Charlie Craggs

4th June 2007, 15:50
Does remember an Engineer on Tyneside called Charlie Craggs? He saved a ship that was damaged by enemy action during World War 2 for which he recieved recognition would like to hear more of his story

5th June 2007, 14:42
From the London Gazette September 1943

To be Additional Officers of the Civil Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire'.—

Captain Edward Giles Dobson, Master.

Charles Craggs, Esq., Chief Engineer Officer.

Awarded the British Empire Medal (Civil Division):—

Robert McKee, Able Seaman.

"When the ship, sailing in convoy, was torpedoed in darkness severe damage was sustained. The engines were stopped and the Master ordered the majority of the crew to lower two of the boats and to stand by alongside. Although water had entered the engine-room to sea level the Master refused to leave his ship while there was a chance of saving her. As the vessel could not proceed under her own power, arrangements were made for towage. It was three days before a tug arrived and in the meantime the Master and his party on board prepared the vessel for towing. Captain Dobson displayed exceptional courage and resource throughout and it was due to his determination in the face of many dangers that the valuable ship was finally brought safely to port. The Chief Engineer Officer was the mainstay of the Master and set an outstanding example by his courage and devotion to duty. When the vessel was hit he took steps to ensure the safety of the engine-room personnel. During this operation he rescued, at great personal risk, one of the greasers who was in danger of being drowned in the flooded engine-room and got him safely to one of the boats. The courage, devotion to duty and cheerfulness of Able Seaman McKee were outstanding. He was exceptionally useful and reliable in the trying circumstances, doing all the overside work in connection with.the various towing wires. For ten months the vessel remained in North Russian waters. During this period she survived numerous enemy ' bombing attacks both in port and at sea and did very valuable work under extremely difficult and trying conditions. The Master handled his ship excellently throughout, despite the numerous enemy attacks. The successful completion of much vital work was mainly due to his outstanding courage and skill. . The Second Radio Officer and Able Seaman Irvine showed exceptional courage during the constant bombing which the ship suffered and set a high example to the other members of the crew"

The only ship I can find to fit in with these events is the tanker British Governor, 6,840grt. The ship had sailed from Loch Ewe on 15th February 1943in the 29 ship Convoy JW-53, arriving in the Kola Inlet 27th February. (I can find no recorded attack on the actual convoy during the crossing) Lloyds War Losses Vol. II state the ship was damaged by German aircraft on 4th April and dry-docked at Murmansk for temporary repairs and proceeded to Archangel, arriving 23rd September. The ship then sailed from Archangel 31st October, arriving at the Kola Inlet and left the following day in the 13 ship Convoy RA--54A, which arrived at Loch Ewe 14th November. During the crossing the British Governor must of left the convoy at some point as the tanker arrived at South Shields on 15th November for permanent repairs.

11th June 2007, 18:55

Thankyou for posting the details concerning Charlie Craggs, MBE.

When this thread was first posted I had a nagging suspicion that the name was familiar and that Charlie had been one of our Superintendents. So I contacted Jack Thomas, who has confirmed that Charlie Craggs became the Chief Engineer Superintendent of BP Tanker Co., prior to Stewart Speed. He was considered to be a very good engineer and very tough!