A 1918 Merchant Marine Awarded DSM for Enemy Torpedo Attack
A 1918 Merchant Marine Awarded DSM for Enemy Torpedo Attack - GVR (D. Mc K. SHANNON, BOS'N. M.M. ATLANTIC OCEAN. 25.-26. MAY. 1918.). Naming is officially impressed in large capitals. Contact marks, edge nicks, bruised, near very fine. Accompanied by his Index Card, Mercantile Marine Awards Committee Minutes, a Report from the Senior Naval Officer (at His Majesty's Naval Base at Berehaven, County Cork, Ireland) and assorted research papers. Footnote: David McKay Shannon was born on February 18, 1879 in Larne, Ireland. Boatswain Shannon was specially commended by his ships Master, William James Campbell, after a protracted duel with a U-Boat, in which his ship, the S.S. Rathlin Head, was hit four times by torpedoes, as they were in transit from Swansea to New Orleans. The attack on the Rathlin Head was described in the Report of the Interviewing Officer with Campbell: "The Master of S.S. "Rathlin Head" complied with instructions given him by Admiralty and S.O. Convoy and did everything in his power to avoid capture. - Zigzagging at full speed and firing guns at intervals after first attack evidently prevented the submarine from successfully attacking during the night. The Master decided to abandon ship after the second attack next morning. Ship had considerable list to port having received four torpedoes - 2 in Chain Locker and No. 1 Hold and No. 2 in Stoke-hold and bunkers. Ship was in grave peril of turning turtle. Crew took to their boats an hour after last torpedo struck ship and stood by for rescuing ships seen in the distance. The Master and part of crew eventually reboarded their ship and secured tow-ropes and ship was towed into port." The first attack took place on May 25, 1918 at 49 degrees 42 minutes N. / 11 degrees 30 minutes W., while the second attack took place on May 26, 1918 at 50 degrees 20 minutes N. / 10 degrees 45 minutes W. The minutes of the Mercantile Marine Awards Committee describes the attacks in detail: "At 3.45 pm (May 25, 1918), the S.S. Rathlin Head was attacked by two torpedoes from a S/M (enemy submarine). The ship was zig-zagging at the time. The weather was fine. The torpedoes struck the ship near the foremost bulk-head of No. 1 hold. At 4. pm. the ship was attacked by a third torpedo, which passed 100 feet ahead of her. Fire was opened from the Howitzers at the supposed position of the S/M, 8 rounds being fired, and the ship's course altered to port, but the propellers came out of the water and she lost her way. The enemy was then taken on her port quarter, No. 6 hold was flooded and in consequence the propellers again took water at 4.30 pm. and the ship got under way slowly, doing about 3 knots to start with, which increased to 5 or 6 as her stern settled down. A course was set for Fastnet. (Ireland) She was yawning badly but did not zig-zag. At 5.30 pm. a S/M was sighted at a distance of 7 miles, 1 point on the port quarter and fire was opened from the 4.7" gun. At 7.25 am. on 26th May, the ship was attacked by two torpedoes which exploded in the Stokehold and cross bunker. 2 rounds from the Howitzers were fired in the direction of the wake of the torpedoes. The ship took a heavy list to port and her engines were rendered useless. She was then left by the crew. Nothing was seen of the S/M at this time. The U.S.S. "McCall" arrived within the hour and proceeded to search for the S/M. While doing so she was attacked unsuccessfully by two torpedoes. The rescue tug "Cartmell" arrived about 9 am. The Master, Chief Officer, Chief Engineer and others then reboarded the ship and made an inspection. Soon afterwards, the "McCall" was attacked again by 2 torpedoes and proceeded to drop depth charges. The rescue tug "Flying Spray" then arrived and ship (Rathlin Head) was taken in tow. She was beached in safety at Berehaven (His Majesty's Naval Base at Berehaven, County Cork, Ireland) late on the night of 27th May. 3 Firemen were killed by the second explosion and 1 injured. The Master specially recommends David McShannon, Boatswain "for coolness and general conduct during the action."" Shannon was awarded his Distinguished Service Medal, "in recognition of zeal and devotion to duty in carrying on the trade of the country during the war.", as mentioned in the Second Supplement to the London Gazette 30833 of Tuesday, August 6, 1918, on Wednesday, August 7, 1918, page 9339.