b. 21/09/1919 Edinburgh, Scotland. d. 03/07/1943 Hull, Yorkshire.
DATE OF AM ACTION: 03/07/1943 Hull, Yorkshire.
David was born in Edinburgh, the son of Catherine McRae and a father who died when he was very young. He had a brother Ernest who was also killed in WWII with the Royal Marines. His mother married and had two further children. David was educated at David Kilpatrick’s School and was a member of the 3rd Leith Boys’ Brigade. Having done his preliminary sea training at Prince of Wales’ Sea Training Hostel in London, he went to sea in 1935, aged 16. At the time of his death he was single and still living with his mother and two half-siblings. His mother received his posthumous AM from King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 22nd February 1944.
The ship in which McRae was serving was lying in a United Kingdom port when the boatswain entered the deep tank to obtain some oil. This tank had previously contained ground nut oil and the residue, having decomposed, had deprived the air in the tank of oxygen. As the boatswain was ascending the ladder from the bottom of the tank he collapsed. A stevedore went to his assistance but he was forced to return and had to be helped ouf of the tank in a dazed condition. McRae, wearing a civilian duty respirator, then descended the ladder into the tank and he was able to secure a line around the boatswain”before he, too, collapsed. The boatswain was hoisted to safety from the tank but when Able Seaman McRae was brought up later he failed to respond to first-aid treatment and died before reaching hospital. McRae, having seen the boatswain collapse and the stevedore driven back, well knew the risks he was taking in entering the tank. By his very gallant action he saved the life of his shipmate but he sacrificed his own.
BURIAL LOCATION: WARRISTON CREMATORIUM, EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: FAMILY.
Allan Stanistreet – Image of David McRae AM.