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BWM Merc Marine Pair SS Minewaska

British War Medal and Mercantile Marine War Medal Pair, John Gill Metcalfe, a sailor from Aberdeen, who served during the war on Ocean Liner S.S. Minnewaska

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SKU: J7694 Category:
Origin: United Kingdom
Extremely Fine


British War Medal and Mercantile Marine War Medal Pair, John Gill Metcalfe, a sailor from Aberdeen, who served during the war on Ocean Liner Minnewaska.


Officially impressed: “J. G. METCALFE.”
Medal issue card records that the medals were posted to him in Fraserburgh during April 1939.


Mr John George Metcalfe, was born on 21st December 1894 in Aberdeen, Scotland.


The son of William G and Annie H G Metcalfe, his father was an Ironmonger, they lived near St Machar in Aberdeen.


He can be found during the War serving on the Ocean Liner S.S. Minnewaska, shown on the crew list of December 1914 to January 1915 as a 7th Engineer.


He is later shown on his 1918 record card with a photograph of him as a 4th Engineer, holding a 2nd Class Board of Trade Certifcate


SS Minnewaska had an interesting career, launched in 1909 it was one of the ships that had assisted RMS Carpathia with sending out survivors names following the 1912 RMS Titanic Disaster.


In October 1914, while Minnewaska was taking on cargo in New York when a fire developed in hold number two, where a consignment of sugar had been loaded. The blaze was extinguished only when the hold was flooded. The fire destroyed sugar worth $120,000 and there was some concern that it may have been deliberately set by German agents. But it seems to have been an accident and was blamed by Captain Thomas F. Gates on spontaneous combustion. Minnewaska was not materially damaged and sailed on schedule without any further incident.


Also on 28th April 1915 the Minnewaska was present at the Gallipoli Landings and had a minor collision with the German Ship SS Derfflinger off ANZAC Cove.


Between 1909 and January 1915, Minnewaska had made 66 voyages from London to New York.
She was then requisitioned by the British Government for service in the war as a Troopship.


She then sailed the Avonmouth to Alexandria Route during this period, being defensively armed with a gun mounted on her stern and made 5 voyages ferrying troops and artillery to the Dardanelles. She had a few narrow escapes involving submarines.




One day on 29th November 1916, while she was travelling from Alexandria in Egypt to Saloniki with 1600 troops, she struck a floating mile 1.5 miles southeast of Dentero Point, Suda Bay, Crete, which tore a large holy in the hull.
The ship took on a rapidly increasing list and threatened to capsize after the explosion but Captain Gates, who ordered everyone into their life belts and had lifeboats and rafts at the ready, managed to keep control of the ship and decided to steam at full speed to the nearby shore. He successfully ran her aground 46 meters west of Cape Deutero at the entrance to Suda Bay where she came to rest. It took about two hours to evacuate the ship and the men were rescued without loss by the trawler Danestone, the drifters Principal, Trustful and Deveronside, and the destroyer HMS Garmpus.
Due to his prompt action, there was no loss of life from the 1800 soldiers and 200 sailors on board at this time. he was later awarded the Order of the British Empire for the incident.