Victoria_Cross_of_canada

THE

 

TO THE VICTORIA & GEORGE CROSS

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

victoria_cross george cross scan0004

b. 18/05/1903 Chelsea, London. d. 09/11/1984 Downton, nr Salisbury, Wiltshire.

 

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 23/05/1928 Malta.

 

Reginald William Armytage (1903-1984) was the son of Sir George Ayscough Armytage, 7th Baronet, CMG, DSO of Kirklees Park, Brighouse and his wife Amy nee Pilkington. He was born in Chelsea, London on 18th May 1903. He was educated at the Osborne and Dartmouth Colleges.

He had entered the Navy at the age of 13 in 1917. He served on HMS Royal Oak in 1921, HMS Capetown from 1922-24, on emergency destroyers in 1925 and on HMS Warspite from 1926-1928. It was while he was serving on Warspite on 23rd May 1928 that he performed the actions which led to his and Dick Oliver's Albert Medal.

 

On the 23rd May 1928, whilst HMS Warspite was lying alongside Parlatorio Wharf, Malta, an examination of the bulge compartments situated on the Port side aft was being carried out. The manhole door of the lower bulge compartment was removed and the test took place. It was found the air was poisonous. A Chief Stoker attempted to enter, although it was perilous, and was immediately overcome by the gas and fell unconscious to the bottom of the compartment, a distance of twenty feet.

 

The alarm was given and Lieutenant Armytage fetched a gas mask and with a life line around him entered the compartment and reached the bottom, when he was overcome by the gas and left unconscious also. Fortunately, he was hauled to safety by his lifeline, and was taken to the nearest Royal Naval Hospital in a poor condition. Meanwhile, Leading Seaman Dick Oliver volunteered to attempt a second rescue, and managed to reach the striken Chief Stoker, and managed to pull the man to safety despite the physical risks to himself.

 

Following his recovery and the award of the Albert Medal, Reginald qualified as a Gunner and served on HMS Devonshire, HMS Mackay and HMS Frobisher. In 1928 he married Sylvia Beatrice Staveley and they had three sons David, Maurice and Roderick. In the same year, he played rugby union for the Navy and was picked to play for England in 1929 but was unable to play due to being called back to sea.

 

Armytage became Head of Gun Design and the Senior Naval Representative at the Armament Design Establishment in 1946, and later became Chief Inspector of Naval Ordnance in 1956. His final Naval rank was Rear Admiral. In 1959, he was awarded the CBE. In 1971, following the change in the Royal Warrant, he chose not to exchange his Albert Medal for a GC.

 

On retirement, he and his wife moved to Downton, Wiltshire where his main hobby was water colour painting. He died on 9th November 1984 and was buried in his wife's family vault in Holbeton, Devon. His medals including the Albert Medal, CBE, Defence Medal 1939-45, War Medal 1939-45, 1953 Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal and 1977 Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal 1977 are proudly held by the Armytage family.

 

LOCATION OF MEDAL: IN RECIPIENT'S FAMILY.

BURIAL PLACE: WIFE'S FAMILY VAULT, ALL SAINTS CHURCH, HOLBETON, DEVON.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

armytage

Reginald William Armytage

GC CBE

“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Albert Medal to

 

Lieutenant Reginald William Armytage, R.N., and Leading Seaman Dick Oliver, O.N.J. 65197 (Po.)

 

for gallantry in endeavouring to save life at sea.

 

The following is the account of the services in respect of which the decorations have been conferred :-

 

On the 23rd May, 1928, whilst H.M.S. “ Warspite ” was lying alongside Parlatorio Wharf, Malta, an examination of the bulge compartments situated on the Port side aft was being carried out. The manhole door of the lower bulge com¬partment was removed and the com¬partment tested. It was found that the air was foul and poisonous. A Chief Stoker attempted to enter the compartment, although aware that it was in a dangerous condition, and was immedi¬ately overcome by the gas and fell unconscious to the bottom of the com¬partment, a distance of about 20 feet.

 

The alarm was given and Lieutenant Armytage immediately fetched his gas mask and with a life line round him entered the compartment and reached the bottom, when he was overcome and rendered unconscious. With great diffi¬culty, owing to the small size of the manhole, he was hauled to the exit by means of the life line. He was uncon¬scious and had stopped breathing when hauled into the open air, and was eventually removed to the R.N. Hospital in a precarious condition. Lieutenant Armytage was aware that his gas mask would afford no degree of protection against the CO or CO2 gases likely to be present in the compartment. He realised that the delay incurred in passing a diver through the manholes would probably prove fatal to the Chief Stoker and appreciated to the fullest extent the grave risk he ran in entering the compartment.

 

As soon as Lieutenant Armytage had been withdrawn from the manhole of the upper bulge compartment Leading Seaman Oliver, who was in attendance with a shallow diving helmet, volunteered to attempt the rescue of the Chief Stoker, despite the fact that he had witnessed the painful and distressing sights attendant on asphyxiation. After donning the helmet he was passed with considerable difficulty through the manholes of the upper and lower bulge compartments and he eventually succeeded in reaching the Chief Stoker and passing a line round his body by means of which the latter was drawn up through the manhole to the pontoon abreast the ship. On emerging from the bulges Oliver was a very bad colour and suffering to some extent from the poisonous gases in the bulge compartments. Although a smoke helmet provides a considerable degree of protection it was obvious that any displacement would be attended by serious results and, further, having regard to the difficulty in passing Oliver through the manholes when equipped with the helmet, it was quite clear that his quick withdrawal in the event of being overcome was a matter of considerable conjec¬ture, and the delay thus involved might have been attended with fatal results.”

2nd August 1928 courtesy of Terry Hissey

ARMYTAGE R W GRAVE KB

Kevin Brazier