboard. Gregson dived into the sea after him, and, in the darkness, towed his helpless shipmate to a ship which picked them up, a distance of about 600 yards.

But for Apprentice Gregson’s gallant and determined action, undertaken with complete disregard of his personal safety, the injured man would have had little chance of survival.

 

 

 

14 September 1942 Chief Officer James Reeves MN, MT Atheltemplar, sailing in Russian convoy PQ.18, torpedoed on this date by U.457 (Brandenburg) in the Barents Sea, abandoned but stayed afloat and ablaze, finished off by the gunfire of U.408. Rescued two men from the flooding engine-room while the ship was being abandoned. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 25 May 1943. 

The London Gazette – (from the Ministry of War Transport, Berkeley Square, W.1)

The KING has been graciously pleased to make the following Award:

The Albert Medal.

James Arthur Reeves, Esq., Chief Officer.

The ship was torpedoed and was being abandoned when two men were seen floating in the oily water which flooded the engine-­room to a depth of 25 feet. Both were help­less, one being badly injured and the other overcome by oil fumes. All the engine‑room ladders had been destroyed, but using a boat ladder, Chief Officer Reeves descended into the engine‑room and secured lines about both men. While being hauled to safety, one of the men slipped back into the oily water. Mr. Reeves again descended into the engine-­room which was rapidly filling with surging and water, and secured another rope about the injured man who was then brought on deck.

In descending into the darkened and flooded engine‑room, Mr. Reeves showed great bravery and complete disregard of his personal safety. His work was rendered doubly dangerous by the heavy oil fumes which had accumulated.

 

 

 

 

27 October 1942    Surgeon William Chisholm MN, MV Stentor, cargo ship, torpedoed and sunk by U.509 (Witte) on this date in the Central Atlantic. Gave up his life attempting to save another officer on the sinking ship. Posthumously awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 27 April 1943. 

The London Gazette – (from the Ministry of War Transport, Berkeley Square, W.1)

The KING has been graciously pleased to make the following Award:

Albert Medal (Posthumous).

William Chisholm, Esq., M.B., Ch.B., Ship's Surgeon.

The ship in which Mr. Chisholm was serv­ing was torpedoed in darkness and im­mediately began to sink. A fire broke out, which enveloped the bridge in flames and orders were given to abandon the vessel. She sank within eight minutes. One of the Senior Officers, who was on the bridge, was badly injured. He was taken to the surgery where Mr. Chisholm immediately attended to him and afterward, as he was helpless, helped him to the deck in order to get him away from the sinking ship. Mr Chisholm's efforts, however, were unsuccessful and neither he nor the Officer was seen again.

Although the ship was sinking rapidly, Mr. Chisholm remained and deliberately sacrificed his chance of safety in a gallant attempt to save the life of another.

 

 

 

30 October 1942    Lt Francis Fasson RN and Able Seaman Colin Grazier, destroyer HMS Petard. U.559 was attacked and badly damaged by destroyers Pakenham, Petard and Hero, escort destroyers Dulverton and Hurworth and a RAF Sunderland flying boat of 47 Sqn, NE of Port Said in the eastern Mediterranean. Lt Fasson and AB Grazier were two of three men saving Enigma-related documents from the sinking submarine, but both went down with her. Posthumously awarded George Cross, gazetted 14 September 1943. 

The London GazetteThe KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS, to:

Lieutenant Anthony Blair Fasson, Royal Navy,

Able Seaman Colin Grazier, P/SSX.25550

for outstanding bravery and steadfast devotion to duty in the face of danger.

 

 

25 December 1942   Lt Hugh Syme RANVR, HMS Vernon, Rendering Mines Safe. Already awarded GM and bar during the Blitz. Disposed of various types of sea mines between 19 May 1941 and this date, most notably in November 1942 when the first and only Type T mine was recovered by drifter ‘Noontide’. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 3 August 1943. 

The London Gazette - The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to:

Lieutenant Hugh Randall Syme, G.M.. R.A.N.V.R.

for great bravery and undaunted devotion to duty.

 

1943

 

 

 

 

3 January 1943   Boatswain William McCarthy RN, HMS Nile (Alexandria). Dived from the mole at Benghazi Harbour into rough seas to rescue Indian seamen thrown out of a raft. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 27 July 1943. 

The London Gazette – (from the Admiralty, Whitehall)

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

The Albert Medal.

Mr. William Henry Debonnaire McCarthy, Boatswain, Royal Navy.

Mr. McCarthy dived into a tempestuous sea from the Mole at Benghazi to save some Indian seamen who had been thrown into the sea from a raft. When a line was thrown he swam with it to the Indians, caught hold of one of them and successfully brought him ashore. He then returned to the rescue of another.

There was grave danger that Mr. McCarthy would be dashed against the rocks by the gale and the high sea.

 

 

10 January 1943    Able Seaman Eynon Hawkins , SS British Dominion, tanker, torpedoed three times by U.522 (Schneider) on this date in the North Atlantic, ship on fire and abandoned, finished off next day by U.620. AB Hawkins organised a party of survivors in the water, and saved others in spite of being burnt. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 29 June 1943. 

The London Gazette – (from the Admiralty, Whitehall)

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

For great bravery in saving life at sea

The Albert Medal.

Acting Able Seaman Eynon Hawkins, D/JX.214857.

Able Seaman Hawkins was serving in a Merchant Vessel which was hit by three torpedoes and immediately began to burn furiously. Many of the crew jumped overboard and Able Seaman Hawkins, with the greatest coolness and courage, organised a party of survivors in the water and kept them away from the fire until they were later picked up by one of H.M. Ships.

Twice he swam to the assistance of other survivors who were in difficulties, himself receiving burns in the face as he pulled them to safety.

 

 

26 January 1943    Leading Seaman William Goad, HMS Ashanti, incident not identified. Possibly took place during Russia/UK convoy QP.14 when sister ship Somali was torpedoed on the 20 September 1942, taken in tow by Ashanti and sank four days later during a gale. LS Goad awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 26 January 1943. 

The London GazetteThe KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

For great bravery in saving life at sea

The Albert Medal.

For great bravery in saving life at sea:

The Albert Medal

Acting Leading Seaman William Goad, C/JX.156149.

Leading Seaman Goad went over his ship's side, on a line, in water well below freezing point, and rescued an unconscious man. It was blowing a full gale and there was very great risk that he would either be washed away by the breaking seas, or swept under the bilge keel of his ship, which was rolling heavily.

 

 

19 March 1943   Chief Officer George Stronach MN, SS Ocean Voyager, cargo ship. Attacked by  German Ju.88 aircraft  in Tripoli Harbour, caught fire, blew up and sank. Saved four badly wounded men.  Awarded George Cross, gazetted 23 November 1943. 

The KING has been graciously pleased to award the GEORGE CROSS to:

George Preston Stronach, Esq., Chief Officer.

When the ship was lying in harbour, a severe aircraft attack developed and she was hit and at once caught fire. The vessel had a large consignment of petrol and ammunition on board, which was exploding heavily all the time and in spite of strenuous efforts which were made to fight the fire she had to be abandoned. The Master was killed by the explosion and the responsibility for further operations devolved on the Chief Officer.

He had been rendered temporarily unconscious but recovered almost imme­diately and went forward to look for survivors. He found a number of the crew sheltering in the alley way and, braving the exploding ammunition, led them to a boat alongside which took them to safety. In order to provide for the transport of any other survivors who might be found, he then lowered another boat and brought it along­side the ship. Although the vessel was now burning furiously Mr. Stronach made his way to the officers' accommoda­tion amidships. Finding a hose with a trickle of water coming through, he held this over his head and so kept himself sufficiently wet to protect him from the worst of the heat and flames. With great difficulty he climbed into the collapsed accommodation and found one of the deck officers, uncons­cious and badly burned. Mr. Stronach pulled him clear and dragged him along the deck to the lowered boat. Returning to the accommodation, he began to remove the debris from another officer who was trapped. By almost superhuman efforts he dragged the man through the porthole and along the deck. He then tied a rope around his waist and lowered him over the side to the boat. As the situation was becoming desperate Mr. Stronach ordered a man to take the boat to safety and once again he returned amidships where he discovered an officer who had been severely injured. Dragging him along the deck to the side of the ship, he tied a rope around him and lowered him over the side on to a raft which had returned to the ship in response to his calls. Again Mr Stronach continued his search for survivors and, taking a final look round aft, he saw a greaser lying unconscious in the scuppers. He dragged this man to the side of the ship, but finding there was no raft or boat alongside, put a lifebelt around him and threw him overboard. When he was satisfied that there were no further survivors the Chief Officer jumped over­board and swam to a raft which, under his direction, returned to pick up the injured greaser. In the full knowledge that she was likely to blow up at any moment Chief Officer Stronach stayed on this burning vessel searching for survivors for an hour and twenty minutes. His inspiring leadership induced a number of the crew to get away and so saved their lives and by his gallant efforts, undertaken with utter disregard of his personal safety, he saved the lives of three officers and a greaser, all of whom were badly hurt. His action equals any in the annals of the Merchant Navy for great and unselfish heroism and determination in the face of overwhelming odds.

 

30 March 1943   2nd Engineer Gordon Bastian MN, SS Empire Bowman, cargo ship, sailing with Sierra Leone-UK convoy SL.126. Torpedoed and sunk by U.404 (Bülow) on this date in the North Atlantic in 47.26N, 15.53W. Rescued to men from the flooding engine-room. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 17 August 1943. 

The London Gazette – (from the Ministry of War Transport, Berkeley Square, W.1)

The KING has been graciously pleased to make the following Award:

The Albert Medal.

Gordon Love Bastian, Esq., M.B.E., Second Engineer Officer, Merchant Navy.

The ship in which Mr. Bastian was serving was torpedoed and sustained severe damage. Mr. Bastian was on watch in the engine-room when the ship was struck. He at once shut off the engines. He then remembered that two firemen were on watch in the stokehold. The engine‑room was in darkness and water was already pouring into it. Although there was grave risk of disastrous flooding in open­ing the watertight door between the stokehold and engine‑room, Mr. Bastian did not hesitate but groped his way to the door and opened it. The two firemen were swept into the engine-­room with the inrush of water. One man had a broken arm and injured feet and the other was badly bruised and shaken. Mr. Bastian made efforts to hold them both but lost one, so he dragged the other to the escape ladder and helped him on deck. He then returned for the other and helped him to safety. The more seriously injured man had practically to be lifted up the ladder by Mr. Bastian, who was himself half choked by cordite fumes.

Second Engineer Officer Bastian took a very great risk in opening the watertight door into the already flooded and darkened engine-­room of the sinking ship and both men un­doubtedly owe their lives to his exceptional bravery, strength and presence of mind.

 

 

12 June 1943   Lt Leon Goldsworthy RANVR, HMS Vernon, Rendering Mines Safe. From this date, carried out a series of underwater mine recoveries, including a new German ground mine at  Sheerness on 13 August 1943 and an ‘especially dangerous acoustic mine near Milford Haven’ on 10 April 1944. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 19 September 1944. 

The London GazetteThe KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to:

Temporary Lieutenant Leon Verdi Goldsworthy G.M., R.A.N.V.R., for great gallantry and undaunted devotion

to duty.

 

3 July 1943    Able Seaman David McRae MN, Broughty, cargo ship, in port in the UK. Saved the life of a shipmate in a gas-filled tank at the cost of his own. Posthumously awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 7 December 1943 

The London Gazette – (from the Ministry of War Transport, London, W.1)

The KING has been graciously pleased to make the following Award:

The Albert Medal (Posthumous).

Able Seaman David McRae.

The ship in which McRae was serving was lying in a United Kingdom port when the boatswain entered the deep tank to obtain some oil. This tank had previously contained ground nut oil and the residue, having decomposed, had deprived the air in the tank of oxygen. As the boatswain was ascending the ladder from the bottom of the tank he collapsed. A stevedore went to his rescue but he was forced to return and had to be helped out of the tank in a dazed condition. McRae, wearing a civilian duty respirator, then descended the ladder into the tank and he was able to secure a line around the boatswain before he, too, collapsed. The boatswain was hoisted to safety from the tank but when Able Seaman McRae was brought up later he failed to respond to first‑aid treatment and died before reaching hospital.

McRae, having seen the boatswain collapse and the stevedore driven back, well knew the risks he was taking in entering the tank. By his very gallant action he saved the life of his shipmate but he sacrificed his own.

 

 

 

31 August 1943 Lt John Bridge RNVR, HMS Elissa (Messina, Sicily), Bomb and Mine Disposal Section, also Port Clearance. After the death or wounding of an entire bomb disposal party on 23 August 1943 by six depth charges, Lt Bridge and his party, in 28 dives cleared Messina harbour of the remaining 207, including two with unknown firing mechanisms by the 2 September. This was only one day before the assault on Italy, and thus vital to Allied operations. Lt Bridge had already received the GM and Bar. Awarded George Cross, gazetted 20 June 1944. 

The London GazetteThe KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the GEORGE CROSS to:

Temporary Lieutenant John Bridge, G.M., R.N.V.R. (Warrington),

for great gallantry and undaunted devotion to duty.

 

 

13 October 1943    Warrant Electrician Ernest Wooding RCNVR. Rescued two men from the engine-room of  ML.116, completing at  Hunter Boat Works, Orillia, Ontario, after an explosion on board. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 13 April 1945.

The London Gazette – (from the Department of National Defence, Ottawa)

The KING has been graciously pleased, on the advice of His Majesty’s Canadian Ministers, to give orders for the following Award:

For bravery in saving life:

The Albert Medal

Mr. Ernest Alfred Wooding, Warrant Electrician, R.C.N.V.R.

for outstanding courage and presence of mind it the time of an explosion in a Motor Launch in harbour. Though not on board at the time he rushed on deck when the ex­plosion occurred and pulled two of the three men in the engine‑room compartment to safety. Knowing that a large quantity of high octane gasoline was in the tanks of the boat his action showed complete disregard of himself. He did gallant rescue work of the men who were in the boat at the time of the explosion, and was certainly responsible for saving the lives of the two men from the engine‑room at great personal risk.

 

 

23 November 1943, Stoker 1st Class Donald Dale, RNZN. Following an explosion in HMS Achilles while she was in dock, he rescued a number of men who were trapped below. Awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 23 November 1943.

The KING has been graciously pleased to .... approve the following Award(s): —

For bravery in saving life at sea:

The Albert Medal.

Stoker First Class Donald William Dale, N/Z.4861 (Timaru, New Zealand).

When there was a bad explosion in his ship in dock, Dale, as all anti-smoke apparatus was already in use, tied a handkerchief round his mouth, and went down into a smoke-filled compartment, from which he helped to rescue four workmen.

He then came up for a spell, after which he went down in another part of the ship to the compartment in which the explosion had taken place. With help from one other man, he here rescued two dockyard workmen, getting them up through a manhole with ropes. To reach the scene of destruction Dale, who was still without apparatus, had to grope his way through smoke and debris. The last twisted vertical ladder down which he went fell short of the deck below. Hearing the cries of those trapped, he trusted to chance and jumped. Luckily the deck proved firm.

Although unaware of the full damage which had been caused to the ship Dale well knew that he was facing the gravest danger.

 

Another account from the official Royal New Zealand Navy site:

 

The explosion in a fuel tank on board HMNZS Achilles at Portsmouth on 22 June 1943, which killed 14 dockyard workers, might have claimed more lives had it not been for the prompt and courageous action of members of the cruisers’ crew.

 

A dozen men owed their lives to Stoker First Class William Dale, of Waimate, Engineroom Artificer William Vaughan, RN, of Durham, England, and Stoker First Class Ernest Valentine, RNZNVR, of Ohakune.

  

After finding that all smoke apparatus was in use, Dale tied a handkerchief over his mouth and went down three decks into a smoke filled space.  With complete disregard for his own safety, and working in pitch dark, he found four injured men and passed them up to safety.  He then went up on deck for a breath of fresh air before re-entering the fuel tank that was the seat of the explosion.  With Dale went a dockyard worker named Rogers.  Between them they rescued two men who were hauled clear by ropes.  Those rescued said afterwards that, without the New Zealander’s help, they would not have survived.  For his actions Dale was awarded the Albert Medal, the only member of the New Zealand Navy Forces to receive this rare decoration during the Second World War.

(Stoker Dale's award, which was originally missing from this list, appears with thanks to John Gresson who pointed out that this was the only award of the Albert Medal to a New Zealand serviceman, at least in World War 2)

 

1944

 

 

12 September 1944 Stoker 2nd Class Charles Pethebridge RANR, Australian prisoner of war on board the Japanese SS Rakuyo Maru, carrying 1317 Australian and British POWs from Singapore, it is believed to Formosa. Sailing in convoy, torpedoed and sunk by US submarine Sealion II in the South China Sea on 12 September 1944 (not the 22nd as listed in some sources). Some 1159 POWs were lost, the few survivors being picked up by the Japanese and by the returning US submarines, including 54 by USS Sealion II. Stoker Pethebridge saved the lives of other POWs in the sea at the eventual cost of his own. Posthumously awarded Albert Medal, gazetted 17 July 1945. 

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the following Award:

Albert Medal in Bronze (Posthumous).

Stoker Second Class Charles Alexander PETHEBRIDGE, R.A.N.R., W.2164.

For gallantry in saving life at sea at the cost of his own.

When the ship on which he was a passenger was torpedoed, Stoker Pethebridge got away with twenty others on a raft. During the ordeal which followed Pethebridge left this raft on several occasions, without a life‑belt, to go to the help of those who through physical weaknesses could not pre­vent themselves from slipping into the sea.

The strain of this merciful work upon himself was such that he could not carry on, and during the night which followed the sinking of the ship, he himself disappeared.

 
 

 

THE ROYAL WARRANT FOR THE INSTITUTION OF THE GEORGE CROSS

 

 

from THE LONDON GAZETTE, 31 JANUARY, 1941

 

 THE GEORGE CROSS.

 

ROYAL WARRANT.

GEORGE R.I.

 

GEORGE THE SIXTH, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, Ireland and the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender of the Faith, Emperor of India, to all to whom these Presents shall come,

GREETINGS!

 

Whereas We have taken into Our Royal consideration the many acts of heroism per­formed both by male and by female persons, especially during the present war:

 

And whereas We are desirous of honouring those who perform such deeds:

 

We do by these presents for Us, Our Heirs and Successors institute and create a new Decoration which we desire should be highly prized and eagerly sought after.

 

First: It is ordained that the Decoration shall be designated and styled "The George Cross."

 

Secondly. It is ordained that the Decoration shall consist of a plain cross with four equal limbs, the cross having in the centre a circular.medallion bearing a design showing St. George and the Dragon, that the inscription "For Gallantry" shall appear round this medallion, and in the angle of each limb of the cross the Royal cypher "G.VI" forming a circle concentric with the medallion, that the reverse of the Cross shall be plain and bear the name of the recipient and the date of the award, that the Cross shall be suspended by a ring from a bar adorned with laurel leaves, and that the whole be in silver.

 

Thirdly: It is ordained that the persons eligible for the Decoration of the Cross shall be

(1) Our faithful subjects and persons under Our protection in civil life, male and female, of Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, India, Burma, Our Colonies, and of Territories under Our Suzerainty, Protection or Jurisdiction,

(2) Persons of any rank in the Naval, Military or Air Forces of Our United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of India, of Burma, of Our Colonies, and of Territories under Our Suzerainty, Protection or jurisdiction, including the Home Guard and in India members of Frontier Corps and

Military Police and members of Indian States' Forces and in Burma members of the Burma Frontier Force and Military Police, and including also the military Nursing Services,

and the Women's Auxiliary Services,

(3) Our faithful subjects and persons under Our protection in civil life, male and female, within, and members of the Naval, Military or Air Forces belonging to, any other part of Our Dominions, Our Government whereof has signified its desire that the Cross should be awarded under the provisions of this Our Warrant, and any Territory being administered by Us in such Government.

The Cross is intended primarily for civilians and award in Our military services is to be confined to actions for which purely military Honours are not normally granted.

 

Fourthly: It is ordained that awards shall be made only on a recommendation to Us, for civilians by Our Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, and for Officers and members of Our Naval, Military or Air Forces, as described in the previous Clause of this Our Warrant, only on a recommendation by Our First Lord of the Admiralty, Our Secretary of State for War or Our Secretary of State for Air, as the case may be.

 

Fifthly: It is ordained that the Cross shall be awarded only for acts of the greatest heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circum­stances of extreme danger, and that the Cross may be awarded posthumously.

 

Sixthly: It is ordained that every recom­mendation for the award of the Cross shall be submitted with such description and conclusive proof as the circumstances of the case will allow, and attestation of the act as the Minister or Ministers concerned may think requisite.

 

Seventhly: It is ordained that the Cross shall be worn by recipients on the left breast sus­pended from a ribbon one and a quarter inches in width of dark blue, that it shall be worn immediately after the Victoria Cross and in front of the Insignia of all British Orders Of Chivalry, and that on those occasions when only the ribbon is worn, a replica in silver of the Cross in miniature shall be affixed to the centre of the ribbon.

Provided that when the Cross is worn by a woman, it may be worn on the left shoulder, suspended from a ribbon of the same width and colour. fashioned into a bow.

 

Eighthly: It is ordained that the award of the George Cross shall entitle the recipient on all occasions when the use of such letters is customary, to have placed after his or her names the letters "G.C.”

 

Ninthly: It is ordained that an action which is worthy of recognition by the award of the Cross, but is performed by one upon whom the Decoration has been conferred, may be re­corded by the award of a Bar to be attached to the ribbon by which the Cross is suspended, that for each such additional award an addi­tional Bar shall be added, and that for each Bar awarded a replica in silver of the Cross in miniature, in addition to the emblem already worn, shall be added to the ribbon when worn alone.

 

Tenthly: It is ordained that the names of all those upon or on account of whom We may be pleased to confer or present the Cross, or a Bar to the Cross, shall be published in the London Gazette, and that a Register of such names shall be kept in the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood.

 

Eleventhly: It is ordained that from the date of this Our Warrant, the grant of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry, which was instituted and created by His late Majesty King George the Fifth, shall cease, and a recipient of that Medal, living at the date of this Our Warrant, shall return it to the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood and become instead a holder of the George Cross; provided that there shall be a similar change in relation to any posthumous grant of the Medal of the Order of the British Empire, for Gallantry, made since the com­mencement of the present war.

 

Twelfthly: It is ordained that reproductions of the Cross, known as a Miniature Cross, which may be worn on certain occasions by those to whom the Decoration is awarded shall be half the size of the George Cross.

 

Thirteenthly: It is ordained that it shall be competent for Us, Our Heirs and Successors by an Order under Our Sign Manual and on a recommendation to that effect by or through Our Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury, Our First Lord of the Admiralty, Our Secretary of State for War, or Our Secre­tary of State for Air, as the case may be, to cancel and annul the award to any person of the George Cross and that thereupon the name of such person in the Register shall be erased: provided that it shall be competent for Us, Our Heirs and Successors to restore the Decoration so forfeited when such recommendation has been withdrawn.

 

Lastly: We reserve to Ourself, our Heirs Successors, full power of annulling, altering, abrogating. augmenting, interpreting, or dis­pensing with these rules and ordinances, or any part thereof, by a notification under Our Sign Manual.

 

Given at Our Court at St. James's, the twenty‑fourth of September, one thousand nine hundred and forty, in the fourth year of Our Reign.

 

By His Majesty's Command,

 

Winston S. Churchill.

 

SOURCES

 

 

George Cross DB - www.gc-database.co.uk

London Gazette - www.gazettes-online.co.uk

Minewarfare & Clearance Diving Officers' Association - www.mcdoa.org.uk

National Army Museum - www.national-army-museum.ac.uk

Raunds War Memorials Research Project - www.raundswarmemorials.org

Unit Histories - www.unithistories.com

Wartime MN - www.gordonmumford.com

Wikipedia - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Cross

WW2 People's War - www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar

 

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revised  5/12/10