b. 26/04/1937 Willesden, London. d. 12/03/1995 Plymouth, Devon.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 27/02/1948 London.
David Charles Western (1937-1995) was born on 26th April 1937 in Willesden, North West London, the son of George William Charles and Irene Rose Western (nee Brandon). He had a sister named Eileen. Due to the Blitz on London at the beginning of the Second World War, the family moved to Canvey Island in Essex. George Western enlisted with the Royal Artillery and was captured by the Germans in 1944, and spent the remainder of the conflict in a POW camp in Saxony. David attended Derwentwater Junior School in Acton, West London after the war’s end.
On 27th February 1948, 10 year old David was walking on a frozen lake in Osterley Park, London with three other boys when the ice gave way. Alan Bradley, James Sandworth and Leonard Edwards all fell through the ice. Western immediately attempted to rescue each in turn but also fell through the ice. Undaunted, he forced a channel through the ice until he linked up with Bradley, who was in difficulties, and pulled him out. He then returned with a thin rope fastened around his waist, to try to save the other boys. Though only a moderate swimmer, he swam through the channel in the ice, beating at the unbroken ice with his fists and leaning on it to make it give way. By now the boys had slipped under the ice, so he dived under the surface to look for them until he was exhausted. His brave work in very icy water for 25 minutes, and he suffered several cuts. The other boys sadly drowned.
On 13th August 1948, David was gazetted for the award of the Albert Medal for Life Saving. He was a Boy Scout and proudly wore his uniform at his investiture. He was also awarded the Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal and the Boy Scouts Silver Cross for Gallantry. David completed his schooling at Westmark Camp School in Petersfield. Tragically, David’s father George died in 1954 when he was just 17, and he decided to join the Royal Navy. He married Rita Muscat in 1959, a lady that he met whilst stationed in Malta. They had four children, Stephen, Sandra, Ian and Jacqueline. In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, David chose to exchange his Albert Medal for a George Cross, and attended an investiture at Buckingham Palace to receive his medal from Queen Elizabeth II. David donated his Albert Medal to the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth.
David stayed in the Royal Navy for 22 years, retiring at the rank of Petty Officer in 1976. Sadly during that same year, his marriage to Rita ended in divorce. David then settled in Plymouth, Devon, where he gained employment at the Naval Dockyard. He remained on the Royal Naval Reserve, but unfortunately he became ill and was forced to give up work. David died on 12th March 1995 in Plymouth. He was cremated at Weston Mill Crematorium and his ashes were given to the Royal Navy to be scattered at sea. His medal group including GC, Royal Humane Society Bronze Medal, Boy Scouts Silver Cross for Gallantry, 1977 QEII Silver Jubilee Medal and Royal Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal are proudly held by the Western family.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.
BURIAL PLACE: WESTON MILL CREMATORIUM, PLYMOUTH.
ASHES SCATTERED AT SEA.