Personal info

  • Name: George Paterson NIVEN
  • D.O.B: 15th Mar, 1897
  • D.O.D: 2nd Feb, 1947
  • Award: Empire Gallantry Medal translated to George Cross
  • Occupation at time of action: Able Seaman, HMS Devonshire, Royal Navy
  • Book: The Complete History - Volume 3
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Sources & Acknowledgements

Off Skiathos, Greece 26 July 1929

26 July 1929

On 26 July 1929, HMS Devonshire was in the Aegean sea off Skiathos. During gunnery practice, there was an explosion in one of the gun turrets. Marine A E Streams was the only member of the gun crew not to be killed or seriously injured and played a significant role in evacuating other endangered crew and rescuing the wounded, as did Midshipman A J Cobham and Able Seaman G P Niven. Lieutenant Commander A H Maxwell-Hyslop descended into the turret’s gun well to secure the magazine. Cobham and Niven were awarded the EGM for their gallantry and Maxwell-Hyslop and Streams the AM. Streams did not live long enough for his Medal to be converted to the GC, as he was killed in action in Sicily in 1943.


 The KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the Award of the Medal of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to the undermentioned:– For Gallantry. Midshipman Anthony John Cobham, R.N. Able Seaman George Paterson Niven, R.N., Official Number J. 26679. On the 26th July, 1929, H.M.S. “Devonshire,” was carrying out full calibre firing, when at the first salvo there was a very heavy explosion which blew off the roof of one of the turrets. When the explosion occurred, Midshipman A. J. Cobham immediately took stretcher parties aft and ordered one crew to follow him and the other crews to rig hoses. On reaching the turret he assisted men who were coming out of it with their clothes on fire, and took charge of the work of extinguishing the flames, getting them into stretchers etc. He followed the gunnery officer into the turret when the latter first went in and remained in the gun house until all necessary work was completed. He displayed marked initiative, coolness and pluck for an officer of his age. Able Seaman G. P. Niven, entered the turret shortly after Midshipman Cobham and helped to evacuate wounded. He followed the gunnery officer down to the pump room, saying “I’m not going to let him go down alone.” After this officer had returned to the gun house, Able Seaman Niven heard someone call from below and went right down to the shell handing room to see what was wanted. 

Supplement to The London Gazette of 31 December 1929. 1 January 1930, Numb. 33566, p. 11

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