Victoria_Cross_of_canada

THE

 

TO THE VICTORIA & GEORGE CROSS

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

victoria_cross george cross

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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b. 15/03/1897 Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland.  d. 02/02/1947 Birmingham.

 

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 26/07/1929 Skiathos, Greece.

 

George Paterson Niven EGM/GC was born in Portobello, Edinburgh on 15th March 1897, the son of Angus McKenzie Niven and Mary (nee Gordon). His father was a Railway Signalman and George followed his career into the Railways until on 17th August 1913 he joined the Royal Navy as a Boy 2nd Class at HMS Ganges.

 

During the First World War, he joined HMS Crescent and HMS Collingwood, and signed up for 12 year’s adult service in 1915. He was promoted to Able Seaman later that year. Following the Great War, he served aboard HMS Revenge (1921-22), HMS Glorious (1922-23), HMS Valiant (1923-24), HMS Hood (1925) and eventually joined the HMS Devonshire.

 

On 25th July 1929, HMS Devonshire was carrying out full calibre firing when at the first salvo there was a massive explosion in X turret, which blew off the turret roof. Marine Albert Streams was the only man in the gun turret not killed or badly wounded. He climbed to the top of the turret but, on looking down and seeing the conditions, he climbed back into the smoke and flames, notwithstanding the grave risk of further explosions. He then helped evacuate the dead and wounded; when all were removed, he collapsed. Anthony Cobham GC then took stretcher parties, including Niven, aft and ordered one crew to follow him and the other to rig hoses. On reaching the turret, they assisted the men who were on fire. Cobham and Niven did what they could for them and then went into the turret, where there was still a lot of cordite burning fiercely.

 

Niven and Cobham were awarded the EGM, which was eventually exchanged for the new George Cross in 1940. He was flown to London to receive his GC alongside Cobham in 1942. Niven died in Birmingham on 2nd February 1949 and is buried in an unmarked grave in Yardley Cemetery, Birmingham. His medals including his GC, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19 are privately held.

 

LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.

BURIAL PLACE: YARDLEY CEMETERY, YARDLEY, BIRMINGHAM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Paterson Niven EGM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NO IMAGE AVAILABLE

yardley cemetery and crematorium

Niven's sadly unmarked grave in Yardley Cemetery (September 2015)

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A cross placed on Niven's grave by Kevin Brazier and myself in September 2015

“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 Patterson 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 heavy explosion which which blew off the roof of one of the turrets.

 

When the explosion occurred, Midshipman A. J. Cobham immediately took strecther 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 intiative, 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.”

1st January 1930

transcribed by Terry Hissey