- Name: Edmund Geoffrey ABBOTT
- D.O.B: 20th Jul, 1895
- D.O.A: 5th Aug, 1919
- D.O.D: 3rd Apr, 1974
- Award: Albert Medal translated to George Cross
- Occupation at time of action: Lieutenant, HMS Lance, Royal Navy
- Book: The Complete History - Volume 3
BETWEEN THE WARS
The stresses of the First World War led to political revolution in much of Europe and, in extreme cases, social collapse. Even the victors, Britain and France, were not immune to the economic upheaval and labour unrest resulting from the transition from war to peace and the demobilization of hundreds of thousands of men. This made them extremely nervous of the rise of the Bolsheviks in Russia and they decided to send aid to the anti-Bolshevik forces. However, an Allied North Russia Expeditionary Force had to be withdrawn once it became clear that internal opposition to the Bolsheviks had been defeated. In Britain a postwar boom failed to prove long-lasting and in May 1926 there was a General Strike, triggered by a crisis in the Mining Industry. The Great Depression followed in 1929 and by 1931 Britain was forced to abandon the Gold Standard. In large parts of the country and especially in the traditional industries there was widespread unemployment throughout the 1930s, symbolized by the Jarrow Crusade of 1936. Conditions were much worse on the Continent and the interwar period witnessed the rise of the Dictators. The coming to power in Germany of Hitler in 1933 was to lead inexorably to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. In the years of increasingly uneasy peace between 1919 and September 1939 only eleven VCs were awarded and of these only one, the award to Captain G P Meynell in 1935, took place outside the period 1919-21. Of the eleven awards, five related to actions against the Bolsheviks, four to actions on the North-West Frontier of India and one to an an engagement in what is now Iraq. The remaining award was that in 1921 to the American Unknown Warrior. Of the Albert, Edward and Empire Gallantry Medals awarded in the same period, 142 recipients lived long enough for their awards to be converted to the GC. The geographical distribution of the actions that occasioned the awards is witness to the Global spread of the British Empire, which reached its widest extent after the First World War. However, some of the awards, for gallantry in India, Egypt and the Sudan, and Palestine, reflected both the stresses in maintaining that dominion and the duties it entailed. After service personnel and policemen, coal miners formed the largest group of recipients, demonstrating the central importance of coal to the British economy and the dangers inherent in securing it. Those who worked in coal and gold mines in India and Africa were also honoured. Both in the mines and in industry as a whole, the threat posed by poisonous gases led to many awards. New industries brought new hazards with them. Other dangers overcome were of a more basic sort. Awards were also made to those who, throughout the Empire, confronted mad elephants, rabid dogs and marauding sharks.
The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Albert Medal to Lieutenant Edmund Geoffrey Abbott, R.N., for gallantry in saving life at sea. The following is an account of the services in respect of which the decoration has been conferred:– On the 5th August, 1919, an explosion occurred on board the ex-German battleship “Baden,” whilst in dry dock at Invergordon. Lieutenant Abbott immediately proceeded down the hatch to the main deck and saw that smoke was coming from the ladder way tunnel leading down to the shaft passage and after room containing the cooling plant. Other measures proving ineffectual, he proceeded to the corresponding tunnel on the starboard side, to see whether it was possible to get below and work up to the scene of the explosion from that side. The starboard tunnel was practically clear of smoke, so he proceeded to the upper deck, collected a party, and descended again through the tunnel to the room containing the cooling plant. He made his way to the port side and found a dockyard workman lying unconscious. Assisted by the party which had accompanied him, Lieutenant Abbott got the body to the upper deck, but life was found to be extinct. Although greatly affected by the fumes, Lieutenant Abbott called for further volunteers and again proceeded to the rescue of a second man whose groans had been heard, and succeeded in removing him out of danger. Throughout the proceedings this officer showed an utter disregard for his own safety, and, in spite of the great difficulty occasioned by the absence of light, was the undoubted means of saving the second man’s life.