THE SEA GALLANTRY MEDAL SS TAHITI 1922
The medal is in its box of issue and is named to:
DONALD McDONALD S.S. TAHITI. 28th FEBRUARY 1922
The Board of Trade Medal for Saving Life at Sea.
Rescues from a gas-filled hold 28th February 1922
DONALD MACDONALD, Chief Officer, of S.S. Tahiti, London.
On the 28th February 1922, the S.S. Tahiti was sealed at San Francisco for fumigation with hydrocyanic acid gas. At 1.30 pm, the fumigation having been completed, the seals were broken, and at 4.45 pm the steamer was considered free from gas and given clearance. John Newton, ship’s carpenter, arrived on board about 5.10 pm and was instructed by the chief officer to thaw out No.1 lower hold by means of steam, and see to the drain-cocks of the chain locker. At 5.30 pm groans were heard in No.1 hold. Newton, who had evidently tried to regain the deck, fell off the ladder on to his head, which caused it to bleed profusely. Chief Officer D. Macdonald immediately went down to Newton’s assistance, but, feeling himself overcome, reclimbed the ladder, and managed to regain the deck. A seaman named George Archibald then went down, but was at once overcome by the fumes, as also was Fauchelle who followed. Lyon and Norris also went down, followed in a second attempt by the Chief Officer (Donald Macdonald), whose efforts were again unsuccessful, and he had to be hauled up on deck in a state of collapse. Lyon and Norris also managed to regain the deck, where they also collapsed.
On the arrival of the San Francisco Fire Dept. fire-boat Dennis T. Sullivan, three men were still lying unconscious down in the hold, viz. Newton, Archibald, and Fauchelle, and Capt. John F. Kearney of the fire-boat put on a Gibbs gas-mask, and went down to their assistance. He managed to put slings around each man, but had to come up on deck for fresh air after each operation, as the gas mask was defective.
DONALD MACDONALD, Chief Officer, George Archibald, James Joseph Lyon, John Foster, Harold Norris, Laurence Fauchelle, Seamen, all of S.S. Tahiti of London.
The Gold Medal for Foreign Service was awarded to J.F. KEARNEY for his gallantry on this occasion. (17.1. 23)
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