N.Z.SC. SS OTAKI Captain awarded V.C.

scooby do
22nd March 2006, 20:44
89 year ago SS Otaki NZSC Refrigerated cargo ship in a position 360 miles east of the Azores, encountered the German disguised raider Moewe. In an act of indomitable defiance captain Archibald Bisset Smith of SS Otaki refused to stop as orderd. The raider opend fire on Otaki. Moewe armed with four 6 inch guns one 4 inch, three torpedo tubes and four 2 ilb guns. The Otaki was equiped with one 4 inch gun. Never the less Captain Smith returned fire scoring numerous direct hits on the enemy ship causing a fire aboard Moewe that would burn for three days rendering Moewe unservicable for the remainder of the war. Otaki was badly dammaged and sinking. Captain Smith orderd away the boats. Sadly he was killed and went down with his ship along with six members of his crew. The Royal navy awarded Captain Smith the Victoria Cross. The fact that he was a merchent seaman rendered him ineligible. The ever practical royal navy conferred upon him a pre dated commission as Lt reserve royal navy. Captain Smiths V.C hung in the dining rooms of Otaki 2 and 3 and is now on display in P&O's board room

22nd March 2006, 23:31
It's right and proper that an act of courage be acclaimed and awarded an honour commensurate with anyone else who is acting in defence of his or her country, regardless of class or rank. So the Navy done the right thing to award him a VC. But can anyone tell me who were the other six men that went down with the ship and were they also honoured, I can't find anything about the 'other men' that also died alongside Captain Smith.


23rd March 2006, 06:40
Here they are Tony the brave lads who died on the "Otaki"
you will find the list at this site http://www.smsmoewe.com/ships/smsms42.htm
* Deck Boy Robert Chaffey Keneston, Mercantile Marine, Age 16, Born at Kilburn, London.
* Apprentice Basil Hugo Kilner, Mercantile Marine, Born at Lewisham.
* Third Engineer Arthur H Little, Mercantile Marine, Age 26, Born at Durham.
* Apprentice W. E. Martin, Mercantile Marine, Born at Aberdeen.
* Master Archibald Bissett Smith, VC, Age 38.
* Steward H. J. Willis, Mercantile Marine, Drowned, Age 50, Born in Hants.


24th November 2006, 22:34
Attached from Vol. 14 No.164, Dec. 1052 issue of the TRIDENT, page 508. Last I heard of her was - laid up fire damaged in 1976 as the Natalia, Owner - Roussos Bros. of Limassol, Cyprus, (ex. Mahout)

24th November 2006, 23:23
Shortly after the end of the Great War the Ministry of War (as the MoD was then) changed the rules so that a Merchant Navy Seaman COULD be awarded the VC. This change was as a direct result of this case.
That exemption still exists today, yet another VC has not been awarded.
Richard Woodman wrote a fair bit about it in 'The Real Cruel Sea'.

K urgess
25th November 2006, 00:05
On the 22nd. of May in 1920, a Royal Warrant changed the rules as to the award of the VC, and added the Mercantile Marine, as shown below -

Sixthly: It is ordained that:-

1) Officers, Warrant Officers and subordinate Officers hereinafter referred to as Officers, Chief Petty Officers and Petty Officers, hereinafter referred to as Petty Officer, men and boys hereinafter referred to as Seamen serving in - (a) Our Navy or in ships of any description for the time being under Naval Command; (b) Our Indian Marine Service; (c) Navies or Marine Services of Our Dominions, Colonies, Dependencies or Protectorates; and (d) Our Mercantile Marine whilst serving under Naval or Military Authority, or who in the course of their duties may become subject to enemy action.

2) Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, men and boys hereinafter referred to as Marines, serving in Our Marines.

3) Officers, Warrant Officers (Classes I and II), Non-commissioned Officers, men and boys hereinafter referred to as Privates, of all ranks serving in Our Army, Our Army Reserve, Our Territorial or other forces, and the forces of Our Dominions, Colonies, Dependencies or Protectorates.

4) Officers, Warrant Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Airmen in the ranks of Our Air Force, or the Air Forces of Our Dominions, Colonies, Dependencies or Protectorates.

5) British and Indian Officers and men of all ranks of Our Indian Army, the Imperial Service Troops of Native States of India or any other Forces there serving under the Command, guidance, or direction of any British or Indian Officer, or of a Political Officer attached to such Forces on Our behalf.

6) Matrons, Sisters, Nurses of the staff of the Nursing Services and other Services pertaining to Hospitals and Nursing, and Civilians of either sex serving regularly or temporarily under the Orders, direction or supervision of any of the above mentioned Forces shall be eligible for the decoration of the Cross.