Personal info

  • Name: Alf LOWE
  • D.O.B: 14th Jun, 1931
  • Award: George Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Navy

Sources & Acknowledgements


 At 2245 hours on 17th October, 1948, a liberty boat returning from Weymouth Pier to H.M.S. Illustrious in Portland Harbour overturned and sank 50 to 100 yards from the ship's stern, with 51 men on board. Boy Lowe was trapped under the canopy, struggled free and surfaced. He saw a life-belt a short distance from him which had been thrown from H.M.S. Illustrious and swam to it. He then removed his overcoat and shoes and swam towards the ship. When he was under the stern a line was thrown to him. At this moment he heard a faint cry of "Help" and on looking round saw that a Midshipman who was about ten yards away, was in great difficulty.

He grabbed the line and swam to the Midshipman who was unconscious by the time he reached him. He endeavoured to turn him over to keep his head above water but found this impossible and still holding him was pulled to the ship's side. A fog buoy was then lowered and he managed to drag the Midshipman on to this and to hold on to him until a Petty Officer came down the rope to assist him. Together they secured the Midshipman who was then hoisted on board.

The accident took place in eight fathoms of water, in a rough sea with a strong wind blowing.

Although the Midshipman subsequently died, Boy Lowe acted with complete disregard for his own life in leaving his place of safety in an attempt to save him. His action in endangering his own life in this accident in which 29 men lost their lives was in accordance with the highest traditions of the Royal Navy.

Citation published in The London Gazette, 8th February 1949

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