David Fraser AM

b. ?. d. ?

DATE OF AM ACTION: 27/08/1919 North Pacific Ocean.

Very little is known about the life of David Fraser other than his Albert Medal action.



On the 27th August, 1919, , when the Steamship “Melville Dollar” was in the North Pacific Ocean, the main steam pipe burst, killing the Second Engineer and five Chinese -Firemen. Attempts were immediately made to get down into the engine-room to rescue the injured and to shut off steam from the boilers. The Chief Engineer, Mr. David Fraser, tried first, but was not able to get beyond the fiddley door, being badly scalded about the arms, throat and face. The Master and Mates then fitted up two tarpaulins as wind-sails, in order to force as much air as possible down the skylights into the engine and boiler-rooms. Meanwhile, Mr. Aaron Edward Higgins, Third Engineer, having wrapped himself in coverings as a protection against the still escaping steam, made several attempts to get to the valves, but he was driven back each time by the high-pressure steam which filled the engine-room. The Mastier then descended with him and put a bowline around him as a life line, and Mr. Higgins made another attempt, this time reaching the burst part of the steam pipe, but he became exhausted and found it impossible to get to the valves, and had to bet pulled back by the life line. It was not until an hour and a half after the explosion that the pressure in the boilers fell sufficiently to permit a descent, when the bodies were removed, the fires drawn, and the steam shut off, which was done by Mr. Higgins. Both officers incurred very considerable risk in rendering the services, as the engine-room was filled with super-heated steam, and Mr. Fraser had to be removed to hospital on account of his injuries.