06 February 2011

Victoria Cross: Unwin, Malleson, Drewry, Williams, Samson and Tisdall

Commander, Royal Navy; commanding SS River Clyde

Born: 17 March 1864, Fawley
Died: 19 April 1950, Hindhead, Surrey


Midshipman, Royal Navy; SS River Clyde

Born: 17 September 1896, Kirkee, India
Died: 21 July 1975, St Clement, Cornwall


Midshipman, Royal Naval Reserve; SS River Clyde

Born: 3 November 1894, Forest Gate
Died: 3 August 1918, Scapa Flow, Orkneys


Able Seaman, Royal Navy; SS River Clyde

Born: 15 September 1880, Stanton Lacy, Shropshire
Died: 25 April 1915, 'V' Beach, Gallipoli, Turkey


Seaman, Royal Naval Reserve; SS River Clyde

Born: 7 January 1889, Carnoustie, Angus, Scotland
Died: 23 February 1923, Bermuda

Joint Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officers and men for the conspicuous acts, of bravery mentioned in the foregoing despatch: —
Commander Edward Unwin, R.N.
Midshipman Wilfred St. Aubyn Malleson, R.N.
Midshipman George Leslie Drewry, R.N.R.
Able Seaman William Chas. Williams, O.N. 186774 (R.F.R. B.3766) (since killed).
Seaman R.N.R. George McKenzie Samson, O.N. 2408A.

[London Gazette issue 29264 dated 16 Aug 1915, published 13 Aug 1915.]

Williams's medals


Sub-Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve; Anson Battalion, Royal Naval Division

Born: 21 July 1890, Bombay, India,
Died: 6 May 1915, Achi Baba, Gallipoli, Turkey

Citation: The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officer in recognition of his most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty:—
Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Waldene St. Clair Tisdall, R.N.V.R. (killed in action).
During the landing from the S.S. "River Clyde" at V Beach in the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April, 1915, Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall, hearing wounded men on the beach calling for assistance, jumped into the water and, pushing a boat in front of him, went to their rescue. He was, however, obliged to obtain help, and took with him on two trips Leading Seaman Malia and on other trips Chief Petty Officer Perring and Leading Seamen Curtiss and Parkinson. In all Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall made four or five trips between the ship and the shore, and was thus responsible for rescuing several wounded men under heavy and accurate fire.
Owing to the fact that Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall and the platoon under his orders were on detached service at the time, and that this Officer was killed in action on the 6th May, it has only now been possible to obtain complete information as to the individuals who took part in this gallant act. Of these, Leading Seaman Fred Curtiss, O.N. Dev. 1899, has been missing since the 4th June, 1915.

[London Gazette issue 29530 dated 31 Mar 1916, published 31 Mar 1916.]

The despatch mentioned in the citation for Unwin, et al, included the following:
Commander Edward Unwin, R.N.
While in "River Clyde," observing that the lighters which were to form the bridge to the shore had broken adrift, Commander Unwin left the ship and under a murderous fire attempted to get the lighters into position. He worked on until, suffering from the effects of cold and immersion, he was obliged to return to the ship, where he was wrapped up in blankets. Having in some degree recovered, he returned to his work against the doctor's order and completed it. He was later again attended by the doctor for three abrasions caused by bullets, after which he once more left the ship, this time in a lifeboat, to save some wounded men who were lying in shallow water near the beach. He continued at this heroic labour under continuous fire, until forced to stop through pure physical exhaustion.
Midshipman George L. Drewry, R.N.R.
Assisted Commander Unwin at the work of securing the lighters under heavy rifle and maxim fire. He was wounded in the head, but continued his work and twice subsequently attempted to swim from lighter to lighter with a line.
Midshipman Wilfred St. A. Malleson, R.N.
Also assisted Commander Unwin, and after Midshipman Drewry had failed from exhaustion to get a line from lighter to lighter, he swam with it himself and succeeded. The line subsequently broke, and he afterwards made two further but unsuccessful attempts at his self-imposed task.
Able Seaman William Chas. Williams, O.N. 186774 (R.F.R. B.3766).
Held on to a line in the water for over an hour under heavy fire, until killed.
Seaman R.N.R. George McKenzie Samson, O.N. 2408A.
Worked on a lighter all day under fire, attending wounded and getting out lines; he was eventually dangerously wounded by maxim fire.

Notes: River Clyde was a 4000-ton collier used as a transport to land some 2000 men of the 1st Battalion, Royal Munster Fusiliers, at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915, during the Battle of Gallipoli.
Tisdall's middle name is spelt "Waldene" in the Gazette, but most sources give it as "Walderne."

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