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The extremely rare Second World War Merchant Sailor’s 29th June 1943 entry into Gibraltar George Medal and Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea in Silver pair awarded to Boatswain Michael McCarthy, Merchant Navy, who was decorated for his gallantr...

£6,500.00
Availability: IN STOCK
Description:

The extremely rare Second World War Merchant Sailor’s 29th June 1943 entry into Gibraltar George Medal and Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea in Silver pair awarded to Boatswain Michael McCarthy, Merchant Navy, who was decorated for his gallantry in the aftermath of a coal dust explosion aboard the S.S. “Baron Ruthven” whilst coming into port at Gibraltar on 29th June 1943 with a cargo of coal after having sailed from Liverpool as part of Convoy OS.50. McCarthy and an Able Seaman had gone below to get the mooring ropes on deck, and while the seaman remained below McCarthy came on deck to heave them up. Almost immediately there was an explosion due to the ignition of an explosive mixture of coal gas in the hold. A sheet of flame from the hatch set fire to the tarpaulins on deck. Although this fire was promptly smothered and the remainder of the hatch covers removed, the hold was still full of smoke and the seaman below could be heard calling for help. In spite of the grave risks of further explosions and fire, McCarthy secured a rope ladder and descended into the hold. He carried the very dazed and badly burned seaman to where those on deck were able to bend down and light him to safety. McCarthy, without thought of self, displayed bravery of a very high order in this gallant rescue of a shipmate. The seaman sadly died that night as a result of severe burns. McCarthy was subsequently awarded the George Medal, and also the extremely rare Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea in Silver, the only such award for 1943, and one of only 17 such made during the Second World War.

George Medal, GVI 1st type bust; (MICHAEL Mc.CARTHY), mounted on presentation pin; Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea in Silver, 2nd small type; (BOATSWAIN MICHAEL McCARTHY, S.S. “BARON RUTHVEN”, 29TH. JUNE 1943.), this housed in its fitted presentation case.

Condition: Nearly Extremely Fine.

Michael McCarthy saw service during the Second World War as a Boatswain in the Merchant Navy, as was serving aboard the S.S. “Baron Ruthven” during Convoy OS.50 which departed Liverpool on 16th June 1943. Having skirted the Bay of Biscay, the convoy split on 27th June, with the ‘Baron Ruthven’ being tasked with then continuing with it cargo of coal bound for Gibraltar, and it was whilst the vessel was approaching the port on 29th June 1943 that a build up of coal gas caused an explosion aboard, and the following incident of bravery led to McCarthy being award both the George Medal and the extremely rare Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea, the only such award for 1943, and which is not to be confused with the more commonly seen Lloyd’s Medal for Bravery at Sea, that was usually awarded to merchant seaman in this time period.

The recommendation for his award of the George Medal reads as follows: ‘When the ship was approaching port, a section of the hatch covers of the forward hold was opened up and Boatswain McCarthy and an Able Seaman went below to get the mooring ropes on deck. While the seaman remained below McCarthy came on deck to heave them up. Almost immediately there was an explosion due to the ignition of an explosive mixture of coal gas in the hold. A sheet of flame from the hatch set fire to the tarpaulins on deck. Although this fire was promptly smothered and the remainder of the hatch covers removed, the hold was still full of smoke and the seaman below could be heard calling for help. In spite of the grave risks of further explosions and fire, McCarthy secured a rope ladder and descended into the hold. He carried the very dazed and badly burned seaman to where those on deck were able to bend down and light him to safety. McCarthy, without thought of self, displayed bravery of a very high order in this gallant rescue of a shipmate.’

The recommendation for the Lloyd’s Medal is almost identical, though it is slightly more detailed as it gives more specifics and also dates the action. As it was the seaman who was rescued by McCarthy was severely burned and died the same night in hospital at Gibraltar.

McCarthy’s award of the George Medal was published in the London Gazette for 2nd May 1944. Only 17 awards of the Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea were made during the Second World War, against over 500 of the Lloyd’s Medal for Bravery at Sea, with McCarthy’s being the only award for 1943.