Personal info

  • Name: John Henry CARLESS
  • D.O.B: 11th Nov, 1896
  • D.O.A: 17th Nov, 1917
  • D.O.D: 17th Nov, 1917
  • Award: Victoria Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Ordinary Seaman, HMS Caledon, Royal Navy
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Heligoland Bight, North Sea 17 November 1917

17 November 1917

More details about:
The First World War 1917 

The Second Battle of Heligoland Bight in 1917 was the last major naval engagement of the First World War. Increasingly extensive British minefields were intended not only to obstruct enemy submarines but to lure the German navy out into the North Sea to clear them. On 17 November a force of British cruisers under Rear Admiral C L Napier attacked German minesweepers in the Heligoland Bight. HMS Caledon, under Commodore W Cowan, received several direct hits but only broke off her pursuit of the enemy minesweepers when the German battleships Kaiser and Kaiserin came to their defence. During the action a shell hit the gun position which Ordinary Seaman J H Carless was serving. Though mortally wounded in the stomach he continued at his post until he collapsed and died.


 For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty. Although mortally wounded in the abdomen, he still went on serving the gun at which he was acting as rammer, lifting a projectile and helping to clear away the other casualties. He collapsed once, but got up, tried again, and cheered on the new gun’s crew. He then fell and died. He not only set a very inspiring and memorable example, but he also, whilst mortally wounded, continued to do effective work against the King’s enemies. 

Fourth Supplement to The London Gazette of 14 May 1918. 17 May 1918, Numb. 30687, p. 5857

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