Dudley William Mason GC (Direct Recipient)

b. 07/10/1901 Surbiton, Surrey. d. 26/04/1987 Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 12-15/08/1942 Mediterranean Sea.

Dudley William Mason (1901-1987) was born on 7th October 1901 in Surbiton, Surrey, the son of Charles John Little Mason, a chauffeur and his wife, Agnes Ellen (nee Cozier). His mother was also working in domestic service for the family that his father was driving for. The family they worked for lived in Long Ditton, where Dudley and his brother Charles also attended school. Dudley left school at the age of 14/15 to attend night school. When he was 19, in June 1920, he joined the Eagle Oil Company as an apprentice. In 1924, he married Elsie Amelia Coates in Hendon. They divorced in 1942.

Dudley W Mason GC

On the onset of World War Two, Dudley’s ship, the SS Ohio, owned by the Eagle Oil Company, was chartered by the Ministry of War Transport to become part of a 14 merchant vessel convoy to deliver supplies to the besieged island of Malta. The SS Ohio was a 14,000 ton tanker carrying 1,000 tons of fuel oil. The mission was called Operation Pedestal.

On 12th August 1942, the SS Ohio was hit by Italian torpedoes, and for 4 days she was attacked by aircraft and submarines, shattering the ship. One bomb lifted her right out of the water, while another exploded in her boiler room, and a Stuka crashed and exploded on her deck. Her back was broken. Nevertheless, although she was so badly damaged, the ship’s engineers kept her going and she was steered without any compass. She was finally towed into port, the sea level almost up to her deck. Mason had sustained burns to the hands and he was flown back to Britain, together with Chief Engineer James Wyld. However, no accommodation had been arranged, there was no reception party and they were left to find their own treatment. After the award of the GC on 8th September 1942, Mason felt that the whole crew deserved the award.

Other gallantry awards to the crew of Ohio during Operation Pedestal included a Distinguished Service Order, five Distinguished Service Crosses and seven Distinguished Service Medals.

After the War, Dudley married for a second time in 1948 to Vera de Smitt, and had a step daughter Pat. Following retirement, Dudley and Vera moved to the village of Sway, Hampshire. Sadly, in 1967, Vera passed away, and he asked Pat and her husband, Leslie Davis to move to live with him in Sway. Dudley lived to the age of 85, passing away on 26th April 1987 in Brockenhurst, near Lymington, Hampshire. He was cremated at Bournemouth Crematorium. The service was attended by the High Commissioner of Malta GC and two George Cross holders, Anthony Cobham GC and Dennis Copperwheat GC. His ashes were scattered in the garden of his home, Mill House in Sway. His GC and other medals were bequeathed to the Honourable Company of Master Mariners (whom Dudley joined in 1954) and displayed on their ship HQS Wellington, on the River Thames.