George Albert Cubitt was born on the 22 September 1854 in Louvain Belgium. He joined the training ship ‘Conway’ in 1868 and commenced his sea going career in 1870. He served 3 years in sail and the remaining 35 years in steamships of the P&O line. In 1883 he was 5 ft 7 in tall and he had an anchor tattoo on his left arm.
On the 1 May 1882 while serving as Chief Officer of the P&O steamer ‘Poona’ he saw the chief officer of the SS Scam, Mr R Peters fall overboard whilst his ship was underway in Bombay Harbour. In the fall Mr Peters broke his leg. Mr Cubitt jumped into the water taking a life belt with him, he reached Mr Peters and supported him until a steam launch arrived, thereby saving his life. A strong tide was running at the time and there was a danger from sharks. For this rescue Mr Cubitt was awarded the Royal Humane Society bronze medal.
He joined the Royal Naval Reserve and by 1899 he had completed a year’s training and held a certificate in either gunnery or torpedo. His RD was awarded on the 25 Aug 1916, 25 years after his promotion to Lieutenant.
Captain Cubitt’s ship the ‘Formosa’ was requisitioned as a war transport for both the South African Boer War 1899-1902 and the Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900.
As Commander Cubitt he served throughout the Great War in his reserve capacity and retired in 1918 at the age of 64. Captain Cubitt died on the 5 February 1934 in his 79th year.
CBE, 1st Type.
Transport Medal (1) SA (V. V. Hooley.);
BWM (Lt. Col. V. V. Hooley.)’
Brazil, Medal for Saving Life, gold, 17.7 gms, the reverse dated ‘14-2-1903’, named on the edge ‘V. Hooley’
CBE (Military) London Gazette 12 December 1919: ‘In recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with the war.’
Mentioned for valuable services in connection with European war London Gazette 24 February 1917, 13 March 1918 and 25 March 1919.
Vernon Vavasour Hooley was born on 15 March 1862, the son of William Hooley, of Southampton. He married Mary, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel T. Maxwell, of Eshowe, Zululand. As a Purser with the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company he received the Transport Medal for services in the S.S. Nile and S.S. Tagus in South Africa, and presented by the King on 4 November 1903. He was awarded the Brazilian Lifesaving medal in gold for jumping overboard and going to the rescue of Laura Christina de Macedo Malta, daughter of the Brazilian Consul-General in the Argentine, who was in danger of drowning on 14 February 1903.
In the period before the Great War he was a shipping agent in New York and was afterwards responsible for the fitting out of the S.S. Acradian and Carribean which conveyed Canadian troops from Quebec. He returned to England in January 1915 and joined the Army Service Corps as a Temporary Lieutenant the following month; Temporary Captain, May 1915; Temporary Major, August 1916; Acting Lieutenant-Colonel, June 1918; Lieutenant-Colonel, June 1919. He served at Deptford, Liverpool, Southampton and in France until November 1919. Commanded No. 2 Home Base Supply Depot A.S.C. He afterwards lived in Southampton and died in 1952, aged 90.
Transport Medal (1) SA (J. H. Collin);
BWM (John H. Collin);
MMM (John H. Collin);
Imperial Merchant Service Guild Cross, silver, silver-gilt and enamel, reverse inscribed, ‘Awarded by the Merchant Service Guild to John H. Collin, M.S.C. for Heroism at Sea, August 1897’, hallmarks for Birmingham 1897, with silver top bar;
Royal Humane Society, small silver medal (successful) (John H. Collin, 28th July 1896) with silver buckle on ribbon;
Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea, 2nd small type, silver (J. H. Collin, Second Officer, S.S. “Sultan”, 28 July 1896) with silver brooch bar;
Royal Humane Society, Stanhope Gold Medal, 1st type, for 1896 (John H. Collin)
John Henry Collin was born in Walton in 1874 into a seafaring family, his father, Captain Henry Collin being a ship-owner and master mariner. John Collin served in his father’s vessels, the Blue Funnel and Leyland Lines for many of his initial years at sea. Whilst serving on the Sultan, a British tramp steamer, in the Red Sea in 1896, he jumped overboard into a monsoon torn and shark infested sea, to rescue a lascar seaman swept overboard. For his valorous and successful rescue he was awarded the R.H.S. Medal in Silver; the Lloyd’s Medal for Saving Life at Sea and the Imperial Merchant Service Guild Cross. He was further honoured with the Stanhope Medal for 1896, awarded for the best rescue of that year.
A full account of the rescue reads: ‘On the 28th July, 1896, Esmolla, a Lascar fireman, belonging to the steamship “Sultan” fell overboard .... A life-buoy was at once thrown to him, which he secured, and the steamer was manoeuvred in order to pick him up, but owing to the immense sea which was running at the time, the man aloft was unable to keep him in sight. After wearing the steamer several times he was sighted on the port beam, but by reason of the high sea it was impossible to launch a boat, as it would have endangered the lives of those who might have volunteered to man her. At once H. H. Collin, second officer, without any previous warning sprang overboard with a line and swam after the man, who had now been three hours in the water. He succeeded in reaching him, and making fast the line, by which he was hauled on board in an exhausted state. Extreme risk was incurred, not only from the high sea running but from sharks, several being seen around the steamer, and their presence was known to Mr Collin before the rescue.’ (R.H.S. Case No. 28,627).
In 1899 he was granted his Certificate of Competency as master of a foreign-going ship by the Lords of the Privy Council for Trade of the Board of Trade. During the South African War 1899-1902, he served as 3rd Officer of the Leyland Line S.S. Jamaican, employed in transporting troops to South Africa - for which service he was awarded the Transport Medal. As a Captain he served in the Great War, serving with distinction, being torpedoed, mined and attacked by enemy aircraft - for which he was awarded the British War and Mercantile Marine War Medals.
In 1931, after a long illness Captain John Henry Collin passed away at his home at 17 St. Mary’s Street, Wallasey and was laid to rest at Wallasey Cemetery.
With original Certificate of Competency as Master, 1899; original photograph of the recipient wearing five of his medals (above less W.W.1 medals); sketches of the recipient (2); newspaper cuttings relating to the rescue and awards; obituary from the Wirral Chronicle; envelopes for his Great War medals; together with named lid to the case for his Stanhope Gold Medal.[/b]
Captain B. Steel, Royal Naval Reserve, who as Marine Superintendent, White Star Line, at Southampton, was reputed to have been the last man to step off the R.M.S. Titanic having collected the vessel’s final muster list from Captain E. Smith prior to the start of her ill-fated maiden voyage.
Picture courtesy of DNW
E&W Africa (1) Benin 1897 (Lieut. B. Steel, R.N.R., H.M.S. Forte.);
Transport (1) S. Africa 1899-1902 (B. Steel.);
Royal Naval Reserve Decoration, E.VII.R., silver and silver-gilt (hallmarks for London 1909),
Benjamin Steel was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, in 1863, and passed his Master’s exam at Liverpool in 1887. Joining the White Star Line in 1894, he served with the Royal Naval Reserve as Acting Lieutenant in H.M.S. Forte in the punitive naval expedition commanded by Rear-Admiral Rawson, and landed from the Squadron to punish the King of Benin for the massacre of the political expedition of 1897, ending in the capture of Benin City on 18 February 1897. Appointed Mate of the White Star Line’s S.S. Britannic in October 1899, he was awarded the Transport Medal for service as Chief Officer in that vessel the following year. After commanding the White Star Line’s S.S. Nomadic in 1902, he was appointed assistant Marine Superintendent at Liverpool in 1903, and became Southampton Marine Superintendent for the Line in 1908, a post he held until his retirement in 1927. He died at Eastleigh, Hampshire, in October 1944.
As the White Star Line’s Marine Superintendent at Southampton, it was Steel who collected the R.M.S. Titanic’s muster list from Captain Edward Smith, and was reputedly therefore the last man to leave the Titanic prior to her embarking upon her maiden voyage from Southampton on 10 April 1912. Five days later she sank beneath the waves. Steel testified at the Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry into the disaster, and when asked by counsel ‘Did you inspect the life boats to see whether they were properly equipped’, he replied, ‘I did in a general way, yes’.