Gallantry in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary
The Albert Medal was instituted by Royal Warrant on 7 March 1866. The medal was named in memory of the Prince Albert and was awarded by the Sovereign to recognize gallantry when saving life at sea or on land.
In 1971, the Albert Medal was discontinued and all living recipients were invited to exchange their awards for the George Cross
The following members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service have been awarded the Albert Medal
Donkeyman John T Allan
John Thomas Allan was born in County Durham and lived with his wife and family in South Shields on the River Tyne. His father, also named John, was a blacksmith.
Donkeyman John Allan signed on RFA Mixol on the 18 October 1916
John Thomas Allan AM after World War 1 wearing his Albert Medal surrounded by family members
He was awarded the Albert Medal on the 16 September 1918 when he gallantly saved the life of Able Seaman Thomas W Johnson on RFA Mixol. The citation for the award says: -
‘As the RFA Mixol was dropping alongside to fuel one of HM Battle Cruisers on the 19th June 1918, the Able Seaman slipped and fell overboard between the ‘Mixol’ and the Cruiser; ‘Mixol’ was only about ten feet clear of the Cruiser, and was closing at the time.
Donkeyman John Allan, who was standing on the fore well deck of ‘Mixol,’ saw the man fall and that he was struggling in the water. Although it was clear that the man in the water was in imminent danger of being crushed between the two ships, Allan at once jumped overboard in the clothes he was wearing to save him. He assisted the Able Seaman to keep afloat until a rope was thrown, which he gave to him, the Able Seaman being hauled on board before Allan took the rope himself. The ship was in an open anchorage, and the temperature of the water was 50º.’
John Allan signed off RFA Mixol on the 10 August 1919 and was posted to HMS Eaglet at Liverpool.
He died on 29 December 1936 and is buried in Harton Cemetery, South Shields - in an unmarked grave No: 10708
Harton Cemetery, South Shields
Able Seaman Morris Richard Ellis
Morris Ellis hailed from Anglesey. He was a single man and had been brought up by his relatives after the deaths of his parents.
Able Seaman Morris Ellis was posthumously awarded the Albert Medal on 23rd January 1951 when he gallantly saved the life of the Bosun on RFA Wave Commander but gave his own life while doing so. The citation for the award says: -
“On 4 July 1950 during tank cleaning on RFA Wave Commander the Bosun entered No 6 tank to complete cleaning by hose. The nozzle dropped from the hose into the tank and the Bosun descended to try and locate it. He was three-quarters of the way up the ladder when he was overcome by gas. Able Seaman Ellis immediately went to his assistance and managed to lash the Bosun to the ladder with a rope passed down to him.
Able Seaman Ellis, who was well aware of the danger and risk involved, was himself overcome by gas, lost his grip of the ladder and fell to the bottom of the tank and was killed.
RFA Wave Commander
Able Seaman Ellis gave his life to save the Bosun and largely through his prompt action the Bosun was brought on deck and recovered”.
The medal was presented by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to Able Seaman Ellis’ next of kin at Buckingham Palace following the death of her father King George VI.
Able Seaman Morris Ellis AM is buried at North Front Cemetery, Gibraltar.