The Collection of Medals Formed By Dr A W Stott

Date of Auction: 25th March 1997

Sold for £95

Estimate: £80 - £100

Four: Donkeyman and Greaser Fred Edwards, Merchant Navy, M.V. Canadian Star
Mercantile Marine War Medal (Fred Edwards); 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; War Medal, very fine or better (4)


Donkeyman Fred Edwards, a 52 year old veteran merchant seaman from the First World War, met his death during one of the great North Atlantic convoy battles of the Second World War, involving no fewer than 42 U-boats. His ship, the 8,293 ton Canadian Star, was one of 13 ships of Convoy HX229 sunk by U-boats in March 1943; a further nine vessels in the companion Convoy SC122 were also sent to the bottom. The battle surrounding Convoys HX229 and SC122 resulted in the biggest single convoy disaster of the war.

SC122 sailed from New York on March 5th, finally consisting of 50 ships in 13 columns. When HX229 sailed three days later with 40 ships in 11 columns, the
Canadian Star was in the third column on the port side. In all, the Germans assembled 42 U-boats to intercept these two convoys. The Canadian Star was struck by two torpedoes in the after end on the 18th March, and settled quickly by the stern. The explosions wrecked two of the four lifeboats, but there was room enough in the two remaining lifeboats for all on board. The Canadian Star’s passengers, mostly service officers and their families from India, the Far East and Australia, started to fill the lifeboats but, when only a few women and two children were in one of these it capsized, tipping them into the sea, a Royal Artillery colonel looking on in horror from the deck as he saw his wife and young son swept away. Most of the passengers managed to get into the second lifeboat with Chief Petty Officer Hunt in charge, leaving most of the crew on board with the capsized lifeboat and a few liferafts. Nine passengers and 25 crew, including Fred Edwards and Captain Miller, were killed. Three of the Canadian Star’s officers were later decorated, Captain Miller being given the posthumous award of Lloyd’s Bravery Medal for ensuring that everyone possible was saved.