During World War 1 German and Austrian merchant ships interned in ports of non belligerent countries had parts of their machinery removed to prevent them sailing.

 

RFA PolgowanIn early 1915 in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands the German ship Macedonia was in such detention by the Spanish Government. It had been there since the start of the conflict. Somehow the crew managed to get the engines started and the ship sailed out of Spanish captivity.

 

On 28 March 1915 she was stopped in the North Atlantic by the Royal Navy and with a prize crew sent to Gibraltar. The Prize Court awarded the Macedonia to the Admiralty who renamed the ship Polgowan. The Polgowan was handed over to the RFA and was used as a store ship.

 


 

 

Third Officer Ralph James SGM (Silver) RFA

Second Officer Charles Fielding SGM (Bronze) RFA

 

Ralph_H_James_SGM

3rd Officer Ralph H James SGM RFA

 

During World War 1 German and Austrian merchant ships interned in ports of non belligerent countries had parts of their machinery removed to prevent them sailing.

 

PolgowanIn early 1915 in Las Palmas in the Canary Islands the German ship Macedonia was in such detention by the Spanish Government. It had been there since the start of the conflict. Somehow the crew managed to get the engines started and the ship sailed out of Spanish captivity.

 

On 28 March 1915 she was stopped in the North Atlantic by the Royal Navy and with a prize crew sent to Gibraltar. The Prize Court awarded the Macedonia to the Admiralty who renamed the ship Polgowan. The Polgowan was handed over to the RFA and was used as a store ship.

 

On 27 May 1919 while at Freemantle, Australia and with a load of explosive in a magazine the RFA Polgowan caught fire aft.

 

The Master was ashore and so 2nd Officer Charles Fielding mustered the deck crew and with stevedores fought the fire. They were driven back by the dense smoke and phosphorus fumes and left the ship. 3rd Officer Ralph James and a seaman named Zanias had to cope with the fire which was on the deck of a store room in which there was a magazine. 3rd Officer James donned a smoke helmet and with a hose went down to the scene.

 

SGMAt first he played the water onto the magazine to keep it cool but as the fire still increased he endeavoured to extinguish it and before the arrival of the fire brigade he had got it under control.

 

Mr Fielding stood by and kept Mr James supplied with air by means of bellows, while Seaman Zanias looked after the water and assisted in other ways.

 

Had the fire reached the magazine the whole of the after part of the vessel would probably have been wrecked and the two officers and seaman would almost certainly have lost their lives.

 

King George V invested the officers with their medals at Buckingham Palace on the 26 February 1920

 

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