Echo: "Portland Memorial To HMS Illustrious Tragedy Victims"


War Hero
Re: Echo: "Portland Memorial To HMS Illustrious Tragedy Vict

Must admit I was surprised to learn of this peacetime tragedy through this article. Having served on the current Illustrious (93-96), I surprisingly don't recall learning of the historical incident - all the more reason for a fitting memorial.
Just for the record, Alfred Lowe was awarded the Albert Medal as a Boy 1st Class. He later exchanged this for the George Cross (GC), not the "St George Cross" as the article describes it.

Buckingham First Day Covers
Alfred Raymond Lowe GC

Alfred Lowe was a mere boy of 17 when, in 1948, a liberty boat in which he was returning to HMS Illustrious, anchored in Portland Harbour, overturned and sank in a rough sea approximately 50 to 100 yards from the ship’s stern.

Trapped under a canopy when the boat sank, Lowe struggled, surfaced, saw a life-belt and swam towards the ship. As he reached the stern a line was thrown to him - but just then Mr Lowe heard a cry for help and saw a midshipman about 10 yards away in great difficulty.

Disregarding his own safety, Mr Lowe grabbed the line and swam to the now unconscious midshipman and pulled him to the ship side. With the assistance of a Petty Officer, Mr Lowe managed to secure the midshipman to a rope and he was hoisted onboard. Unfortunately the Midshipman subsequently died and was one of 29 sailors who lost their lives in the accident.

Mr Lowe later qualified as a radar operator and diver serving on board HMS Concord during the Korean War when he was Mentioned in Despatches for "distinguished service in Korean waters"

He was awarded the Albert Medal for his bravery in rescuing the midshipman from the sea in complete disregard for his own safety. In 1971, it was announced that recipients of the Albert Medal could exchange their medals for the George Cross.

Mr Lowe received the George Cross in 1973 and presented his Albert Medal to the Recruit School at HMS Raleigh as an inspiration for new recruits.

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