Alfred Carpenter DSO AM

b. 02/08/1847 Brighton, Sussex.  d. 30/04/1925 Croydon, Surrey.

DATE OF AM ACTION: 31/01/1876 Falkland Islands.

Alfred was the son of Commander Charles Carpenter RN and Sophia Wilson. He was born in Brighton and was one of ten children. He was educated at Brighton College and in 1861 entered the Royal Navy. He became a Lieutenant in 1870 and was appointed to HMS Challenger when she was sent on her voyage of ocean survey. When on Challenger he was awarded the AM and the Bronze Medal of the Royal Humane Society. He then served in the naval operations of the Eastern Sudan in 1884, and then took command of the Marine Survey of India until 1889. During the Burmese War, he was awarded the DSO.

In 1900 he became a member of the British Astronomical Association and wrote many papers. He married Henriette Shadwell and had a son and a daughter. His son, Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter would be awarded the VC in 1918 for the Zeebrugge Raid. Carpenter died at his home in Sanderstead on 30th April 1925 aged 77.



At 10.30 P.M. on the 31st January, 1876, while the ” Challenger” was at anchor in Stanley Harbour, Falkland Islands, in five fathoms of water, distant a quarter of a mile from the shore, Thomas Bush, an Able Seaman, fell overboard from the steam pinnace, which was coming alongside, and sank without uttering a cry. The night was dark, the weather very boisterous and raining,” there was a short chopping sea (which rendered swimming extremely difficult), and an outsetting current. LIEUTENANT CARPENTER, without a moment’s hesitation, jumped from the gangway, and swam towards the spot where the man disappeared, which was some twenty feet from the ship, and touched him with his feet under water. He then dived, seized hold of Bush, and brought him to the surface, and supported him from three to five minutes; but Bush being a very heavy man, and encumbered with thick waterproof clothing, and, moreover, being quite insensible, LIEUTENANT CARPENTER, as he got exhausted with his exertions, was obliged to let him slip down. He supported him with his legs for a few moments, and then they were both hauled into the pinnace, and taken on board the ” Challenger.” When picked up. they were between forty and fifty yards from the ship’s stern, which distance they were drifted by the current and wind. Every effort was at once made by the medical officers to restore Bush, but without success.There were several patches 6f floating• kelp round the ship, amongst, which the strongest swimmer would . bS helpless, which materially increased the risk, incurred. . , – From the unusual and strange fact that the man was not seen from the time of his falling overboard until brought to the surface by LIEUTENANT CARPENTER, no boat, but for his prompt action, could have attempted to save the man with any chance of success.