The Collection of Medals Formed By Dr A W Stott
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Date of Auction: 25th March 1997
Sold for £330
Estimate: £200 - £250
The Order of the British Empire, O.B.E. (Civil) 2nd type; 1939-45 Star; Atlantic Star; Africa Star; War Medal, together with named condolence slip and a good quantity of original documentation including O.B.E. Warrant, Continuous Certificate of Discharge for the period 1900-1918, personal journal for the period Oct-Nov 1943, official letters concerning award of the O.B.E., numerous letters, telegrams, photographs and damage reports, extremely fine (5)
FootnoteO.B.E. London Gazette 17 March 1942: Captain John Henry George, Master. ‘The ship served in Mediterranean convoys and in the Greek campaign. Although she was hit by a bomb, the Master, on his last voyage to Greece, brought his ship safely to port, and discharged his cargo. He showed high qualities of determination and seamanship.’
Captain John George was born in Fishguard, Cardiganshire, in 1882, and first went to sea in September 1900. During the Second World War he was Master of the M.V. Devis, owned by the Lamport Holt Shipping Line. He was awarded the O.B.E. for his services when his vessel was attacked by hostile aircraft on 2 April 1941, whilst transporting stores and troops, both British and Australian. The vessel, on passage from Alexandria, was hit by one of a stick of bombs on the rear well deck, killing 8 soldiers and wounding another 10, besides causing considerable damage to the ship itself. Captain George succeeded in bringing his damaged vessel to the port of Piraieus, where it was unfortunate enough to be berthed between two ammunition ships and near some trucks of TNT. These all exploded when hit during an enemy air raid, causing extensive damage to the ship. Captain George subsequently received personal congratulations from C-in-C Med, Admiral A. B. Cunningham. The S.S. Devis eventually reached Alexandria and sailed to India for repairs.
In November 1943, Captain George was again Master of S.S. Devis, sailing in convoy to his home port of Liverpool, in November 1943. Ominously, he writes in the last entry of his journal on 17 November: “For three days now there has been a Jerry reconnaissance plane around having a look at us. Today he had a damn good look too. We could see him circling round the convoy taking tab of all. We haven’t seen a plane of ours for three days. Cant understand where they are. They must know that we are being shadowed and one would think there would be some round now. There was a Sub in the vicinity too but luckily (touch wood) there has been no attack yet but I would not be a bit surprised if we dont get an attack in one form or another later.” The attack came four days later, on the 21st November, when 25 long range He-177 bombers set out to attack theconvoy. Twenty reached the target, three being shot down and another two driven off, but not before they had released 40 Hs-293 glider bombs, sinking the freighter Marsa and damaging the S.S. Devis, amongst whose casualties was Captain George, killed. He was subsequently buried at sea and is recorded by name in the Merchant Navy Roll of Honour.