Royal Fleet Auxiliary Roll Of Honour
Chris White and Peter Robinson are working to compile a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ‘Roll of Honour’ for all those who have died in the service of the RFA, whether serving onboard or on leave. As of the 2nd of June 2008 Chris White has managed to collate over 750 names.
This is a fantastic project which honours all those who have died in service and who we should remember, both Chris and Peter would be deeply indebted for any information that visitors to this site can supply.
On which ships were the following signed on when they passed away if not on leave?
Jones Richard A Chief Officer X 01/10/2000
Polglass D M 2nd Engineer 03/01/2002
Starling Alan 3rd Officer SE 11/07/2002
Also does anyone have any ideas of their missing first names where initials are currently shown please.
H J Gribbins – 4th Engineer died 17 April 1976 – on what ship and what were his first names?
P A Hartnet – 1st Officer died 31 July 1976 – on what ship and what were his first names?
Alfred John Cooper – Fireman died on 17 Jan 1971 – on what ship?
Thomas M Fairless – died on RFA Tidereach in 1964 – what was his rank or rate and would any one have a more accurate date please?
So rack your brains and please come up with names, rank, date of death where possible and if you can remember the last ship of the person concerned.
John Allan and The Albert Medal.
On Wednesday 19th of June 1918 on RFA Mixol, an AB fell over the side between the tanker and a battle cruiser as the RFA was going alongside. There was a real danger that he would be crushed between the two ships.
A Donkeyman named John Allan jumped into the sea to save the AB and kept him afloat until a rope could be thrown to him. John Allan ensured the AB was saved first before being pulled from the sea. They both lived and John Allan was later awarded the Albert Medal for his gallantry. Chris White is trying to find the following information: -
(a) The name of the AB?
(b) Where this incident occurred - he suspects at Scapa Flow or Invergordon
(c) Where did John Allan come from?
(d) Does John Allan have any living relatives whom Chris might be put in contact with?
Chris has traced him to living with his wife and family in South Shields in 1918. His father, a Master Mariner, also lived in the same town and it would appear that both died in 1919/1920. Due to John’s age – around 30 – Chris suspects that he fell foul of the Spanish flu which was rampant at that time.
Chris is still working on trying to trace his relatives – If there are any site visitors who live in Shields or any other local town and don’t mind visiting a local cemetery with a digital camera! If you can help please contact us and we will pass the offer on to Chris.
In 1971 living holders of the Albert Medal were invited to exchange their medals for the George Cross. It would appear that John Allan was not alive at this time as he did not exchange his medal nor is he listed as declining to exchange it.
Can anyone help with the answers to any of the above questions please? If so please send it to and I will pass it on to Chris.
Morris Richard Ellis
The RFA in its first 100 years has had two Albert Medal winners – for visitors to our site the Albert Medal is one of the rarest Gallantry Awards made by our Sovereign. The Albert Medal for saving life at sea was only awarded on just over 260 occasions between 1860 and 1971 when the medal was withdrawn and all living holders were invited to exchange their medals for the George Cross.
Able Seaman Morris Ellis was on the RFA Wave Commander in 1950 when he died saving the life of the Bosun. After his death it seems we, the RFA family, forgot what Morris did.
When Chris started looking into his actions and his award he only had his name and the fact that he died at sea on a ship which was familiar to Chris, he had served on two of the Wave Class ships and so he read of his actions he knew exactly what was being described. Chris traced some of his family and they told him that he was buried in Gibraltar. What Chris was not prepared for was the state of his grave.
It had not been looked after for over 50 years! The crew of RFA Oakleaf and a local monumental mason were able to improve the condition of the grave beyond all belief, “thank you lads” says Chris; “I know the family really appreciated and still do appreciate your efforts. The grave is now looking much better”
On a subsequent visit to Gibraltar by an RFA, a further visit was made to the grave by some of the crew. The wreath was laid by the 2nd Officer and some of the lads from RFA Fort Austin. Chris has asked to say “Thank you very much from Morris’ family in Australia and in the UK.”
The family have even traced his medal which hadn’t seen day light since being presented to the family by the Queen in 1952.
Chief Engineer Charles William Urry
Chief Engineer Charles William Urry from RFA Eddybeach was killed in a motor vehicle accident on the 8th September 1957 in Gibraltar. His memorial has, in the past, been repaired but now lacks some marble chips and a little light weeding.
RFA Bacchus (1)
On 13 April 1925 in the River Medway off Upnor a boat containing 11 of the crew from RFA Bacchus who were returning from a run ashore when the ships boat was struck by a motor lighter and sank immediately. Five of the crew were saved and six drowned. The six who were killed were: -
Third Officer Victor Mortimer Wakeley - who was single from Swindon
Wireless Telegraphic Cyril Stonehouse - who was single
Able Seaman Cyril Chinn - married from Plymouth
Able Seaman Albert Edwards - married from Plymouth
Stoker Edward Tucker - single from Chatham
Stoker John Riddle - married from Plymouth
The ship's boat had left Thunderbolt Jetty, Gillingham at about 11.30pm to go to the ship which had recently arrived from Malta. The ship's boat had to steer clear of a barge which was tacking. As the ship's boat cleared the barge the motor lighter 'Flame' struck her and she immediately sank into 15 feet of water. Those rescued were the boats coxswain, Able Seaman G A Janes from Gillingham, 2nd Officer Prout, Wireless Telegraphic Operator Hawkes, Stoker White from Portsmouth and Ordinary Seaman Horton from London.
IThe RFA Bacchus (1)
Full details of those who were killed and survived with home addresses etc have been obtained from enquiries and photos of the graves in Gillingham and Chatham are in hand.
William Redvers Forster (1900-75)
William Redvers Forster (1900-75), was appointed "guarantee chief engineer" of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's new tanker, RFA Aldersdale, on the 14 September 1937, whilst it was being completed by Cammel Laird at Birkenhead.
The 8,402 gross ton Aldersdale was one of six "Dale" Class tankers "purchased off the slipway" when the Admiralty decided it needed its own fleet of tankers in 1937. After sea trial and 'handover' to the Admiralty on the 17 September 1937 it left the Clyde on its maiden voyage to Port Said on the 18 September.
Can anybody tell me where RFA Aldersdale was stationed between its launch and William Redvers Forster leaving the ship in September 1938?
Can anybody identify the officers in the photograph taken in my William Redvers Forster's cabin? Please see photo below.